Hello there everyone!
Hope you have all been enjoying the festive period 😀 Yesterday I played games all day and ate a whole chocolate orange so I certainly have.
I’m back with another update on my foray into Final Fantasy VII, having played for almost 10 hours I feel like I’ve got the gist of the gameplay and the foundations of the story have been set. I talk about the story in some detail, so if like me you haven’t played the game despite it being out for a bajillion years consider this fair warning.
So the last blog post I wrote, I explained that the game used a lot of unfamiliar terminology, however this was cleared up rather swiftly and I was able to understand pretty much all of what was going on after an hour or so.
The reason I was blowing up the reactors is because the Shinra (which I had previously been a member of) have been using the Mako Energy from the reactors for their own gains, and it was stealing energy from the planet. It causes pollution, and other negative effects. It ALSO mutates lifeforms in the surrounding area which almost explains all the weird and wonderful creatures you see. My favourite being the house with robot arms…
As you are running away from the Shinra after attempting to blow up the second Mako reactor, you meet a girl called Aeris (although apparently it supposed to be Aerith and is translated differently now) who turns out to be a descendant of an ‘Ancient.’ And Ancients come from this mystical land in the sky (Promised Land) that people aren’t sure exists, but are striving to reach anyway. The story then moves on from Shinra and focuses on Sephiroth, a comrade from your days in SOLDIER who is also an Ancient. Some evil Shinra scientist has harnessed the power of the Ancients in an unethical manner, and Sephiroth is pissed so he goes to your home town and destroys everything around that area as that’s where the first Mako Reactor was placed. And Sephiroth just generally becomes evil and full of rage.
Phew. Story time done! I definitely have some criticisms of some areas of the story so far. There is a part in the game where you play a flashback of when Sephiroth destroys your hometown, killing the majority of your friends and family including your own mother. I really expected this to be an emotional scene but it really wasn’t at all, it fell flat because the dialogue was short and more descriptive than emotive. I don’t know if this is hampered by the limited animations and look of the game but I expected a lot more from this scene. In fact the majority of the death scenes thus far have been a bit cold. Similarly, the whole area of Sector 7 is destroyed when Shinra remove the pillar between the plate and the slums, crushing everyone below including members of AVALANCHE. More should have been made of something so horrific, in my opinion, everyone seems too nonchalant about it and it is mentioned only once since it happened in the whole 10 hours I’ve played.
Regardless, I’m still motivated to play it and find out what happens next despite some of it’s more emotive moments being rather poor.
Moving on to the gameplay – it’s largely the same, except my Materia collection has expanded quite significantly which means I can try different combinations on different characters. I like getting Materia and seeing how it effects battle. I have also received a new type of Materia which summons an ally in battle and does big damage, and plays a nice battle animation. Throughout I have been introduced to new game mechanics, like barriers, silences, bubbles that drain health etc. and the boss battles have been interesting due to changing mechanics each time. The game so far has been relatively easy compared to most JRPG’s I’ve played but not so much that it’s completely lacking any challenge. I’m enjoying the game at a reasonable pace and the difficulty curve suits me fine.
Another thing I’ve noticed that I’m not keen on, is the random mini-games during dialogue. I like the idea in principal, something to break up the text and add interactivity, but the execution of the mini-games is frankly annoying. For example, some random girl in a village was knocked out and I had to resuscitate her, by pressing X on some lungs on the UI. It provided no explanation of when I should press the button and it needed to be very precise, so I was messing about with it a few minutes before I figured it out, which rather than adding to the immersion just ruined it. There many examples of mini-games that are just irritating rather than fun and the game would have been better without them. It reminded me of the Blitzball mini-games in FFX that made me want to scream into a pillow – NO THANKS.
Finally, a minor issue but something that has been getting progressively worse, is that the 2D environments can often be hard to navigate because it’s difficult to differentiate between what things can be interacted with and what can’t. And it’s difficult to know which areas of the screen connect with the next area – sometimes you can be running into the side of the screen expecting to be taken somewhere else when really that’s the limit, which isn’t represented visually.
I know that this blog post might seem quite critical, and FFVI definitely has some obvious flaws. Yet, as I said, the Materia system and progression is enough to keep me playing the game, and even though some areas of the story are lacking, I still want to know what the final conclusion will be. I’m still liking the combat system, smashing weird looking monsters in the face, and testing out all my cool spells to see what they’ll do.
I’ll probably be back again with another update if something interesting happens later 😀
Thanks for reading! ❤