20 hours in already? Thank you Christmas Break!
I just finished Part 1 of Final Fantasy VII (and the point that you would change over the discs if this was the 90s) so I decided this is a good point to take stock of where I am. Lots more story coming up and a major spoiler!
Last time, the main aim of the protagonist was to find Sephiroth, who plans to take over the world with an object called the ‘Black Materia.’ You learn that if the planet is injured, it will heal itself using Mako Energy. Sephiroth believes that if enough damage is done to the planet via the Black Materia spell Meteor, it will produce enough Mako Energy for him to merge with the planet and become God of the new world.
A lot has happened narratively in the last 10 hours, so I won’t go into too much detail about that, but the general gist is that you are searching the planet for Sephiroth, looking for clues about where he has gone and retrieving the items you need to get to him. As I mentioned before, you are trying to find the Promised Land, if it exists.
I’ve also met 3 additional characters on the way – Yuffie, the most annoying character in the game by far as she steals all your Materia for a small portion of the game; Vincent, an emo vampire gunslinger, and Cait Sith who’s just in it for the anime appeal and turns out to be a traitor. (Also there was a really cringe ‘date’ scene with Aeris, or whoever depending on your dialogue choices, which is a classic JRPG thing to do.)
After searching the various towns and getting clues from people along the way, you manage to find the City of the Ancients, which includes a mural detailing the demise of the earth. It’s also home to the Black Materia (and 2 of the most difficult bosses I’ve faced in the game.) The Black Materia is just about in your grasp, when an evil force takes over the protagonist and you end up handing it over to Sephiroth. Aeris has then had enough of your shit, and goes off to find Sephiroth on her own because she is an Ancient and can reach The Forgotten Capital.
The narrative still doesn’t flow particularly well, you often find yourself revisiting places and talking to random people just to trigger dialogue or a cutscene in order to progress. At times, it doesn’t feel very natural, and if you miss a line or a key word that gives you a hint to where you need to go next, you do end up roaming around the map aimlessly until you find that missing NPC. There has been a slight improvement in consistency of the aims of the main character, I’m clear on what I am doing and why, and that’s been backed up by various encounters I’ve had in the last 10 hours.
In terms of gameplay, my Materia collection has expended exponentially and I’ve been able to find different gear that has a range of effects. Testing out Materia combinations and using Summons is still fun and I enjoy tweaking things, battling a monster, and tweaking again until I’ve got something I’m happy with. The combat has got progressively more interesting with varying degrees of buffs and debuffs, and they aren’t afraid to add curveballs which makes it feel less monotonous than other JRPG’s that require you to grind levels.
Speaking of which, I actually haven’t had to grind at all and I thought the Final Fantasy games required a lot of that. The hardest boss I’ve faced so far was the level 45 Demon Gate in the Ancient City – it had attacks that wipe 2/3 characters in my party so you just end up clinging on for dear life and hoping you can get the finishing blow before everyone is dead. Also I didn’t expect that battle at all and I missed the save point so that was distressing but still fun actually!
I’ve enjoyed the majority of the boss battles to be honest, they are challenging and interesting enough without making me feel like I want to punch a wall.
The last scene on Disc 1 was by far the best in the entire game so far and you can tell that a lot of effort went into it. Yep, I’m talking about the death of Aeris. This scene actually feels emotional unlike the other death scenes in the game, the dialogue makes sense and it has the appropriate music and cutscenes that give it a much greater impact. I knew this was coming as it’s a well known part of the game which is depicted in fan art and the like, but it was still a worthwhile to see how they did it and to know it can be done well.
I can imagine this being pretty shocking at the time it came out, you not only lose her in the story, you lose her as a member of your party too, so if you leveled her and put effort into her gear and materia set up, you might feel double sad!
After Aeris is killed by Sephiroth, he escapes and leaves you to fight the last boss of Disc 1.
You fight Jenova again. So this would have been really hard had I not by chance equipped the Water Ring. I found the Water Ring in the City of Ancients and because it looked a bit watery I was like, video game logic, I’m going to equip it on Cloud. Turns out that Jenova has a move, Aqualung, that can do heavy damage or one shot kill characters (it wiped Tifa and Vincent was heavily damaged.) But, if you have the Water Ring, it drains water moves, which gives you chance to revive and heal the other characters while you are at full health. I didn’t realise this until I Googled it after the battle because I forgot about the ring and couldn’t work out why Cloud was immune to that attack haha. I personally like these kind of discoveries.
Also, similarly the game has another secret in the boss fight with Gi Nattak; you can use a Pheonix Down to instakill the boss because it’s undead. I love this kind of thing!
I’m sure there are many more secrets I’m yet to uncover.
To conclude; the problems from my 10 hour blog post are still present, but in a weird way you get used to it and you learn more about what you look for in the environments to know which areas can be navigated. The annoying mini-games and trials are still in abundance. It forces you to do a Chocobo Race in order to progress which was just plain irritating and I hope I never have to bother with that again. However, the Aeris cutscene has given me hope for an improvement in the story, and I still like collecting Materia and Gear. So I’m actually freshly motivated, even though I was getting fed up at the 15 hour mark.
Let’s do this! ❤
Oh and I’d love to know your thoughts on the game too, so feel free to comment ^-^