The popularity of 1997’s Final Fantasy VII sees no signs of waning. The game has evolved into a series in its own right, with multiple sequels, prequels and even a movie continuing the story. As Final Fantasy VII Rebirth is currently grabbing headlines on console, a sister title has come to mobile devices. In this Final Fantasy VII Ever Crisis review, we’ll discuss the highs and lows of bringing the legacy to the free-to-play audience.
Final Fantasy VII Ever Crisis is a compilation of several Final Fantasy VII titles. At launch, we have Final Fantasy VII itself, Final Fantasy VII Crisis Core and Final Fantasy VII Dirge of Cerberus. More are promised for the future, including Final Fantasy VII Advent Children and Final Fantasy VII Before Crisis. That’s a lot. However, these aren’t full remakes. Instead, they are choice moments from each game.
Each chapter is very well presented. Remade entirely and perfectly nostalgia inducing. However, they do lack any kind of consistency. They can last up to 30 minutes, with exploration and combat delving deep into the original game. Or, they could be just a few lines of dialogue and a single battle. It’s a strange concept at first. You expect a quick bash and get sucked into a lengthy sequence, or set aside time to play one of your favourite moments from the original only to find it’s been condensed to a quick smile and a few punches.
Even more odd for an RPG is the character system. No doubt designed to capitalise on the mobile format, your characters do not progress as part of the story. Rather, they progress in the grind. All player characters exist outside of their respective title and across the compilation as a whole. XP, money and weapons are shared across all games. Thus, you can simply replay chapters to level-up quickly and earn tokens for ‘draws’, which grant you new weapons. While the core experience is enjoyable, it’s hard to define it as a true RPG when your characters don’t progress with the story or adventure, but rather with your choices on a menu screen.
The combat system attempts to mimic that of the original Final Fantasy VII, but with a modern design. It’s not simply a case of standing and waiting until it’s your turn to enter a command. Your party will engage in basic attacks automatically. It’s your abilities that are dependent on timing, with a meter filling continuously as the battle continues. Each ability requires a different amount of said meter for execution, with the stronger attacks/support moves obviously demanding a longer time investment. It’s a simple redesign of a tried-and-tested system that, on the surface level, feels wholly new.
Despite being designed for mobile devices, Final Fantasy VII Ever Crisis doesn’t offer the best mobile experience. Long loading times and the demand for a constant fast internet connection mean that playing on the move isn’t practical. In fact, when on a train or bus journey it’s practically impossible. Thus, it would be easy to assume that the game was made not for the want to take advantage of a mobile platform, but rather the audience on those devices. There are Final Fantasy fans everywhere, and Square Enix are clearly keen to monetise them wherever they can.
That being said, for all the reminders, notifications and mid-game pops that are thrown at the player after the opening section is complete, the game is relatively easy to play without capital investment. For the process of this Final Fantasy VII Ever Crisis review no purchases were made until late in the game, and even then not for the sake of necessity but simply for evaluation. You can play the entire game without purchase, but Square Enix are constantly going to remind you that a small investment means fancier digital goodies.
The game is absolutely beautiful. When running on the ‘ultra’ setting, the visuals are comparable to early PlayStation 4 titles. A stunning achievement for mobile devices. Character models are densely detailed; cloth flows believably in subtle winds. It is, at the point of release, one of the best looking mobile titles ever released. There are many who will no doubt be waiting for a console port. Given Square Enix’s history, that’s not too far a stretch of the imagination. However, as far as mobile gacha games go, there are far worse examples for your idle time.