Final Fantasy VII Remake

Let’s start with the disappointing stuff first. I try not to read or watch too much about a game I know I’m going to play and therefore I had no idea that FFVIIR was going to be one installment of many. By the time I reached halfway I thought it was strange how slow things were progressing. I had no complaints though because I loved the pacing and I appreciated how the narration took its time to unfold events and allowed the gamer to cherish every minute of it. By the end of the game; however, I felt a little disappointed at the lack closure. There was a reasonable progression towards an ending and things escalated to make you feel you’re going to face a final boss and receive a conclusion; however, many parts were left totally unexplained.

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It’s a little hard to delve into without getting into too much detail but it’s safe to think at this point that the storyline of the remake will not follow the original. There were changes pertaining to the fate of some characters and also the use of time travel or parallel universe which wasn’t used in the original. I think I’m okay with the former but I’m not really a fan of parallel universe especially when it has been deployed in Kingdom Hearts and it got to the point where it became so convoluted, complicated and overdone in a way. I really hope that won’t be the case with this remake although I think that’s where it’s headed.

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The other thing I didn’t like was the succession of battles in the latter segments of the game. Bosses were hurled one after the other in a short span of time. It’s common sometimes to get two bosses back to back in FF games but it felt slightly rushed towards the end and it made me feel worn out as opposed to feeling excited to take on the challenge.

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Now for what the game did right; there’s plenty. The world of FFVII is simply breathtaking. The level of detail that went into designing is mind-blowing. In addition, the contrast between the industrial parts and slums was fantastic. Midgar felt massive and had a unique personality. And I never knew slums could be portrayed in a cozy endearing way, and it’s not just nostalgia. The new characters, side missions and conversations added a lot of life to the city enough to make you care about their world and what happens to it.

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There were also clever mechanics around Final Fantasy hallmarks. For instance, it’s customary in Final Fantasy games to go on particular expeditions, fight GFs in order to unlock them; however, in the remake GFs are considered almost as a techno battle upgrades that you attain through a battle specialist and researcher. You are given a VR headset to battle the GF and then equip it. I thought this was a really creative method that made some aspects of the game seem believable as weirdly as that might sound given that the game is a “fantasy” but I guess it made it more grounded.

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Similarly, in order to learn about Shinra and Mako energy, the game deploys an exquisite experience embarking on a Shinra “tour” down to the tiniest detail to get background information. I was hoping that they added more lore to this particular segment but I guess they didn’t want it to overwhelm the player. As open world as an FF game can be, it is linear in the end.

Another interesting change is the skill grinding aspect. In most FF games, players visit dungeons or some enemy infested areas in order to grind and level up and it is very easy to find and do it whenever you need to upgrade but in the remake, aside from the main plot, these areas are limited. You can still revisit old places to level up but the game almost doesn’t expect you to like previous games. Instead, you can use colosseums, gyms or battle arenas to test your skills and level up. I think that’s a fantastic way to break the redundancy of needing to grind in order to level up. As for the battle system itself, it’s flawless. They combined both turn-base and live action into one in a very smart but simple system. I absolutely love it.

Finally, the music. Where do I start? The soundtrack is absolutely STUNNING. It’s everything a FFVII would want. It’s true to the classic, nostalgic, yet contemporary and relevant! Many of the old scores are refashioned in a jazzy, bluesy, even reggae way. It’s actually fun collecting records to add to your juke box.

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Overall the world of FFVIIR is rich and fantastic and it was wonderful going through the journey. Ironically I couldn’t say the same about the main direction of the game. I still worry where it’s headed and how it is going to unfold but I guess we will just have to wait and see what Tetsuya Nomura has in mind.

If you’re toying with the idea of playing this game- it’s definitely worth it! Just do it with an open mind.

My final score is 5/5 ★★★★★

  • 5/5 for gameplay
  • 5/5 for design
  • 5/5 for battle system
  • 3/5 for plot
  • Game Platform (played on): PS4
  • Game trailer

Nioh 2 | Review

So after my post-YatsuNoKami mini hiatus I did actually go back and finish Nioh 2. The battle system is that addicting, as for the story I couldn’t say the same. I was never really that invested in Nioh’s world for some reason. There’s plenty of lore but not enough to have kept me engaged the way Sekiro or souls-games have in the past.

I’ve solo-ed my way through to about 3/4 of it but by the end I discovered the co-op feature and used it plenty. I don’t usually enjoy co-ops but I found myself digging this one. The game’s flexibility in armor, weaponry and character enhancement made it really fun to meet up with other players to see how they utilized theirs. Each build comes across as very unique. Refashioning your character alone can take up so much time and the end result is satisfying.

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The level designs were also nice in my opinion along with great graphics and music. What I didn’t like; however, was how the missions were planned out. A lot of the side missions were just rehashing of the main. Revisit the area of the main mission, drop a boss (often a mini boss from the main mission), then rinse and repeat. Many times it played out like a colosseum fight mode where one fight sequence leads to a chain of seconds and thirds. It got to the point where they would throw at you 4 or 5 (and at one point more than 6) mini bosses back to back. I found that ridiculous, which is what prompted me to yield to the co-op feature. With Sekiro, for instance, the bosses were difficult in their own unique way. With this game; however, I felt the ‘intention’ of wanting Nioh 2 to be difficult far outweighs its own good. Not sure if this makes sense.

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I don’t think it’s always fair to compare Sekiro to Nioh though. There’s enough in this game to appreciate for sure. I can also see players spending months playing this game with the amount of content that it has. As for myself, I can say that I enjoyed it a lot. Watching the credit roll in the end actually gave me a bitter-sweet moment. I felt relieved to cross it off my list to focus on other games, especially when I wasn’t that invested in the story, but was surprise nonetheless to see how much the world of Nioh 2 grew on me.

My final score is 4/5 ★★★★

  • 4/5 for gameplay
  • 3/5 for design
  • 5/5 for battle system
  • 1/5 for plot
  • Game Platform (played on): PS4.
  • Game link
  • Game trailer

Related Post: Yatsu no Kami Battle | Link

Nioh 2: Yatsu no Kami Battle

I didn’t enjoy Nioh 1 and had no plans to play its sequel but being stranded at the beach house away from city microbes I decided to give it a go. Surprisingly it isn’t so bad. Its strongest asset is the battle system. Not a fan of the story. At this point I’m not really sure if I’m going to finish the game. I would like to think so, but souls-like games usually take me a while to finish considering how much work, patience and perseverance are required to keep going.

I hit a road bump a couple of days ago with Yatsu no Kami- one of Nioh 2’s horrendous bosses. Not a fan of the way he moves AT ALL! I mean I wasn’t a fan of Sekiro’s Genichiro either but I enjoyed the combat at least. Taking a break from Nioh 2 for a while.

Here’s the full battle. Giving myself a pat on the back.

Control | Game Review

Control is an action-adventure game that takes place inside a Bureau in New York. This Bureau functions as a secret organization that is doing a lot of quantum or para science experimentations. The main character is Jess Fayden; a woman that seeks the Bureau to find answers about her lost brother but finds herself appointed as the Bureau’s new director struggling for “control”.

Control 2

At the start, the game gives little attention in spelling out the events for you. In fact, I kept wondering whether perhaps I was playing a sequel, but I wasn’t. The course of narrative in this game is very hazy and for the most part it stays hazy till the end.

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The Bureau itself was fun to explore. I heard there are plenty of references in Control to other games, among those are: Alan Wake, Quantum Break, and Max Payne. I’m pretty sure Prey also played a role in influencing Control. The level designs were very reminiscent of Prey, which happens to be my top favorite game. The level of detail in each room is wonderful. I absolutely love walking into companies, labs, or tech centers and this game did not disappoint in that regard. What it did end up disappointing however was not giving you enough to actually appreciate the level design.

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In Prey, for instance, there’s plenty to do exploring, aside from memos and inside culture (which this game has), you can also collect raw materials and then recycle them to upgrade tools and weapons. In control, the only thing to collect aside from notes and audio clips, is basically a box with random materials. It would have been better, for example, if those materials were scattered in the level design instead. Another thing, each floor has an aid kit hinged on a wall, 80% of the time that means you’re picking up a healing item. Not in this game. In other words, there’s plenty of enticing detailed elements that are basically pointless. As a result, it brings a lacking experience to exploring. You stop feeling motivated to unlock new destinations and just focus on moving ahead with the main mission.

Next, there’s a wealth of memorabilia and lore to pick up in this game and while plenty of it adds some value to the main story, for the most part, yet again, feels lacking. In Fallout, The Last of Us and Prey, often notes allude to certain locations or to a specific ‘incident’ or character. In the Last of Us, you read correspondence between two people. You then visit that location and you visually see the remnants of that incident. Similarly, in Prey (and it does this so well), you read about a work event, you visit that location and you find that particular door, secret item, or special weapon mentioned. Even if it’s not for the purpose of finding an object, you find yourself wanting to go to a place mentioned just to put in context a touching story you just read. This adds a great deal of depth and culture to the world you’re exploring and often times gives you a fun ‘aha’ moment that’s very much missed in this game. In comparison, Control’s world feels empty and meaningless.

Control 3

The other major let down for me is the battle system. The game has unique battle features such as manipulating objects and launching them from a far. Additionally, you can unlock cool skills like floating and conjuring up a shield from nearby ruble. These are all creative tools to appreciate if it wasn’t for the tedious battle designs. Enemy attacks are unvaried, frequent and hardly changing. It was exciting in the beginning but I found myself getting seriously bored halfway and I stopped bothering about taking parts in battles. A good game will make you care about side missions and battles, even the idle ones. I would go far as to say that the game plays out as button-smashing sometimes due to lack of inventiveness in battle designs. And to make things worse, the frame rate drop is inexcusable. You can get away with one or two enemies undisturbed but add a fourth one and the game lags so badly, and it gets worse till the end. Even the ending credit roll lagged- how is that even possible? There’s also no apparent way to increase the difficulty for a bit of a challenge. Random battles can be very easy but boss level designs are absurd. Difficult and absurd are two different things.

Control 6

Control 7

Having said all of this, now that I look back on the game, I don’t consider it a total waste of time. It had its charming and memorable moments. I definitely won’t play it a second time though. I just hope that if and when they develop a sequel, and judging from the ending, a sequel is possible, they would take into consideration all these shortcomings. There’s a lot to work with in Control and I think once it’s polished, the game could turn out to be very interesting.

My final score is 3/5 ★★★

  • 2/5 for gameplay
  • 4/5 for design
  • 3/5 for battle system
  • 2/5 for plot

Game Platform (played on): PS4.

Game link

Game trailer

I have a habit of joining fan clubs late, but before I tell you what I really think about this game, it might be worth mentioning that:

  1. I’m generally not a fan of RPG strategy games
  2. I’m equally not a fan of silent main characters
  3. I never really played and completed any of the Fire Emblem prequels

This game applies to all three. Putting those into consideration; however, it says A LOT for me to give this game a 4 out of 5 rating. That’s not to say there weren’t a few drawbacks and I’ll get into those later.

If you’re new like me to the franchise, then the game is basically a turn-based strategy game where you lead a team of players and wage war. In between these battle sequences, you get the chance to interact with your characters and upgrade them.

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One thing that has always deterred me from enjoying strategy RPG games is feeling limited in my scope of exploration. Some people play games because they enjoy the battle mechanism even if that outshines anything else. I, on the other hand, play to explore. I delight in navigating places, picking up lore, and piecing things together. It comes as no surprise then why I never really paid much attention to the series. The other factor that compels me is good storytelling and I read tons of reviews stating the game has an astounding plot.

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In this particular installment, and without getting into too much details, I found myself playing as a mercenary who found my way into a city. I then was asked to become a professor in this town and take reins of a small group of students. You are given the option to choose and join one out of three factions in the game: The Blue Lions, Golden Deers, or Black Eagles. I personally went with the Golden Deers, mainly because I have a fan-girl crush on Claude; secondly because I have a crush on Claude and thirdly because of Claude 😛

On a serious note, I resonated more towards the characters of Golden Deers compared to the other two. And my choice didn’t disappoint, because I absolutely loved getting to know each and every one of the Golden Deers.

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While looking at some game footage prior to my playing, I noticed given the ability to roam freely. That alone was a big motivator to pick up the game and while it was fun for the most part moving freely between battles to complete side missions, it later became repetitive and I found myself feeling less inspired to explore and just skip my free days all together. The side battles were also repetitive and in many occasions required the same strategies. The mission battles, on the other hand, showed potential to offer variations but that didn’t extend over to the side missions.

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The story itself is interesting and takes plenty of turns and twists to keep players at their toes. Because of that, I found myself wanting to skip ahead in the story rather than spend more time developing characters. The way to interact with your team is either to walk up to them, have a conversation or trigger a support chat to form stronger links, which you’ve guessed it- projects on your characters bondage within battles. Aside from that, you also can give seminars and lectures to elevate student stats and then give them exams to fulfill requirements for character classes (pun intended).

Because there are three factions, it’s to be expected that the game can be replayed from different perspectives in order to shed some light on missing parts of the story. Having said that, I was later disappointed to find out that even though that’s the case, the games are also identical. Without spoiling the story much, let’s just say the background information and main incentive for each faction is different but more or less the main scenario is similar.

To recap here’s what I loved about the game:

  • Beautiful soundtrack with memorable themes
  • Interesting lovable and hateful characters to keep you intrigued
  • Well written plot with unexpected turns
  • Claude, Claude, Claude

What I didn’t like about the game:

  • Feeling slightly disconnected and therefore uninterested in the main character
  • Repetitive “collect-this; collect-that” side missions
  • Normal difficulty is basically Easy Mode. It’s almost too easy to max out everything by the middle of the game (either that or I play too much Miyazaki games).

So getting back to where I started:

  1. Yes I’m still not a fan of RPG strategy games
  2. Yes I still do not like silent main characters
  3. I would probably go back and play the prequels if I didn’t have a long pending list of games to play.

Finally, would I recommend this game to anyone?

ABSOLUTELY!

My final score is 4/5 ★★★★

  • 2/5 for gameplay
  • 5/5 for (side) characters
  • 3/5 for battle system
  • 4/5 for plot

Game Platform (played on): Nintendo Switch.

Game link

Game trailer

Note: For more information about the upcoming game DLC “Fourth House”, click here