The story of Final Fantasy VII Remake has been a wild ride. Ever since the game was shockingly announced at E3 2015, a series of… things have happened. It’s been a series of ups and downs, from bizarre development outsourcing, to massive waves of hiring, to awkwardly translated statements about progress, so on, and so forth. Especially over the course of the last year or so, I’ve bounced back and forth from being surprisingly hopeful about the project, to being really confused about if it’s even real or not (that’s only a slight exaggeration). Now, recent leaks, if they’re true, point to at least one Final Fantasy XV-style start-over combined with an absent director. So it’s time once again to ask, is Final Fantasy VII Remake doomed?
The whole path for Final Fantasy VII Remake was rough from the beginning. After the wild press conference announcement at E3 2015, word quickly spread of two headlines so goofy it was hard to believe they were true. One, .hack developer CyberConnect2 was partnering with Square Enix to make the game. Two, director Tetsuya Nomura was surprised to see his name as director during the trailer. Yeah, it was off to a great start.
Plenty of other weird stuff has happened since. Perhaps the biggest was Square Enix announcing the game would be delivered episodically, or split into three full retail releases. After that, we eventually learned CyberConnect2 was no longer involved, and several job listings appeared for big waves of hiring. Level designers, leadership, and more have been in need, with the people in charge of the game saying that the scale or scope of Final Fantasy VII Remake has progressed to higher levels. Then, there was a leak.
In April 2018, a guy claiming to be involved with the Japanese gaming industry emerged and had some interesting things to say about the CyberConnect2 days. Predictably, the big word was that CyberConnect2 was not delivering what Square Enix wanted at a high enough quality, nor on time. Being a much smaller company that mostly has a history of .Hack and Naruto games, I can’t say I’m personally surprised. Also, during this time Nomura was largely playing the role of “director in name only,” not really being present and spending most of his time working with the Kingdom Hearts III team. Which makes sense, honestly.
After CyberConnect2 was removed from the project, the work already done was not up to snuff, according to these leaks. So, once BD1 (a development house at Square Enix most known for Final Fantasy X and XIII) took over, the project was essentially restarted. This is when all the hiring started happening, and when rumors of things like the art style seeing a total rehaul also started coming out. Presumable, the episodic thing is still happening, and Nomura may be much more hands-on now (and Kingdom Hearts III does indeed seem on pace for a 2018 release).
Sounds bad, right? The only hope now is that now that Square Enix is back in charge, the company has learned enough from Final Fantasy XIV and XV that its workflow processes are in much better shape in 2018. Which, I think, is totally plausible. I doubt we’ll see Final Fantasy VII Remake before 2019, but I think we will see it in a reasonable time frame. At least the first part. I also don’t think the episodic release idea is necessarily a bad thing – sure, it’ll make Final Fantasy VII Remake a ludicrously expensive game, but I don’t think the game would have a chance in hell of capturing the whole Final Fantasy VII story otherwise. That game was dense, with lots of little nooks and crannies that many fans may have forgotten about.
Regardless of what ends up happening, I for one am endlessly intrigued by the Final Fantasy VII Remake saga. I can’t wait to see which twists and turns this road takes us all on, and whatever the final product ends up being. Final Fantasy VII isn’t even my favorite in the series, but the aura surrounding it has always been strange and compelling, through all the years of sequels, spinoffs, and more. This feels like the latest chapter of a story that can only happen in the world of prestigious Japanese RPGs, and anything more straightforward would be boring.