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Trying to get back into JRPGs, and FFVII has not aged well (spoilers) – UPDATE

Content of the article: "Trying to get back into JRPGs, and FFVII has not aged well (spoilers) – UPDATE"

Original post here:

When I made the original post I was about half-way through the game, and was planning on stopping. But after I put it down and stepped away, I found myself wanting to go back to it, so I picked it up again.

Thankfully, I was right at the point in the game where the story picked up, and I was able to get back into it, and ended up finishing the game yesterday.

Overall I still think the points I made in the original post are basically correct. But I have some further reflections after having finished it now.

I mostly enjoyed the second half of the game, at least the main quest. I can't speak to the side quests or other optional content because I avoided them, just wanting to complete the critical path of the game and move on. My motivation with this game was 1) To play a FF game because I had never finished one before, 2) To play FF7 in particular since it has such a place in gaming history, 3) To step out of my "gaming comfort zone" and play a JRPG since it's not a genre I regularly play. I'm glad I played it for all of those reasons, but it's not a game I'd likely replay (although I rarely replay games in general, so that's not a knock against it).

Overall it might be unfair of me to say that FF7 "hasn't aged well". After thinking about it more, part of my complaints are more a factor of JRPG genre tropes and game design from that era broadly than FF7 specifically. A better metric might be how well it's aged compared to other games from that era. I grew up with an N64, so for example I think it's aged worse than OoT (I'm biased here because I'm a Zelda fan), but aged much better than say GoldenEye 64, which just has a comically bad controls scheme by modern standards and isn't really worth playing anymore. FF7 is definitely still worth playing.

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The difficulty of FF7 surprised me. I expected FF games to be hard for some reason, but it wasn't bad really. I don't know why I expected that, but I usually play cRPGs and they can be pretty challenging, so I guess I was expecting the same of JRPGs. But the difficulty curve was pretty gentle in FF7. Even though I disabled random encounters a lot (a toggle feature available to you on the remaster version) and thus missed out on XP, I never felt underleveled the whole game and never felt the need to grind. The final battle with Sephiroth was cakewalk where I was never at risk of losing. In that sense I think the game is good at making you feel powerful, at least :). I think there were maybe 1 or 2 times in the whole game where I hit a game over screen and had to reload.

In general I've been considering the difficulty of the games I play. I think this is a common experience on this sub, but I used to always like to play games that were the maximum challenge I could handle, and that was something I enjoyed. But now with less time to play games, dying over and over again and not making progress in a game is a less appealing proposition. For example two games I played recently were Pillars of Eternity on the hardest difficulty and Darkest Dungeon, both of which are pretty punishing experiences. Also Hollow Knight, lol. FF7 made me realize that there are games out there that reward you for simply putting in the time. You can make progress and have a good experience by just showing up, rather than by having to become more skillful at the game to make progress. And that's not a bad thing. I think there is room for both kinds of experiences, but only doing one or the other will get stale after a while.

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A note on the story of FF7. I feel like it was… clear as mud. I suspect that's an artifact of the quality of the translation. At the end of it I'm still not 100% clear on what the deal with Cloud is. I feel like the player is given mixed messages as to whether he's actually a failed Sephiroth clone or not, or what exactly happened to him.

All that said, I still feel more drawn to FF12 than I have been to 7, so I will pick that up in the near future after I've taken a break. Which is another thing I'm thinking about right now – how to pace myself with games. I tend to only longer games, mainly RPGs, and then I end up burning out. I'm going to try to play something low-key or shorter in between to pace myself a bit better. Maybe this is a no brainer, but finally clicking for me haha.


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