Update: The people at Kotaku have reached out to Square-Enix to shine some light on the episodic nature of the game. Square Enix had this to say:
It means instead of concluding in one entry, multiple entries are being considered in development. Each entry will have its own unique story. As a gaming experience, each entry will have the volume of content equal to a full-sized game.
Pretty clear that Final Fantasy VII Remake will be turned into several full games. How many parts the series will have is as of yet unclear.
After Square Enix announced earlier this year that the often-requested remake of the fan-favorite Final Fantasy VII will be coming to modern platforms, the developer has now said that the game will be coming out in an episodic format.
The player response to this has been less than enthusiastic, with fan response ranging from impotent rage to outright confusion. Takashi Mochikuzi, a reporter for The Wall Street Journal posted the following on Twitter:
and SquareEnix says FF7 Remake's data size so huge; the software will be split into several titles (for example, FF7-Remake 1, FF7-Remake 2)
— Takashi Mochizuki (@mochi_wsj) December 7, 2015
Mochikuzi goes on to say that, even though the game’s main story will still be in the game, they will also be adding some new scenes to the campaign. This statement has people on Reddit and Twitter questioning if this is reason enough to make the game episodic, saying that there is always the option of releasing the game on multiple discs like they did with the original game on the original Playstation. Whether they do something similar to Final Fantasy XIII, which followed the same character over the course of 3 games, or a more Telltale style approach to episodic content is as of yet unclear, but it seems like the Japanese developer is more than content with milking as much money out of the highly anticipated remake of what can arguably be described as their most iconic game in the long-running Final Fantasy series. The timing is also a bit odd because the developer announced this in a press-release after their appearance at the Playstation Experience last week.
In an interview over at Famitsu (you can read the English translation here if you’ve not been keeping up on your Japanese), Square-Emix developers Yoshinori Kitase and Tetsuya Nomura said that using current technology will mean that making the remake just one title will be a lot of work, saying that the game’s length would make the remake feel too “voluminous”. They also said that they would need to cut a lot of content from the game if they were to release the entire game in one go. They also note that they won’t be using the character models they used for Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children, opting for a more updated version of all character models that is as close to photo-realism as possible. Good news for the people worried that the more wacky parts of the game will be cut out: Cloud’s cross-dressing scene will still be in the game.
The game will also be closer to an action-RPG than a traditional RPG, noting that the combat will lean more towards the Kingdom Hearts combat system, with an added strategic element that has yet to be made clear. Players will be playing with a party of 3 characters, with the player being given the option to freely switch between the characters in their party. The game will have an ATB (Active Time Battle) gauge that will feel familiar to players of the newer Final Fantasy games, but it won’t function like the traditional ATB system where you had to wait for the gauge to fill up before you could attack. Kitase notes that the system may be renamed in the final version due to all the changes made to the way it functions.
The original Final Fantasy VII released in 1997 on the original Playstation to critical and public acclaim and had fans requesting a remake ever since the Playstation 3 tech-demo shown at the E3 conference in 2005. Square-Enix released a teaser trailer for the remake earlier this year, with a gameplay trailer being shown at the Playstation Experience last week.
While I usually don’t have a problem with games being released in an episodic format, I really do question Square-Enix’s motives. Releasing an episodic remake of a game that previously wasn’t episodic doesn’t feel right to me, and the explanation that the game is simply too large strikes me as a flimsy excuse at best. Even though I’m not a huge fan of the series, I hope that the backlash that this decision is getting will be enough to dissuade the developer from releasing the game in this format. This feels like daylight robbery to me.