A storm of emotions and memories explodes on the screen. Amid debris, explosions, and a storm of iron scaffolding, Cloud and Sephiroth set off thousands of sparks as they collide their massive swords. The inevitable Duel of Fates of Final Fantasy VII manifests itself in all its glory and takes on a new form. With each great impact, the two silhouettes shatter the remains of the chaotic landscape. Neither of them is ready to give an inch: their determination to subdue the opponent is absolute. However, this version of the one-winged angel is not the same as the one we face on PlayStation.

The massive battles of Squaresoft’s renewed cult classic and the internal conflicts of its protagonists redouble their original strength in a remake that is as amazing as it is ambitious. A major update of a masterpiece that constantly strives to go beyond the experience lived on Sony’s 32-bit desktop, adding nuances, expanding content, introducing surprises and arousing new and greater emotions. This can be enjoyed wonderfully with a mouse and keyboard and, by the way, comes with a strong additional attraction on the PC: the Yuffie episode and all the content of the INTERmission episode.

Logically, all of this leads us to an obligatory starting point: comparisons of Final Fantasy VII Remake Intergrade for PC with anything released before it are absolutely unavoidable. Starting with the original FF7 as it has been the only version available on desktops for more than two decades. Squaresoft brought it to Windows in 1998, a year after it was released on PlayStation, a masterpiece that’s being repeated on the Epic Game Store today. But logically you also have to compete with the 2020 remake for PS4 and – more directly – its later expanded and improved version for PS5.

Starting from these bases, and as its name suggests, Final Fantasy VII Remake Intergrade is born and takes as an overall base the version of Final Fantasy VII Remake for new generation consoles, with a leap in technical and visual quality compared to it all of the above, plus a generous addition of content from the INTERmission episode. A custom conversion to PC, yes, but as we shall see, there are some nuances to consider. The essential always prevails and outweighs everything else: the essence of the cult classic is retained. And that’s not exactly little.

Because Final Fantasy VII Remake Intergrade makes it clear from the first bars that it is much more than a simple visual update of the JRPG that has captivated the whole world: it tries to really convey the enormous original ambition of the Squaresoft game by it pushes the limits of current systems; as well as the tremendous emotional charge of its events, the internal conflicts of its protagonists and their amazing struggles through a greater narrative effort and a complete overhaul of the playable section.

The result? Final Fantasy VII Remake Intergrade amazes and captivates from start to finish. Keeping the original excellence, it achieves that we empathize with characters based on strong emotions and much more action, gaining new nuances and more presence in events compared to those we met 25 years ago. That he manages to bring novelty to each of his stages and surprises throughout the story, ultimately turning Midgar upside down into an exciting adventure. A brutal start to an even more ambitious project.

A mercenary willing to take on any job… If the pay is good

A powerful explosion lights up Midgar. The inhabitants of the pulsating industrial metropolis look shocked at the brutal explosion of one of the Mako energy reactors and fear the worst: It is one of the huge plants with which the mega corporation Shinra is extracting energy from the planet. This is very, very dangerous.

The origin of the explosion is not due to an accident or a malfunction in the facilities, but to a bomb. Or rather, a terrorist attack by an anti-Shinra group called Avalanche. And this coup is only the beginning of a series of planned attacks.

Barrett, the hot-tempered and short-tempered leader of the extremist cell that just blew up the Mako reactor, plans to destroy the rest of industrial giant Shinra’s facilities. However, their actions follow a greater purpose: Due to the practical monopoly on electricity and its enormous military power, the megacorporation has managed to take control of the entire world, at the expense of slowing the planet’s agony as a result of the wars and harvesting their life energy .

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The strange thing is that Barrett’s greatest weapon isn’t explosives or his iron-willed determination to end the mega-corporation, but the mighty sword of the youngest member of his group: His Avalanche companions are just joined by a former Shinra military converted to a mercenary. A former Private 1st Class named Cloud.

Unlike Barrett and the rest of Avalanche, Cloud doesn’t seem overly concerned with Shinra siphoning off the planet’s life energy. For him, destroying every Mako reactor is a very well-paid job; although it must be acknowledged that the fact that his childhood friend Tifa is involved was paramount to interfering and, the trickiest part of it, putting up with Barret’s moody character.

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However, what should theoretically be a ruthless and not so easy quest will end up bringing back a terrifying spirit from the past: Sefirot, Shinra’s legendary soldier, reappears after being presumed dead. A very powerful enemy whose long, sharp sword seems destined to cross paths with Cloud’s.

And in the midst of this conflict about to explode, a sincere florist. On the same night as the Mako reactor explosion, Aerith Gainsborough encountered Cloud. An encounter that also seems to be no coincidence, but destiny: the young woman was already on Shinra’s own radar because she seems to have a very strange connection with the planet itself and its spiritual power.

Final Fantasy VII Remake: An update full of ambition and surprises

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Final Fantasy VII Remake Intergrade begins with the same storyline of the 1997 cult classic, although during the process it takes the opportunity to expand and enrich it. He strives to give it new dimensions. Sometimes through cinematic sequences whose finish rivals any animated digital animation blockbuster, and others that give more character to the main characters as well as add context and weight to all the original events. Both major and minor.

Always finding a moment to reinforce the already familiar content with new scenes, rewritten dialogues and even more delineated characteristics of the protagonists or specific aspects that have been more or less intuitively recognizable in Squaresoft’s FF7 in recent decades, although until now they have never done so had been fully integrated into the storyline of the original game.

Of course, there are notorious deviations from the known story. But also surprises and new moments created specifically to captivate those who love the classic and want to immerse themselves in the same universe as the game. Changes that they may like more or less, but that update the enormous original ambition of one of the biggest blockbusters in video gaming history.

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Well, for comparison, Final Fantasy VII Remake Intergrade doesn’t cover all the events of the Squaresoft classic, but is a first episode focusing on the events of Midgar, which corresponds to the first part of the original game. Oddly enough, the current Square Enix hasn’t set a date for the second part, nor has it wanted to specify the number of episodes the original story will be split into.

As such, it might seem like a drastic cut in content that could – directly – affect the duration of the game itself, but as we’ve mentioned before, the approach to the remake is much bigger and more ambitious; It offers about 40 hours of gameplay (not counting replayability), plus about an additional seven hours if we add the INTERmission episode content and take time to browse with Yuffie. For reference, and according to the How Long Takes to Beat website, if we don’t settle on a fixed setting, the original FF7 for PlayStation (and PC) offers around 50 hours of gameplay.

How is it possible to offer so many hours that are just a part of the original game? Here lies one of the geniuses of the game: as we have already mentioned, the real strength of Final Fantasy VII Remake Intergrade does not lie in its best graphics, which are brutal, but in how committed it is to enriching the story and its characters. To give more time and voice to secondary characters, to introduce elements and situations that fit very well into the whole and transmit more emotions to the player, while outlining the main characters and the relationships between them much better.

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At no point does it give the impression that the duration has been artificially increased, although we are invited to lose ourselves and constantly examine the scenarios. TO…