Like with every year I do this list, there is some part of me that really can’t decide which game I’m going to put at the top of my list. Like last year, I was torn between two games that were a bubbling simmer over the course of the months or a short, brilliantly bright flash when it first game out.
On both occasions, I’ve opted to go for the bright flash of a game. My logic being that if I finish a game and then it’s still on my mind so many months later, despite not touching it since, the surely it’s going to be one that I need to celebrate a little bit more than the game I’ve been picking up here and there throughout the year.
You can disagree with me if you’d like, but I’m not sure if you can really argue that this game isn’t a worthy contender for any game of the year list no matter who you are.
#1: Final Fantasy VII Remake
Played on PlayStation 4 | Released 10th April | Developed by Square Enix
The Final Fantasy VII Remake is an astounding piece of video game. The pure excessive detail to which the developers take the first few hours of the original PS1 game and expand it out into this massive, complex and stunningly beautiful cinematic experience is a true accomplishment in my eyes.
As someone who has only a passing knowledge and respect for the original FFVII, I wasn’t too invested in seeing this game ever come out. In fact, I had become content to just let it continue to be the punchline that was yet another Square Enix game that would never see the light of day.
I don’t actually remember what possessed me to pick the game up despite my mocking comments of the game prior to release, but as soon as I started playing it I realised I was onto something special. Despite only playing this on a basic PS4, this was a stunningly rendered video game. The worlds, the characters and the storytelling throughout was gripping.
As I spoke about in my initial review of the game after finishing it, the is a level of excess to every part of this game’s development that shows not just how much love went into this game on the part of the people making it, but also that there was this real desire to make this game as grandiose and important as the original ended up being to those of us who grew up during the 90s.
It might be because I’m not super precious about this game and its characters that I might have enjoyed what this game did to not only expand its own lore, but to twist it into something beyond what the original story was telling. During the early parts of the game, there are obviously multiple plot elements, character backstories and action sequences that never existed in the original game.
To begin with these seemed like they might be nothing more than simple padding, there to bloat out the length of what was a pretty short and sharp story. The thing is, the game does such a great job of making these simple characters in the original, into more complex and likeable characters you want to spend time with that I didn’t bother me. I was so charmed by these characters and their utter insistence of hanging around Cloud despite his tsundere attitude that I didn’t notice the subtle changes the game was making.
Until they started becoming less subtle. It’s a point I talked about after finishing the game, that this remake of Final Fantasy might not be a straight remake of the game at all. Instead it was an alternate story taking place within the same universe. With so many things changing that a literal manifestation of continuity showing up be an active antagonist in the game.
Which means that by the end, characters who previously died had now survived, events played out not how they were supposed to play out and there was an implication as to whether the famous scene of Sephiroth killing Aerith might ever happen at all.
In the end, I did adore this game. While it’s setting might seem pretty self serious and a tad too gritty in the beginning, it eventually goes down the route of peak silliness that only a Japanese game could manage. By the time I’d arrived at Wall Market, I realised that this game was going to appear somewhere near the top of my game of the year list. As that’s the setting of some of the best segments of the game.
Between the game’s look, the ridiculous impressive soundtrack, the amazingly revamped combat and the changes they made to the established formula, I never, ever expected to love this game as much as I did. So much so that I went back and played Final Fantasy XIII again, which was probably a mistake. I have no idea when or even if another part of this game is every going to come out. In many ways it seems like it ends on a perfect open ending which could very simply leave itself up to the player’s interpretation of possible consciences.
There were a lot of games I didn’t play in 2020. Final Fantasy VII remake is one I am very glad I did get my hands on when I did.
And there’s my December hell over. Honestly, this one was a little touch and go. I almost didn’t get this posted today. I’m still thinking about taking a break in January. Not stopping posting, but just posting less for a while to avoid burning myself out. Although I have a feeling my approach to my blog is more of a simple on/off switch rather than a dial these days. So we’ll see how that one goes.
Happy New Year and while I would jump in the “Fuck 2020” train, I have a dreadful feeling that the first half of 2021 is just going to be a continuation of the hell we’ve already been suffering through.