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Square Enix had a playable demo of Final Fantasy VII at Tokyo Game Show 2023, and we tried it out.

Official website (EN): https://ffvii.square-enix-games.com/en-us/

The demo allowed players to choose to experience one of two parts of the game: Nibelheim in Cloud’s flashback with playable Cloud and Sephiroth going through a dungeon, and the party after the events of FFVII Remake exploring the area around Junon, with Red XIII now playable in addition to Cloud, Tifa, Aerith and Barret. Despite it being a business day there was a huge number of people lining up for access to the demo and we were told that there was no priority access for press (recordings of the demo by other outlets seem to have been done behind doors beforehand) and so we were only able to try out the flashback part.

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Though FFVII has been out for almost 30 years, this play report will refrain from including major spoilers. As we played the demo in Japanese, some names and terminology in this report might be different from the English release’s.

The demo has the player take control of Cloud and Sephiroth as they climb Mt. Nibel, accompanied by Tifa and a masked nameless Shinra soldier.

The first thing to immediately stand out was how flashback Cloud has extremely different mannerisms, ranging from body language to how he speaks, from the present day Cloud seen in FFVII Remake; the reason should be clear to anyone who already knows what’s going on, but the way it is presented is still extremely interesting nonetheless, especially since Cloud’s voice actor Sakurai Takahiro does not play this kind of character much.

Another new addition is parkour: The player can easily climb ledges and such by pressing the O button, or automatically do so by dashing.

Of course, Sephiroth being playable is also entirely new. While the attack button (square) has Sephiroth do melee attacks as one would expect, he also has ranged attacks activated by holding the button down. Additionally, his regular attacks contribute not just to the ATB gauge but also to a different bar which lets him use multiple different special attacks with the triangle button, which also build up towards his Limit Break (Yatou Issen). Sephiroth can also use R1 to activate a counter stance that lets him parry enemy attacks with the square button. While Sephiroth also has abilities that require the ATB gauge to be filled, his unique abilities allow him to do all sorts of things even without it.

Combat generally plays mostly the same as it did in FFVII Remake with the notable addition of party members being able to cooperate to perform special “Chain Actions”, which are activated by holding R1 and pressing the corresponding button. Cloud with Sephiroth gets Void Break, in which Sephiroth casts magic on Cloud’s sword and Cloud charges up for a powerful attack, and Counter Shoot, a counter for ranged attacks. Sephiroth with Cloud gets Souken Ranbu, a combination attack in which the two of them attack together, that can chain up to three hits. Chain actions do not require the ATB, making them extremely useful.

Sephiroth FFVIIR2
The Colelctor’s Edition Sephiroth statue was also on display at TGS2023

Another new addition is Chain Abilities, another form of combination attack. Unlike Chain Actions, these require use of the ATB, as well as a second resource, the Chain Gauge, and are extremely powerful attacks that feel akin to Limit Breaks. Cloud and Sephiroth get Cross Spiral, in which the two of them attack the enemy together in a flurry of slashes (this is the attack seen in the FFVII Rebirth release date announcement trailer).

The boss of the Cloud and Sephiroth version of the demo was the Materia Keeper, also seen in the release date announcement trailer. The battle is fairly standard, with the only gimmicks standing out being it grabbing Cloud at times (requiring Sephiroth to target the appropriate claw with magic to free him) and climbing onto the ceiling after a certain point (attacking it with ranged attacks makes it fall back down). The battle also introduces the Chain Ability system at the end.

FFVII Remake was fantastic, and Rebirth is looking like it might turn out to be even better, leaving us eagerly anticipating its release.

Final Fantasy VII Rebirth will be released for the PlayStation 5 on 29th February 2024.

 

Check out more of our TGS 2023 coverage here:

https://www.frontlinejp.net/2023/09/22/tokyo-game-show-2023-games-in-motion-the-world-in-revolution/

Also see:

Final Fantasy VII Remake: Illusion or Not? The Antagonist Explained by Ultimania

Final Fantasy VII Remake Player Survey Results

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