Disaster Core – Remaining Fantasy VII

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As a prequel to probably the most beloved online game tales of all time, It’s necessary that Disaster Core – Remaining Fantasy VII – Reunion inform its personal prequel story with out disrupting the thematic cohesion of the story that spawned it. Does it succeed? Principally. Reunion excels at being a fantastic RPG and an exceptional remaster. But its story selections, a lot as they did when the sport initially launched on the PSP, stomp on Remaining Fantasy VII’s plot far too usually and try and fill it with shenanigans that distract from lots of VII’s themes and central characters. Disaster Core selfishly indulges in its personal contributions to VII’s mythos by failing to be taught from what made the unique Remaining Fantasy VII so impactful and superbly tragic in 1997. But, it’s a recreation you shouldn’t miss out on as a result of for all of its late-stage missteps, lots of its characters are nonetheless laborious to not love, and so they come packaged in an thrilling and really fairly RPG.

Disaster Core returns to us as Reunion: a remaster of a PSP recreation that first launched in 2007 as a prequel to 1997’s Remaining Fantasy VII, a generation-defining titan of a JRPG. Having by no means obtained a digital launch on the PlayStation retailer, the PSP-exclusive UMD discs Disaster Core shipped on have been the only real keepers of a vital chapter of the sport’s bigger saga.

Disaster Core – Remaining Fantasy VII – Reunion Gameplay

At present, Disaster Core emerges from its slumber and wakes up in a really totally different world. Within the 15 years because the recreation first launched, we’ve seen a full reimagining of Remaining Fantasy VII’s opening chapter with Remake. As a story, that 2020 model of VII introduced us extra expanded, and questionable, story beats; as a online game it delivered a exceptional type of command-based, real-time fight. With Reunion, Disaster Core now not exists solely alongside the unique Remaining Fantasy VII. It might now stand by itself as a stunning JRPG which may even stability out Remake’s distinctive twists and turns, at the price of maybe disrupting the themes in 1997’s authentic Remaining Fantasy VII.

Earlier than discussing any component of Reunion individually, I wish to stress how stellar it’s as a remaster. In comparison with comparable remasters like Remaining Fantasy Kind-0 HD (additionally a PSP-originated recreation), and even remasters of X, XII, and VIII, Reunion crops its flag within the floor as a brand new normal for remasters of Remaining Fantasy video games (if not video games usually). Reunion usually appears so good that you simply’d be forgiven in case you thought you have been enjoying a contemporary AAA title now and again, and it runs flawlessly on PC (one thing we will’t all the time take without any consideration with Remaining Fantasy video games).

Left: Disaster Core Reunion. Proper: The unique Disaster Core operating by way of emulation.
Gif: Sq. Enix / Kotaku

Reunion doesn’t surpass Remaining Fantasy VII: Remake in visible high quality, however it actually comes near matching it many occasions. Add to that the model new menu and UI parts that take their beats from Remake’s theming, and a delicate, liberated twist of Disaster Core’s fight system, and it makes inventive director Tetsuya Nomura’s classification of Reunion as being “nearer to a remaster than a remake” appear somewhat unfair to Reunion. Preserving all of Disaster Core’s foremost story beats (not like Remake did with FFVII) is essentially what prevents this from being an entire remake. And truthfully, I kinda want they might’ve revised this story.

However earlier than we dive into that, let’s tackle what many could be most involved about: As Disaster Core was initially designed to be performed on-the-go and featured a considerably experimental fight system, how does it fare now as a full console recreation? Whereas I believe Reunion would possibly nonetheless be finest skilled on a transportable, just like the Swap or Steam Deck, it really works simply as nicely on a giant display screen as a extra theatrical presentation. The short aspect missions, restricted dimension of battle environments, and a few degree layouts clearly reveal that this was designed with a smaller scope in thoughts and thus is a extra pure match for a tiny, transportable expertise. But these hardly make you are feeling such as you’re enjoying one thing wildly out of time and place.

The principle story is a roughly 18-hour expertise (which you must positively not cram right into a weekend—ask me how I do know). Disaster Core follows the story of Zack Honest. In the event you haven’t performed by the unique Remaining Fantasy VII and assume Zack appears like Cloud with black hair, you wouldn’t be fallacious. With out giving an excessive amount of away, it’s necessary to know that Zack performs a important function within the occasions that lead as much as Remaining Fantasy VII. In Disaster Core – Reunion you’ll information Zack by a winding narrative centered round genetically enhanced tremendous troopers and varied disasters that unfold. There’s a foremost story to comply with, and plenty of aspect missions you may leap into for fast battles and centered grinding classes.

The guts of the sport is in its foremost quest, which leads proper as much as the opening of the unique Remaining Fantasy VII (or maybe Remake, relying on the way you view sure inventive adjustments to Disaster Core). The aspect missions, accessible at almost each save level, are principally simply fast sprints by environments to battle a handful of battles (although some later ones have longer, more difficult encounters). They do tie into the narrative, however solely within the temporary explainer textual content seen within the mission choice menu. However don’t dismiss them. They allow you to isolate your grinding whereas serving as a bite-sized strategy to examine in and take a look at of the sport. I might’ve most popular to maintain all of the grinding in these aspect missions, however alas, Reunion suffers from far too frequent random encounters throughout the narrative ranges.

Gif: Sq. Enix / Kotaku

Like Remaining Fantasy VII, Reunion makes use of “materia,” magical earth orbs that grant using magic spells in addition to elevated fight talents, utilities, and stat boosts. You may select which materia you fit into Zack, and people magical orbs may also be leveled up, and even fused collectively to create new materia. Need a thunder spell? Equip thunder materia and now you can solid it by holding down a command button and hitting the face button you’ve assigned it to. You may mainly design your individual management format, with 5 totally different “units” of materia and button instructions accessible for various builds of your design. Although you may’t swap these units on the fly, you may change them up when not in fight or when restarting after a recreation over. It’s mechanically rewarding as an RPG speccing system and really simple to entry in real-time fight.

And people spells even have a stunning quantity of physicality to them, a lot in order that the standard rock, paper, scissors side of elemental magic frequent to most RPGs isn’t the one factor to contemplate. Take “blizzard” for instance, an ice-based spell assault. When solid, it types a big ice crystal above an enemy’s head and drops it on them for injury. In the event you solid this and an enemy strikes, they mainly dodge your spell assault. This implies that you may’t simply spam buttons, it’s essential anticipate and research enemy motion. One other instance is “thunder,” which supplies Zack a Star Wars-y force-lightning-like assault that solely has a variety of some toes. You may simply solid this to no impact if an enemy isn’t inside vary.

This has the advantage of making fight dynamic and considerably unpredictable. It’s not fairly as full of life and fluid as Remake’s fight, however it actually feels extra thrilling and reactive than even the unique PSP model did—although a lot of that is because of improved character fashions and animations. Dodging and blocking additionally performs a fairly vital function. Nevertheless, generally these spinning slots within the higher nook of the display screen will provide you with random boosts that imply you don’t want to dam as usually.

Gif: Sq. Enix / Kotaku

That brings us to the DMW, or Digital Thoughts Wave. In my estimation, Disaster Core’s distinctive slot-based fight system is rather less arduous and distracting than it was within the PSP authentic. Gone is the unique launch’s “modulating section” that stopped fight. The Digital Thoughts Wave stays, nonetheless, with its randomized, slot-machine-style likelihood so that you can get bonuses like HP boosts or momentary invincibility. This provides one other degree of unpredictability to the fight that doesn’t simply bathe you with items, however asks you to take advantage of out of what it provides you. DMW gave you limitless MP? Then it’s time to hit these therapeutic spells or spam your finest damage-dealing materia. Invincibility? It’s time to leap in and whale in your enemies with none concern on your well being.

When the portraits within the Digital Thoughts Wave all match, say three situations of Sephiroth (Remaining Fantasy VII’s antagonist) or Angeal (Zack’s mentor), you’ll get entry to a restrict break (or summon if it’s a summon portrait). Restrict breaks are themed to the character whose portrait matches, and you’ll hear them giving a sort of pep discuss to Zack whenever you set off them. Sephiroth grants an omnislash-like capacity (the final word restrict break in Remaining Fantasy VII); Aerith grants full therapeutic (like her restrict break in VII), and so forth. You may earn “SP” to feed into this technique, however right here’s the key: It’s also possible to largely ignore the entire slot factor and simply play this like a command-based motion RPG.

Severely, for many of my playthrough I simply let these slots do their factor, sometimes noticing {that a} restrict break was prepared or that I had some random buff to my stats. I’d been nervous that this slot factor can be another bizarre system I’d must handle, however you don’t. It’s only a seen RNG system in what performs as a strong action-RPG.

The DMW can also be narratively constant. A significant theme in Remaining Fantasy VII is reminiscence and identification. Characters’ views and reminiscences of who they’re, and who they’re in relation to different characters, is what defines their motivations. Remaining Fantasy VII’s story is essentially about characters who should perceive that they’re formed and outlined by their interactions with one another, and that they should come collectively to surpass the challenges of a world in disaster.

Zack meets Cloud in Crisis Core Reunion.

Screenshot: Sq. Enix / Kotaku

No character is an island, even when they could assume they’re. The guarantees, hopes, and failures characters share with each other, and the way these reminiscences floor (and are abused by a sure antagonistic power) and develop are a central a part of VII. That is introduced into fight by way of a system that hyperlinks inspiration and reminiscence. It makes each restrict break not simply an execution of an final capacity, however a window into how totally different characters have formed and influenced Zack.

We begin the sport with Zack as an impressionable younger man with “unattainable objectives.” Each restrict break that pulls from reminiscences of his mentor, his buddies, or his romantic needs exhibits what he’s preventing for. And it’s what makes Disaster Core profitable as a piece of tragedy, regardless of my points with the plot. Zack is hopeful, assured, not simply because these are his character traits, however as a result of he’s impressed by these round him. That’s why he’s a hero, outlined by those that’ve made him into one and people who look to him as one. It’s not as a result of he’s your foremost character with the massive sword, however as a result of he by no means, not as soon as, fails to consider the folks in his life. And it’s what dramatically differentiates him from the protagonist of VII, Cloud Strife. The significance of being related to others is what Cloud should be taught in VII. However sadly, Disaster Core’s narrative intrudes a bit an excessive amount of on VII.

For all of its strengths, Disaster Core is finally too obsessive about itself to function an ideal prequel. The sport’s core narrative is a wonderful half or three-quarters of a narrative. The ultimate plot arc, nonetheless, fails to acknowledge that VII is its personal story with its personal characters. Disaster Core’s depiction of VII’s characters, and its refusal to cease shoving new characters into current narratives, makes for a disappointing conclusion.

Image for article titled Crisis Core - Final Fantasy VII - Reunion: The Kotaku Review

Disaster Core ought to be taken critically since its guarantees are critical. In the event you’ve performed Remaining Fantasy VII, then you recognize this chapter of the story exhibits us the particular person Cloud, VII’s protagonist, thought he was: Zack Honest. We play as Zack all the best way as much as the ultimate battle that sees him killed, leaving Cloud alone, confused by trauma and a few sci-fi magic mumbo jumbo that makes him imagine Zack’s reminiscences and even identification are his to inherit and mimic.

The Buster Sword stands in a mako reactor.

Screenshot: Sq. Enix / Kotaku

Sadly, Disaster Core, a lot because it did in 2007, appears to be extra all in favour of retconning VII than it’s in contributing to the unique, much-loved story. That is significantly notable within the Nibelheim chapter, which begins very very similar to a sequence set in the identical location in Remaining Fantasy VII. The timeless villain of the sport, Genesis, who continues to repeat the identical strains in nearly each scene he’s in, seems (out of nowhere) within the reactor that homes FFVII menace Jenova…to proceed to repeat the identical strains again and again. If we’re holding rating, that is the third time that this specific scene is reexplained for the participant: As soon as in Remaining Fantasy VII by the false reminiscences of Cloud. Once more when Cloud is lastly prepared to know that Zack was truly in his place throughout these scenes. Now Disaster Core needs so as to add that not solely was Zack there, however Genesis, who’s not an antagonist in VII, can also be there. It denies VII the authority to inform the story and is an unneeded revision. Genesis is an okay antagonist for half of Disaster Core, however he’s not an acceptable antagonist for VII, which is what Disaster Core implies by inserting him into VII’s personal scenes.

Sadly, the top results of Disaster Core is an overcomplication of the story established in Remaining Fantasy VII, stuffed with varied particulars that simply quantity to extra historical past classes and homework to have the ability to make sense of every part. Its timeless antagonists and plot factors that refuse to be resolved (Genesis’ destiny is unsure ultimately) weaken the function of demise. Once we take into account that a lot of what made Remaining Fantasy VII impactful was the irreversible demise of an necessary character, it’s laborious to stroll away from Disaster Core with the impression that something is significant or liable to loss on this world.

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