Final Fantasy VII: Ever Crisis Preview – Embrace Your Wallets

Until its re-reveal at the 2022 Final Fantasy VII livestream, I had been somewhat skeptical about whether Final Fantasy VII: Ever Crisis was actually ever coming out. This closed beta test was supposed to happen last year, and while some of my favorite mobile games of all time were also subject to massive delays (like Tales of Crestoria), a whole year for a Square Enix mobile title was more concerning than most. The trailer looked jaw-dropping for a mobile title, but was there any way it would be worth the wait?

The Closed Beta Test was open to any user who pre-registered for the game through either the Play Store or App Store and contained the beginning of the original Final Fantasy VII, Crisis Core, and a story for The First Soldier (several months after that game’s untimely demise). What the trailer showed us was a mix of a super-deformed art style reminiscent of the PS1 Final Fantasy VII, with hyper-realistic graphics plucked straight out of Remake, so whether it would all work was up in the air.

I’m happy to report, though, that not only has Ever Crisis met my expectations thus far, it’s actually exceeded them in many ways. The game isn’t nearly the battery drain I expected on my Galaxy S23+, and my phone only got hot when it downloaded most of the data. Still, given that just these beginning sections take up around 4.5 GB of space, you will want to save storage for the future.

Launching the game takes you straight to the first story level after showing you the gorgeous opening cutscene from Remake. As a reminder, this title is slated to retell the full story of the Compilation of Final Fantasy VII as it existed before the Remake, so there really is no better place to start than with the bombing of Mako Reactor No. 1.

An example of the story scenes in Ever Crisis between battles, where the art style of the original game is replicated with new HD models.

The stories of each game are sectioned off into episodes, with this one being the lengthiest in the current content as it retells the entire original chapter. There’s definitely been condensing here, but the nostalgic fixed camera angles manage to sell the fantasy to me anyway. As an example, this title leaves out the setup for the later button puzzle in Reactor No. 5 that is present in the opening level, along with the elevator trips, and the escape sequence is merely a cutscene as the section isn’t as long as it used to be.

Most of the dialogue is lifted right out of the source games, which can feel nostalgic for VII since Remake got an entirely new script. However, the almost shot-for-shot nature of this retelling feels unnecessary for Crisis Core – it’s neat that the game got a PS1-style polygonal demake. Yet this entire story was just re-released as Crisis Core Reunion, so having it as such early content here feels a bit redundant.

Preview SS2

Once combat starts, in the form of either scripted or random encounters as they happened in the originals, the graphics transition from the chibi style into a much more fluid and realistic Remake-style to show off the aesthetic of the systems. Combat is not turn-based, though it feels closer to Final Fantasy XIII with some Mobius Final Fantasy mechanics thrown in. You control one party member at a time, who will auto-attack at certain intervals while their ATB gauges fill.

The gauge can be spent to use abilities that are based on what weapons and materia you have equipped, with Cloud and Barret beginning with their classic loadouts from the same opening sequence. The weapons are obtained from the gachapon system, with all the characters unlocked for free. Still, since progress from this beta test will not be carried over to the full game, and I have a feeling that it won’t be quite so generous with currency, I will hold my thoughts on this system for the full review later.

Preview SS3

Of course, being a mobile game, you’ll play the first few battles manually and then unlock both a fast-forward for combat as well as a highly proficient auto-battle mode. I will say, for a brand-new game, the auto-battle is seriously well-programmed, not just repeating the same actions over and over but calculating the best damage output and even healing and re-applying buffs. The only thing it won’t do is activate your limit breaks, but it’s also so good at the game that you might not even need them.

Right now, it looks like this is the content that Final Fantasy VII: Ever Crisis will launch with, and what’s here is extremely promising. I wish the combat were less geared toward grinding and auto-combat, but that’s an expected part of the mobile game genre. The production value on display is the real draw of what Ever Crisis has to offer so far, and I can only hope Square gets to make good on its promises when it comes to delivering parts of the Final Fantasy VII world that most of us haven’t gotten to experience yet.

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