Final Fantasy VII is an all-time favorite game of mine. In the 22 years since it was released for the original PlayStation, it’s been released on several other platforms. Last week, it came out on the Nintendo Switch and Xbox One, so I decided to go back and play it again.
Final Fantasy VII is not a particularly good-looking game. In fact, its visuals have aged pretty horribly. The later Final Fantasy games on the PlayStation look significantly better. But, as an early PlayStation game, the game developer Square was still figuring out how to do 3D animation, and the primitive graphics do a lot to focus the player on the story.
The game is massive - a regular play-through can take around 40 hours. On its surface, it looks like a typical good-versus-evil story, with the evil being a soulless corporation. But as the game unfolds, it has time to develop all its characters, even the antagonists. Characters deal with terrorism, loss, mental illness, family issues, trauma, and abuse, all while carrying the burden of saving the world.
If you ask the game’s developers what the theme is, they’d say it’s simply “life”. And it’s true - the game deals with life (and death) on an individual scale and all the way up to the life of the planet itself. Throughout, it deals with some pretty heavy environmental themes that are probably more relevant now than they even were two decades ago. Most of these went over my very young head when I played the game back then, but they almost certainly played a factor in forming how I think about how we treat our own planet today.
I’ve played through Final Fantasy VII nearly a dozen times, and I learn new things about it - or from it - every time.