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Final Fantasy VII Remake review: Once more, with feeling

(PS4) ★★★★ Age: 15+

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Final Fantasy VII Remake

Final Fantasy VII Remake

A Fold Apart

A Fold Apart

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Final Fantasy VII Remake

Final Fantasy came to define an entire genre known as the Japanese role-playing game (JRPG) - we're 15 episodes (plus spin-offs and an execrable movie) down the road of a sprawling saga that debuted in 1987.

But none is more revered than 1997's FFVII. Modern players may rightly prefer 2016's FFXV, yet the emotional punch of VII still resonates because it had it all first - strong characters, lavish cut-scenes and cerebral combat. This remake spares no expense in grafting 2020 sensibilities on to the visuals, monster battles and combat systems.

It still hugs the same story beats - a plucky band of eco-terrorists fighting a megacorporation bleeding the planet of its lifeforce - but, controversially, pulls a Harry Potter and splits the narrative into an unspecified number of episodes, of which this is just the first. A plot that was once mildly padded has become flabby with extended, repetitive sequences.

Yet there's much to admire here. Beyond the sometimes stilted dialogue lie several beautiful and funny relationships. The monster encounters - once turn-based and ponderous - now run in real time and slow-mo, proving frantic yet mentally challenging and requiring their rock-paper-scissors facets to be unpicked. Graphically, it veers between stunning and mundane, but emphasises the former.

Who knows how long we'll have to wait for the next episode (years, obviously) and Remake doesn't even get to the most shocking, most intriguing scene of the original. A leaner FFVII would have been perfect for JRPG fans. This sterling effort will have to suffice in the interim.


A Fold Apart

(iOS, Switch, PC) ★★★ Age: 12+

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A Fold Apart

A Fold Apart

A Fold Apart

Isolation due to Covid-19 gives everyone a taste of what a long-distance relationship feels like. A Fold Apart explores such an enforced separation of a couple due to diverging career paths.

It marries a storyline sensitively handled - the longing, the in-jokes, the miscommunication - to a paper-folding puzzle mechanic. Flip and fold the scenery to build paths for the characters to walk (and talk) through a papercraft world.

It's at once ingenious and interesting but is almost undone by the awkward folding interactions that don't always respond to your input.


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