Games I Play: Crisis Core -Final Fantasy VII- Reunion

With Final Fantasy VII: Rebirth around the corner I finally mustered up the courage to play Crisis Core. I’ve owned on PSP forever but never got around to playing it, partially due to fear that it’d soil my pristine memory of Final Fantasy VII as a perfect game in its own right. But now that the remakes are flipping everything on its head anyway and Crisis Core got its own fancy remake treatment, it was finally time.

Crisis Core acts as a prequel to Final Fantasy VII. Following the lovable idiot SOLDIER Zack Fair as he goes to work. Through disjointed dialog and weird bromances, eventually it becomes a story about cruel science experiments, big corporations being evil, and pondering the big questions in life.

The core gameplay is a mission-based gameplay loop with action combat and a slot reel called “Digital Mind Wave” (yes, you read that right). It’s actually quite a fun battle system that rewards preparation, experimenting with materia, and playing well. Materia, of course, being the iconic orbs introduced in the original Final Fantasy VII that carries various skills and abilities.

I had a lot of fun trying different materia combinations and battle strategies. Later in the game, some of the battles were quite challenging if you hadn’t spent time with the gameplay systems. The problem is that the game structure is very repetitive and most of the it consists of mundane battles and facing down the same enemies over and over. So much so that the game only became bearable when I allowed myself to skip most side missions, focus on the main story, and learned to hug the walls of the small maps to avoid encounters.

While the story is sloppily written with some quite jarring dialog, it’s also quite charming in that mid-00s Japanese way. Some of the character interactions, especially with characters that later show up in Final Fantasy VII, are really heart-warming. It also does shed some additional light on the convoluted story of Final Fantasy VII, even though it does feel tacked on after the fact at times.

Things I liked:

  • Materia is always great, all games should have materia
  • Some welcome character development of familiar Final Fantasy VII characters
  • Solid battle system
  • A surprising dose of humor
  • Exploring parts of Final Fantasy VII again

Things I didn’t like:

  • Extremely repetitive gameplay structure
  • Disjointed story and stiff dialog

Overall the negatives her are pretty big negatives, meaning Crisis Core wasn’t a great experience overall. Still, as I’m almost done with Final Fantasy VII: Rebirth I’m glad I powered through Crisis Core before I dove in. Rebirth ties back to Crisis Core in unexpected and interesting ways so it’s clear that the team at Square Enix is treating this as an integral part of the story. Even though I wish they wouldn’t keep that story trapped in this particular game…