If someone had told me I’d only be discovering my game of the year in the second half of December, I wouldn’t have believed them, but here we are. A couple of days ago, I finished Crisis Core: Final Fantasy VII Reunion for the first time, and it’s time to sit down and talk about it. Huge thanks to Square Enix for providing me with the review copy of the game – I’ve been given plenty of amazing opportunities by this company this year and I’m incredibly grateful for the continuous chances they’ve been taking on me as a content creator. This review does not contain any story spoilers for the game, so feel free to read through it!
Now, onto Crisis Core! The most important thing to talk about is, without a doubt, the game’s story. I’m normally not a fan of completely wholesome, positive characters as I find it a lot more appealing to play as someone a bit dark and dysfunctional, but I’ve gotta say that Zack Fair has completely won me over. The positive energy, hope, love and almost child-like innocence he radiates is contagious, turning every one of the 10 chapters into a pleasant experience I looked forward to, while not wanting the previous one to end. The story of Crisis Core Reunion cuts deep; it’s an emotional roller-coaster that tugs at the heartstrings with no apologies, no matter who you are. If you’re the kind of person who plays for the story, there is plenty of satisfaction (and emotional damage) waiting for you along the way, and honestly, I hope you’ll experience both, as that’s definitely the designed experience!
When it comes to voice acting, things get a little rocky for me, as I may have made the mistake of playing this game in English. For me, some voice actors were either a hit or miss, with Genesis being the absolute highlight of the game. I honestly wish I could say the same for Zack, as I loved most of his voice lines, but some of the iconic moments felt like they were lacking the emotional depth that could’ve been achieved with a voice that didn’t constantly remind you it was.. Well, there – and being kicked out of your own immersion due to the voice being a bit unconvincing is definitely something you want to avoid feeling. On my next playthrough, I’m definitely going to choose Japanese voice acting, as I’m hearing very good things about all of the main characters’ voices, and from the little that I’ve had the chance to hear, I’d highly recommend it to you, too. The fact that IRL Zack and Aerith are actually married makes the whole experience more enjoyable in my opinion, and I’ll be looking forward to experiencing it and letting you know how I felt about the voice acting in my second playthrough. On the bright side, the entirety of the game is voiced, and talking to different NPCs across the game is one of the most satisfying activities as you’re walking around and exploring!
I’m pretty sure that almost everyone who plays Crisis Core Reunion is in it for the story, but apart from just that, there’s an actual good game in the background, too. The game systems like materia fusion and the DMW are a joy to explore and play around with; the combat is responsive and made me feel like I was casting and hitting before even pressing my buttons fully. Having the chance to explore different materia builds is a lot of fun, as you can save presets depending on whether you’re trying to be more tanky, be a better spell-caster, or something completely different. The addition of random combat is somewhat annoyingly nostalgic, but considering how quickly you level up by participating in those mini battles, it’s very satisfying. I didn’t get to toy around with materia fusion and buster sword proficiency grind as much as I would have liked, but those two systems are something I feel like I want to get into more as I explore the game’s higher difficulty.
The best way to actually explore combat is the side Missions, which is an incredibly addictive game mode that has you do both side quests and missions that give you gear, materia, summons and so much more. By the time I finished the game, I was only at around 30% of all the completed missions, and there’s still so much to do in order to push me past my close to 20-hour playthrough. They’re fast, rewarding, and an overall blast to play through – especially the ones that give you additional lore on some of the characters!
Crisis Core Reunion’s art is something I feel quite at home with, especially after playing through Final Fantasy VII Remake. I love that the visual assets are freely shared between the two games, as I got to relive some incredible moments from Remake by just walking around Midgar, the train station, and some other areas. Both the characters and the monsters look incredible, and there’s so much effort put into everything that makes up the world. The game is a treat for the eyes, especially for the long-time fans who have been waiting for Crisis Core’s remaster for so long. For me, the summon animations are the absolute highlight of the artistic value of this game, as the art team decided to go all out and demonstrate what exactly they can do given time and resources.
Another form of art I was quite amazed by is the music. A lot of the soundtracks will shower you with nostalgia if you’ve played any of the Final Fantasy VII games before, and even if you haven’t, you’re in for a treat. The mood matches the soundtrack perfectly in all of the cutscenes, dragging you out of action-packed, vivid tunes, straight into gentle melodies that melt your heart, and you won’t even mind.
When it comes to the game’s overall performance, I have to say that this is one of the most responsive, crisp and smooth games I’ve played in a long time. As I stream most of my playthroughs, I’m normally very cautious about playing on the highest settings as my hardware still has things that could be upgraded considering what I do for a living. I was able to unapologetically crank Crisis Core Reunion up and not experience a single stutter, dropped frame or a lag, as the game is just so very well made. Even if your hardware is pushing and shoving through the struggle of playing some of the newer games, I’m very confident that you’ll be running Crisis Core Reunion quite smoothly.
That’s pretty much it for now when it comes to my first thoughts on Crisis Core FFVII Reunion. If you have any questions or feedback of your own, I’d love to see them in the comments! You can find my full playthrough here, should you want to check it out, but beware of the spoilers and tread through the lore bits carefully if you haven’t played yet. If you’d like to check out the game, here’s the Steam link. Enjoy, have fun and I’ll see you next time. Bye bye!