In moments of parting

Final Fantasy VII Remake launched mid-April to generally positive reviews, currently holding an 88% at Metacritic. Square-Enix carefully crafted its remake to encapsulate much of what fans grew to love in the original Final Fantasy VII while adding some unexpected and sometimes sigh-inducing twists and turns. One thing most people agree on, however, is how wonderfully crafted the combat system felt. Still, the 35ish hour adventure had to come to an end after escaping the Shinra tower, leaving fans who were fully immersed in the story telling and characters feeling a bit empty. After I completed my platinum trophy run, I, too, felt the void left from Final Fantasy VII Remake. While I had some narrative issues with the game, the overall experience was as good as I could have hoped for. Once those credits rolled after I completed my hard run, and after I swept up a few remaining trophies, I wondered to myself: What game could possibly follow?

We’ll try to help you fill that void.

5 – Trials of Mana (2020)

At the end of April, Square-Enix launched the Trials of Mana remake. Earlier this year, the Collections of Mana launched with the SNES version of Trials of Mana available for the first time in English. The remake sees the game beautifully remade as a fully realized 3D action RPG. With combat reminiscent of Ni No Kuni 2, Trails of Mana picks up with a quick pace and may fill that ARPG void that FFVIIR left. Trails of Mana features multiple story views from six playable characters, each with their own unique style. If an action JRPG is what you’re searching for, this one may sate your appetite. 

4 – Final Fantasy VIII Remaster / Final Fantasy IX

Whether you played Final Fantasy VIII is irrelevant: If you’re searching for a game to replace the epic storytelling and characterizations from Final Fantasy VII, these two entries will satisfy your need for memorable characters and outrageous plot points. If there’s one thing to be said for Final Fantasy VIII – my personal favorite FF entry – it’s that it has some of the best character development in the franchise. IX comes in a close second, particularly in Kuja’s case, but IX also offers a stronger narrative (both are good, and VIII’s narrative is more to drive the theme of the game, which makes it a really interesting study). Both are available on all current consoles, so it’s easy to access this once you complete Remake. 

3 – I am Setsuna

If you’re a fan of the gritty narrative spun through Final Fantasy VII Remake, then you’ll have a great time with each one of Tokyo RPG Factory’s entries ( I am Setsuna, Lost Sphear, and Oninaki). I am Setsuna, for me, is still the strongest game, featuring a retro feel with clever turn based combat and a story that will make your heart ache. If you’re looking to sate your action RPG appetite, Oninaki might be a better choice. And while Oninaki starts off as a brutal experience, it gradually evolves into an enjoyable, strategic ARPG – with, perhaps, the most emotional story of the bunch. If you haven’t checked out any of the Tokyo RPG Factory set of games, you really should – especially if you enjoy retro gaming vibes. 

2 – Crisis Core: Final Fantasy VII

If you’re still in the mood to consume more of the Final Fantasy VII story, look no further than Crisis Core. The game takes place during the life of Zack Fair, a soldier candidate under the tutelage of Soldier First Class Angeal. During the war with Wutai, Soldier First Class Genesis defects, convincing a slew of Shinra operatives to abandon the company with him. Zack’s mission evolves, from finishing his work in Wutai to searching for Genesis to more. He even gets to travel alongside Sephiroth and various members of the Turks, giving players an awesome insight into Shinra and the people involved. It’s as perfect a narrative prequel as one could hope for, and those who’ve played it typically loved the experience. I have played through the game multiple times, most recently in March. Crisis Core features a mixture of action and turn based elements that work extremely well on the PSP. We’re still hoping for a PS4 remaster – particularly so fans who never owned a PSP can enjoy this gem. 

1 – Final Fantasy VII 

I mean, you knew this would take our top spot, right? Final Fantasy VII is legendary among western RPGs, and it really helped draw in the wonderful library of JRPGs we have access to now. At the time, Final Fantasy VII was unlike much of what we had seen. It featured impressive combat graphics and an engrossing story with even more memorable characters. It helped shaped me as a gamer, but it also blossomed within me a love for literature and helped push me toward my career choice. If the first time you played Final Fantasy VII was in your formative years, like me, then it definitely had a huge impact. If you haven’t played Final Fantasy VII yet, it still holds up pretty well, even compared to modern standards. Final Fantasy VII is a piece of video game history that should be played to foster an understanding of where the Final Fantasy series is now.