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Let’s cut straight to the chase: Ever Crisis is the Final Fantasy VII universe, gacha-fied. The premise is to witness events from Final Fantasy VII, Crisis Core, and The First Soldier in digestible story chunks. It is designed from the ground up to play like a mobile game — despite various forms of marketing obscuring this fact, it is not a “remake” of any of the Final Fantasy VII properties. You pick a mission from a menu, a cutscene plays, and an auto-battle follows. Rinse, repeat. That is the basic structure. Some areas are slightly fleshed out to be “dungeons,” but they are only two or three screens in length and are mostly just there for flavour.
You play through them in the story missions, which also unlocks them officially as replayable Criterion Dungeons. It’s cute enough to romp through familiar areas once more, but the immersion factor is largely absent. Even iconic areas such as the first Mako Reactor from the opening sequence of Final Fantasy VII feel like little more than tick-boxes of obtained loot and battles fought. It’s a funny thing, really; most field maps in RPGs are just a visual set dressing for cutscenes, battles, or opening chests, yet their presentation in Ever Crisis rings a touch more hollow than traditional RPGs. I suppose, when the rest of the game is navigating menus, it makes one wonder if superficial explorable areas are necessary.
It’s unfortunate that a lot of the marketing for Final Fantasy VII: Ever Crisis seems to portray the game as a one-for-one remake of the original game with updated field map and battle graphics when that is simply not the case. However, despite the jarring nature of a beloved game and two of its spin-offs reconstructed in a very middling mobile format, it’s enjoyable having these side stories accessible with a consistent delivery. I didn’t even realise The First Soldier had a storyline until I played Ever Crisis, nor that it’s considered canon alongside Crisis Core. I think this is the biggest takeaway of the game for those who aren’t interested in the inevitable grind and power creep of mobile games.
The order in which story segments become available is staggered across the three games, so you start with a chunk of Final Fantasy VII, then move across to what’s currently available for Crisis Core (i.e., very little), and then spend some time with The First Soldier. It’s a fresh approach that will probably be more enjoyable to those already familiar with at least one of the games. It completely shakes up how the narrative is delivered and means you’re thinking about different story elements from across the IP. However, it’s still rehashing storylines that we already know, and they’re obviously going to be drip-fed to us over a long time period to keep the game sustainable as a live service.
Anyway, doom and gloom aside, Ever Crisis has plenty of story opportunities for those interested in the Final Fantasy VII universe. It breaks narrative points up into digestible chunks, and while there is limited content available at launch, it could potentially cover three games’ worth of complete storylines at some point in the future. I wouldn’t hold my breath on this happening anytime soon. What will they do when the games’ storylines are complete? Make up new ones? It leaves an uncertainty that makes me question the longevity of this title, but at the same time, it will be a fun little game to play alongside the Remake releases. All mobile games, nay, all live service games in general, must come to an end one day, and if this can keep going until the third and final Remake installment, then it will have served a purpose. From what I’ve seen so far, the First Soldier storyline is compelling and drew me in just as much as any of the other Final Fantasy VII arcs, but once this mobile game is closed down it will, once again, vanish forever. It’s a shame Square Enix isn’t interested in investing these storylines into more tangible and permanent games, but that’s modern gaming for you.
Overall, Ever Crisis is an easy recommendation for fans of Final Fantasy VII — in any form — if you go into it knowing what to expect with its mobile caveats. So long as you aren’t vulnerable to excessive spending to your detriment, it brings three Final Fantasy VII IPs to modern audiences while giving them a consistent aesthetic that helps them all feel truly connected.