At the beginning of this year I made a video discussing the top 10 games I was most excited for in 2020 (check in out in the link here). In at number 10 was Final Fantasy VII Remake. I’ll be honest with you dear reader, that entry snuck into last place purely as a joke given my interest in Final Fantasy games and JRPG’s were practically non-existent.

Not long into the new year my funny little joke came back to bite me in the arse because every trailer and advertisement I saw for the upcoming remake looked great to me. I made another video (yeah yeah Mike you make videos, we get it) talking about how I went from not caring about Final Fantasy VII Remake to the game becoming a surprise contender for my game of the year. To avoid going over old territory, check out my journey to loving this remake in the video here:

As surprising as all of this was for me, I half expected my Final Fantasy adventure to start and end with the remake. Well that wasn’t the case.. If you had told me at the beginning of January 2020 that we’d have a global pandemic that completely shuts half the world for most the year and I’d play a grand total of FOUR Final Fantasy games, I’d have been way more inclined to believe the former. 

You see once I’d finished with Remake, I began telling everyone who’d listen about the itch. The itch to play more of the same despite other massive games like The Last of Us Part 2 and Ghost of Tsushima on the horizon. My first attempt to scratch the itch came with my purchase of the original Final Fantasy VII on the Nintendo Switch. It meant that I could see how the original story plays out while I’m on the move. Sadly it turned out I wouldn’t be on the move too much due to Covid so at the time of writing I’m still in the early stages. Also I’ll be brutally honest, the late 90’s visuals is nice and nostalgic but makes it difficult for me to put together long sessions.

After discussing all of this with fellow Respawners Javier & Luke, I was then convinced to dip my toes in non FFVII waters. Jav convinced me to give Final Fantasy X a go which was his favourite before Remake, while Luke linked me to a cheap copy of Final Fantasy XV on the advice that it’s the closest game to Remake in style and gameplay. Turns out they were both spot on, fair play lads.

Starting with Final Fantasy X. I’ve chosen to play it on the Switch and I’m glad I did. The remastered PS2 title looks surprisingly excellent on the smaller handheld screen and being able to pick it up and play in small chunks is suiting me down to the ground. I will say that my love for this franchise hasn’t been enough to fully convert me to turn based combat yet but I’m enjoying my time with it nonetheless. 

I will also say that, much like the original FFVII, it didn’t quite scratch that Remake itch despite my enjoyment of the game. However it did open me up to a type of JRPG that I would never have played had I not gone down this road. Oh boy I’m so glad I did. The story has me gripped, I have no idea how my team is going to take down the gigantic world destroyer that is Sin and the characters are more than enough to keep me picking my Switch up again and again. Especially Wakka, Wakka is my boy!

Then came Final Fantasy XV. Finally that itch was well and truly scratched in glorious fashion. I genuinely don’t think there’s an element to FFXV that I don’t like. I love the Kingdom of Lucis as a world to explore. After 30 hours of exploring Lucis I’ve just arrived into Altissia for the first time and my jaw nearly hit the floor with how epic it looked. The story isn’t perfect so far (still time for it to stick the landing though) but I’m enjoying it enough to keep going. The gameplay is so much fun too and feels like the natural predecessor to Remake which is a real winner for me. The best part about this game though is undeniably the characters.

I absolutely love everything about the close group of friends who embark on this giant adventure and I think that’s the main glue which holds my new love for Final Fantasy together. My adoration for Noctis, Gladiolus, Ignis and my main boy Prompto (I need more Prompto in my life please) reflects how much I care about Cloud, Aerith, Tifa and Barrett. Same goes for Tidus and co. The quality of story or gameplay may vary for me from title to title but the strength of these game’s characters never ever fails, and I think that’s the reason I can now call myself a Final Fantasy fan. The endless optimism from all these names mentioned is infectious, their chemistry is heart warming and their individual journeys are often more interesting than the main mission our protagonists find themselves in.

So there we have it. Somewhere between being interested by this pretty looking remake and trying out a couple of Switch games, I’ve become strangely addicted to a franchise which wasn’t even on my radar 12 months ago. Even during one of the recent PS5 showcases I found myself more excited for the newest Final Fantasy than most other games.. Who am I?! Damn 2020 is weird. 

Thank you for reading. Once I finally finish FFXV and FFX, is there another must play in the franchise? Let me know by hitting me up on Twitter @RespawningUK or @MikeyGalaszia and I’ll get back to you. Stay safe.