Crisis Core -Final Fantasy VII- Reunion Review
Crisis Core -Final Fantasy VII- Reunion or just Crisis Core Reunion moving forward, is a remaster of the fan-favorite PSP title from 2008. The PSP is a treasure trove of all things JRPG; among my personal favorites, which include Persona 3 Portable and the underrated Jeanne d’Arc, I also have a soft spot for Crisis Core, a game that has proven to be a classic.
A part of me wanted a remaster of Crisis Core, but another part wasn’t actively seeking it. While my colleagues’ enthusiastic preview reinforced some confidence in me, I wasn’t looking forward to experiencing the weird controls once again. As with all things JRPG and Square Enix, we tend to put up with awkward designs for a dose of nostalgia and some good old-fashioned cut scenes.
Did Crisis Core Reunion stand the test of time, or is it just another trek back to a nostalgia-fueled re-release that preys on our weak but willing hearts? Get those yearbooks ready, because it’s time for a long-awaited reunion.
Back to Simpler Times
I mostly had good memories with this game when I played it back in 2008, highlighted by the many missions, robust Materia crafting system, and cinematic cut scenes. Porting it over and remastering Crisis Core for current-gen systems was probably no easy task, especially when all of this was made for a much smaller screen.
Did they succeed? Yes, in my opinion. Crisis Core Reunion looks and feels good to play, all while preserving its charm and capturing the imagination of a newer generation the same way Nier Replicant did the same with its remaster.
Nostalgia plays an important factor in the enjoyment of Crisis Core Reunion. It is quite heartening to play again as Zack Fair, but I also forgot the tonal inconsistencies with JRPGs that enter cringe territory. I played the game with Japanese dialogue, but reading the subtitles can be somewhat grating. Conversely, the appearance of familiar characters like Sephiroth, Aerith, and the Turks made Zack’s interaction with them slightly endearing.
To be honest, I had completely forgotten about Genesis and Angeal, so playing the game again was a refresher on who they were and what they did. While they do have their own charm while sticking to their script, they are mostly forgettable overall and really served as plot devices to push forward the inevitable events that would reveal Zack and Sephiroth’s eventual destinies.
I had mixed feelings about the combat back in 2008, but the improved controls for Crisis Core Reunion allowed for seamless gameplay. While I’ll talk about the DMW mechanic in detail later, the controls are definitely intuitive. You can attack, block, dodge, use items, and use Materia spells and skills with ease, and this is certainly one part of the game that’s been improved to fit modern sensibilities.
Among other improvements, the camera has also improved with Crisis Core Reunion, giving us more angles to view the action along with the implementation of a lock-on function. It’s quite important, as while many of the spells and skills do have some splash damage, certain limit breaks target a single enemy.
All of the RPG basics you’ve come to expect are there, from enemy weaknesses to implementing buffs and status effects. All the aforementioned elements really made the improvement of the targeting system worthwhile to discuss, allowing for more robust and strategic gameplay without an overreliance on luck to complete encounters.
While the developers realized that RPG mechanics had massively improved since 2008, they were also conscious that Crisis Core Reunion is not Final Fantasy VII Remake and respected that boundary. Personally, there were some features that I felt could’ve been retroactively added from Final Fantasy VII Remake, but I appreciate that Crisis Core Reunion stood on its own accord.
DMW stands for RNG
My biggest critique of Crisis Core is based on the improvement of the Digital Mind Wave or DMW mechanic that existed in both games. While the game is mostly straightforward, playing through the story campaign and leveling up through the side quests (missions), your progression and general quality of life are largely dependent on the DMW.
The DMW determines if you’re able to utilize your limit breaks and summons. If they trigger, you’re able to receive stat bonuses, extra SP, and also deal massive damage to your enemies, giving you an edge. Just like its previous iterations, the limit breaks and summons also feature some of the sequences we’re looking forward to seeing, and they’re perfectly preserved in its remaster.
Furthermore, you’re even able to gain some bonus effects, such as invincibility against physical or magic damage, no MP or AP usage, and even the Endure status effect, without the need to expend your items. In fact, you can even get better results with the DMW for certain characters and summons depending on certain items you own, like the Chocobo Feather, or by using Zack’s heightened emotions.
I would really relegate the DMW as an added bonus and not expect it to be a consistent feature. However, leveling up Zack and your Materia is dependent on the DMW, and while there’s some novelty in adding a bit of randomization to shake things up, grinding can be a chore.
Materia synthesis somewhat balances out the DMW mechanic, allowing you to take the Materia you collect from missions and enemy drops and grind to your heart’s content, improving them into more powerful Material for the toughest enemies. This lessens the RNG effect that pervades the game and places some semblance of certainty that can be relied upon.
With ten chapters, you can easily take 24–30 hours to complete Crisis Core Reunion in Normal mode. Hard mode is available to challenge yourself, and I’m so glad for the skip cinematic mechanic for repeat playthroughs.
What We Liked:
- Improved combat with intuitive controls similar to Final Fantasy VII Remake.
- Perfectly preserved visuals and cut scenes from the original.
- DMW improves as a mechanic, a nice extra during Missions.
What We Didn’t Like:
- Overall minor presentation hiccups like washed-out colors, some framerate dips during cinematics, and repetitive level design.
- Tonal inconsistencies with dialogue and a forgettable plot for the first half of the game.
- RNG-based leveling can be an annoyance.
Verdict: Buy It!
Crisis Core -Final Fantasy VII- Reunion is a nostalgia-fueled balancing act of mechanics that worked and flawed creative choices. Despite some annoyances, the odds tipped in favor of a fun return to this prequel to a beloved franchise. Nostalgia wins, in the end, to provide a bittersweet homecoming with familiar characters and an improved combat and crafting system to match modern sensibilities.
Reiterating my opinion with JRPGs, as fans, we usually put up with awkward designs for a dose of what we loved about the genre. Crisis Core Reunion delivers both in spades. It has an improved Materia synthesis system to balance out the randomized progression with DMW. Each line of cringe-worthy dialogue by Zack actually endears him, leading to his iconic last stand, and for every forgettable new character introduced, we’re reintroduced back to fan favorites like Sephiroth and Aerith.
Part of the charm of Crisis Core Reunion is this tug-of-war of conflicting systems that may not work for others looking for a completely consistent experience. The best part about it is that it prepares us for the ultimate homecoming, which is the eventual release of Final Fantasy VII Rebirth come Winter next year.
*Crisis Core -Final Fantasy VII- Reunion was reviewed on a PS5 with a code provided by the publisher.