[GAME DIARY] ‘FFVII Rebirth’ entry No. 1: Did anyone else get demolished by Midgardsormr? 

Gelo Gonzales

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[GAME DIARY] ‘FFVII Rebirth’ entry No. 1: Did anyone else get demolished by Midgardsormr? 

MIDGARSORMR. The game's first real boss fight was deliberately designed to be tough.

Screenshot by Rappler

Or how I was essentially told to ‘git gud’ by director Naoki Hamaguchi 

It’s been a week since Final Fantasy VII Rebirth came out, and most likely, you’ve already come across the game’s first real boss, Midgardsormr, the big snake baddie that tito OG PlayStation gamers surely remember… despite the new-ish name.

And most likely, if you’re the type of gamer who wants to blast through large chunks of the main quest first before trying out the side quests like me, odds are, Midgardsormr absolutely crushed your behind. He was surprisingly tough, and I don’t remember the last time I was surprised by how tough a JRPG boss is. 

My giant-scaled friend was so tough that, during our interview with director Naoki Hamaguchi, I had to ask him about it. And he said that yes, they deliberately made the boss harder to encourage the players to explore the map first, fight a few more battles, and check out some of the sidequests in the area. It was a way to instruct players that exploration really has an important role in this game.

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(Plus, Hamaguchi felt like he was really emphasizing that they worked hard on the game’s sidequests, and thus, would want players to see them.)

He added as well that some, who are more familiar with the game, will be able to move through that first boss battle with little issue. But for people “that are not very familiar,” it’s best to explore, level up, and basically, as gamers would say “git gud” (get good). 

My gamer pride was hurt a bit. I thought I was a pretty good FFVII Remake player! 

But anyway, git gud I did. I raised my level by maybe 2 or 3, fixed my equipment and materia, and finally went out to meet my serpentine sweetheart…and proceeded to get my rear handed to me again. What in the name of Demon’s Souls is this?

Anyway, I finally did it in the next try, so take that Midgardsormr. It’s always so satisfying to take down a boss after having a tough time, yes? Here’s my video of that:

[GAME DIARY] ‘FFVII Rebirth’ entry No. 1: Did anyone else get demolished by Midgardsormr? 

Now, I’m 14 hours in, and currently at Chapter 7. There has been a lot of bosses, and most of them really offer a fun challenge, and I’ve died a few times against them, but Midgardsormr has been the hardest still. 

On that note, I would just like to commend how great the boss fights in this game are. The game’s been a great boss run for me. They’re quite varied, the designs are amazing, and so far, no two bosses have been the same. 

And the oldest rule in FFVII still applies: if you’re fighting a mechanical robot boss, use lightning. I’ve yet to see an exception to the rule.

Every boss you fight, you need to figure out their attack patterns, and when to dodge and when to block, like a traditional action game. And of course, along with that, there’s the menu-based combat options that you need to find the right timing for.

In difficult boss battles, making just one wrong menu choice in combat spells the difference between winning and losing, and that’s part of the reason why they’re so fun and exciting.

The new synergy abilities, which let two characters do team-up actions and attacks, are a wonderful new addition, that among other reasons, really give you a sense that your characters are working with one another.

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CHARACTER FOCUS. The game emphasizes building relationships among the main characters, and it tells you when your relationship with a character has deepened, a feature that wasn’t in the first Remake game.

Sometimes, bosses have multiple phases too, and a short in-game cinematic plays out to show you that you’re moving on to a next part in the battle. 

I’ve always been a great enjoyer of the battle system introduced in Remake, and it returns with a little more depth, and more customization options – and it showcases best during the boss battles. It challenges you to think. What’s the best way to deal with this boss? Or when it’s possible to select party members, which combination of characters might be best to use? 

It’s just fun, and the bosses are one of the things that have kept me glued. One of the things I dislike though is that the characters don’t seem to acknowledge that they’ve just gone through a big boss battle. 

There’s nothing like an epic “Midgardsormr vanquished” message on the screen like Final Fantasy XVI, or the characters being depicted as having had a tough time. After a boss, they often move on too quickly like nothing happened, and in doing that, well, winning the battle is just a little bit less satisfying. 

Even the classic victory music would have been great after a boss battle! I’d understand why playing that music might have been repetitive in normal battles, but maybe they should’ve used it for after-boss battles. That would’ve been nice. 

And Rebirth has a lot of minigames, doesn’t it? They’re mostly simple affairs (although I love the piano playing mechanic, shown below, and I’m excited to get more sheet music) but I think they’re a nice palate cleanser from the primary exploration and battle sequences. I do think that there are moments when they break the momentum of the game. 

[GAME DIARY] ‘FFVII Rebirth’ entry No. 1: Did anyone else get demolished by Midgardsormr? 

I’ve come to accept that it’s kind of a goofy game too, a little more so than Remake (see: Red XIII cosplaying as a human). Sometimes, it feels off, because along with the minigames, it overshadows the urgency in a mission involving the impending death of a planet.

I understand that maybe the developers didn’t want this to be an all-too-serious affair, but the tonal shift sometimes gives me whiplash. It can sometimes vascillate wildly between heavy, existential, doomsday scenes often involving main antagonist Sephiroth, and scenes that just feel a tad too cartoony.

I think, partly, the original FFVII got away with such a tone because the old graphics were blocky, chibi-style renditions. These remake titles are obviously much more realistic, so it feels like the cartoony moments could have maybe used some toning down, perhaps? But that’s me, so what did you think?

What else? I think the pacing so far in Rebirth is better. The dungeon runs are just the right size, ending with a boss before getting too repetitive. For exploration, I like the button memorization minigame for gathering intel on summons. The chocobos are also, I’m happy to report, as cute as ever, and just as fun to ride. And I’ve been playing in graphics mode to avoid the blurry textures issue. 

See you in entry two! And do share your thoughts to! – 

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Gelo Gonzales

Gelo Gonzales is Rappler’s technology editor. He covers consumer electronics, social media, emerging tech, and video games.