Review – Crisis Core: Final Fantasy VII Reunion

I can vividly recall my initial experience with Crisis Core when it was released back on the PSP. It was during the time I was undergoing radiation treatment – with my cancerous tumor moving behind my brain stem; it was inoperable. This game was the only thing keeping me sane while I spent weeks in the hospital. From what I remember, it also did splendidly well. So, imagine my glee once I saw the unveiling of an enhanced remaster for it. It honestly felt like visiting an old friend, someone that provided entertainment at such a pivotal point in my life. It’s rather poetic, too, because as I’m writing, that same tumor is currently shrinking, albeit still in a precarious position. Think about that, though; both playing instances were at either end of the spectrum. It’s undoubtedly personally significant, but how’s the quality?

Final Fantasy VII: Crisis Core Reunion - Zack is calling in an air strike!

You know, it’s sad that I owned a flip phone JUST like Zack’s. I’ve never felt older.



For anyone unaware, Crisis Core is the prequel to the lauded Final Fantasy VII, existing to give context to certain events. Any questions or curiosities from the original are satiated as this story unravels – the biggest recipient is Shinra. We witness every incident that led them down the road to being FFVII antagonists. It also serves to, believe it or not, humanize them. We meet several friendly soldiers with respectable goals like protecting loved ones, to even a recruit suffering from self-confidence issues, thus slotting in an element of relatability. As someone with imposter syndrome, I could see myself in his shoes and understand his blight. Sure, it’s a small detail, but things like that help create immense immersion. Well, that and the organically flowing dialogue inject realism into the conversations. 

Alright, the individual I’m sure everyone is anxious to learn more about is the penultimate villain of Final Fantasy VII – SOLDIER 1st Class, Sephiroth. I’m not going to divulge much here, but know his mystique remains intact. His demeanor left me just as engrossed as it did elsewhere. Being aware that he eventually becomes a menace, I watched his every action with the utmost attention. Any cracks that appeared in his persona had my ears perking up as I leaned forward. It was simply fascinating to see glimmers of humanity in a man that eventually causes such devastation. It was equally as jarring to watch him be so cordial with both Genesis and Angeal. Yet, despite his willingness to converse and joke with his fellow SOLDIER officers, lingered a distant facade. He’s strictly business, and unraveling his truth is just as gripping as it’s ever been.

Running through a cave on a mission.

Nothing witty to say. I just can’t get over how beautiful fidelity is.

Now, the following statement may be considered blasphemous, but honestly, I understand why Sephiroth threatens the planet in Final Fantasy VII. It’s a weird thing to admit, given, again, how much destruction he’s responsible for. Sure, his choice of activities is questionable and invoking the bloodshed he does isn’t agreeable. To say it’s not warranted, though, just isn’t something I believe. Crisis Core cements itself as a critical piece of the puzzle thanks to the stuff it reveals. How it forces me to reevaluate someone proven to be pure evil and even empathize is kind of applaudable. This narrative the title weaves is captivating, with an interesting background being the proverbial icing on the cake. I greatly adore how it also fleshes out Cloud and everyone else, giving them new context. Hell, it has single-handedly amplified any excitement for Part 2 of the Remake – it’s overflowing.



When it comes to the plotline, there are four crucial characters: Genesis, Sephiroth, Angeal, and of course, Zack Fair. The bulk of interactions meant to push progression typically consists of one speaking to either each other or someone different. They have an essential role, and due to that, they need a spectacular personality that can hook me. It’s important that they can endear themselves, and they do, for varying reasons. Zack is hyperactive, always itching to partake in a mission, while Angeal has this stoic charisma and an authoritative tone to his voice. Their relationship is centered around mentorship and mutual respect that blossoms with every passing hour. Their banter is especially a highlight, pulling a couple of smiles with soft chortles mixed in for good measure. We also see the evolution of a brotherhood built on trust and admiration, making for a better romp.

Final Fantasy VII: Crisis Core Reunion - Sephiroth, Angeal, and Genesis spar.

Fun fact – I voiced and did the sound effects of this scene for a school project! I failed.

If you’ve played Final Fantasy VII, then The Turks is a name that rings familiar. Well, they return and are unexpectedly a source of humor. Their dry witticisms won’t cause you to piss your pants, but, much like the banter, garners a chuckle here and there. They’re a stellar group, but the star is a girl named Cissnei. Her arc’s superb, and I love how Squeenix conveys her throughout the game. If I described her, I reckon she embodies the girl next door with a kickass presence to offset perceived innocence. Her infectious compassion underlines moments of vulnerability. Some of the quips she utters, particularly in later chapters, are also funny in their own right. They’re a combination of flirty and snark. Sure, her part doesn’t truly begin until hours in, but, for my money, that wait is worth it. 

Finally, we have Genesis, a man with a unique speech pattern, unlike anything I’ve ever seen. It has eloquence, and while he doesn’t always speak with such flair, the fact it makes sense whenever he does is bloody clever. The novelty of it doesn’t grate either due to being infrequently utilized. Admittedly, my first impressions were that it seemed cheesy and forced. It wasn’t until I’d focused closer on the words with an alternate perspective that I began cluing into the more profound meaning. By then, I was absolutely smitten with the ideology behind his dialogue, but I do fear a player with an impartial view of the storytelling may not feel the same luster as me. I’m afraid they’ll look at it and cringe. The mileage varies, as it were, but I wanted to highlight the method to the madness.

Zack is doing Squats again.

I’m going to start doing sudden squats during conversations, just to see the reactions.



It’s no exaggeration to say that before coming into Crisis Core, ready the tear ducts and gather tissues. A rollercoaster of emotions littered with peaks and valleys awaits that even had me struggling to muscle through on occasion. I was engaged from start to finish, stunned by specific scenarios. The literary prowess is gorgeous, setting the stage for a climax that, even though I was prepared for it, still blindsided me, leaving me a wreck. I can’t get over how effortlessly the writing makes me care about Zack, too. His duality of being silly, doing spontaneous squats in the middle of discussions, to having a no-nonsense approach to his SOLDIER duties shows a layered character. Experiencing his growth is a real treat because of how natural it feels. We watch maturity seep but, luckily, never overshadow his whimsy attitude.

Aerith, however, is divisive as hell with the fandom. During the original PlayStation version, she’s devoid of much personality. Back then, Crisis Core was a fantastic bridge for justifying her blandness. Now, with the remake, she’s been revitalized. Square Enix has successfully nailed it. The sheer sass she shows to Zack is unexpected, but I embrace it. It’s nice to see her act like a typical girl, while also sporting actual depth. The relationship that flourishes between the pair is, for lack of a better word, freaking adorable. My favorite aspect, though, is her feelings progressed viscerally and were never shoved down my throat. Instead, it silently evolves, building with each new chapter.

Final Fantasy VII: Crisis Core Reunion - Chatting with Aerith.

Eleven year-old me may or may not have had a crush. Thirty-three year-old me pleads the fifth.

I have to come out and say that she’s incredible, but she’s also a bit of a ditz. In that same breath, I’m not entirely sure it isn’t by design. Aerith is the damsel to Zack’s protectiveness. She entertains his desire to be there for her, giving him self-importance. Yet, at the same time, she isn’t shy about teasing or poking fun. I must admit, her shenanigans put a smirk on my face once or twice. Her appreciation for what he does for her, from constructing a flower wagon to being supportive, is heartwarming. There’s a teenage romance tinge to their interactions – whereas he bends over backwards, trying whatever he can to make her happy, she calls him, using inane tasks as an excuse to hang. Their courtship feels authentic and like watching a movie or being the third wheel – it’s also the cutest darn thing. 

Here’s an observation I’ve commonly seen: Aerith and Cissnei are alike. Hell, the latter girl is touted as having more chemistry with Zack. I agree there are similarities. I even say they’re innocent and prone to being vulnerable, respectively, which loosely means the same thing. Still, there’s a difference to the twosome that helps solidify the dedication devoted to creating a pair of living, breathing women. We’re also shown a camaraderie between genders that is grounded in reality amid this fantasy-drenched setting. It’s absurdly easy to metaphorically blow your load and veer off the rails with unrealistic scenarios, but this title refuses to fall into that trap. There are rules, emotions, and a close friendship that masquerades as amour. It’s that ambiguity that allows people to commit because it keeps them guessing.

Sorting through my equipment and Materia.

I spent way too much time toying with builds and making Zack a serial killer of soldiers.



Back on the PSP, I was hopelessly obsessed with Crisis Core, finding every facet of it alluring. Now in 2022, I’m not only just as obsessed, but I’m pretty sure that addiction is stronger than ever before. Actually, I guarantee it is because the action-centric battle system is orgasmic. Thanks to that delicious haptic feedback of the DualSense, every slash felt impactful and gratifying. The fast-paced combat is unhindered with zero technical hiccups, making a console playthrough one to ponder strongly. Having no delays is glorious but also a double-edged sword. On one hand, it forces me to be diligent in what’s happening, not allowing my concentration to wane and risk defeat. On the other hand, it means the dodge roll lacking the snappiness it needs was a poorly thought-out design choice.

Bluntly put, the clunkiness that affected action titles in the mid-to-late noughts is present. For example, when in the middle of a multi-strike combo, you’re locked in – canceling it midway isn’t viable. The downward swipe animation has to cycle through before evasion can happen, and until it does, I’m susceptible to damage. What is responsive, however, is guarding. It’s my preferred method, thanks to how immediate it is. It also has the added benefit of protecting against the instant-death spell appropriately known as, wouldn’t you know it, Death. However you choose to tackle Crisis Core, one constant does consistently linger: you best have quick reflexes and an astute eye. There’s no discernible tell when a monster is ready to attack. If you aren’t wary, it’s easy to be overwhelmed and murdered.

Final Fantasy VII: Crisis Core Reunion - Doing combat with a griffin.

Honey, we’re eating Griffon tonight. Fire up the oven.

I hope I’ve adequately illustrated that gameplay won’t devolve into mindless button-mashing. It strives for your attention, begging you to be strategic. In fact, just look at Critical Hits for the evidence. One can essentially promise those huge numbers by maneuvering behind any enemy before unleashing a whirlwind of slashes. If that sentence were combined with the above paragraph, well, every confrontation becomes an involved ordeal. It’s the primary factor as to why I had so much fun. I was enveloped by slaughter bliss – to continue with the notion of inflicting buckets of pain, weaknesses are implemented. By taking advantage while harnessing other mechanics, the difficulty spikes a player could encounter are lessened – falter, and it’ll be curtains. Fortunately, dying doesn’t revert to a last save and, instead, allows you to retry without consequence – escaping is foolproof, too.



Magical abilities are intrinsically linked to a Final Fantasy VII staple, Materia – a multi-coloured spherical object that correlates with an element that matches the hue. The catch is there isn’t an abundance to choose from, a byproduct of having been on a handheld. Still, the selection is sufficient and includes the traditional spells of Fire, Fira, and Firaga, as well as powerful choices like Ultima and Quake. To acquire the latter two, sure, while it’s possible to do via side-missions, another method is fusion. Man, I spent hours toying around with the potential amalgamations. I can also manipulate it so each Materia sports a perk that can boost stats such as ATK, VIT, etc. It acts like a pseudo-build mechanic, letting me customize my strength, health, and other aspects to make Zack a machine. In the late game, there are even items with nifty, must-have effects.

Choosing a quest to do.

When it begins to hit 8 stars, make sure you’re home alone.

I’m a shill for the fusion mechanic, but frankly, the available recipes are limited. Some Materia can’t be overwritten, so to speak. There came the point that if I attempted to create using a powerful spell, thinking it would result in something hearty, the outcome was anything but. Trying to manipulate the stat increase I want does prove bothersome, too, and it’s infinitely more challenging to make a Materia that’s both usable and has a perk that’ll strengthen Zack. In other words, I’m not completely free to construct him as I see fit, as I’m at the mercy of a predetermined code. To stand a chance of acquiring the cream of the crop, I had no choice but to experiment meticulously, jotting down every result I got. It’s a commitment, but I still spent heaps of my life. That doesn’t mean some alterations wouldn’t be welcomed, though.



A single look at Crisis Core’s battle system will rouse curiosities over the odd inclusion of a slot machine. Let me introduce the DMW, and before any anxieties about dumb RNG manifests, tranquilo. Randomness is surely a thing, and usually, yeah, I’d complain about such a facet, but I can’t here – it’s obscenely generous. It habitually works to my favor, with buffs it bestows being helpful as hell, from gaining unlimited usage of physical techniques for a while to becoming invincible for a duration. Another functionality of the DMW is it controls when Zack can level up. I wouldn’t get overly chuffed, however, as it doesn’t nullify a need to sometimes grind. What’s remarkable is, depending on the length of the current battle, it’s possible to see two or three upticks. Sure, it’s still a time-sink, but it’s nowhere near as atrocious.

Final Fantasy VII: Crisis Core Reunion - SOLDIER has a fetish

Even SOLDIER members have fetishes, even if heels hurt…not that I’d know. 

For those that dislike sidequests, I have terrible news. Crisis Core is dripping in them. The sheer amount is mind-numbing, and, as such, a lack of variety in goals is inevitable. Most end up being just searching and destroying. Fortunately, they aren’t mandatory. In fact, I decided to finish what I could once I was around three-quarters into the core plot. After I invested days in it, I reverted, and, to my shock, I was now overpowered. Anything I touched shriveled in agony and was erased from existence with a tap of my weapon. Getting to that degree of strength won’t be for the faint of heart, however. Once the star rank begins reaching high digits, clench. It’s brutal, and I was audibly swearing regularly. It’s a solid obstacle, but if you persevere, a cameo may come from a familiar child. 

In total, I devoted around forty-six hours and currently sit pretty at level 78. I’m not bringing this up as a humble brag but more to showcase the levels-to-hours ratio. It’s not overly obscene, and in actuality, it’s a standard for JRPGs, if not a touch above average. I wager I’d see a more expansive difference if I were to jump on Nintendo Switch. Crisis Core is at home on a portable, and thanks to the pick-up-and-play format of doing missions, I’d commit to playing more because I could jump in whenever. Not to mention that, at times, the reward is a shop address. It opens the door to some valuable and equally as robust accessories, as well as a slew of beneficial Materia. It’s like catching pocket monsters, as there are several to collect – nifty trinkets await. Can you catch them all?

Looking through the list of missions.

Strap in, grab a drink, and get ready. I meant it by there being A TON of quests.



The main selling point of this iteration of Crisis Core is the many quality-of-life features introduced, and Square Enix delivers, but I have to ask: where in the loving damn is the mini-map?

It’s the epitome of annoyance to have such a handy tool missing. Every environment you drop into when doing a task can sometimes be a miniature labyrinth. Branching paths may not be plenty, but the presence of chests meant I continuously jumped into the main menu to look at my surroundings. A mini-map would be invaluable because it helps track where I’ve been. I know that to the general populace, memorizing area layout is the go-to option, but for a bloke with a goldfish memory, it’s not really a viable choice. Accessibility is a sticking point, and bouncing back and forth is tedious.



No one can dispute that Crisis Core is visually pretty. It’s simply appealing to receive a nice upgrade to be at its absolute best for the reunion. The CGs don’t get a substantial glow-up. The actual elbow grease has been put into the character models in normal gameplay. It’s meant to bring them up to parity with the cutscenes to prevent the transition from being jarring. The summon animations also see tiny touches to spice them up. With the vibrancy of high definition and an OLED screen, my brain melts at the insane bit of particle effects and color pop. My mouth was agape whenever I conjured creatures like Bahamut or Ifrit. If I scoured the graphical fidelity with a fine tooth comb, sure, there’s a smidgen of awkwardness. I guess facial expressions could be marginally better, too, but it’s a spectacular sight as is

Zack doing squats on the beach.

And here we have Zack in his natural state of squats.




Since the early trailers, the most controversial thing of Crisis Core has been the dub, or to be exact, it’s Zack Fair. I agree that in my initial hour or two, his voice was a bit nasally and didn’t fit his vibe. In regards to the broader performances, the delivery of a few lines would have benefited from some extra cadence. Still, it doesn’t ruin the overall package – the issues are negligible. Everything I heard was terrific, and sure, the sprinkling of mishaps hold it back from reaching the heights of others in the franchise, but the truth is, it doesn’t need to. Oh, and, to check back with Zack, I like him. With every chapter, I could hear a peanut of change within his inflection. I can only surmise that it’s meant to exhibit his journey into maturity and how the recent happenings affect him – top class.


Crisis Core: Final Fantasy VII Reunion is, without a doubt, a beautiful journey of heartbreak. The score is composed of old and new, profiting from having headphones firmly in your ear holes. Given how there are prominent figures of FF7 that take part in the plot line, the subtext of this title’s name couldn’t be more apt than it is, despite the prequel moniker. I enjoy the look into the first meeting of several iconic characters with one another. Cissnei is such a sweetheart, and if it’s not apparent, yeah, I’m an Aerith fan. If I had to settle on a single qualm, it’s that I wasn’t able to cover the game on Nintendo Switch. Take that as a hell of an endorsement since, despite a loss of 60fps, I reckon it’s carried by mouth-watering gameplay. Honestly, words can’t even begin to describe the glee I feel.


Graphics: 9.0

It’s nearly perfect, with the environments when doing side-quests predominantly bringing down the score. Otherwise, it’s really pleasant to look at. 

Gameplay: 9.5

Something about the combat is so satisfying. If I had to guess, it’s the rapid-fire nature of casting spells and slashing enemies with your sword. It’s flawless. 

Sound: 9.0

I like Zack Fair. I like Aerith. The voice actors being changed to match their counterparts in the Remake makes sense. For my money, everyone killed it. I would have liked more variety in the music, though.

Fun Factor: 10

Even though I was swearing and people heard me loud and clear, I loved the challenge. It feels like an accomplishment to be able to conquer what younger me failed at. 

Final Verdict: 9.5

Crisis Core: Final Fantasy VII Reunion is available now on PlayStation 4/5, Xbox One, Xbox Series S/X, Nintendo Switch, and PC.

Reviewed on Playstation 5.

A copy of Crisis Core: Final Fantasy VII Reunion was provided by the publisher.