Here comes the catch, everyone. According to a press release issued by Square Enix on Sunday evening, the upcoming Final Fantasy 7 Remake (opens in new tab) “will be told across a multi-part series, with each entry providing its own unique experience.”
The statement can be pulled apart in a few different ways, with the simplest conclusion pointing to Final Fantasy 7 Remake - a comprehensive do-over from start to finish - being released in episodic format. Square Enix describing “each entry” as a “unique experience” suggests Final Fantasy 7's original story may be serialized across several episodes, each possibly being a standalone game.
Episodically built games are nothing new anymore, though they are a relatively recent development for major Japanese franchises like Final Fantasy. Capcom most recently experimented with the format in Resident Evil Revelations 2 (opens in new tab), opting for a strict weekly schedule - the game was released in chunks, moreso than being developed piece by piece. Looking even further back, developer CyberConnect2 experimented with an episodic format for Asura's Wrath (opens in new tab), which told its story of divine vengeance in episodes, leaving the ending (ugh) for DLC.
Taken in an extreme direction (see: definitely not gonna happen), I’d like to think “unique experience” means that different versions of Final Fantasy 7 are being made by different developers. In that case, we’d get a killer action game from Platinum, a whimsical retelling from Level-5 and … uh … maybe just a whole game based on Cloud and Barret’s date at Golden Saucer. Like I said, not gonna happen.
I’m following up with Square Enix for more information. In the meantime, the publisher has also reiterated that all of the new footage released during this weekend’s PlayStation Experience was a mixture of CG scenes and, for the first time, in-game footage. Even beyond my speculation over what it’ll mean to be episodic, Final Fantasy 7 is going to be a wildly different game when it's released first on PlayStation 4.
June 17, 2022 update: Final Fantasy 7 Remake is indeed a multi-part series. We now know that part two is officially titled Final Fantasy 7 Rebirth.