As Square Enix explained in June, the first part only covers Midgar because "the whole story was going to be huge." At the time, producer Yoshinori Kitase stressed that the team was still deciding how to handle the rest of the game. "We really are still fleshing out that process and fleshing out what we're going to do for the second game in the project, and what kind of story is going to be in that, so we really can't tell you," he said.
Seven months later, the team has apparently firmed up its vision to the point that work on Part 2 can begin.
"Even in this Midgar portion alone, the density and volume are so great that I had to give directions to lighten them," Nomura said in a new blog post, reaffirming the scope of Part 1. "We’ve already begun working on the next one as well, but I’m confident that playing through this title will expand your expectations just like the world that extends beyond Midgar."
The fact that Part 2 of the remake is in development doesn't tell us a thing about when it will arrive - well into the PS5 and Xbox Project Scarlett generation, that's for sure - but it's good to know that post-Midgar content has officially moved past the conception stage.
Alongside Nomura, several other lead designers on the remake team shared their sentiments about working on the game as well as their individual goals for it. I especially like this quote from story and scenario writer Kazushige Nojima, who discussed the benefits and challenges of remaking a game which was originally released at a time when Cloud's polygonal hands looked good.
"The original game used cartoon-like, stylized art, and the story was completed by players using their imagination to supplement portions that couldn’t be depicted as a result," he said. "Even if they were seeing the same scene, the information they took away from it and how they interpreted it differed depending on the viewer. Perhaps it’s what might be considered a narrative form of storytelling nowadays.
"In Final Fantasy 7 Remake there will be much less room for player imagination. This fact will probably change the feel of the story considerably. People who know the original might not know quite how to take it. Such is the fear that I have. But I also have conviction. It should be possible to feel a much deeper connection to Cloud as you join alongside him."
We've seen this sort of evolution in other remakes and reboots as well, with the latest Wolfenstein games being the most extreme example. Characters that were once abstract become living, breathing people with distinct personalities and flaws. It'll be interesting to see how Cloud comes across after all these years.
In a similar vein, environment director Takako Miyake described the process of prettying up the world of Midgar while staying true to it. "For Final Fantasy 7 Remake, the graphics team worked to the theme of 'how would Midgar look if it existed in real life?'" she said. "As such, as the environments team, we examined those portions that were once left to the players’ imaginations, fell outside of the on-screen area, or were between scenes, and tried to supplement them in detail. For all the fans out there, we worked our hardest in hopes that you’ll be able to relive an experience that also surpasses your memories."
For more on the upcoming remake, check out our hands-on impressions from August.