Welp, succumbed to the hype, downloaded the FF7 demo, put on a thumb splint, and played through it.
I loved the presentation, notwithstanding all the racism. Seriously, it's cringeworthy enough that they got away with Barret in 1997, but 2020? Really?
But the music and, aside from the whole "Robert Downey Jr. in Tropic Thunder but unironically" part, the cutscenes are fucking lovely. The opening sequence -- I was 13 years old again. Or whatever age I was when I got a PlayStation and a copy of Tobal No. 1 for Christmas and played through the original demo. 14? Somewhere in there. Anyway, it's fucking great. But unfortunately, that's the pinnacle of the whole experience. Much like that original demo, I suppose.
The gameplay...was a fucking slog. Just tedious. Took too long to get anywhere, and combat consisted of "hold Square, unless the enemy has a gimmick, in which case, press X, see that all your menu options are grayed out for some fucking reason that the game doesn't explain, cancel out, wait a few seconds, and try again, and of course characters shout inane catchphrases the whole time." There's a "classic" mode where supposedly you don't have to hold Square to attack. It does not work very well.
I guess on the plus side I just saved myself the cost of buying the game, and then all the subsequent episodes? But what a fucking disappointment. I was pretty firmly in the "come on, give it a chance, it may be different but that doesn't mean it's bad" camp. But now I've transitioned over to the "yeah, it's bad and I want my damn menus back" camp.
I mean, by all means try it yourselves, don't take my word for it; it's free, assuming the size of the damn download doesn't push you past your bandwidth cap. But this might be one to just watch the LPs. And I never watch LPs. (OTOH, that surround sound is amazing and it won't be the same without it.)
And my fucking thumb hurts.