Review: Final Fantasy 7: Ever Crisis

The planet’s dyin’, Cloud!

Posted 12 September 2023 by Timothy Monbleau
First Soldier opening cutscene

It is an undeniable fact that almost all games are, to some extent, commercial products. If we were not willing to spend our money on video games, then companies would not make them. With all-time classic titles like Final Fantasy 7, I often don’t think about this. Instead, I’m so swept up in the story, music, and gameplay that I forget about the cash I spent. It’s only when games like Final Fantasy 7: Ever Crisis come along that I remember that the eternal wheel of capitalism lurks behind even my most precious gaming memories.

Look, I’m not above the experience that Final Fantasy 7: Ever Crisis offers. In my review-in-progress, I explained my robust experience with gacha games. Because lest you forget, Ever Crisis really is just a gacha game. It goes through the same motions as any title in this space does, and its gameplay mostly devolves into consuming Stamina and watching numbers go up. In my spicy opinion, games like this can still be fun. As long as there’s a substantive core driving the experience, I can enjoy incremental grinds like these.

Well, I speak to you now as someone who has spent roughly 27 hours in Ever Crisis. I’ve cleared the main story, seen all its modes, and raised my team’s power level to roughly 60,000. Admittedly, this is only about a third of the way towards challenging the hardest content available in the game. But even if there’s an amazing experience hiding here, I’ve played enough to say that the Mako just ain’t worth the squeeze.

Disclaimer: All screenshots have been cropped to fit on the page. Some shots may not be fully reflective of the game.

Screenshot by Destructoid

Final Fantasy 7: Ever Crisis (iOS [reviewed], Android)
Developer: Square Enix, Applibot
Publisher: Square Enix
Released: September 7, 2023
MSRP: Free-to-play with microtransactions

The First Soldier, the second time

I’m going to gloss over the basics of Ever Crisis, as I covered that in my review-in-progress. In that article, I discussed how Ever Crisis smashes Final Fantasy 7 with the “Compilation of” stories together in a frankly incohesive way. However, I didn’t really cover The First Solider content, which functionally serves as Ever Crisis’ “original” story. Unfortunately, I can’t say this did much for me.

For the most part, it revolves around introducing us to the new characters Glenn, Matt, and Lucia. It makes sense for this arc to take this angle, since it presumably lays the foundation for future updates. I just never found myself invested in this party or their mission. It adds some supplemental lore, sure, but I didn’t find it interesting either in the scope of Final Fantasy 7 or on its own. It’s not that it was terrible, it was just kind of boring.

It’s only at the end of The First Soldier that we finally get to see young Sephiroth, who Square Enix teased prior to launch. However, without spoiling too much, I’ll say that clearly any intriguing content here is still being withheld. The game’s launch teaser trailer states “we still don’t know Sephiroth,” and that remains true for me after playing.

Fortunately, Ever Crisis does let you choose which story to progress past a certain point. However, this winds up revealing just how little story content there is. The Final Fantasy 7 arc currently ends after Midgar, which I guess lines up with what assets the game could use from Final Fantasy 7 Remake. Meanwhile, Crisis Core ends after the first Ifrit fight. Stuff like Dirge of Cerberus or Advent Children has no representation in the game so far, despite appearing in the game’s debut trailer.

Screenshot by Destructoid

Systems of a Phoenix Down

As far as the actual play experience, I noted in my review-in-progress that I’ve kept auto battle on since it was unlocked. That never changed, though Ever Crisis does try to add depth in very small ways.

The crunchiest option here is the Criterion Dungeons, which task you with repeating the game’s occasional dungeons with boss fights that escalate in challenge. This does introduce very, very lite roguelite-style mechanics where you can select certain stat buffs after each fight. However, these are ridiculously basic, like choosing whether to boost physical or magical attack. Many gacha games have experimented with these types of mechanics, and Ever Crisis doesn’t compete in any meaningful way here. To their credit, Criterion Dungeons do try to incorporate some item management. But I found this offered nothing more than “heal between battles and use buff items before the final boss.”

The other substantive option, which I imagine has the most strategic depth, is co-op. As of writing, teams can link up to take down three different bosses at several different difficulty levels, with a limited-time event boss also joining the mix as of writing. Given the way the battle system works, you could theoretically coordinate some neat strategies here. In single player, you must automate two party members even with manual play turned on. Co-op technically lays the foundation to let players work together as dedicated attackers, healers, stat buffers, etc.

However, in practice, co-op quickly become just another thing to use auto battle on. My Cloud would join two identical Clouds to take down baddies, and given that we all changed our attack stances at identical times, I assume that everyone else was just auto-farming too. There could be a worthwhile experience at the top level, I’m just not seeing it now.

Screenshot by Destructoid

I am not a Materia girl

As far as progression itself, it really does stay firmly in that “grind for grinding sake” mentality. More upgrade systems unlock as you progress, but they all boil down to the same loop. Identify what you should upgrade, spot the resource you need, and then run the appropriate stage until you’re done. Sure, it’s neat that characters earn mild skill trees to climb. But these systems don’t mix up the gameplay in any meaningful way.

The one exception, however, is the Materia system. And unfortunately, I don’t mean that in a good way. Materia is essential, since it’s the easiest way to slap the elemental coverage on your team without performing more gacha pulls. However, crafting Materia takes real-world time, and you can only craft up to five at once. Additionally, each Materia is treated like a unique item, since they all wind up with randomized stats and rarity levels. In other words, it’s a gacha inside your gacha.

None of this is bad on paper, but treating each Materia as its own unique item quickly becomes a UI nightmare. If I just want to figure out which Materia I should optimally craft, I have to do a ridiculous amount of cross-referencing. Do I have enough of this element for my team to equip? Which type of Materia could use a better variant? How much time am I willing to spend chasing a few extra stats?

Additionally, strengthening Materia requires sacrificing your spare pieces as level-up materials. I can see the logic here, since you’re rolling the dice on Materia over and over again to find ones with good stats anyway. However, again, this requires micromanaging to make sure you aren’t chucking Materia you might need by accident. None of this is impossible, but it’s just so tedious to repeat this process ever few hours that I stopped trying to optimize it.

Screenshot by Destructoid

Rain in the desert

Now, credit where credit’s due, if there’s one thing I do genuinely like about Ever Crisis, it’s the character stories.

These unlock quite a ways into the game, and I assume they’re linked to your characters’ levels. I only really used Cloud, Tifa, and Aerith, and those were the stories I had the option to experience. These are, no joke, quite good! They fill in implied gaps in Final Fantasy 7’s main story that are fun to see, even if they’re kind of unnecessary. For example, Cloud’s story details his reconnecting with Tifa and explaining how, exactly, he became involved with Avalanche. The writing and cutscenes feel authentic to the original game, as if they were long-lost deleted scenes.

It’s not just the character stories either. Even the silly beach event that went live as I type this features some decently charming writing with the Final Fantasy 7 cast. It’s 100% filler content, but I like seeing the game have fun with its cast and put them in whimsical situations. Honestly, if the game just wholly focused on original stories like these, it’d make a much stronger case for itself. I know that The First Soldier technically is trying to do this, I just really don’t care about the characters there like I do for the original cast.

Sadly, these bits are over way too quickly. You’ll finish each tale in a handful of minutes, which pales in comparison to the hours of grinding you’d need to do to get there. I couldn’t even complete Tifa’s story, since it abruptly jumps from a recommended power level of 45,000 to 70,000 in one mission. It’s a bummer that FF7 fans who just want to see content like this will hit walls like these. Especially if it causes them to pay to climb over those walls faster.

Screenshot by Destructoid

Draw a line in the Ruby Weapon’s sand

It’s tempting to look at Final Fantasy 7: Ever Crisis and say that because it’s a gacha, it’s therefore garbage. I bet at least one person will look at the score below and say that I rated this too highly. However, I don’t think that’s necessarily fair. There is a market for these casual, long-term grinds, and Ever Crisis does meet that bare minimum. It looks and sounds great, generally runs well, and, occasionally, does deliver feelings of playing PSX Final Fantasy 7 again. I think Ever Crisis successfully accomplishes everything it sets out to do. It’s just that the bar it wanted to clear is exceptionally low.

Outside the Final Fantasy 7 branding, there just isn’t anything notable or remarkable here. For as much as I talked about just leaving the game on auto battle, I have no interest in meaningfully interacting with the core systems at this point. The menuing is so clunky that I don’t even want to build my team, which is typically the best part of gacha games. It’s somehow both too shallow to be interesting and too convoluted to be engaging, which is below par even by mobile game standards. In my review-in-progress, I compared gacha games to ordering a Big Mac. Ever Crisis is a Big Mac made by a team who completely forgot to add any special sauce.

Final Fantasy 7: Ever Crisis is just a gacha game. Nothing more, nothing less. It’s not the worst thing I’ve ever seen, and it does offer adequate fanservice for those who love Cloud and friends. But otherwise, Ever Crisis doesn’t do anything that other free mobile games already do better. Maybe it’s worth a download for bored Final Fantasy fans, but otherwise, you can spend both your time and money better elsewhere.


Below Average

Have some high points, but they soon give way to glaring faults. Not the worst, but difficult to recommend.

About The Author
Timothy Monbleau
Guide Editor - Timothy started writing community blogs for Destructoid in 2012. He liked it so much he decided to write articles for the site professionally. His love for RPGs and the Ys series will endure forever.
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