Final Fantasy VII Remake Made Me Climb 59 Flights Of Stairs And I Loved It

Final Fantasy VII Remake Made Me Climb 59 Flights Of Stairs And I Loved It
Gif: Square Enix, Kotaku

I recently arrived at Shinra headquarters in my playthrough of Final Fantasy VII Remake. After Cloud and his squad fight their way through the parking garage, they enter the spacious reception area to find the place deserted. Our heroes have two ways to reach Aerith: take the elevator or climb 59 flights of stairs. I chose the stairs.

If I haven’t yet driven this point home, Final Fantasy VII Remake is my first encounter with the classic roleplaying game. I’ve been made aware of its story beats through word of mouth, in the same way I technically know about other cultural touchstones like The Godfather (which, please don’t crucify me, I also haven’t watched). The stair-climbing sequence is iconic among Final Fantasy VII fans due to both the banter between the characters and the fact the game literally makes you climb 59 flights of stairs. So when I was given the choice between taking the emergency stairwell and finding out what Shinra considers good elevator music, I was more than happy to hoof it.

The scene plays out much the same way in Remake as it does in the original, but with a few key changes that act as a wink and a nod to old-school players. About halfway up, you lose your ability to run, forcing Cloud to switch from a brisk jaunt to a trudging shuffle. The energetic theme that reflects the urgency of the rescue mission eventually distorts as Cloud gets more and more worn out. By the end, all three characters need to take a lengthy breather before moving on.

It’s here that Final Fantasy VII Remake also played a trick on me. Little indicators next to the character names show which floor they’re on, which led me to believe I could race Tifa and Barret to the top if I kept up the pace and took sharp corners. Sadly, I made the mistake of trying to open one of the stairwell’s many doors, which allowed Tifa to zoom ahead of me. I thought I managed to catch up with Tifa at one point, but that was only because she was waiting for me on a landing. When I got close, she took off again, and managed to stay at least two floors ahead of me the rest of the way. I wish I had that kind of stamina.

Barret, who has grown on me since getting on my nerves in the early hours of Final Fantasy VII Remake, was a delight during the stair sequence. He complains before even setting foot on the stairs and whines the entire way. I get it: It can’t be easy getting around when you have a huge gatling gun attached to your arm. Just a few floors from the top, Barret caps off his complaints by childishly demanding to go back. I cracked up. Like, it’s almost over, my dude! Hang in there!

Oh, and Tifa doesn’t use a slur about Barret’s cognitive abilities this time around, which is definitely a plus.

Much like with my recent trip through the sewers, Final Fantasy VII Remake has a fantastic way of breaking up tension with small moments of character interaction and world building. I’m still a little perplexed about Cloud and Tifa’s past together, but the barbs they share on the stairwell allude to a deeper connection than what’s been portrayed so far. And Barret, for all his gratingly high energy, finally broke through my resolve and made me crack a smile. Aerith is still waiting for me on the upper floors of Shinra headquarters, but I’m glad I took a detour to see a fundamental part of the Final Fantasy VII experience.


  • I personally found that bit to be one of the many “uncessarily drawn out” parts. I didn’t mind the thought of running up the stairs at full pelt… when Cloud slowed to a literal crawl I remember being quite irritated as it just reminded me of every deliberate slow down, crawl space, or long empty corridor they’d put in the game to pad it out.

    For the record loved the game, but **** like this was just unecssary to make them hit that “60 hours of content for fleshed out Midgar” advertising spiel to justify splitting the game into how ever many releases (If they took all those parts out, they could’ve made Remake Part 1 = Disc 1). Also finished the game in 32 hours, did all the side quests except for the end battle VR thing. I’m guessing that would’ve added on another 2-3 hours.

      • Oh I’ve played the original (probably long before you were born) and I’m well aware there was two options. In the original though there was more incentive to take the stairs (forget why but it was considered the more rewarding option).

        As mentioned, I had no issue with taking the stairs at normal running speed (just like the original). My issue was how you gradually come to a crawl. After the 30-40 other forced slow downs and stops in the game that padded out this 15 hour game to 30 hours + , this one was particularly annoying.

        • Bro, I was 17 when the original came out, so you can spare me the feeble attempt at patronising me. I still have the original discs.

          I took both paths when I played the original – the elevator on my first playthrough of the game and the stairs on my second playthrough (where I 100% finished it). There’s no reward on the stairs in the original game either, save for a single elixir about halfway up. The main reason for taking the stairs in the original – as it was in the remake, is for the banter between the characters.

          The amount of times you were forced to slow down in this game hardly added up to 15 hours. That’s just being ridiculous. It wouldn’t have even added up to one hour. And most of the time you were forced into it, it was to cover up the loading of a new area. Yes there were some times where it forced you into a walk or a jog rather than letting you run for one reason or another, but those were pretty infrequent and never lasted too long.

          • Correct me I’m wrong.. but wasn’t there a weapon for Red 13 in the stairs as well? Or am I remembering that wrong? The Behemoth Horn or something?

          • Yes and No. The Behemoth Horn is not on the stairs during the first visit to the Shinra Tower. However it will be there (almost at the top) if you go back into the tower staircase when you return to Midgar in disc 2.

          • Even then, it’s only there *I believe* if you actually pick up the elixir that’s there the first time?

          • Well if that’s true, then that only adds to my argument that the stairs were the more rewarding way to go in the original.

            Elixir still wins out over nothing though.

          • I mean first, who cares honestly? People will play how they play. It’s a choice in a game. I think we’re *all* suffering a bit of rose colour glasses with FF7 original version too. If we think it was a streamlined, fast paced game, we’re being a tad delusional. Half the game was spent being frustrated walking 2 steps, BAM encounter, 2 steps BAM encounter, 2 steps BAM encounter. Scenes overly heavy with text exposition that just made *no* sense at times, cutscenes that were unskippable. There were *plenty* of ways the PS1 also padded out its time too. Not to mention the back and forth and back and forth with missions as well. I’m not saying the Ps4 version is perfect, but it’s not the disaster some alarmists are making it out to be. They can dislike it sure, but hyperbole aside, at it’s worst, it’s a disappointment to a minority of diehard fans, but it’s been received well by the vast gaming populace *shrug*.

          • No that’s not true iirc, you can get both on the same run on your 2nd visit.

            Also @ruddaga remember if you take the elevator you don’t get nothing. There are several fights you need to do on the way up when the door opens a few times, and these fights give you experience and gil if nothing else, and occasionally items too.

    • Agreed. I took the stairs after seeing article headlines like this one. The amount of padding and unnecessary filler up til that point was already insulting. The stair case and Kingdom Hearts trash at the end was just ridiculous.

      I enjoyed all the remade parts of the original story and the characters but its really sad to see the rest of it got the classic modern day Square-Enix treatment.

  • Two things that amaze me with this level

    1: There was an option. I remember hearing the group mention they could take the stairs or the elevator, but assumed it was really only the elevator as its what I found first. And there are full cut scenes that follow with this decision (while the stairs have dialogue as a trade off)

    2: NOBODY KNEW THERE WAS AN OPTION. So many people are complaining about the stairs and when someone mentions the elevators, they are surprised you could take them. I found that fascinating that the game gave you two options and there are people doing one option without ever knowing there was another. And its not like the game doesn’t describe it properly, most took the stairs as they assumed it was the smarter (and thus only option).

    Interesting how many small things the game has hidden that people miss. From the different dresses to the kiss from Jessie.

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