Square Enix suddenly launched Final Fantasy VII Remake on Steam during its 25th Anniversary live stream, and it relies heavily on the fact that the game has been Steam Deck Verified. For good reason, too. Final Fantasy VII Remake It’s over two years old, and it’s only been available on PC through the Epic Games Store for six months.
I bite the bullet and buy the game a third time to answer a question: Is it worth spending $70 again just to play Final Fantasy VII Remake on the Steam Deck? This is a solid version of the game, much better than I expected, but it still has a major flaw that I hope Square Enix will address in a future update.
Final Fantasy VII Remake is all about fluid combat, so I immediately worried about the Steam Deck version when I saw it defaulted to the 30fps (fps) limit. Thankfully, it looks like Square Enix has been conservative. I was able to complete the first mission and fight the Scorpion Sentinel boss while mostly at 60fps.
However, I didn’t get there without tweaks, and unfortunately, Final Fantasy VII Remake doesn’t give you much room to compromise. You have two graphics settings – shadow quality and texture quality – and each has only two options. I had to knock them both down Short to get a smooth 60 fps. In Tall, as default, the game hovers in the 40 fps range.
As you can see in the comparison above, these graphics options have very little impact on the look and feel of the game. They can improve performance a bit, but I’d be happy to reduce both to get a higher frame rate. I didn’t get perfectly locked at 60fps – a point I’ll address later – but the drop in framerate hasn’t affected the experience so far.
Final Fantasy VII Remake plays great on the Steam Deck, but you’re obviously getting far less fidelity than you would on PS4 (let alone PS5). It looks great in motion, where you’ll be spending most of your time, but there’s obviously some loss of quality if you stare at the character models for too long.
Everything looks a bit too basic. Take Cloud’s face above as an example. There is an impression of more detail, but that detail is not there. That’s even more apparent on Jessie’s face in the background, which settles into an eerie, hazy valley. In fact, the backgrounds look like they have more detail, which is probably a smart compromise. When the character models are moving, even outside of combat, those details are hard to come by on the Steam Deck’s screen.
The good news is that those lower resolution assets don’t show up in many of the game’s cutscenes. There’s a lot of detail in the cutscenes, so unless you stop and really look for problems, you probably won’t notice them.
The biggest problem with Final Fantasy VII Remake on Steam Deck is the resolution. You might be surprised to learn that it’s not too low – it’s actually too high. While 720p is the minimum resolution you can set, for some reason Square Enix lets you set the resolution above 4K on the Steam Deck.
You have AMD’s FidelityFX Super Resolution (FSR) built into the Steam Deck, so enabling it to a lower resolution like 540p should result in smoother frame rates. It’s pretty consistent, but the game still falls into the 40fps range with slamming attacks from the Scorpion Sentinel and when it comes to teamfights.
The lower the resolution the more important considering there are few graphics options Final Fantasy VII Remake yes. I’ve only played the first few hours on the Steam Deck, but I imagine there will be framerates dropping below 60fps later in the game. FSR will be of great help there if you don’t have a lot of bandwidth to improve performance in just the graphics settings.
However, I’m really satisfied with Final Fantasy VII Remake on the Steam Deck. I was expecting it to run horribly, but it doesn’t. It’s been a smooth experience with clever compromises, and I’m delighted to be finishing my journey through Midgar for the third time on Valve’s handheld PC.
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