Despite what my ex says, length doesn't matter... or at least it's not the only thing that matters.
The complaint about splitting it into parts wasn't so much about the game being short, it was about a) having a lot of filler and b)having to buy three or more games to experience the complete narrative.
To avoid accusations of bias, I'll use Xenoblade Chronicles as an example instead. There are a ton of sidequests in this game that you have to do if you want to unlock certain things... and a lot of them suck. Halving the number of sidequests would have meant less game, but it would actually make me enjoy it more.
FF7 Remake is just not a complete narrative. By the end of the story the conflict is completely unresolved, and aside from Cloud becoming maybe slightly less stiff, there's not a ton of character growth. Whereas a game like Mass Effect 2 or Uncharted 2 is despite being being part of a larger story. It seems like to get the full narrative experience we're looking at at least 3 games for 180 bucks (if we buy them full price), and potentially upwards of 100 hours. Which... if you really love the game, I guess is a good thing. But in a world where I have limited time, limited funds, and a lot of games, there is something to be said for a more compact experience.
It's hard to judge whether or not the decision was a good one before seeing how the rest of the still undetermined number of parts are done. But again, it's really not about the length. The game's length is perfectly acceptable for an action RPG. That being said, I felt that the original game which took me about 25 hours with doing pretty much all the sidequests besides Chocobo racing (the 3x speed mode is a godsend) provided a more complete and ultimately fulfilling experience than the Remake, which to be clear I liked very much, provided.
That is what she said...
Yes I would do with no sidequests if possible, didn`t like them (at most accepted the intel ones) but platinum required it.
On char development I will agree that Cloud is pretty stoic (I think they will reserve the development for the second title since we only got hints of his past, won`t say more for spoiler reasons). I felt the game was complete considering there will be continuation but the main plot for it was resolved, you had to stand against shinra and did, only to discover there are higher dangers for you to go on the next game.
I also didn`t felt the game had a lot of padding. Sure I would like I could walk faster in some parts and didn`t need to do some fetch and point a to b and back, but all the content for me felt meaningfull and tied down giving a full narrative.
There's nothing wrong with Cloud being stoic... but a character arc implies that a character grows as a result of what they have learned through a conflict. It would be a stretch to say that happened in FF7 Remake.
As for padding, it depends on what you'd call "a lot". For instance I'd say that the part where you *minor spoilers maybe* sabotage a boss was pretty unnecessary. As was the whole train graveyard sequence (I know this was in the original game but it was much shorter). The sequence where you control Barrett also added little to the game. It's not absurdly excessive, but it's definitely there.
Again, the main point is that a single 40 hour game could be as enjoyable as several 40 hour games. We'll see when all is said and done if that's the case here.