Well 40H is around the time I think if you want to do all the sidequests. If you want to do all the sidequests in FF7, it'd be significantly longer I think... Although a lot of that time would be pure grinding to beat the weapons.
Breaking it into parts isn't necessarily bad, but in this case, I have mixed feelings. It means adding a lot of content, and that content is very inconsistent in quality. There are some sequences like Shinra's HQ and Wall Market that are incredibly well done and make the narrative better. Then, there are some parts where you're just running through tunnels as Barrett for no real reason but to lengthen the game.
You can turn Random Encounters off on PS4/PC, that's a blessing because they appear in a very intrusive way, and are really grindy. Moreover, boss battles,cutscenes are shorter than Remake's. According to YT, I checked the 1st boss battle:
- OG- 2 minutes 5 seconds
- Remake - 8 minutes
Well, they could just call it FF7 Midgar and got their hands clean. I prefer they way SE has chosen. What can I say about side-quests, well, some of them are really good, like that one with the Journalist, there is some background to them. I think that they handled this good, they are not pure grind, and are not as important to make a player to feel regret not doing them. My opinion, ofc.