I don't see how anyone could possibly say that FFVII took a step back in story compare to FFVI. It delved into topics VI barely even scratched the surface of. Mega-corporations exerting more power than they should in a government, terrorism, and environmental messages that were pretty fucking heavy coming from a video game in the 90s? Seriously.
Yeah I agree, that was pretty much the thing I remember blewing my mind when I played it for the first time in 2008 or so. I was asking myself while playing the game randomly "This was really made in '97?"
I honestly couldn't believe how compelling the narrative was at times.