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Final Fantasy VII Rebirth – Review

It’s hard to be the second in a trilogy. You don’t have the same benefit of the world-building and exciting introduction of the first, nor the satisfying wrap-up and climax of the third. Add onto all of this being a reimagining of one of the most critically acclaimed and beloved games of all time, and Final Fantasy VII Rebirth has a lot of pressure on it.

While the general audience’s perception of the first game was positive, a padded length certainly detracted from the overall experience of the game. Does Rebirth suffer from the same level of bloat? Can it live up to the great legacy of the FF7 universe? And most importantly, who will Cloud date at the Gold Saucer?

Cloud, Aerith and Yuffie look up at the Gold Saucer above them

Rebirth is absolutely a love letter to not just the original game, but to the whole 7 universe. It takes great pains to draw in aspects of the side content developed after the initial game’s release to help collate the overarching story into a greater whole while further refining and tweaking the tale of our loveable band of characters.

An initially very linear opening through chapters one and two leads to a grand unveiling of the wider world as the true scope of the game becomes apparent. While this is not a fully open-world game, its open-zone nature allows for a detailed and elaborate map to explore without compromising on graphical quality or framerate. With later fast travel options and lightning-fast load times, the world feels cohesive as a whole, as though it were a truly open world. And my lord do these maps have a ton of side content to sink your teeth into.

Cloud, Barret, and Red XIII sit on chocobos looking out over the ocean

From mini-games to hunting monsters, to ancient temples, there are so many things to discover in Rebirth that it can feel a little daunting at times. However, this side content draws you in so easily that you may find yourself closer to 100% completion of each map than you’d expect. And at that point, what’s an extra hour or two to finish things off? This is the trap that I found myself constantly falling into during my 114-hour playtime.

With so much content on offer, and so many characters and side quests to complete, players may find themselves having flashbacks to Sector 5 in Remake. With shoed-in side quests that mostly served to pad out the game’s playtime without offering much substance. I can at least say the side quests of Rebirth predominantly feel more organic and generally more fulfilling than the ones in Remake. Add into this the new friendship mechanic to measure how close the bond Cloud shares with his companions is, and side questing feels like a much more natural fit into this world with some genuinely touching moments that feel on par with the main narrative.

Cloud and Aerith talk on the beach at Costa Del Sol during sunset

The mini-games, however, are where I had to draw the line in my personal playthrough. Quite simply there are just too many of them and while some offer decent rewards, they just don’t stack up and some games are downright boring.

“Well Blue” I hear you cry, “you’re making this game sound just as bloated as Remake!” and in many aspects, it can be. While the extra content certainly fits more naturally into the game this time around rather than being a barrier to overcome for the next main story beat like Remake, there are definitely times when the pacing suffers from the excess content. Dabbling in side quests and fiend hunts makes for a good change of pace at times and by doing the extra content, you will find yourself more than sufficiently levelled up for the next main story point without ever becoming overpowered or needing to grind. It’s a delicate balance that I think Square Enix has been able to pull off rather well.

Cloud, Tifa, and Sephiroth climb their way up to Mt Nibel

Make no mistake though, there is still some bloat in the story. Towards the latter third of the game, I was beginning to find myself burnt out and just wanted to get through to the end. Pacing is an issue that continues through from Remake here. The story itself however is utterly fantastic. While those who have played the original will know the key plot points this game covers, developments in storytelling and the gift of hindsight have led to these moments becoming truly special here.

This is further enforced by remarkable voice acting across the board which works to really draw you into these characters and their struggles. In the original I’ll admit, I didn’t really have an opinion either way of Aerith. In Remake and Rebirth, however? She is absolutely one of my favourite characters and her friendship with Tifa is so charming, sweet, and feels so natural. Character writing is something I particularly gravitate towards in media and Rebirth is exemplary in that regard.

Cloud poses while the starry sky of Cosmo Canyon glistens in the background

The sound design is another aspect of the game that really shines. Not only is the music beautiful with stunning new arrangements of classic themes, but the ambient soundscape helps to immerse you in the world so well that I often found myself just wandering around and exploring, totally absorbed. Headphones are an absolute must with this game. The madness that they also created a fully functioning way to play the piano within the game is a testament to the care and attention throughout the whole experience.

The general combat of Remake returns but with a new method of upgrading your abilities. Rather than the weapon-specific upgrades of Remake, each character has a folio they can spend points on for stat increases, abilities, and synergy skills, a new feature for Rebirth where two characters team up for a combo attack that provides additional stat benefits. The folio level increases with party level and weapon level. This party level increases from completing main and side quests and feeds directly into the core theme of the game, the bonds between companions. This theme is baked into every facet of the game from the story to the combat and helps keep a wonderful consistency throughout. Levelling up your weapons also allows for special skills to be equipped in the materia screen, allowing for some extra diversity in character builds.

Cloud looks over the city of Kalm at night

In all, Rebirth is a phenomenal game that builds upon the foundation Remake started and elevates it to a whole new level. While at times blighted by pacing issues and a glut of content, this is a small blemish on a much greater whole. The sheer attention to detail at even the smallest level has created a wonderfully polished experience that will be remembered for years to come and leaves the third game of the trilogy with large boots to fill. Truly a worthy successor to the series that came before.


Developer: Square Enix





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