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    Final Fantasy VII Rebirth Review – A Timeless Masterpiece Reborn

    "The reunion at hand may bring joy. It may bring fear. But let us embrace whatever it brings."

    Final Fantasy VII is one of the most iconic RPGs ever created. Across its celebrated locations, fascinating and endearing characters, and unforgettable story, FFVII made an impact on the PlayStation 1 that still rings loudly to this day. I was forever moved after stepping into the world of Gaia for the first time, mesmerized by the vision, story, and immersion the game achieved. To this day, it still remains one of my favorite games of all time.

    Remaking the title was never going to be easy, as a game of its caliber had so much to live up to. It took Square Enix over 20 years to do it, but ultimately, the original creatives behind the game came together and decided to tackle the project before anyone else in the company could. In 2015, Final Fantasy VII Remake was unveiled, and I don’t think anyone could have guessed just what a wild ride we were in for.

    Acting as a larger-than-life recreation of the opening hours of Final Fantasy VII, the first title in the Final Fantasy VII Remake Project offered incredible character and narrative depth alongside one of the greatest battle systems ever implemented in an RPG. FFVII Remake redefined what a remake could be, reimagining the world we have all come to love and the story we hold so dear. After a thrilling and subverting conclusion, we were left with one statement: “The Unknown Journey Will Continue”.

    Four years later, the time has come to continue that journey. Square Enix has graciously given me weeks of early access to the highly anticipated Final Fantasy VII Rebirth, the direct sequel to 2020’s Final Fantasy VII Remake. With this, I’ve spent over 100 hours exploring the planet, completing almost everything the game has to offer. From the beginning, it was clear that Rebirth was larger than anything I’d ever imagined. As I stepped atop the hill overseeing Mt. Nibel in the opening sequence of the game, a triumphant rendition of the Final Fantasy VII main theme came in and threw almost every single emotion possible at me. I couldn’t believe what I was playing. It was here I knew that this wasn’t just any other game – Rebirth would be an experience I’d never forget.

    A World Like No Other

    Picking up directly after the end credits cutscene of Final Fantasy VII Remake Intergrade, Cloud and the party are resting in Kalm, the nearest settlement outside of Midgar. It’s here that you’re immediately thrust into a flashback of five years ago, taking control of Cloud on a mission with SOLDIER 1st Class Sephiroth in Nibelheim. As Cloud tells the story of Sephiroth’s fall to the party, you play in the past and see the events unfold for yourself. The Nibelheim flashback immediately sets the stage for the grand adventure to come, with stunning sights and loads of new mechanics not seen in Final Fantasy VII Remake

    It’s clear from the beginning that the journey that lies ahead is not bound by fate. Immediately after finishing the flashback, Tifa and Cloud step away to the rooftop, where she shares her concerns with Cloud’s recollection of the past. This conversation never happened in the original Final Fantasy VII, yet it feels like it was there all along. Naturally, there are countless new conversations, changes, and additions to the main story in Final Fantasy VII Rebirth. Each addition feels so expertly crafted, truly tying together the narrative in ways I never expected.

    The opening chapter is a delightful reunion. You can feel both the tension of the party and the lingering effects of the Escape from Midgar. Leaving Kalm, you step into the first major region of the game – the Grasslands. Home to Bill’s Chocobo Farm, a wide area of Republic ruins and gorgeous greenery awaits. This was the first moment I experienced the greatest offering of Rebirth – the world.

    When I first read Tetsuya Nomura’s comment about Cloud “running through the wilderness” in the FFVII Remake sequel, my mind immediately crafted ideas of what the world of Gaia would look like reimagined. Leaving Midgar for the first time in Final Fantasy VII is, to this day, one of my fondest memories in games. It was remarkable to see a giant world map appear, a whole world to explore. I had sky-high expectations, and after stepping into the very first area of the game, it was clear that Rebirth had broken through and transcended any and all expectations I had set for it.

    It’s almost hard to describe just how big the world is. The map is divided up into Regions – massive explorable areas with multiple points of interest. Each has an unfathomable amount of locations, sights, and areas to explore. I have played through entire games where the map was as big as just one of Rebirth’s regions – they are truly that colossal. The same can be said for each iconic location – looking from below at Cosmo Canyon or Junon was nothing short of magical. The scale is out of this world and instantly immersed me in the game. It is almost unbelievable that the development team at Creative Business Unit I has managed to recreate the scale that was present in 1997’s Final Fantasy VII

    Once you step foot in a new region, your map will be clouded, practically begging for you to explore the region in its entirety. With so many different objectives to complete, it is incredibly easy to get sidetracked or lost in the moment while exploring. Immediately upon entering, I spent well over 10 hours in the first region, the Grasslands, exploring every nook and cranny on the map. Due to this, I encountered different lone farms and their owners, abandoned buildings, and gorgeous scenery. The game wants you to explore – go find that piece of World Intel or see how you can reach that hill in the distance. There are tens of hours worth of gameplay in each region, and I never got tired of the gameplay loop once. Every region is so vast and so different that I couldn’t stop myself from exploring. 

    Rebirth introduces new mechanics to allow for traversal throughout the world. Right from the opening mission, you’ll notice that you can now scale certain walls, climb up ropes, grapple across posts, and so much more. By far, my favorite new feature involving exploration is the new Terrain Action button. By pressing Circle at any time, Cloud can jump over rocks, roll forward, or climb ledges. This opens up movement in a way not possible in FFVII Remake. I felt in control of the game, with exploration wide open to observe any areas I chose to go to. Each region challenged my knowledge of these features by combining them together, utilizing them in ways I didn’t think of, or even throwing a new mechanic at me. Fundamentally, this completely changed the way I observed and interacted with the environment.

    Another exciting new way to explore the world involves Chocobos. It was great to finally see the FF staple make a solid appearance, as they only appeared in FFVII Remake as quick travel spots. Mounting a Chocobo in Rebirth is a context-sensitive action, so all you need to do is summon yours with R1 and run into it to hop on. The development team has gone above and beyond simply adding Chocobos to the game, as each region has a unique breed for you to discover. This makes for region-specific environmental puzzles and a fun new exploration option with each new area. You can find Mountain Chocobos, Jungle Chocobos, Soaring Chocobos, and more. There’s even a Chocobo with the ability to launch you into the air with a jetstream of water. All kinds of buried treasure are littered throughout the world, and you can dig these up when riding on a Chocobo. Tons of fun collectibles are out there, like PLAY-ARTS models of the Buggy. You can even customize the gear your Chocobo is wearing using Golden Plumes, which are obtained through repairing the Chocobo Stops throughout the planet. Be sure to pet each baby Chocobo at these stops! New animations appear for the different baby Chocobos in each region.

    As I progressed through the main story and traversed through the different regions, my jaw dropped more times than I could count seeing the sights. The world is beautiful yet cruel. It’s filled with life at every corner, yet there’s a consistent reminder of the imminent threat posed by both the Shinra Electric Power Company and Sephiroth. For example, the Corel region features a luscious tropical environment where Costa Del Sol resides, yet as you head West, the remnants of an exploded reactor and a dried-up desert serve as a reminder of the planet’s suffering. This environmental storytelling is like no other. It’s beautifully executed and paints the main themes of the game in every area of the adventure.

    An Immortal Story Reborn

    These main themes tie together with the driving force of Final Fantasy VII Rebirth: its story. Tasked with hunting down Sephiroth, the party sets out into the world to track the former SOLDIER. Starting from the Nibelheim flashback and ending at The Forgotten Capital, there’s a ton of ground to cover, but Rebirth handles it gracefully. Each area plays a key role in the development of both the narrative and its characters, with no moments where I felt the narrative dragged. It engages you quickly and doesn’t let go; each chapter has key story events that occur. 

    My first playthrough ended after 54 hours. In the end, I came away adoring the main story of Final Fantasy VII Rebirth. Covering such a vital stretch of the original game and juggling so many key story scenes, there was so much on the line to get this right, and it ended up being everything I ever could have dreamed of and more. Iconic sequences like Cave of the Gi and Barret’s showdown with Dyne have enhanced the source material and are more impactful than ever. Massive new sequences have been added throughout the story, featuring new characters, encounters, and completely new areas of the planet. It’s genius and wouldn’t be possible without the decision to free the story from the shackles of fate. All together, Square has crafted a narrative that builds not only off of FFVII Remake but also the original game and its spinoffs collectively.

    I was genuinely amazed playing through the narrative as someone who has experienced the full Compilation of Final Fantasy VII. So many references and plot points from these titles have been instilled in Rebirth, allowing for both a deeper exploration of the world and a greater impact on the player. For instance, there’s a moment in the story where you meet Dr. Sheiran in North Corel. He is a character from Final Fantasy VII Remake: Traces of Two Pasts, a light novel about Aerith and Tifa’s pasts penned by Kazushige Nojima. In that novel, it is revealed that he had previously saved Tifa after her injuries from the Nibelheim incident. This small plot point made the scene of Tifa and Dr. Sheiran’s reunion that much more impactful for me. I found countless plot points like this that truthfully enhanced my experience like no other. Once again, every single addition or change feels conscientiously placed to create the ultimate version of the Final Fantasy VII story.

    This narrative depth and quality carries over to all of the side content. This time around, quests are all extremely engaging and offer a plethora of unique stories to uncover. Arguably the weakest part of its predecessor, quality side content that builds off the main story shines brightly throughout FFVII Rebirth. Certain quests had me questioning why they weren’t in the main story, and some were hilarious to experience. Each quest is led by Cloud and one other party member, which allows you to get closer to each character and learn more about their past, desires, and feelings. I loved how much focus the development team put into crafting each of the side missions. The stories of these characters do not end after the main story – meaningful character development is scattered across all of the quests. This new side content quality in Rebirth sets a standard for its sequel. 

    The same can also be said for Protorelics. In each region, four separate Protorelic quests await. These questlines tend to feature some of the wackier scenarios you can find in the game. I found every region’s Protorelic scenario to be extremely engaging, as I was never quite sure what to expect. There’s a huge surprise tied into these pieces of World Intel, so I highly encourage you to track them down and complete them as you play through the story.

    Speaking of, the biggest incentive for exploration is World Intel. Early on, you’ll reconvene with Chadley, everyone’s favorite AI. He’ll grant you access to over 160 different interactive objectives you can complete throughout the game. FFVII Rebirth has eight different categories of World Intel, which can all be found in every region. Starting with the Remnawave Towers will reveal all locations of World Intel for that region. In some regions, you can just run up to these towers, but others will require you to solve environmental puzzles, use a Chocobo, and more. Every region is unique with new challenges, so things stay fresh despite the categories remaining the same. 

    You can discover so much about the world and its people with this intel, too. Lifesprings, for example, reveal in-depth historical data on the past of each major location and region. I had a blast running through each region from top to bottom and discovering all the objectives that awaited me. More than ever, I feel like I deepened my understanding of this world. By completing all of the World Intel in each region, you can develop new materia, unlock new combat simulator opponents, and so much more. New categories of World Intel, like Excavation Sites and Protorelics, can even be unlocked after completing objectives. 

    When you’re not trekking across the map and searching out pieces of World Intel, you might find yourself at one of the game’s many cities or areas. Every settlement is brimming with life from top to bottom, with so many activities occurring everywhere. This is immediately noticeable the second you step outside the Kalm Inn for the first time, as you’ll see dozens of NPCs walking around, dancing, and shopping. As I progressed through the story, I noticed this more and more. Costa Del Sol, for example, was running rampant with tourists when Cloud and the party first visited. The tropical paradise is home to all sorts of tourist attractions and minigames, creating a sense of realism with a spot you might not expect to find in FFVII. The world feels alive – almost like it’s living and breathing.

    This feeling is even further elevated with the return of dozens of characters from Rebirth’s predecessor. You’ll find essentially every major NPC from FFVII Remake somewhere in the world, venturing out of Midgar for one reason or another. This design decision creates a cohesive world, one that feels like it’s alive and experiencing growth alongside you. I caught up with Jules, who opened a new gym near Mt. Corel, and competed to remind him why Tifa was the champion of the gym. Somewhere along the way, I encountered Beck and his bandits up to no good once again. And, of course, Johnny made an appearance at Costa Del Sol, and somehow there were multiple Johnnys? As you continue to complete quests and push forward in the story, there is no telling who will show up. There is so much to discover and explore, and it’s hard to recall the last direct sequel I experienced that built off characters in a similar manner to Final Fantasy VII Rebirth.

    Time to Synergize

    Above all else, characters are the heart of FFVII. Without them, this story and world would have no meaning. Final Fantasy VII features some of my favorite characters of all time. Every single member of the party has an incredibly detailed backstory with relatable motives and inspiring wishes. FFVII isn’t beloved just for individual characters, though. It’s the relationships between these characters and how they overcome struggles together that truly sets them apart from the giant RPG genre.

    While FFVII Remake laid the groundwork, Rebirth has elevated both characterization and the relationships between each of the party members to the next level. As you venture into the world, Cloud begins to open up and have more vulnerable conversations with members of the party. This is especially true for his relationship with Tifa, which has blossomed within Rebirth. Speaking of, Tifa’s past is explored in the game, shining a light on her continued unmatchable compassion and empathy towards all despite everything she’s gone through. We all desire to act with kindness towards others, and Tifa is a shining example of that throughout the game. Her friendship with Aerith is also heavily expanded, with all kinds of banter, laughter, and support between the two. I loved seeing this unfold throughout the game as I watched two characters who struggled with trust in the past learn they could rely on one another. 

    Aerith’s cheerful and bright personality shines more than ever as she experiences the world for the first time. Her love for each of the party members shines so bright. Barret begins to firmly sit in the fatherly role of the party, protecting those around him at all costs. Red XIII opens up to the party and reveals his inner child. Yuffie joins at some point in the game, bringing hilarious moments of teasing and mischievousness to Cloud and the other party members. And the jolly Cait Sith has plenty of riddles to share with a suspicious amount of knowledge. I could spend hours talking about all of the development each character received, but I’ll leave that for you to experience in your playthrough. 

    It’s worth pointing out that Cid Highwind and Vincent Valentine are also here but have very limited screen time. It’s similar to Red XIII’s appearance in Final Fantasy VII Remake, though much more limited. Neither appears in combat, only as an accompanying character throughout the journey. You can experience the first teases of their characters through quests, but their involvement in the main narrative is quite limited. It’s a worthwhile decision; we’ll get two brand-new playable characters in the next title.

    Every party member gets time to shine. Each has a segment in the main story where you take control of that character and act as party leader. These segments never felt forced in the story, yet they gave an opportunity to shine a light on specific characters at no cost to the pacing or narrative. Rebirth masterfully balances some seriously grim moments with the bright and cheerful ones. Exploring the pasts of all the characters is beautiful, powerful, and flat-out heartbreaking. I couldn’t believe my eyes seeing some of the events each party member went through. However, you’re able to see the lessons they learned and the motivations they chose to become the people they are today. You’re able to see their growth, will, and determination to make the world a better place. I’m more fascinated and inspired by Final Fantasy VII’s characters than ever. 

    This quality development even extends to the side characters, as each of these characters is experiencing their own journey while Cloud and the party track down Sephiroth. Since you reconnect with so many characters from FFVII Remake, you get to experience that too. Rebirth’s characters are simply some of the best in the medium: there’s no dancing around it. Very few games have allowed me to connect with so many characters deeply, yet Final Fantasy VII Rebirth balances it all while driving the story forward, expanding the environment, and not losing me for a second of it.

    The narrative and cutscenes are just the tip of the iceberg for bonds between party members, though, as new gameplay elements encourage building strong relationships with one another. This is led by the Bonds of Friendship System, which tracks your relationship status with each of the main party members. This system takes into account your conversation choices, quests undertaken, story beats, and Synergy Skills to place party members at a certain affinity level. This plays into things throughout the game that could lead to character-specific events in quests and other areas.

    In addition to Bonds of Friendship, the other major new system of bond building in the game is through Synergy. Each character has both Synergy Abilities and Synergy Skills they can utilize with other characters in combat. To utilize a Synergy Ability, using ATB will fill the Synergy gauge. Once two compatible characters have their gauges appropriately filled, you can unleash a devastating, flashy combo move. Different abilities have different effects, such as increasing limit levels, gaining unlimited MP for a temporary period, or partitioning your ATB gauge into three pieces. Every use will increase the synergy needed to execute that ability, so you must play tactically and be thoughtful with each use. Synergy Skills, on the other hand, do not require any ATB and can be executed when guarding. These simpler abilities mostly act as either defensive maneuvers or large offensive attacks. Landing one of these skills can fill the ATB gauge rapidly, and this can change the tide of battle quickly.

    Experimenting with these abilities and finding out different pairs of characters fight together is a blast. Some of these abilities are absolutely hilarious – as you can experience anything from Tifa pouncing on the ground with Red XIII to Aerith throwing on a pair of shades with Barret. As you progress, you’ll be able to unlock new skills and abilities with different pairs of party members. This system was an amazing addition that added even more depth to the already amazing combat system.

    A Perfected Combat System

    I can’t speak enough about how FFVII Rebirth has perfected the combat system from Final Fantasy VII Remake. Blending both action combat and turn-based elements is a huge challenge, but FFVII Remake offered a genius blend with the ATB Gauge and Battle Commands. In Rebirth, the combat is everything you remember from the first title in the remake project, but it improved in so many areas you might not realize right away. 

    Battles are still fought in teams of three. You get three new party members over the course of the story: Red XIII, Yuffie Kisaragi, and Cait Sith. Naturally, this brings new choices into the equation that can propel your party in different ways. Red XIII is a defensive character with fun new abilities. You can fill his Vengeance Gauge to increase your attack power and dodge speed, adding a new layer to his base combat. On the other hand, Yuffie has been tweaked and attacks even faster than she could in Final Fantasy VII Remake: Episode INTERmission. You can dash at lightning speeds across the map and attack with her throwing star for chip damage. Throwing the star allows Yuffie to use Ninjutsu, which you can change the elemental effect of with her abilities. Finally, Cait Sith is loads of fun and retains the luck-based attacks that made him so iconic in the original title. You start out alone as the feline robot, with options to summon Fat Moogle with ATB. The two can fight together with Cait Sith riding the Moogle, but can also attack separately to incorporate close and long-ranged damage together at once.

    The returning cast also has seen all kinds of improvement. As Cloud, you can now utilize Blade Beam by dodging and immediately hitting Square. This allows for all-new strategies when you’re up against flying enemies, as you don’t need a ranged party member since Cloud can use Blade Beam. Whether you’re on the ground or in the air, you can hurl a Blade Beam towards an enemy effortlessly. Speaking of combat in the air, aerial combat is also much improved. To spring towards an aerial enemy, dodge and immediately press and hold attack. Here, you can nail enemies into aerial combos with light attacks or Blade Beam attacks, utilize certain abilities to knock enemies toward the ground, and more. It’s worth noting that aerial combat doesn’t quite work for all characters. Cloud, Red XIII, Tifa, and Yuffie are the main characters with these abilities. 

    Beyond that, there are loads of new mechanical improvements for all. Blocking or dodging at the perfect moment, staggering enemies, and taking damage will reward you by filling a portion of your Limit Break gauge. It was challenging in FFVII Remake to fill this gauge, but Rebirth rewards you much more for the objectives mentioned above. Obtaining a Limit Break now feels rewarding but not impossible. You can earn your limit in most fights and utilize it to bash down foes. 

    On the topic of Limit Breaks, each character can now unlock up to their Level 3 Limit Breaks. This is all managed through the new Folio system, which functions similarly to the Sphere Grid found in Final Fantasy X. This system is genius, allowing for customization and new abilities to be unlocked by player choice, not story progression. Each time a character levels up, they will earn SP. Additionally, certain quest and minigame rewards can involve SP for specific characters. You can use this currency to obtain new skill cores on the Folio, unlocking new Synergy Abilities & Skills, Stat Boosts, and Abilities. When you select a node to unlock, all connecting cores will be available to be learned after. You can also reset any Skill Core you’d like and recoup the SP cost. When I had trouble deciding what to unlock, I found myself testing Synergy Abilities and other skills and then using this feature to unlock something else if I didn’t fancy it. 

    The combat system is nothing short of perfect – it is exceptional. I’m of the opinion that the Final Fantasy VII Remake battle system is one the greatest modern fusions we’ve seen, perfectly mashing the strategy and action elements together seamlessly. FFVII Rebirth has picked up right where the first game left off, with incredible new additions and dozens of improvements. The addition of Synergy mechanics has added more depth, and loads of improvements to the technical interworkings of areas like aerial combat are much appreciated. 

    While most of the combat encounters in FFVII Remake were linear and scripted, the world is at your fingertips in Rebirth. Wild enemies roam each region all around, and you’ll have to fight them if you get too close. Approaching wild enemies in each region will trigger a ring, where you’ll get a nice boost of ATB to start the battle if you land First Strike before the ring fills up. I never felt that there was an overabundance of enemies throughout the regions; it felt almost perfect with the ratio of enemies per area.

    There are also a ton of new boss battles throughout the story. Multiple bosses from FFVII Remake return to get another go at the party, and there are all kinds of new fiends and foes to take on throughout the world as well. Both combat and character designs for bosses are superb, recreating memorable fights with staggering fidelity and scale. Every completely new boss fight never failed to make me smile, with all kinds of fun surprises awaiting throughout the story. Like Remake, I was so impressed with how intricate some of the fights were able to be. My fundamental understanding of the combat system was tested with certain fights, and I had a blast deepening my knowledge of each character’s mechanics. 

    These battles also occur in tremendous setpieces that rival some of the best in the Final Fantasy series. It all connects to just how big Gaia is portrayed in Final Fantasy VII Rebirth. When you’re not roaming the world or fighting off enemies, it’s easy to find yourself lost in the dozens of minigames you’ll find throughout the world.

    Fun & Goofy – As It Should Be

    The minigames are seriously incredible. You can tell that the developers poured so much love into each, with all kinds of fun and wacky games to try. It’s easy to spend hours playing through each one, and there are rewards for doing so, too! Each minigame has a hard mode that can be unlocked, allowing for new challenges once you reach the top rank. The hard versions of minigames are challenging, pushing your understanding of the game’s mechanics and abilities to your limits.

    The biggest new minigame available in FFVII Rebirth is Queen’s Blood, a new card game that is a blast to play. It’s a card game and puzzle game combined: you play against a single opponent on a board with three rows. Cards require a certain amount of pawns to be placed and can leave different formations of pawns on the board for your next turn. Starting from your side, you build out your cards on the board by placing cards on spots with the corresponding number of pawns. It’s incredibly strategic, requiring you to think critically before making each move. Throughout each region, you’ll encounter new players whom you can challenge to a game of Queen’s Blood. By defeating them, you can raise your Queen’s Blood rank, which unlocks new challenges, cards, and much more. There are almost 150 cards to collect, so it’s easy to devote hours to perfecting your understanding of this minigame. I’m truthfully blown away by just how deep this minigame can get. It makes me wonder if we’ll ever see an online PVP mode of some sort.

    Beyond Queen’s Blood, it felt as if there were 30+ other minigames throughout the world to test your wits at. I’m not sure of the exact number, but I was so impressed with just how many are packed into the world and each region. Each is unique, offering a fun and refreshing break from the hunt for Sephiroth. Some of my favorites included Jumpfrog, which feels like a nod to one of the stages from Fall Guys, and Dolphin Show, where I couldn’t help myself from breaking out into a huge smile. The Piano minigame is also incredible! It’s hard to believe a fully functioning piano is playable on the DualSense. In the future, I hope Square considers adding more pieces of sheet music for players to play through. Ultimately, I loved watching the characters be thrown into these wacky scenarios, which directly ties into one of the best aspects the developers have chosen to embrace in FFVII Rebirth – its charm and wackiness.

    Truthfully, my favorite thing about Final Fantasy VII might just be the perfect clash of goofiness and seriousness that resonates throughout the entire game. It’s a blend that has yet to be matched in the RPG market and is part of what makes the game so special. For a game that deals with serious themes such as life, loss, and environmentalism, it’s so charming to experience some of the comedic elements you find throughout Gaia. FFVII Remake managed to capture this with hysterical moments in Wall Market like the Honey Bee Inn and the Colleseum. Rebirth has elevated this to the next level, with so many lighthearted moments scattered throughout where all you can do is just laugh. 

    Simple conversations between characters are an excellent example of this blend. After running from a Shinra soldier unit, the party ends up getting a Chocobo at Bill’s Farm. Once captured, Aerith and Tifa poke fun at Cloud’s hairstyle, stating he and the Chocobo look similar. This banter is consistent throughout the game between each of the party members, and it really is wonderful. 

    New and familiar events occur throughout the game that reflect this fun yet serious tone. Iconic moments like Barret’s sailor attire are recreated to perfection and truly bring out the charm that made the original title so fun. Each chapter offers so many fun and forever memorable moments. When you enter Corel Prison for the first time, Solemn Gus (formerly Mr. Coates in the original game) enters the room with a walkout song and dance. Everything about Cait Sith and the Golden Saucer is fun, witty, and truly out of this world. And let’s not forget that Red XIII can somehow ride Chocobos. The events that make this story so enjoyable and memorable are those that almost make you question how they’re possible.

    Final Fantasy as a series has always sort of had this silly element twisted in with everything else. That’s been somewhat lost in some of the more recent entries, but I couldn’t be happier to see it thrive in the world of FFVII Rebirth.

    Visually, Audibly, and Emotionally Beautiful 

    Amidst this world of wonder, charm, and wackiness, Final Fantasy VII Rebirth is utterly gorgeous. Outright stunning at times, it builds greatly off of Final Fantasy VII Remake, with welcomed tweaks to character models and an uptick in visual fidelity. You’ll immediately notice this in cutscenes with the hair on character models and the lighting. Rebirth is way more of a jump than I expected for visuals, somehow looking much improved from the already gorgeous Final Fantasy VII Remake Intergrade.

    The cutscenes themselves are incredible once again. Cinematography and the use of camera movement shine, creating a premium look and feel to each scene. Paired with the PlayStation 5 DualSense and its haptic feedback, it’s hard to describe just how immersive some of the scenes can be. And seeing the camera pan directly from a cutscene to the character model is a feeling that will never get old. I touched on earlier just how stunning some of the locations are throughout the game. Even the quieter areas are filled with wonders as far as the eye can see. Running through the wilderness, you’ll encounter animals, like deer or rabbits, who will react to Cloud and the party passing by. Little details like this exist everywhere and encapsulate what an immersive experience this is.

    I spent the majority of my hours with the game in Graphics mode, which prioritizes displaying the game at a 4K resolution. I wanted to experience FFVII Rebirth in the best quality possible, and I was not disappointed one bit. That being said, the Performance mode also runs great, constantly staying at an almost locked 60 frames-per-second. Depending on the number of objects on the screen in battle, you’ll see an occasional dip here or there, but it was barely noticeable and probably just a 2-3 FPS drop. The game runs like butter regardless of the mode you choose, so choose whatever you prefer. There is a significant increase in visual fidelity in Graphics mode, however. I’m extremely impressed with how far the developers went to optimize the title, as I only experienced two minor glitches throughout over 100 hours of gameplay. It’s nice to see Final Fantasy continue to offer polished titles at launch without bugs.

    Textures are an area that has been a hot topic online after the release of the Final Fantasy VII Rebirth demo. I spent all my time with the game playing off a 65” 4K QLED TV, and I never noticed anything with the textures from afar during my playthrough. Everything was rendered beautifully, immersing me effortlessly into the world. There’s moderate use of lower-resolution assets in some areas, but again, it wasn’t noticeable to me. 

    I found some impressive and fun tech to mess around with as I explored each location in the game. Similar to cones and fences in FFVII Remake, loads of moveable objects will now fall or scatter when you run through them. Costa Del Sol has all kinds of chairs and tables that you can knock over, and so do a majority of the main points of interest throughout the game. This can lead to funny scenarios during in-game cutscenes, as those objects will be moved as well. Another fun find was in each area that had the black robes walking toward their next destination. Even if you’re not near them, they will continue walking to their location and arrive there! I tested this multiple times and was extremely impressed with the overall attention to detail.

    Besides the astounding visuals, the penultimate feature of Rebirth’s presentation is the magnificent soundtrack you’ll experience. Masashi Hamauzu and Mitsuto Suzuki have produced what is one of the greatest game soundtracks in recent memory. I adored the themes and music found in FFVII Remake, but Rebirth has taken everything so great about that OST and turned it up to 11. And that says a lot, considering the composers were able to create eight CDs worth of incredible music for just one city. It all starts with the ‘Main Theme of Final Fantasy VII’ – one of the most remarkable tracks of music ever created for a game.

    Throughout each area, this theme reappears constantly with different instrumentation, style, tempo, and so much more. The Grasslands features a more lyrical version of the main theme, relying heavily on orchestra and strings. However, as soon as you go into battle, a bombastic version of the main theme enters, filled with a brass-led melody. Beyond this, each region has its own version of the main theme and, subsequently, a battle edit of its version. Cosmo Canyon utilizes softer percussion to create that desert feel as you roam the lands. The Gold Saucer has high techno versions of the main theme in certain minigames. Overall, this use of the main theme is a masterclass example of utilizing music and orchestration for worldbuilding. The music tells a story about each region of the world and the type of experiences they offer.

    The sheer complexity of some of these pieces is insane. It’s instantly noticeable with the Materia Guardian fight in Chapter 1, with a theme that clashes ‘Let the Battles Begin!’ with ‘One-Winged Angel’. Hearing this while fighting this giant monster next to Sephiroth was thrilling. There’s also the FFVII Main Theme Battle Edit, which I cannot wait to play on repeat once the soundtrack releases in April. During the game, I loved hearing instruments like the Accordion be leaned on for themes like On Our Way in Kalm. It’s a unique feel that adds that additional layer of immersion you don’t find in every game. 

    Like characters, tens of tracks from Final Fantasy VII Remake have made their way over to the sequel in places you might not expect. You might select a random quest and fight monsters to the fan-favorite ‘High Five’ battle theme on a beach. And that’s just the beginning. More obscure and location-based themes, like Wall Market, also show up around the world. Combined with the hundreds of new tracks, Final Fantasy VII Rebirth offers one of the greatest soundtracks you’ll ever hear in an RPG. The music ultimately ties together everything that makes Rebirth so memorable – emotion.

    Emotion lies at the very core of this story. The original game had a way with words and animations, crafting unthinkable moments of emotion that were challenging to pull off at the time of release. Now, with gorgeous 4K visuals, impeccable voice acting, and expressive, dynamic character models, emotion is a constant force in Final Fantasy VII Rebirth that shines everywhere. 

    I’d argue that emotion is one of the hardest things to create in games for a wide, collective audience. Personally, while I’ve connected with countless titles throughout my years of playing, only a few have ever deeply connected with me on a level that brought outward emotion. Rebirth is one of those. Parts of this game are truthfully indescribable. I’ve never been so overcome with emotion, at times finding myself smiling like a child and others practically sobbing.

    By far, this is largely due to the immaculate voice acting. Smaller scenes, even, have the ability to leave such an impact with vulnerable conversations between the characters. There are dozens and dozens of emotional moments on both ends of the scale that wouldn’t have evoked anything for me without the voice acting. The cast has elevated the characters to the point where they feel like real people. Too many times, I sat speechless, watching the events on screen unfold with the sensational voice cast and celestial music creating something beautiful.

    With how expressive each character model is, it feels like watching a movie at times. You’re experiencing this heartfelt journey right next to all of the characters. Through their ups, downs, and the rollercoaster in between. 

    A Work of Art

    This game would not have been the same without the bold decision to take the remake project in a route of re-imagination. With a standard remake, story events are set in stone: you know what to expect, when it will happen, and where it will occur. That couldn’t be farther from the truth with Final Fantasy VII Rebirth. While still visiting the iconic locations from the original, so many new and exciting story beats occurred throughout the narrative that had me on the edge of my seat. I was constantly wondering what would come next and just how the title would differ from the original. 

    The ability to offer Rebirth as a “new” experience for both new and longtime players is magical. There’s no other word for it – even the excitement and discussion behind the game wouldn’t be anywhere near what it is now. New stories await, being ones that would not have been possible otherwise. Though some might find that disappointing, I believe it’s the greatest gift of this project. The approach allows players who’ve long experienced the original game, like myself, to fall in love all over again with the world and characters we’ve loved for so long. And that is a pure work of art.

    I can conclusively say that Rebirth solidifies the FFVII Remake Project as the most ambitious remake ever created. I do not think we will ever see a remake of this caliber again. I believe that the improvements we’ve seen in Rebirth were only possible thanks to the approach of three separate titles – allowing Square Enix to gain confidence and implement new tweaks in each. Rebirth embraces everything that made the original Final Fantasy VII so special while adding a plethora of new and exciting content that feels like it should’ve been there all along. It’s truly a love letter to what made the original game so iconic, embracing the wackiness and silliness of the original game and blending it all together effortlessly with the incredibly serious themes throughout. We all knew this game was going to be special, but it’s more than anything I ever could have imagined. Final Fantasy VII Rebirth is one of the greatest RPGs – and video games – ever created.

    I’m content on spending the rest of 2024 just playing Rebirth. It’s bigger, bolder, and brighter than almost any game I’ve played over the last few years. With only a playthrough on Hard Mode and a few extraneous objectives left to check off, I couldn’t be more excited to earn the Platinum Trophy and immediately jump into a new playthrough. Beyond that, I can’t wait to see all the discussion and excitement as the world gets its hands on the game. All the theories, retrospectives, and analyses – I’m ready for it. Rebirth has set a grand stage for Part 3 of the Final Fantasy VII Remake. It’s sure to be filled with all kinds of fascinating twists, loads of drama and emotion, and, of course, all the locations we’ve yet to visit.

    Final Fantasy VII Rebirth is the kind of title you don’t forget. It’s one you carry with you – through your experiences, emotions, and lessons. Very few games have had such a profound impact on my life, yet I can say with the utmost confidence that Rebirth is an experience I’ll never forget. It’s turned a special story into something even grander, elevating the source material to new heights. The final chapter of the Final Fantasy VII Remake Project will likely be one of the most anticipated RPGs to ever be released, tying up what will be a 10+ year journey to recreate one of the medium’s greatest titles. And I, for one, couldn’t be more ecstatic to see what awaits at journey’s end.

    Square Enix provided Final Weapon with a PlayStation 5 copy of Final Fantasy VII Rebirth for review purposes.

    SUMMARY

    Final Fantasy VII Rebirth is a generational RPG that exemplifies everything there is to love about the medium. Featuring a colossal open world, a gripping narrative, beautifully written characters, and an out-of-this-world soundtrack, Rebirth is a title no RPG fan should pass up on. It's improved on nearly everything from its predecessor, offering a complete and flawless combat system alongside countless other additions. FFVII Rebirth is the shining jewel of modern Final Fantasy, a prime example of the series at its best.
    Noah Hunter
    Noah Hunter
    Noah is Final Weapon’s Editor-in-Chief. He co-founded the website in June 2019 and has been writing for it ever since. In total, he has over five years of writing experience across many publications, including IGN Entertainment. His favorite series include Xeno and Final Fantasy.

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    Final Fantasy VII Rebirth is a generational RPG that exemplifies everything there is to love about the medium. Featuring a colossal open world, a gripping narrative, beautifully written characters, and an out-of-this-world soundtrack, Rebirth is a title no RPG fan should pass up on. It's improved on nearly everything from its predecessor, offering a complete and flawless combat system alongside countless other additions. FFVII Rebirth is the shining jewel of modern Final Fantasy, a prime example of the series at its best.Final Fantasy VII Rebirth Review - A Timeless Masterpiece Reborn