final-fantasy-vii-rebirth-review-–-perfection

Grief is one of the central themes of Final Fantasy VII. Its characters are tasked with moving on from the emotional and traumatic experiences of their past. While this is commonplace today, it wasn’t when Final Fantasy VII was released in 1997. The emotional, heartbreaking story, combined with its well-written characters, helps make it a landmark title in the JRPG genre and gaming as a whole. 

When Square Enix showed off what a potential remake would look like during a PlayStation 3 tech demo in 2005, fans were ready for a remake with modern visuals. Sadly, they’d have to wait 15 years for a remake to release on the PlayStation 4. Even then, it was just the game’s first five hours stretched to last 30-plus hours. Despite being literally titled Final Fantasy VII Remake, the result was enjoyable but not what people wanted. 

Instead of a direct remake or remaster of the entire game, Remake deals solely with the opening Midgar story. Characters with minuscule screentime in the original Final Fantasy VII were given entire backstories. New plot elements about changing fate and destiny were introduced. The experience was enjoyable, and I enjoyed my time with it. This wasn’t what people wanted, though. 

Final Fantasy VII Rebirth is everything you could ever want from a Final Fantasy VII remake. Even though we’re still not done with the story, since everything needs to be a trilogy now, I can safely say that fans, no matter how jaded they were by Remake, will leave incredibly satisfied. 

Final Fantasy VII Rebirth Is One Of The Most Emotional Games I’ve Ever Played

Square Enix’s biggest accomplishment is undoubtedly making me care so much about these characters. Admittedly, this is easier to do in Rebirth rather than Remake since, well, things are actually happening over my 50-hour playthrough. By letting the game’s story expand versus wasting time before the plot is ready for us to move forward, the impact of the narrative’s more emotional moments is better received. 

Image Credit: Square Enix.

Remarkably, this is true for both old and new content. The new to the story moments of Remake were its worst parts. Whether it’s the Whispers hinting at changing the original’s plot or going full Peter Jackson and giving everyone a massive backstory, it dragged Remake’s pacing. Rebirth instead beautifully incorporates old and new together. Sometimes, you may not realize you’re playing through brand-new content.

There’s also how the game changes the order of events. I’ll keep things spoiler-free, but Square Enix changes up quite a few things from the original. How you meet certain characters, the order of places you’ll go to, and when certain confrontations happen are all adjusted to streamline the plot. It’s nowhere near as jarring or frustrating as Remake. Don’t be surprised if you do not care if certain events and locations are being saved for the third and final act. 

Combat In Final Fantasy VII Rebirth Is Better Than Ever

The real-time combat system combined with Active Time Battle (ATB) elements is back. While the most recent Final Fantasy entry, Final Fantasy XVI, incorporates enjoyable real-time combat, it doesn’t hold a candle to Rebirth. The biggest reason is the game’s party system, which has been fleshed out even more. 

A new system, called Folios, allows you to create various skill builds not just for individual characters but synergize with other members of your party. For example, you can set up abilities where Cloud and Aerith team up for attacks. Not only is this a new strategic element to combat, but it also deepens character relationships. While Rebirth doesn’t have the branching dialogue and story decisions that, say, Mass Effect does, several key moments in the game change depending on your relationships. 

Image Credit: Square Enix.

It truly is the party system that makes combat shine in Rebirth. It goes hand-in-hand with Final Fantasy VII’s themes of relationships and takes each character to the heights they deserve. Most of your party get their moment in the sun for crucial plot developments. Some, however, and we won’t say who, are playable party members, but the game isn’t ready for their showcase moments just yet. It’s disappointing, but I enjoyed my time with everyone so much that it didn’t leave a bad taste in my mouth. 

A Whole New World

One of the defining features of Final Fantasy VII Rebirth is its open-world exploration. More often than not, this feels less like Square Enix chasing the trappings of modern game design and more into giving the game and its characters room to breathe and relax. 

Yes, there are the typical points of interest that will appear on your map. Also, yes, most of these are exactly what you’d expect: discover a tower, do some fetch quests, etc. They offer a nice distraction if you want to spend time outside the main story. Additionally, it’s a great way to level up your characters, deepen their relationships, and upgrade your abilities. Your folio expands as your party level increases. The same is true for your weapons and materia. The more you engage in combat, the stronger you all become. 

Image Credit: Square Enix.

Final Fantasy VII Rebirth also offers a treasure trove of mini-games to explore. I want to be clear: there are a lot of mini-games, and we’re not just talking about what you’d find at the Gold Saucer. Yes, the famous amusement park is filled with mini-games, as is beautiful Costa Del Sol, but they’re also found everywhere in the game. 

Most notable is the introduction of the original card game Queen’s Blood. As an avid tabletop card gamer, let me ask you, Square Enix, when is a standalone Queen’s Blood game coming? I could spend dozens of hours solely playing the game, collecting cards, and optimizing my deck. It’s that enjoyable. 

Addressing The Elephant In The Room

I’m keeping this review spoiler-free, which seems crazy considering we’re talking about a game that’s been around since 1997. Yes, everyone knows the significant twists and turns of Final Fantasy VII’s story by now. Yet Remake threw a wrench in those plans by not just hinting at a change of events but revealing the possibilities of an alternate reality. Yes, that might be considered a spoiler for the events of Remake, but also, Zack Fair is on the cover for Rebirth. So, this is something that needs addressing.

Image Credit: Square Enix.

I was super concerned about the story following Remake. I didn’t want Square Enix to mess with anything, and honestly, it’s the impression I got from Remake’s finale. Something was going to happen that would ultimately ruin the experience. All of those concerns vanished after completing Rebirth. I’m unsure if this was the plan or if Square Enix was listening to feedback. Honestly, it could be the latter, especially considering a recent change made to Aerith’s finale line in Remake. Regardless, I’m happy the story doesn’t go off the rails in Rebirth. While it ends on cliffhangers, since, you know, there’s another game coming to (presumably) wrap things off, it doesn’t frustrate or disappoint. Final Fantasy VII Rebirth’s story is emotional, and I’m not ashamed to admit that I teared up several times. 

Wrapping Up

I enjoy the original Final Fantasy VII but don’t hold it in the high regard others do. Despite that, I can confidently say that Final Fantasy Rebirth VII is one of the best video games I’ve ever played. It leans into everything that makes the game so beloved, complementing it with the advances of modern game design and technology. This is everything I want from Final Fantasy games moving forward. 

Rebirth is a tremendous accomplishment that deserves every ounce of praise. There are some minor concerns, but I can’t help giving it anything lower than a perfect score. Play this game. Right now. 

Final Fantasy VII Rebirth Review – Perfection

Summary

Final Fantasy VII Rebirth isn’t just the early front runner for Game of the Year. It’s one of the best games ever made.

Pros

A fitting tribute to the source material that is able to offer a new take on a classic story.

Combat is as satisfying as ever. This is the gold standard of RPG combat.

Beatiful visions help bring everything to life.

Cons

Some small pacing issues, but ultimately, they don’t matter in the end.

There’s no Queen’s Blood standalone game.

  • I am the Editor-In-Chief of BossLevelGamer. I’m also a lover of video games, food, and beer.

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