Final Fantasy VII Rebirth Review
(Photo Credit: Square Enix)

Final Fantasy VII Rebirth Review: A Dazzling Reimagining

I gushed over Final Fantasy VII Rebirth after playing its opening hours, and thankfully, after over 50 more, I can confirm that the Japanese role-playing game has lived up to lofty expectations. In fact, it has surpassed them in many surprising ways and offered an experience that truly lives up to the Final Fantasy VII name and legacy as one of the greatest games ever made.

The biggest change from Remake to Rebirth isn’t in terms of gameplay (Square certainly opted to refine Remake’s battle system rather than needlessly overhaul) but rather philosophy. Exploration is at the forefront of the experience, which leads to exciting moments of seeing the varied world of Gaia (the art design is truly top-notch throughout) and fleshing out the game with challenge-based combat encounters, detailed side quests that help bond Cloud to his party members, and discoveries that detail the world and its own mythology. While the game isn’t ridiculously long if you choose to main-shot the story, it’s very easy to spend 8-10 hours just doing side content in one of the more open-ended chapters and never move the core narrative forward. It’s that satisfying of a gameplay loop.

Of course, the actual main story is of the utmost experience. Rebirth features some key FFVII moments, such as trips to Nibelheim and Cosmo Canyon, while also putting a bigger focus on the degradation of ex-SOLDIER members and what is happening to the men in black robes that haunted Midgar in Remake. There are several surprises that build off the big twist in Remake and the whispers storyline as well, although most of the game is quite faithful to the original and focuses on fleshing out Cloud’s adventure rather than taking a total departure from the story that made Final Fantasy VII the most beloved JRPG ever. It’s smartly constructed and totally compelling from start to finish.

Sadly, there are a few points where the main story activities can drag a bit. While I appreciate trying to incorporate each playable character into the story and giving them all sections where they are the focus, Red XIII and Cait Sith’s playable moments are momentum-killers that depend on some pretty grating puzzle-solving. Thankfully, they’re not extremely long, so you’ll be back on track playing as Cloud shortly, but these detours aren’t much fun to experience despite adding some variety.

That being said, the slower moments are often when the game shines. Getting to partake in beach minigames at Costa del Sol or checking out everything that the Gold Saucer has to offer (sadly, snowboarding is under construction) are total highlights and allow for some of the best character moments. Fans of all characters will be thrilled to see how they get screen time (although Vincent and Cid take a non-playable backseat this time, as Red XIII did in the first game), as the characterizations are perfect. Simply getting to spend time with this beloved party is a true joy, and a lot of time clearly went into writing their interactions as they’re wonderful to experience.

One interesting change has been the incorporation of Midgar characters throughout the story (plus some from Crisis Core). They’re mostly used in the periphery to flesh out the experience and provide some great callbacks for those who played FFVII Remake, so they’re never super distracting despite it being a bit goofy that they keep showing up in your adventure. However, some of the moments with the recurring side cast are flat-out hilarious and are fan service in the best of ways. Rebirth knows it is over-the-top but also that this is Square’s one shot at incorporating all of its FFVII spin-off references as well, so those that have invested more into the universe over the decades will definitely be rewarded.

A game with so much reverence for its characters and story could’ve turned out all wrong, but Final Fantasy VII Rebirth is all the better due to it being lovingly crafted by a team that understands the unique place it holds in the hearts of gamers. Thanks to its focus on exploration, Rebirth is a refreshing and wonderful road trip throughout Gaia. With incredible spectacle, memorable battles, and plenty of side content that flesh out its world, this is an unforgettable journey worth taking. One that winds up being truly special as the overall experience far outweighs any nitpicks or temporary frustrations.

SCORE: 9.5/10

As ComingSoon’s review policy explains, a score of 9.5 equates to “Excellent.” Entertainment that reaches this level is at the top of its type. The gold standard that every creator aims to reach.

Disclosure: The publisher provided a PlayStation 5 copy for our Final Fantasy VII Rebirth review. Reviewed on version 1.010.000.

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