Final Fantasy VII Rebirth review: The epic saga continues in a worthy sequel

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Back in 2020, Final Fantasy VII got a Remake, which was much more than a simple modernisation. It not only reinvented the gameplay mechanics from a turn-based combat system to real-time action but also inserted new elements into an already spectacular story to take it up a notch.

If you are a veteran of the 1997 classic and played the Remake, you already know that the 2020 title didn’t cover the entirety of the original story that spanned three discs on the PS1. Notably, FFVII Remake was the first instalment in a planned trilogy, which reimagined the FF7 story and handed it over to a sequel– Final Fantasy VII Rebirth.

The new game takes things forward to answer all our burning questions and gives affirmation to the most popular speculations and fan theories. It goes without saying that you need to play the FFVII Remake first (or watch a story recap) to start your Rebirth journey or else you won’t understand what’s actually going on in the new game.

Even I had to take a refresher on the 1997 classic and all the affiliated titles, set before and after the events of the original game. However, to keep things from becoming convoluted, you could just simply go over the story of the FFVII Remake.

Final Fantasy VII Rebirth review

Characters with realistic traits

Final Fantasy VII Rebirth brings back the beloved cast of characters from the original and remake, each facing their own troubles from the past. Instead of being one-dimensional simpletons, the main cast of heroes carries trauma, confusion, and agony alongside their sense of duty. I can talk to lengths about each of them and what makes them special, but that path is hard to cross without trespassing through the spoiler territory. The game does an excellent job of recording their growth, which at no point looks forced or rushed.

In addition to the protagonist, other heroes also get to shine, including Aerith Gainsborough, Tifa Lockhart, and Barret Wallace. The Rebirth also gives Red XIII and Yuffie Kisaragi much-needed screen time and action participation.

Aerith, Cloud, and Tifa in Final Fantasy VII Rebirth

I wholeheartedly liked the relationships between these characters. My favourite is the development between Cloud Strife (protagonist) and Tifa Lockhart. They are two broken people from the same town, who find solace in each other years later. Their relationship is messy and tense but has tenderness at its core. Relationships in real life are never as simple as they are portrayed in fiction. Final Fantasy VII Rebirth manages to capture the essence of real relationships and projects it on its main cast of heroes.

My only complaint is with Sephiroth’s character. While the Final Fantasy VII Rebirth took the liberty to change the course of the original story, it could have made the big baddy a bit more compelling. His end goal has shifted a bit, but the force driving him is still his ego and superiority complex.

A beautiful and expansive world

The Final Fantasy VII Rebirth does justice to the lore of the original with its expansive map. The game materialises the world outside Midgar to what it deserves. Every location and town is brimming with life and a story to tell. Apart from a few repetitive actions that you need to perform everywhere, exploring new areas is quite fun. The story elements which were limited to a single dialogue sequence have been expanded to major plot points that you can explore in different locations of this world.

When it comes to graphics quality, the Final Fantasy VII Rebirth makes the PlayStation 5 feel underpowered. The game looks absolutely stunning as each location brims with beautiful details. However, the visual beauty comes at the cost of frame rate. Changing the settings to performance mode makes the movements super smooth, but the graphics take a hit. I always prefer better frame rates over graphics, but after witnessing the visuals in their best form first, I wasn’t happy sacrificing them for better performance. I wish PlayStation 5 Pro was already here or the game was already available for PC.

Combat and gameplay

The Final Fantasy VII Rebirth is an action RPG like its predecessor. Unlike beat-em-up titles with a long list of complex moves, the Rebirth allows you to perform basic attacks and special skills fairly easily. You can also slow down time to access skills via a quick menu during fights. I didn’t like this classic RPG-like element at first but soon found it perfectly okay as the core part of the combat isn’t limited to a single character but how you utilise your entire team. You can command your teammates to attack an enemy like you command Atreus in God of War. You can also switch with any team member whenever you want, use their skills, and jump to another character– just like you do in Genshin Impact. However, the best thing about the combat was the synchronised attacks you can perform with other team members. All these elements, coupled with the enemy staggering system, made the combat engaging and fun.

Yuffie Kisaragi has joined the action in Rebirth

The gameplay involves solving puzzles to progress in an area and unlock towers to find new points of interest. You can complete quests or take part in mini-games to obtain upgrade materials. While some of the quests and mini-games are good, they still felt completely disconnected from the high-stake main storyline. I tried completing them for the sake of upgrade materials, but couldn’t shift my focus once the Rebirth story kicked into gear. Luckily, you can skip these side quests and come back after you are finished saving the planet.

Final Fantasy VII Rebirth review: Verdict

Zack Fair is alive in FFVII Rebirth, but there’s a catch

Building upon the foundation laid by its predecessors, Final Fantasy VII Rebirth extends the epic tale of the FF7 universe with the help of a richly detailed expansive world and complex characters. In terms of gameplay, the simple action RPG mechanics allow players to engage in strategic combat and teamwork. The game is visually stunning on every front, but the trade-off between graphical fidelity and frame rate on PlayStation 5 is disappointing, especially if you prioritise smooth gameplay.

Overall, Final Fantasy VII Rebirth is a worthy addition to the franchise that will resonate with both long-time fans and newcomers alike. Even though we are still in April 2024, I believe the title to be a strong contender for the Game of the Year award.

Rating: 4.5/5

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