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Final Fantasy VII Rebirth Review

Final Fantasy VII Rebirth Review 1
Screenshot: GameSpew

It was a stroke of genius, Square subverting expectations by actually making its remake of Final Fantasy VII sort of a sequel. And now we’ve arrived at the second part of the story, in which Cloud and co., having escaped Midgar, are now met with a wide open world. Some wondered how it could be done, with Midgar itself being pretty confined, but they needn’t have worried. Final Fantasy VII Rebirth offers a captivating open-world experience, though it’s the story here that keeps you on your toes every step of the way, which is its real strong point.

Pretty much straight away, Final Fantasy VII Rebirth throws you a narrative curveball that will knock you off your feet. You then spend the rest of the game wondering just what the hell is going on, while simultaneously enjoying much of the game’s events with the main cast relatively unchanged. We say relatively: there are some changes to the core here as well, especially in the game’s final third, but it all just helps to keep you engaged while also rounding out certain elements.

“Final Fantasy VII Rebirth throws you a narrative curveball that will knock you off your feet”

In terms of gameplay, this is largely the same as Final Fantasy VII Remake, as you’d expect. There’s a mix of smaller, more enclosed locations – towns and dungeons mainly – and multiple large open world regions to be explored. In the latter, which can be explored on foot or also by Chocobo if you can catch one, you have your usual assortment of side missions to complete, ranging from finding great photo spots to helping out people in the local area with tasks.

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Screenshot: GameSpew

Chadley also makes a return, and like before he’s a good source of valuable materia, including summons. To obtain this materia, and improve the summons available, however, you’ll need to collect intel for him while out in each open world area. This entails activating towers, locating lifesprings, engaging in combat challenges and more. Sure, these are pretty repetitive tasks, but the areas of Final Fantasy VII Rebirth are so lush and rewarding to explore that you won’t really care.

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The game borrows from the likes of Ghost of Tsushima to make its side content a little more engaging, too. Take the lifesprings, for example; you have to follow birds that capture your attention to find their locations which are often hidden. Add in the reward of having the world and its inhabitants fleshed out a little as you go, and it really does pay to get involved. More transport options become available later in the game as well, making it easier to move between regions and clear up any content that you missed or has been newly added.

“The areas of Final Fantasy VII Rebirth are so lush and rewarding to explore”

We should also give a shout-out to the myriad of mini-games you’ll encounter along the way – not just in the golden Saucer. Activities such as Chocobo Racing and engaging in Space Battles provide some light relief away from the main story. Taking inspiration from The Last of Us, you can now also sit down at any piano you find to tinkle the ivories, so to speak. Recreate some of the series’ best tunes with finesse and you can even earn rewards.

When it comes to combat, all of the options from Final Fantasy VII Remake make a return. That means you can choose to get more involved if you wish, taking direct control of characters to perform common attacks as well as those unique to each character. Alternatively, if you’d rather take a backseat, you can let the basic stuff play out automatically, with you just issuing commands as each character’s ATB and Limit Break bars become filled up.

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Screenshot: GameSpew

New to Final Fantasy VII Rebirth, however, are Synergy Skills. These, like Limit Breaks, become available throughout the course of arduous battles, and allow multiple characters to team up for a variety of benefits. More often than not it’s to pull off a powerful attack, but it can also be to bolster character defences and more. In any case, they add more options and depth to the combat which is always welcome. More Synergy Skills can be unlocked via skill trees which have been added. These allow characters to be enhanced in other ways, too.

“The way that Final Fantasy VII Rebirth brings its beloved characters to life and further adds more depth to them is bound to be the highlight of the experience”

These Synergy Skills are just one of the ways that Square Enix has tried to improve the interactivity between characters in final Fantasy VII Rebirth, making the main cast feel more like a team. In fact, there’s now even a relationship system, with Cloud’s interactions with each party member changing how they view him. It’s hard to tell how much impact this system has outside of a certain “date” event that takes place late in the game, but it’s a nice inclusion nonetheless. We just like to see smiley faces whenever we interact with the likes of Aerith, Red XIII and Cait Sith.

Available exclusively on PS5 at the moment, Final Fantasy VII Rebirth makes good use of the console’s power, delivering what is one of its nicest-looking games as of yet. Two visual modes are available: Quality which targets 30fps and increases the resolution to make the image super sharp, and Performance which lowers resolution to target 60fps. For us, the latter is the way to go due to improved controller responsiveness and smoothness of the gameplay.

Final Fantasy VII Rebirth
Screenshot: GameSpew

The image can look noticeably soft at times in Performance mode though, especially when exploring an open world area. But even when you factor in the occasional low-quality texture, each scene in Final Fantasy VII Rebirth is so dense with flora, fauna and other objects that it’s hard to not be impressed on the whole. The lighting here is stunning, too, making certain scenarios look incredibly lifelike. Add in the sumptuous character models, and you have a game that’s a visual treat.

“It’s a masterpiece”

For existing Final Fantasy VII fans, the way that Final Fantasy VII Rebirth brings its beloved characters to life and further adds more depth to them is bound to be the highlight of the experience. It’s easier to develop a connection with characters such as Aerith, for example, when a simple facial expressions tells you so much. And we learn much more about characters such as Yuffie. It is a shame, however, that while certain characters do join your party, they’re not playable and remain on the periphery. Hopefully more is made of them in the third part, whenever it arrives.

We absolutely loved Final Fantasy VII Remake, but it’s safe to say that Final Fantasy VII Rebirth surpasses it in every possible way. It’s a masterpiece. It tells a grander tale, with more twists and turns that keep you on your feet. And while some new story elements may rub some players up the wrong way, they keep things feeling fresh, and make us keen to see where Square Enix will take things next. Ultimately, Final Fantasy VII Rebirth has exceeded our expectations, building on the original game and indeed Final Fantasy VII Remake, delivering a sequel that feels bigger and better in all regards.

Final Fantasy VII Rebirth Review – GameSpew’s Score

This review of Final Fantasy VII Rebirth was facilitated with a code provided by the game’s publisher. It’s available exclusively on PS5.
Editor in Chief // An avid gamer since discovering the wonders of the Acorn Electron in the '80s, Rich has nearly played more games than he's had hot dinners. Not one to put all his eggs in one basket, Rich is happy to play games of all genres, but he particularly enjoys racing games and anything that's full of non-stop action, especially if it includes a good dose of humour, horror or crudeness!