Final Fantasy VII Rebirth Review

Final Fantasy VII Rebirth Review

Standing on the Edge

Standing on the edge of Midgar’s expressway at the end of Final Fantasy VII Rebirth, the seemingly infinite possibilities of what could come next left me overwhelmed with a yearning I hadn’t really felt from a game before – there was a whole world full of iconic moments awaiting modern revisions ahead, as well as whatever twists this now clearly diverging path might bring to them. In several ways, Final Fantasy VII Rebirth is my wildest imagination made manifest, simultaneously another stunning reconstruction of my childhood memories and an interesting (if sometimes a little messy) new interpretation of a story I’ve cherished since 1997.

Innovative Mechanics and Epic Scale

Remake’s already impeccable blend of action and turn-based RPG combat has been made fresh again with new mechanics and party members, and revamping the way the original overworld worked by splitting it into sprawling open regions full of enjoyable optional activities enriches places I thought I knew so well. There’s a magic to doing all this with characters I love so much too, as their personal stories and pivotal moments have a new grandeur to them. However, Rebirth’s sweeping ambition to create a new timeline for Final Fantasy VII bounces between being absolutely sublime and too convoluted for its own good. That’s left me conflicted about parts of the execution of that new direction – but after spending more than 80 hours to finish the main story and a decent chunk of side content, there’s no denying that Rebirth is an amazing journey despite that, and one I’ll remember fondly as I eagerly anticipate the third act of this rebuilt Final Fantasy VII.

What We Said About Final Fantasy VII Remake

The expectations around Final Fantasy VII Remake are sky high, and it mostly manages to deliver. Its combat is top notch, its enemy variety kept me constantly entertained, and seeing this snippet of story fleshed out with real emotional arcs and the previously hidden humanity behind Midgar filled me with pure joy. The boring RPG filler and Kingdom Hearts-esque convolution that was inserted in between did stop my ear-to-ear grin from being constant, but never long enough to kill the mood completely. That leaves this remake as one that still delivered on letting me relive (part of) a classic in stupendous fashion, while also standing as a great RPG all its own. – Tom Marks, April 6, 2020

Score: 8

A World Reimagined

A major part of what makes that journey special is its impressive scale. As soon as I set foot onto the Grasslands, the first of six regions that make up Rebirth, a sense of awe washed over me. Looking out over the far-reaching horizon or seeing a backdrop of vast and distant mountain ranges, I was stunned by how gorgeously the previously low-poly world of Final Fantasy VII had been reimagined. An early cutscene shows Aerith taking in the beauty of a natural world she was never able to see before, only to have Red XIII remind her that it’s still dying from the inside out. In doing so, the story reinforces the ongoing theme of environmental preservation from the outset, and instills that this is a planet worth fighting for. That’s a feeling that consistently surfaced as I went from region to region, connecting with the people of each one and helping with their struggles through both the main story and a huge amount of sidequests.

Engaging Exploration

There’s something powerful in simply exploring each corner of these regions just to see how they’ve clung onto life in spite of the destructive effect of the relentless reliance on Mako energy. Scaling a cliff in Junon on my way to a side objective comes with the treat of a breathtaking but tainted view, such as the sunset splashing the desolate region with a cozy orange tint while the city’s massive cannon looms in the background. You can see the contrast of Costa Del Sol’s vibrant beachside next to the barren wasteland of Corel – a consequence of the iconic Gold Saucer’s energy demand. Exploration in Rebirth evokes a similar feeling to one I had with Xenoblade Chronicles 3, where the sheer scope and spectacle of their respective worlds drew me into uncovering all they had to offer. Wondrous sights like these are their own little rewards.