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Final Fantasy VII: Rebirth Review

By April 5, 2024Reviews, Video Game Reviews8 min read

Final Fantasy VII: Rebirth broke me.

It doesn’t usually take me a month to finish a game I want to review, but the sheer size of this game (combined with a stressful class load) prevented me from finishing it quickly. I even bought it on release day.

I worked through this game between classes and homework, squeezing in a few hours here and there. I journeyed alongside Cloud across the world at my pace, and I discovered so many amazing things about this game that has quickly taken a special place in my heart.

There’s so much to discuss, and I want to get through it all.

Final Fantasy VII: Rebirth begins right where Final Fantasy VII: Remake left off: After a dangerous encounter with Sephiroth and the Whispers, mysterious arbiters of fate, Cloud, Aerith, Tifa, Barret, and Red XII have managed to escape Midgar.

The game opens with a flashback to Cloud’s first mission as a SOLDIER with Sephiroth as his partner. After that, it continues along a path similar to the story found in the original Final Fantasy VII for the PlayStation.

All images courtesy of Square Enix.

I won’t delve into story details until the spoiler section, so for now, I’ll focus on the game’s mechanics, graphics, and music. Thankfully, there is a ton to talk about.

GRAPHICS AND MUSIC

Rebirth is gorgeous. It’s one of the prettiest games I’ve played on the latest generation of consoles, and I highly recommend playing in graphics mode rather than performance. Performance mode doesn’t consistently keep a true 60 FPS, so switching to graphics keeps things steady and beautiful.

Seriously, this game looks unreal. Everything from the detailed character models to the stunning and distinct locations blew my mind.

There are some minor issues, though. The lighting adjusts when you enter and exit buildings to account for lower lighting levels, but this makes transitioning indoors and outdoors painful and distracting. It tries to stimulate your eyes adjusting to bright light, but it’s annoying rather than realistic.

Rebirth’s soundtrack outshines its graphics by far, though. Each track in the game is memorable and catchy, and more than a few themes left me in tears. It beats Remake’s soundtrack in quality and memorability. As of the writing of this article, the OST isn’t available to stream, but I can’t wait for when it is.

COMBAT

Rebirth isn’t just a game with a pretty face, though. Its fast-paced, deep combat is one of the most polished and fulfilling I’ve played in recent memory.

Each explosive encounter Cloud and his friends faced left me wanting more, and Rebirth was happy to up the challenge and spectacle the farther into the game I got.

The most significant addition to Rebirth’s combat from Remake are Synergy Abilities, which are brand-new to the series. In the heat of battle, two teammates can form up and perform special skills that do devastating damage. These unique abilities range from Cloud and Tifa devastating the enemy with close-range blows to Aerith tossing Red XIII around the battlefield like a yo-yo.

These Synergy Abilities combined with a solid combat system, fun and varied magic, and tons of unique abilities for each character make Rebirth’s combat addictive. Each character gets a handful of weapons throughout the game, and each comes with a unique ability that you can unlock permanently with enough use.

CHARACTERS AND STORY

Another of Rebirth’s strengths is its voice and character work. Each member of Cloud’s party is fleshed out and excellently characterized, and many of the side quests expand on each character’s personality and thoughts. I hunted down every side quest so I could hear from Tifa, Yuffie, and the rest.

Barret was a standout for me amongst the entire cast, though. I won’t delve into spoilers here, but he has one of the most satisfying and well-written arcs in Rebirth, and his voice actor does an incredible job of carrying the emotional weight that comes with it.

SPOILERS

Final Fantasy VII: Rebirth’s beautiful and tragic narrative destroyed me.

First, I’d like to preface this section by saying I have not yet played the original Final Fantasy VII. I know! It’s a travesty!

But not playing the original game gave me a unique viewpoint of Rebirth’s story, especially the final few chapters.

I came into this game aware of Aerith’s fate in the original game. She died at the hands of Sephiroth, and this loss broke the party. It’s such a pivotal moment in the original game, and Rebirth has constantly teased us that fate and destiny aren’t written for Cloud and the gang.

Rebirth is a very long game. The main quest takes about 45 hours to finish. Every second of this story oozes personality, whether from the rich and varied locales Cloud and the gang visit, the simultaneously dramatic and silly story, or simple character interactions.

Seriously, I could listen to Yuffie and Barret banter for hours. This game’s character work is that good.

One of the best parts of the party’s interactions comes from their visits to the Gold Saucer, a giant amusement park that offers downtime between intense moments in the story. It’s also here where Cloud gets the chance to go on a date with whoever he’s the closest with: Aerith, Tifa, Yuffie, Barret, or Red XIII.

Character work aside, Rebirth’s story is incredibly epic and intriguing. Cloud and the gang travel the world on the hunt for Sephiroth, all while they’re being chased by Shinra for the events that happened in Midgar during Remake. 

Underneath all that excitement, though, Rebirth is ultimately about family and love. Cloud and his friends have formed a tightly-knit family in their journeys across the planet. They stick together and help each other no matter what.

It’s what keeps them together when Aerith dies.

Well, sort of. It’s complicated. Rebirth’s third act is confusing.

Rebirth’s climax takes Cloud and the party to the Forgotten Capital, where Sephiroth slew Aerith in the original Final Fantasy VII. It is here where many different worlds collide in a “reunion,” as Sephiroth put it.

Cloud tried to defy fate by stopping Sephiroth from impaling Aerith, which seemed to work. Fate had other plans, though; something caused Aerith to die anyway.

The climactic boss battle between the party and Sephiroth ensued, and it ended with Sephiroth fleeing to face them another day.

Aerith was still dead, though. She was gone to everybody except Cloud, who still saw her in visions that could be interpreted as him seeing into another world. Days after finishing the game, I’m still unsure what Aerith’s “survival” means. Perhaps she will return in the third game of the trilogy in some form.

Ultimately, I don’t like the ambiguous nature of the ending. The developers should have explicitly either killed Aerith or kept her alive. The ending weakened an otherwise stellar narrative and left a sour taste in my mouth.

Despite my gripes with the ending, it still caused me to cry a lot! The end credits song especially got to me. I’ve never felt more raw and hurt from a video game before, and I’ve never experienced the original Final Fantasy VII!

I can only hope Aerith will return in the final game to help Cloud finish off Sephiroth once and for all.

Final Fantasy VII: Rebirth is a must-have for anyone who loves action RPGs, especially for Final Fantasy fans. If you haven’t played Final Fantasy VII: Remake, I highly recommend diving into that game first.

There’s so much packed into this game that I didn’t delve into in this review because Rebirth is that huge. I recommend going into this game blind if you’re curious. You’ll be rewarded with an unforgettable experience.

Rebirth was incredible, and I can’t wait to see how the series will conclude when the final part of the trilogy releases in the future.

Defy destiny. Defy fate. Laugh, cry, and enjoy life’s journey.

Will Edmonds

Will Edmonds is a junior who loves single-player video games, playing the saxophone, and creative writing. He is majoring in professional writing and a part of the one of the jazz bands at the Catlett Music Center. He plans to become an editor after graduating college and hopes to publish his own book.