Year:  2024

Director:  Tetsuya Nomura, Naoki Hamaguchi, Motomu Toriyama

Rated:  M

Release:  Out Now

Distributor: Bandai Namco

Running time: 70-100 hour campaign

Worth: $17.50
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Quirky, epic, whimsical and tragic, Final Fantasy VII Rebirth is a triumph on almost every level and well worth your time.

Remaking Final Fantasy VII seems like a no-brainer. One of the most popular Japanese RPGs of all time brought up to modern standards with additional content? Why, yes please, that sounds grand. However, when Final Fantasy VII Remake was released in 2020, gamers became aware of a couple of flies in the proverbial ointment. Firstly, Remake was the first of a series of games, not the complete package. In fact, the section of the game that Remake adapted was barely 10% of the original. How many bloody sequels were there going to be? Secondly, the story wasn’t quite a faithful remake so much as a bold reimagining, with some truly bizarre new twists. Just what was going on here? Happily, with the release of Final Fantasy VII Rebirth, we now know we’re in for a trilogy and the second part – the aforementioned Rebirth – takes on a whole lot more of the original game and feels like a classic Final Fantasy adventure, albeit with major story deviations. It’s not without its flaws, mind you, but there’s a lot to like here.

Final Fantasy VII Rebirth picks up the action where Remake left off. Cloud and crew have finally left Midgar and are on the road to greater adventure and darker danger. After the initial hour or so, the game expands into its first open world(ish) area, chockers with side quests and hidden treasures, and basically lets players cut sick in a way the previous title never did. It’s a lovely change of pace, and that slightly claustrophobic, corridor-bound feeling of Remake is mercifully absent. You’ll do side quests, random activities, ride Chocobos through gorgeously realised environments and generally get lost indulging in slightly generic but generally enjoyable shenanigans. Combat has also been expanded, with more skills that utilise your relationship with various team members, enabling truly spectacular synergy moves that add an extra layer of depth to the proceedings. Ultimately, though, the game just feels good. It’s fun to explore these wide open places, it’s enjoyable to get into tough fights and overcome them. Hell, even the Gwent-like card game Queen’s Blood is weirdly addictive.

On the downside, the whole revisionist aspect of the story still feels clunky. Although absent for much of the story, the ending may confuse players who aren’t fully steeped in Final Fantasy lore, and if the third game in the trilogy doesn’t pull something amazing out of the hat, it will remain the remake’s weakest aspect.

Still and all, Final Fantasy VII Rebirth is a massive improvement over Remake in almost every way. It offers a bold and gorgeous world to explore, dense with engaging and addictive activities and the story – when it isn’t twisting itself into meta knots – features some of gaming’s most iconic and charming characters, Quirky, epic, whimsical and tragic, Final Fantasy VII Rebirth is a triumph on almost every level and well worth your time.