Back to Reviews

Review | Final Fantasy VII Rebirth

"A remake with a powerful nostalgia trip ruined by the bloated open-world activities and attempt to change the story, which just left more questions out in the open. Fan-service is not always the best thing."

by Foggy, 29-02-2024, Edited by: No one (yet!)

Final Fantasy VII - A (Re)birth of the rage of fans

Well, here we are. Disk two is upon us. How to build upon after introducing living Zack at the end of the Remake (Part 1)? I had so many questions after beating the previous part, and I have so much more after beating this one. Let’s start slowly and take it from there. I will write this review from the perspective of someone who adores the original game, but I will also divide my feelings and focus on the game as a separate entity.

On the board of directors, we have Naoki Hamaguchi, Motomu Toriyama and Tetsuya Nomura – so, don’t you dare blame only Nomura! Nojima is the writer, although he had worked on the original, he shared that effort with Kitase. Here, he is the one to blame if you need someone to blame (plus the directors).

You can play the game starting from the 29th February on the PS5 (no PS4 version whatsoever). Note that the game is 150GB “big”, so clean up that drive and make sure you can download it on time! If you’re one of the technical nerds, note that the performance mode works fluent, but the graphics and the rendering, the popups on the open-world areas are a mess. The graphics mode is unplayable if you ask me, it doesn’t even work on stable 30 FPS, its laggy and makes no sense. You might want to wait until they polish the game a bit, it looks worse than the Remake Part 1 and if you don’t like blurry scenes and slow rendering of the environments on the performance mode, just wait a bit (I don’t find it problematic, but some of you might, considering some similar open-world games looks so much better).

Meet Zack! And meet the alternate timelines. I, for one, don't like these parts, but the rest is top notch! The world is the one we remember, just made simpler and the whole game like it's rated PEGI 3 (minus the beach scenes). 

What if they change the story, include unfamiliar characters and made you question what really happened?

Rebirth serves as a second disk of the original game, and it covers the main story up until the Forgotten Capital area where the most-iconic scene is about to unfold. It’s cut short a bit when you compare it to the original – which ends a bit later. The Icicle Inn is not in this game, so after you witness what happens to Aerith, it’s the end.

If I was to summarize the story in a few sentences, I would say that the best part of the game are the scenes from the original game, expanded by the lore and bonds between the iconic party members. There is just something about the characters! Whenever I saw new scenes and mash-up of the story in a way that is different from what I’ve used to know, I was riddled and confused. I had to dig up through my head with questions like: “This happened? Who is this? Was Yuffie such a strong part of the main story narrative?”. I hated the NPCs in this game, and I hated so much more that every NPC and side character has their own story parts. It’s just plain bad, plus many of them comes with a cheerful soundtrack that just pulls you away from the general dark feeling of the original. Johnny is so involved in the main story that I had to google what he was in the original. That messes up the padding, the narrative and introduces an unnecessary complexity to the flow. There are also other character in the plot which were not in the original game.

Cheery to the top – the whole experience keeps introducing parallel world/alternate timeline chapter bits, which at the end of the game just made me go “What?!”. I don’t really understand what the idea and the future of that is, it just doesn’t work, and I hated the idea behind it. If the only idea behind Zack in this game is for the fan service, that is just ridiculous and doesn’t make any sense. If that prepares for the different outcome in the last part, that is even worse.

Some scenes are just over the top. The prisoners and their story flow is a bit weird and I don't see any logic in introducing them to the game. Costa Del Sol is maybe the most ridicolous location, but the beach scenes are something else. Still, some parts are not in the same "tone" as the original, they seem too cheerful.

Aerith, will you survive this time around? 

If you’re here for the ending, prepare for the most complex outcome you can possibly think of. At the same time, they did not change the iconic scene, and in my opinion, they’ve made it even better (minus some details), but they did change it a bit, and the alternative worlds they keep enforcing there doesn’t really fit into that outcome. Without them, just showing the plain “how it happened” scenes – that would be awesome. So, it begs the question: What did really happen and what will happen?

My biggest problem with the narrative is the padding, the soundtrack and the NPCs. This is a pure Japanese over-the-top game which introduces western wannabe NPCs that are messing with the overall feeling. Enforcing the prisoners in the story, and how they are in every location you go to is absurd. The whispers suck (the pattern is the same – they keep adding story bits which simply don’t’ work). I couldn’t grasp the energy of the game at times.

For me the worst thing is the soundtrack (I’m sorry, but it is). Every song is just a remix on top of the remix. I had a hard time placing things. What happened with the music loops? Why can’t I listen to the best boss and enemy encounter songs without 10 interruptions or remixes along the way? To me, soundtrack is one of the most important pieces of the game, and considering this one has one of the best ever – I was constantly out of the nostalgia trip. We really don’t need 400 songs. The idea of remixing iconic town music into different versions for me just doesn’t work.

Just to note – it took me 95 hours to beat the game, and I’m still not done with the side content. I guess you can finish the story in about 40 hours, but even with that the story is unnecessary expanded at some points, sprinkled with absurd scenes that made me hate the game at points (like the one where Aerith sings, and Don Corneo crew raps).

When you see the most iconic scenes, it just takes your breath away. The graphics can be astounding, and at the same time very blury. I don't really know what happened, it seems like the previous Remake part looked way better in scenes and in-game.

It's like playing Horizon in the world full of Witcher ideas, just without them

When mentioning the hours I spent for this game, it’s mandatory to say that the game is huge. It’s an open-world experience divided between regions on the world map we all used to know and love. Only, this time around, you get to explore each section of that map in an open-world manor. The desing is not bad, especially when you unlock tiny bronco later on. The content though... That is a problem.

Each region (Grasslands, Gongaga, Cosmo Canyon…) is full of that content. That content is 80% pure filler, filled with fetch chores you need to complete to unlock… More Chad challenges, which means new Materia, new Summons and some new equipment/items through combat simulator challenges. There is no Chocobo hunting, breeding and similar experiences; it’s just one side quest or activity after another. I can easily explain the game as a Horizon/Assassins Creed type of open-world game where you climb towers to reveal close points of interest, which you then complete to explore the region. The world is beautiful at times, but the content is mostly dull and completely mess up the padding (plus, pressing buttons to complete an activity is ridiculous). First 2 regions of the game: 2 hours of story, 22 hours of side content. And every single quest and activity is full of mini-games. I’m really not a fan of playing soccer with Red XIII, riding segweys, or taking pictures of cactuars. The game just holds your hand and displays everything on the map without you worrying about finding things on your own.

You don't need to complete each region 100%. It's even advisable to continue with the story when you feel overwhelmed. I burned out a couple of times when I wanted to complete everything, so maybe just going with the story instead of chasing chickens is the best way to play this one.

Moogle, is that you? 

Side content such as Fort Condor mini-game and Gold Saucer challenges can be fun, but often you need to pass a mini-game to continue with the story, so overall it made me completely lose interest of the game at times. Combat challenges on the world map are ok, the rest is not ok. Special quests in each region can be fun, but in some they even copied themselves in lack of idea what to do as a next mini-game.

Overall, the world is a bit empty and full at the same time, but full of dull and empty chores you may want or may not want to do. It’s better just to follow the main story, but at times you will be under-levelled, so one thing drags another. Everything takes so much of your time, and most of us don't have that time anymore. I would be completely ok if the game was half as long.

On the other hand, side content is fun. Some questlines are good. I always like the challenge, so maybe enjoying the arena can be your coup of tea - fighting as frogs on Gold Saucer was a brilliant experience for me.

Will there ever be an interesting dungeon nowadays? Or an actual challenge in action games?

The dungeon design reminded me a lot of FFXVI, just not that linear, but close. Dungeons tends to be overly expanded compared to the original, which is fine – but looting for materials and simply following the dungeon for 4 hours instead of half an hour or so made me lose interest. Labyrinth at the end (before the end) is like 6 hours long dungeon. Sometimes less is more.

I would be happier if there were more battles, maybe some epic mini-boss challenges or something similar like Xenoblade/SMT V has.  The battles are more complex and probably a peak of action RPGs on the market. Is that good? For me, nope.

I always loved the turn-based RPGs. FF7 was no different, and introducing Remake made me question things. Fortunately, I loved the new style of combat. Expect more complexity here, although at the same time this game feels more like Kingdom Hearts button masher, than it takes from its past. There are rare occasions where you need the tactic, and ATB bar for using spells/abilities (usually boss fights). One thing I really loved in the previous part was the Hard mode, although Normal difficulty also had its share of challenges. Most of the battles here I’ve won just by mashing or holding the attack button. Yeah, it’s fluent, Cloud flies, all characters are unique – but what do we experience by just mashing buttons? Not much, really.

Expect weapon upgrade system like in the previous game, couple of different Materia, Synergy moves (which serves as special moves between characters), some new Limit Breaks (with the worst Limit system ever), and stagger mechanics which serves perfectly for harder boss battles. 1-1 battles with Cloud were my personal favourites.

Combat is good, but it’s simpler and flashier this time around. It will require some adjustments to understand all there is, but once you do, you will see it’s not that complex. The blocking and dodging feels ok, although I've mostly just mashed my way through.

The least utilized feature in the combat were summons, I just always used something else instead. Even the materia doesn't seem as important now, it's just mashing and staggering your foes. Combat is a lot of fun, maybe even the best in the action RPGs area, but I miss the challenge and more to it.

Zack, can you explain to us what the hell are you doing in the game? 

I can understand the high grades this game received. I can understand that from maybe a fresh point of view. We, old fans – we will be disappointed. The past-century open-world fetch quests, the handholding, bunch of mini-games on every step, poor technical performance (mostly rendering and graphics at times – the previous game had better graphics), awful “western NPCs in a Japanese game" and their boring, cheerful questlines, the new songs in the soundtrack, alternate realities (really, what was that?)… There is so much to hate, and at times so much to love. I had a serious love and hate relationship during my gameplay, it’s not a good sign for one of the best games ever made.

My happy place are the truthful scenes to the original, the buggy/bronco exploration and the things that remind me of the past (and Tifa!). Funny enough, that would be great even if I weren’t a fan. My personal disappointment is Sephiroth (my God, what did you with the best villain ever? He doesn’t feel like one at all) and the final boss battle – that was just ridiculous. Stop changing the game, it just doesn’t work. The best you offer is when you don’t change things, and the worst are the new things what you came up with.

A mediocre open-world game, a weird change of storytelling with the best being the things from the original game. Heh, Kveh.

"If you’re looking for the perfect game in Final Fantasy universe, play the original FF7. Introducing modern mechanics and trying to fit newer audience made the game lose its brilliance. It’s a good game, but not a perfect one anymore."
Leave a comment
Please Log in to leave a comment

ikral commented

on March 03, 2024 at 14:14h

Never finished original game, so was hoping to right that wrong with remake. Seems I better play original, after all, I need to put my PlayStation to use once in a while. Cheers!