Final Fantasy VII Rebirth


Review by · February 22, 2024

The moment you step outside of Midgar and into the wider world is the original Final Fantasy VII at its most grand. That’s saying something in a game with some of the most memorable set pieces in RPG history, but I doubt anyone denies the rush they felt when they saw the lush, bright, 3D overworld after the dark, dank paths of the opening hours in Midgar. It felt like a world of endless possibilities and provided a playground full of minigames, exploration, and discovery.

Final Fantasy VII Rebirth does everything in its power to replicate that feeling, along with bringing the drama, pathos, and downright silliness of the rest of the original. Even with a few mild missteps over the nearly 100-hour game span, there’s no denying that Final Fantasy VII Rebirth is a triumph that honors the spirit and legacy of Final Fantasy VII.

This is to say a lot of Final Fantasy VII Rebirth‘s success might be reliant on your connection to the characters and story in the original 1997 PlayStation game, more so than with Remake. I also can’t imagine playing Rebirth without playing Final Fantasy VII Remake, and while Square Enix marketed this game as a starting point (and there’s a short recap option on the start screen itself), I frankly wouldn’t recommend it. 

That’s not to say there aren’t changes, because if you played the closing hours of Final Fantasy VII Remake, you know they’re coming. After all, the game opens on Zack in what appears to be another timeline. After Shinra attacks, the rest of our main party are gravely injured, and Zack drags Cloud to safety and rescues Aerith. We quickly flash over to our timeline to listen to Cloud retell the story of Nibelheim’s destruction and the origins of Sephiroth’s madness. From there, we make our way through Kalm and out into the wider world to hunt down Sephiroth.

To say any more would be a spoiler, even in a game that is largely faithful to the 1997 original in all the ways that matter. As a person who was wholly unconvinced and very concerned by the ending of Remake, my complaints are laid entirely to rest. The big moments you’re hoping for? While they may become recontextualized, they’re (mostly) all here. 

Sephiroth standing in flame in Final Fantasy VII Rebirth
It looks awfully hot in there, Sephiroth.

And the characters? They once again carry the day. As strong as the writing is in Remake, it’s elevated a notch in Final Fantasy VII Rebirth. I’ve always been a huge Aerith fan—she’s basically the main character here, and her beautiful balance of strong, sweet and funny is right on point throughout. Needless to say, every member of the returning cast has more than a few extraordinary moments, but the new playable characters are just as good. Red XIII’s elegance gets cut with a deep goofiness that’s always a pleasure. Yuffie is back to make me laugh every few minutes, and I even enjoy Cait Sith’s absurd Scottish accent. Clearly, the writers knew they hit gold with the character work in Remake, and they nailed it again. The outstanding English voice work just makes the characters even stronger.

Maybe most importantly, the tone is just right. People forget just how weird Final Fantasy VII is, and this version preserves it. For every intense, gut-wrenching moment, there were five more that made me laugh. Ultimately, while I’m certain there are controversial parts of the narrative (and there are a couple that didn’t quite land for me), the story and writing are outstanding on the whole, eclipsing every other iteration of Final Fantasy VII in my eyes.

A big part of the original’s silliness is the number of minigames, and it feels like there are twice as many in Final Fantasy VII Rebirth. All the classics are back: Chocobo Racing, Bike Fights, and battle arenas. They even find a fun way to bring the dance minigame back from Remake. But there’s plenty that’s new, too: Chocobo Gliding, a version of soccer, and so many more that I could write a whole review just naming them. Most of the sidequests involve minigames, too. They’re not necessarily all fun, and a few required minigames had me tossing my controller, but it’s impressive just how many there are. I had to drop my playthrough of Like a Dragon: Infinite Wealth to review this one, and on the whole, the volume, variety, and quality of minigames dwarfs even that. I haven’t even brought up Queen’s Blood, a brand-new card game that my small brain struggled with. I’d recommend you spend some time with playing early on if you want to master it. 

This variety carries through to the general gameplay right down to the dungeons. In fact, there might be too much “gamification.” To be clear, dungeons are almost universally well-designed here, with (usually) fun gimmicks to each, like getting a hookshot to fling yourself around from spot to spot. They’re certainly a huge step up from Remake with far fewer crawl spaces, etc. However, those who have played the demo know that vacuuming up Mako isn’t terribly fun, and other moments in dungeons are maybe a bit worse. They dampen the experience slightly, but exploring dungeons is still a blast.

Aerith staring at paper lanterns in Final Fantasy VII Rebirth.
Aerith is still the star of the show.

Of course, most of the exploration happens in the massive zones littered across the Final Fantasy VII Rebirth. When I first started walking around the Grasslands, the opening area, I was honestly convinced that this had to be the entire world map. Nope. There are five other massive zones to explore, too. Each area has a different feel, ranging from forests to massive canyons and arid lands surrounding Cosmo Canyon. You get a different chocobo in each with different abilities, like one that can fly over water. 

The vast areas are mostly a delight, but this is where I’m most mixed on Rebirth. While there is a lot to do and discover in each zone, your old friend Chadley will generally mark where things are, and the challenge is figuring out how to get to those areas. There isn’t much to “discover” on your own, and the rewards you get from exploring are usually middling at best. Plus, navigating these areas can be a downright pain. There are plenty of invisible walls throughout each zone, and it’s hard to tell what you can and can’t climb over. The controls for doing so can be a little finicky at times, too. Don’t get me wrong, I still enjoyed exploring the vast spaces, and it was satisfying to check off boxes, but at the end of the day, that’s mostly what you’re doing as you poke around on your chocobo. 

Of course, as you’re exploring these areas, you’re going to engage in a ton of combat. It’s mostly the same as Remake but with a few twists, so it’s immediately familiar if you’ve played the previous game. You still perform basic attacks to build your ATB meter to fire off special abilities while freely switching between party members. A smartly timed dodge and block will also build up that ATB. You also have spells, limit breaks, summons to fire off, etc. 

But, there are some important new twists. Each pair of characters has “synergy” abilities that you can power up by building relationships outside combat. The biggest changes come with the new characters. Red XIII is fast-paced and counter-focused, and a total blast to play as. If you’ve played INTERmission, you already know Yuffie is also quick and focused on adjusting her elements to hammer enemy weaknesses. Both of them are a blast, and it may not be a shock that Cait Sith is the weakest of the bunch. Maybe I just didn’t play him right, but he’s focused on tanking and flipping back and forth between riding his (very cute and fluffy) giant moogle and his quick attacks off of it. He just never quite clicked for me. The adjustments and new characters don’t do much to change the combat, but if you liked it in the previous game, like I did, you’ll also like it here. 

Yuffie in combat readying an ability in Final Fantasy VII Rebirth.
Do you like Ninja in Final Fantasy XIV? Then play as Yuffie.

The added skill trees and weapon customization are a nice touch as well, giving you an incentive to experiment with different party combinations, try out different weapons, and equip new weapon skills. Final Fantasy VII Rebirth even levels out the difficulty curve, too. There are no huge wall bosses like Hell House here, so it’s just a better, fuller experience on the whole.

While there’s been a lot made of Rebirth‘s look before launch and the subsequent graphics patch, there’s no question that this game looks a whole lot better than its predecessor. I mostly ran the game in performance mode because while graphics mode is beautiful, I found the frame drops to be pretty horrific, and the stuttering honestly made me a little sick. Sure, performance mode undoubtedly brings in some low-resolution textures and blurriness in the open world. I didn’t notice them for the most part, and they did nothing to detract from the experience for me, all while running very smoothly. Of course, your experience may differ, but know that at least to my eyes, it wasn’t really a problem.

Something absolutely no one will have a problem with is the music in Final Fantasy VII Rebirth, which is absolutely fantastic from top to bottom. The number of slightly remixed tracks is astounding, and the fact that they all sound amazing, ranging from the seemingly dozens of versions of “Aerith’s Theme” to the stunning overworld remix in the Grasslands, and, well, everything else, makes it hard to believe I will hear a soundtrack that I like more this year. The OST won’t leave my playlist for many years to come, and it’s a significant part of recreating this beautiful world and story I grew up with.

Everything in Final Fantasy VII Rebirth comes together into an extensive package that’s earnest both in its desire to be faithful in the ways that matter to the original and in being its own thing. I can’t help but love it. Does everything always work? No. But it manages to modernize the way Final Fantasy VII felt all those years ago, and it’s beautiful. After all, if you told me I got to explore the Gold Saucer in full HD 25 years ago and the minigames are even better than the original? Well, that’s all you need to know. 


Fantastic narrative choices and characters, true to the spirit of the original, fast and fun combat, massive areas to explore, a ton of minigames, great dungeon design.


Areas sometimes a little too empty, controls can be wonky, both graphics modes leave something to be desired, parts of the narrative will be divisive to some.

Bottom Line

Final Fantasy VII Rebirth is a fantastic game that is true to the spirit of the original while also carving its own path.

Overall Score 93
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Zach Wilkerson

Zach Wilkerson

After avidly following RPGFan for years, Zach joined as a Reviews Editor in 2018, and somehow finds himself helping manage the Features department now. When he's not educating the youth of America, he can often be heard loudly clamoring for Lunar 3 and Suikoden VI.