After wowing gamers with its reimaged take on the first act of the iconic RPG in Final Fantasy VII Remake, Square Enix have now brought the second part of their epic trilogy to the PlayStation 5. And, as no surprise to anyone, it’s an absolutely spectacular experience that manages to exceed the incredibly high standards that its predecessor set. I was blown away by the previous game, but honestly, Final Fantasy VII Rebirth manages to better it in every single way.

Check out some screenshots below:

Continuing the story set out in the previous game, Final Fantasy VII Rebirth sees Cloud and the gang venturing outside of the confines of Midgar and into the open world as they seek out Sephiroth, with the path they take led by mysterious cloaked figures that speak only of a ‘reunion’. It’s something players will be somewhat familiar with if they played the original Final Fantasy VII, but, much like Remake, Final Fantasy VII Rebirth adds its own spin to the storytelling that sees players exploring new locales, seeing additional narrative threads unwind, and also having their expectations defied as the story twists-and-turns in unexpected ways that’ll keep them guessing right until the very end.

You only have to play through the intro sequence to see that the game is adding its own exciting yet unexpected spin to the much-loved story, with Final Fantasy VII Rebirth packed with surprises that’ll ensure long-time fans of the game can never get too comfortable. It also fleshes out existing scenes with a lot more depth, which doesn’t only make each character more endearing but also makes the locales you explore feel more believable and lived in. I won’t give away any spoilers here, but one story arc in particular that is vastly improved was that of Dyne and Barret – it felt more emotional, gripping, and added more depth to Barret’s character and history that didn’t feel quite as substantial the first time around. You can expect that for pretty much every character in the game.

It is worth noting that whilst the storytelling is breathtaking, you’ll appreciate it the most if you played through the original Final Fantasy VII. There are so many nods and throwbacks that’ll stand out more if you were there the first time around, and whilst Rebirth can still be enjoyed without any prior experience (well… I’d certainly recommend playing through Remake at least), I can’t help but to feel that you’ll be getting a different experience if you can’t appreciate the changes that have been made and additions that have been added to the storytelling.

“Much like Remake, Final Fantasy VII Rebirth adds its own spin to the storytelling that sees players exploring new locales, seeing additional narrative threads unwind, and also having their expectations defied as the story twists-and-turns in unexpected ways that’ll keep them guessing right until the very end.”

Whilst Remake was more confined in design, Final Fantasy VII Rebirth lets you venture out to explore the world and take in familiar sights such as Kalm, Junon, Cosmo Canyon, and the Golden Saucer, with it undoubtedly larger in scale than its predecessor. It’s more open from an exploration standpoint too, with each locale spread across a variety of vast areas that give players the full freedom to explore in order to uncover secrets and goodies, complete side quests, battle the fiends that wander the wilds, and, of course, ride Chocobos. It helps make Final Fantasy VII Rebirth feel significantly different to its predecessor, with the grander sense of scale giving the adventure a more momentous tone that matches the bigger stakes at play in the narrative.

Each area is huge to explore and full of things to do, with Final Fantasy VII Rebirth offering a meatier experience than last time around. My playthrough hit roughly sixty-five hours in total after clearing all side quests and getting top marks in all mini games, with it easily double the size of Remake. Whilst there are a ton of activities and side quests to dive into though, some of it can feel like busy work. Chadley once again returns to seek out your assistance, but his tasks mainly consist of finding radio towers, clearing special enemy battles, seeking out crystalised fragments of the life stream, and so forth… you know… the usual sort of tasks you’d expect from an open-world title. Honestly? I enjoyed clearing all of these, especially since the world is beautiful to explore and I simply loved spending time with the characters, but I can imagine some players may find the tasks a little repetitive – especially since there are SO many different things to find.

That being said, the side quests were a lot more interesting, with players helping out the inhabitants of the world in a variety of ways. There are special quests linked to finding items known as Protorelics too, which featured some of the more unique moments of the game (and introduce an iconic character from across Final Fantasy lore). It’s also PACKED to the brim with entertaining mini games, with players indulging in a variety of tasks that challenge your skills in different ways. You’ll be shooting targets, smashing crates, seeking out hidden Cactuars, helping Moogles, racing Chocobos, and partaking in a clever take on the Rocket League formula with Red XIII (it’s as fun as it sounds), just to name a few. And the icing on the cake? There’s a brilliant card game called Queen’s Blood that’ll see you building up a deck and challenging other players in strategic showdowns, with it even having its own distinct narrative thread that adds to the mystery of the game. I loved Triple Triad in Final Fantasy VIII, but honestly? I think Queen’s Blood might be better.

Check out some screenshots below:

It all comes together to showcase just how ambitious of a game Final Fantasy VII Rebirth is, with so much to do and see across its world that it’s almost overwhelming. It’s all brilliant implemented though, with each new sight I discovered, each new mini game I completed, and each new quest I partook in adding something special to the experience. There are plenty of other systems at play too, with a crafting mechanic seeing you create your own items, Cloud’s relationship with party members changing based upon his actions, an overall party level increasing and unlocking new abilities for your team, and plenty of combat challenges to complete with Chadley. It’s easily one of the most rich and in-depth RPGs that I’ve played, with Final Fantasy VII Rebirth expanding upon its predecessor in almost every single way.

Combat has been enriched too, with it building on the action-orientated foundation of the previous game by adding additional mechanics to spice things up. For one, there are more characters to play as, with each adding their own unique take on battling that allows for more strategy. Whilst Yuffie’s ninja-like approach has been seen in Remake’s Intermission DLC, Red XIII and Cait Sith bring all-new fighting styles that allow players to further diversify their party setup – they’re both a lot of fun to use too, with Cait Sith the more distinct of the pair with his megaphone attacks and reliance on luck. Switching between the whole party regularly will definitely work to your advantage, with it vital to your success when playing on the harder difficulties where you need to exploit every weakness an enemy has.

There are also Synergy Attacks that are shared between characters, allowing you to perform powerful abilities when your synergy meter is built up. They give you a neat trick to have up your sleeve to get out of sticky situations, and believe me, they were the difference between success and failure for me during some of the game’s tougher encounters. They can also trigger a variety of buffs to the player, so clever use of each one can give players an advantage that goes a lot further than simply dishing out damage to foes.

“There’s a brilliant card game called Queen’s Blood that’ll see you building up a deck and challenging other players in strategic showdowns, with it even having its own distinct narrative thread that adds to the mystery of the game.”

With returning mechanics like materia, summons, the stagger system, and limit breaks still at play, combat feels more exciting and strategic than ever before. The enemy variety is more distinct too, with foes bringing with them more varied move sets and abilities that’ll challenge players’ skills in more focused ways that’ll demand a bit more tactical nuance to overcome – especially in the boss encounters, which are somehow even more epic and challenging than before. Man, just writing about the combat here makes me excited to dive back into the game and battle enemies all over again… it’s THAT good.

The game looks absolutely stunning too, whether that’s when battling enemies in electrifying set pieces, seeing the emotional detail in character’s faces during a gripping cutscene, or when visiting a memorable locale in its remade form for the first time. Everything in the game is simply breathtaking to behold, with it easily standing out as the most stunning world that Square Enix have crafted. It is worth noting that there is a Quality Mode (4K at 30fps) and a Performance Mode (dynamic 4K at a mostly steady 60fps) to choose between though, with some sacrifices made to the visuals if you go for the latter. I’d also be remiss not to mention that some textures of the game look a little… off. There was something similar in Remake with that infamous door, but I noticed it more here.

Oh, and the music? It’s absolutely wonderful. I loved hearing the re-imagined tunes of the game in Remake, so it was a real delight to see more pieces of the soundtrack get the same top-notch treatment here. The new additions to the soundtrack are equally superb, whilst the brilliant voice acting ensures that the sound design gets top marks across the board.

Final Fantasy VII Rebirth Review

Final Fantasy VII Rebirth is a masterpiece, with the re-imagined storytelling, world design, and combat even bettering that found in its predecessor. It’s absolutely massive too, with the world packed full of exciting showdowns with enemies, intriguing side quests to complete, fun mini games to indulge in, and secrets to uncover. Add to that the riveting narrative that delves into the world and its characters deeper than before, the stunning visuals that bring so many familiar locales to life, and a soundtrack that easily stands out as one of Square Enix’s best, and you’ll quickly find that Final Fantasy VII Rebirth is simply one of the greatest RPGs that has ever been released.

Developer: Square Enix
Publisher: Square Enix
Platform(s): PlayStation 5 (Reviewed)