Final Fantasy VII Rebirth Review – Fighting fate

Reviewed February 23, 2024 on PS5




February 29, 2024


Square Enix


Square Enix

In 2020, Square Enix redefined the remake by releasing Final Fantasy VII Remake, a revisitation of a beloved RPG that extends beyond that very definition and is wholly unique. Some years later with the follow-up in part two of the remake project with Final Fantasy VII Rebirth, the studio has done it again, making this hallmark title more than just your everyday remake once more.

It should go without saying, but this review in nature at least spoils some of the prior events found in Remake.

Final Fantasy VII Rebirth kicks off immediately following the events of Remake. Following the fall of the Sector 7 plate in Midgar, Cloud, Tifa, Aerith, Barrett and Red XIII are on the run from Shinra and also on the hunt for the demonic white-haired pretty boy known as Sephiroth. Their goal is to gain possession of a powerful black materia. What it’s going to take is a cross-country journey, making many a new friend and enemy along the way. This all results in an epic that is dozens of hours long and quite literally, reinventing history.

Remake was incredibly memorable with its rug pull of revealing that, while the game was a remake, it is also diegetically changing the story, world and lore of the Final Fantasy VII universe. Knowing that going into Rebirth creates this palpable feeling. You’re meeting up with more party members now in Yuffie and Cait Sith and seeing more key figures in Vincent Valentine and Cid. However, we also now know that against all odds Zack Fair is also in the picture. How he is involved and the role he has to play, of course, I won’t detail here. Still, that is just some of the can of worms the remake project has opened. What do all these timeline shenanigans mean? Are anyone else’s roles different? Do events change? These are all questions you’ll be asking yourself during your playtime. You’ll be surprised by how often this is explored. Constantly.

This time around, Rebirth does a better job of explaining some of the missing gaps in the Final Fantasy VII canon. In an excellent tone-setter opening, you control Cloud in his SOLDIER days, working his way through the Nibelheim reactor and seeing what exactly went wrong with Sephiroth and why he’s like that. This alone was greatly appreciated because, at the time of Remake, I hadn’t experienced anything in the Cloud and Friends universe prior. In Remake, there’s a scene where Cloud hallucinates a great big burning building; something I now understand to be tied to the catastrophic Nibelheim events. Rest assured, so long as you’ve been keeping up to date with the Remake project and maybe also checked out that recent Crisis Core remaster, Rebirth is very newcomer-friendly.

Rolling credits a little shy of 70 hours down with a healthy dose of side content, Rebirth is like nothing else. It will be seen as obnoxious to some with how it celebrates its own history but utterly compelling to fans as they wonder what’s going to happen at every turn while exploring the HD-realised familiar environments of Junon, Costa Del Sol, Corel, The Golden Saucer and so much more. The game is bold and brash. As shown in the trailers, it even includes and emphasises a character from the failed battle royale game The First Soldier. I promise this is probably the only narrative element in which you may be confused. Still, literally all facets of the greater Final Fantasy VII universe are used or implemented in some way in this game. How many other games can you say do that or have earned that level of self-congratulation? Not many, but I frankly love Square Enix for doing it and even going there.

Rebirth is a warm and welcome return to the more classic Final Fantasy approach following last year’s release of Final Fantasy XVI. While that’s a fantastic game in its own right, the cast here is unmatched. In the early hours of the game, I’m giddy and giggly over all the small interactions Cloud, Tifa and Aerith share while Red XIII and Barrett are both simultaneously the fourth wheel to the wonderful trio. Performances are so stellar, finding myself blushing at every accidental hand brush, shared smile and the like the three shared. Simply put, if you’re a longstanding Cloud/Aerith fan, Cloud/Tifa fan, or the more apt and galaxy-brained Cloud/Tifa/Aerith fan, you are going to have an excellent time with Rebirth.

Of course, the remainder of the cast is just as strong. The Turks, Roche, Hojo, Rufus, and so on are domineering as ever. Every party member gets their own arc and gets that same arc resolved within this game. It’s so palpable seeing Barrett’s want for a better world and hate for the giant corporation that is Shinra. When you watch Aerith go on her journey of self-discovery, you’re hanging on her every word. Cloud’s hallucinations and you, along with him, trying to work out what it is and isn’t real in this timeline… it’s all incredible narrative chops. It does all this while making the cast look better than ever in and out of cutscenes, pre-rendered or rendered in-game. I’m a brave woman, I’m not afraid to admit I got lost in Cloud’s Mako green eyes or Tifa’s gorgeous red. I am not immune to pretty anime-style characters.

Final Fantasy VII Rebirth is another RPG that is really good at having every element feel so considered and fed into one another. For instance, dialogue choices can have an impact on where you stand with party members. The brand-new Synergy Attacks in combat also inform this bond, where if you’re one to commonly use an attack with say, Cloud and Barrett, their relationship level can then be bolstered, potentially opening the way to further abilities down the line in your skill-tree. Though this marriage of combat and relationships isn’t new it is a big addition to combat this time around and it’s a well-needed one. It’s also often my saving grace. Particularly in hectic fights (of which there are plenty) where you’ve not quite filled your ATB gauge or your Limit Meter, you can let off one of these Synergy attacks free of charge to eventually fill a separate meter for even more devastating attacks. I already strongly liked the combat in Remake, it’s this extra bell and whistle that has made me love it in Rebirth.

Otherwise, your combat is largely the same. I love to squeeze every single drop of potential out of the combat in the games I play and there’s plenty of that here. Summons still rule, and it’s always a joy to reign in Shiva or Titan to wreak some havoc. Finding the right materia combinations to bolster one another, and having each member of your party play a separate role is as engaging as ever. Yuffie plays the same she did in Intermission, the bridging DLC between Remake and Rebirth. Red XIII has a ‘vengeance mode’ which is something of a parry stance that lets you also leech HP off foes. Cait Sith can deploy his giant moogle and either ride it to perform some devastating damage or send it off elsewhere while he deals with another enemy. The potential is plenty. It’s all about finding the combinations of party members that work for you.

While all of this frenetic action is going on, dazzling you with how good it feels and how good the particle effects of all the various spells look, the game is also flooring you with its music. It’s not exactly a hot take to say that music in a Final Fantasy game is good. However, an undertaking of the musical arts in a video game has never been on this level. Over 400 tracks. Plenty of recreations, reworks and entirely new songs.

Playing Tifa or Aerith’s theme on a piano in the provided rhythm game. Hearing music diegetically when you go to a bar and see a band up on stage at the back of the venue, pouring their hearts into it. A new theme by none other than Nobuo Uematsu. Several different Chocobo themes depending on the biome you’re in, all earworms in their own right. The soundtrack and composition in Rebirth is perhaps the greatest game soundtrack to ever exist. Is it just that little bit because it’s built on the shoulders of giants? Yes, but it handles that difficult, unenviable task well, reinventing the iconic music that Final Fantasy VII is known for.

These tracks also paint the beautiful world you’re exploring and what a beautiful world it is. Seeing just Midgar in HD is one thing. I can’t even imagine how breathtaking it will be for longtime fans to finally see some of the hallmark locations found within. I’m not exactly one for favouring fidelity over style but it’s hard to knock the attention to detail of the sandy Costa Del Sol shores, the vibrant lights of the Golden Saucer and more.

Accompanying these locales is a long list of side activities that can, along with the story, easily keep you busy for 100 hours. These are largely broken down into two categories. There are the more fun minigames in Chocobo Racing, Dolphin riding, the return of Fort Condor and so on. Then there’s the more obligatory open-world style activities you’re completing for Chadley, the AI VR combat training robot. These look like activating a satellite to locate more spots on your map Ubisoft tower-style, finding research points you must scan to later make unlocking a summon easier and so on. These are obviously less inspired and are passable, but admittedly very helpful at bolstering your party XP.

There are also tiny pain points where the exploration of these stunning environments gets in the way of the pacing, often part and parcel for the locating of the aforementioned scan points for Chadley. I’ve nothing against the yellow paint discourse that’s been popping up about this game. It’s good and helps ascertain what is actually climbable in its high-definition world. What I have an issue with is it makes me do so much of that slow dastardly Uncharted-style sidling against a wall or climbing up a mountain, it ruins the pace of just running around having fun. Choc0bo riding alleviates some of this, but not when you have to annoyingly walk down a narrow, linear path.

Thankfully there is just so much good in this game that all my problems with it largely melted away. In attempting to name all of the minigames at the top of my head, there are dozens upon dozens of combat challenges, Moogle herding, Chocobo races, the new card game in Queen’s Blood, a 3D brawler minigame, the return of Fort Condor, piano playing, a competitive 1v1v1v1 game of soccer starring Red XIII, a shooting gallery, dolphin riding. I’m sure I’m forgetting some, but I digress. There is such a plethora of content to work through in Final Fantasy VII Rebirth. Though it isn’t quite all killer and no filler like, say, Like a Dragon: Infinite Wealth, you’re always bound to have a good time with the game’s side offerings.

My pick of the bunch is certainly Queen’s Blood. The Witcher 3’s Gwent never quite grabbed me like it should have. Despite hours of it in Final Fantasy XVI, Triple Triad never thrilled me for long. Finally, the be-all and end-all card game-within-a-game has arrived for me in Queen’s Blood. It feels like an excellent hybrid of these two prior examples where you’re battling for domination across three separate lanes, hoping to win by using strategies such as dominating the playing field or just scraping by a victory in points. How you build your deck will bolster how far out you can place your cards on the 6×3 grid, with cards coming with their own abilities to level out the playing field. It’s up to you to see it through. Tight matches always ensue here and better yet, there’s even a weird and wild story accompanying the progression in player ranks you achieve.

Playing and reviewing a game like this in a silo before the public can access it is such a unique experience simply because there’s so much to talk about with it but no one to talk to. There is so much of Final Fantasy VII Rebirth that I want to yell and scream about at the top of a mountain.  So many limitations for what I can and can’t talk about in this review and what I do and don’t want people to know going in. There have been moments in this game where I’ve literally cheered alongside this cast I’ve come to know as my friends and sobbed at some of the tragedy found within. I’m going to be a bit hyperbolic here but the game has earned it: it has had me constantly thinking about it and has rewired my brain chemistry.  I cannot bloody wait for other people to experience this game because they’re in for an incredible ride.




  • Utterly compelling storytelling from a remake and course changing standpoint
  • Incredible and beautiful cast with wonderful performances and meaningful arcs
  • Perhaps the best music work the games industry has ever seen
  • Synergy abilities and attacks is a meaningful and quality addition to already brilliant combat
  • An incredible plethora of open world activities, most of it thoroughly enjoyable


  • A small side-activity and exploration moment or two is a bit slow

Final Fantasy VII Rebirth defies all expectations and is the new benchmark for what a remake should be. Bold and unapologetic with something to say but also true to its roots. I’ve loved, I’ve laughed and I’ve cried while playing this game and if you fall into the right crowd, you very will too. Provided is an unforgettable journey, a magnetic cast, and a world that is magic and an experience that is transcending. From combat to graphics to music to side activities to writing to performances, Rebirth is one for the books and I can’t wait to see where we go from here.