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Final Fantasy VII: Rebirth Review: The Journey Continues in a Beautiful Second Entry for the FF7 Remake Saga

There are many Japanese Role-Playing Games that have stood the test of time and have earned several accolades thanks to the number of critically acclaimed titles that have become cult classics and garnered a legion of fans worldwide. Among these pillars would undoubtedly be Square Enix’s Final Fantasy franchise – which in itself has spun out into several sequels, spin-offs, and different forms of media that have become synonymous with what video games are all about in the industry.

One particular entry in FF that has become its own unique brand in itself is Final Fantasy VII – which has new life breath into it thanks to the release of the Remake saga and its latest installment that’s finally out today in Final Fantasy VII: Rebirth. It’s been more than a month since this long-awaited follow-up to 2020’s Final Fantasy VII: REmake was released, and its sheer epic presentation and scope easily makes this JRPG an automatic contender for “Game of the Year”, and with good reason to boot. I got the game on launch day, and I’m still mesmerized at how beautiful and powerful this game is on the PlayStation 5. That’s no small feat as this took the development team years to program and make – and the 150GB+ requirement to install on the PS5 should hint on how massive and demanding this sequel is.

Directed by Naoki Hamaguchi (who actually visited Manila for the game’s launch event at SM City North EDSA), FF VII: Rebirth continues the journey of Cloud Strife and his companions as they continue their adventure to chase after the fallen SOLDIER hero Sephiroth and stop him and the forces of the Shinra Electric Power Company from unleashing destruction and chaos on the planet. Now exploring the world outside of the city of Midgar, Cloud and his friends explore a bigger and more diverse world filled with adventure and mysteries. It is through their journey that they will meet new allies, make new enemies, discover things about themselves, and why they must band together in order to save everything they hold dear in this world.

As a direct sequel to 2020’s Final Fantasy VII Remake, Rebirth is the second entry in a planned trilogy of games that remakes the original Final Fantasy VII while also introducing new events and scenarios not found in the original. For example and this is not a spoiler – Cloud’s friend and fellow SOLDIER Zack Fair is alive, seemingly surviving the ending of Crisis Core and making it back to Midgar to reunite with his girlfriend Aerith Gainsborough. This is one of the unique twists introduced in Final Fantasy VII Remake – where events that played out in the original do not exactly happen the same way as they did in the 1997 game. It gives replay value to veterans who want to experience the classic JRPG in modern times, while also drawing in some new fans who never had the chance to play it back in the day.

The main story begins in the town of Kalm after the events of the last game, where Cloud relates to his friends his origins on meeting Sephiroth and how the great SOLDIER fell from grace and became the villain he is known today. They are continuously pursued by Shinra forces, forcing them to travel through the rest of the overworld where they encounter new allies who join them in their journey in Yuffie Kisaragi, Vincent Valentine, and Cid Highwind. As players progress, they learn more about the backstory of each member of the party as well as gaining opportunities to decide on paths that lead to certain relationships progressing – such as Cloud and Tifa exploring their feelings for one another. It’s really all about forging your own destiny and adventure, while also enjoying a representation and modernization of a timeless JRPG masterpiece.

As far as gameplay goes, FFVII Rebirth is your standard fare modern Japanese role-playing game that combines exploration and open-world gameplay with turn based actions and fast paced gameplay. Players guide Cloud and his friends through different regions and towns, embarking in missions that help them progress through the main story while also engaging in optional side quests that give different rewards and items that may prove beneficial as well. There will be instances where you have to do special quests like capturing and riding a Chocobo in order to traverse through dangerous terrain. It’s always about the grinding and customizing your party according to your preferences – making sure that each member is well equipped with the right skill set, weapons, and materia to take on powerful enemies and bosses you’ll encounter through the journey.

Combat gameplay in FFVII Rebirth expands on the active-time battle system introduced in Remake, where Cloud and his allies engage in melee combat and the player uses strategy to plan whether each member should act in an offensive or defensive capacity. They can attack, use magic via the materia or abilities equipped, and even use different summons to help turn the tide of battle. There is also the “Synergized” mechanic – a system where party members can team up together to unleash a more powerful attack that deals more damage to their opponents. Clearly everything is all about strategy and making sure you have the right tools equipped and at your disposal before engaging in more powerful fights and boss battles.

With so much nostalgia and new experiences at its core, Final Fantasy VII: Rebirth is absolutely a must have for FF7 fans new and old who want to play the adventure while also getting something modern and new in return. It’s worth the price of admission and a perfect excuse to justify getting a PlayStation 5 alone – the visuals are striking and absolutely one of the best-looking video games out there today, and the gameplay is very accessible and easy for newbies to jump right in and enjoy. This game is definitely Game of the Year material for 2024, and there’s nothing quite like it until we eventually get the third and final entry in the FFVII Remake saga from Square Enix in the next few years to come.

Final Fantasy VII: Rebirth is now available exclusively for PS5.