Final Fantasy VII Rebirth marks the return to Midgar and Cloud’s adventure, positioning itself as a direct sequel to the first entry in a trilogy, Final Fantasy VII Remake, which in itself is a re-imagination of the overarching narrative, world, and characters of the original 1997 release.
During our time at the Tokyo Game Show 2023, we got the opportunity to try out Final Fantasy VII Rebirth, which turned out to be sliced into two segments, a flashback sequence and an open-world exploration portion.
Rivals as Partners
The flashback sequence takes us back to The Fated Beginning, a past surrounding the ill-fated incident in Nibelheim years before the events of Remake. A time when Cloud was still a member of SOLDIER, being guided by Tifa in her classic cowboy getup and hiking up Mt. Nibel.
Accompanied them was Sephiroth, Cloud’s mentor and future archnemesis, and together they formed an unlikely party. As exploration in Mt. Nibel continues, monsters ambushed the squad and set off the combat portion of the demo.
Given the success of the real-time hack-and-slash combat of Final Fantasy XVI, there may be concerns that this would be the direction that the franchise heading. However, reacclimating back to Rebirth’s combat was a comfortable process as it retains most of the mechanics from Remake, returning to the hybrid between turn-based and action.
The star of the combat is the improved Synergy System that was already part of Episode Yuffie. Like the previous adventure with Yuffie and Sonon, the Synergy System allows players to issue a Chain Action, an ability that combines the strengths of 2 characters.
For example, Cloud is able to obtain magical buffs for his sword from Sephiroth to unleash a devastating attack that inflicts a high amount of stagger damage.
Noticeably, characters’ abilities are also expanded, and each of them even has an attack that is quite akin to a Limit Break, showcasing stylish cinematic flourishes when activated. Cloud’s movements, the way he dodges and parries attacks, are also noticeably more dexterous in Rebirth.
Sephiroth, on the other hand, is an agile swordsman with many swift slashing attacks, though as a guest party member, his actionable abilities are limited.
The second portion of the demo picks up directly after the events of Final Fantasy VII Remake where the squad arrives at the outskirts of Junon, now explorable as an open-world segment.
In Junon, the original cast of Final Fantasy VII Remake made their return, from protagonist Cloud to both Tifa and Aerith, as well as the loud-mouth gunner Barret. However, a new member joins the party in the form of the quadrupedal wolf-like Red XIII, now fully playable.
While exploring, you can easily feel the sense of scale for Junon, given the size of the region and how many exploration bits you can get into. Each character also got their own Chocobo to get their way around, gliding and running across the open outskirt.
Remake into Rebirth
If you are already enjoying Remake, Final Fantasy VII Rebirth will be something to look forward to as it preserves the well-loved combat system but also has some new mechanics to freshen it up. To add, the open-world exploration looks to be a great diversion to extend the playtime and provide plenty of activities.
While Remake feels like a shot-for-shot reimagination of the original release, the sequel Final Fantasy VII Rebirth will have a new take on the story, shifting slightly away from the established lore to provide new experiences.
At Tokyo Game Show 2023, we also got a chance to speak with the developers of Final Fantasy VII Rebirth, namely Producer Yoshinori Kitase, Director Naoki Hamaguchi, and Creative Director Tetsuya Nomura about the game in an interview, which you can read here.