Final Fantasy VII Rebirth (PlayStation 5) Review

By Sandy Kirchner-Wilson 11.03.2024

Review for Final Fantasy VII Rebirth on PlayStation 5

Square Enix's Final Fantasy VII Remake was a hit when it came out in 2020 on PlayStation 4. Critics raved about the visuals and the changes to the story, changes that will have far reaching consequences for the characters in the story. Final Fantasy VII Rebirth has just landed… does it bring with it the drastic sweeping upgrades players were expecting or is it a bit of a limp Sephiroth?

Though utmost care has been taken to avoid them... beware of light spoilers in this review.

The game opens up with what is possibly the most exciting, depressing, intriguing and confusing cutscene so far in this pseudo-remake-sequel setup, leaving the player with far more questions than answers before conceding to the Nibelheim segment from the game's earlier demo. Echoing the structure of the PlayStation original, it moves through the acts in roughly the same order, albeit with a plethora of tweaks, completely new segments and more sweeping changes. The larger plot changes and more shocking twists are fantastically woven in and it really paints the sort of pseudo-remake as something much, much more.

It does an excellent job of weaving old and new elements together without losing, and sometimes enhancing, the bizarre nature of a lot of the funnier moments. The characters in particular are perhaps a little more "anime" in their presentation this time, with lots of fun animations and a focus on comedy between the serious bits. The main cast are fantastically written and often bounce off each other in ways that are relatable, especially Cloud who fumbles a lot with his emotions in this title.

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Side characters and side quest content also often feature quite a bit of dialogue and story content. This ranges from generic quests like "find the thing" to bigger, more memorable quests like "round up the people" or "resolve a character conflict". The bigger side quests are often funny or emotionally charged in some way, lending them an extra sense of weight and feeding into the character bonding system. As the game progresses, the story only gets more intricate and interesting, meaning some of the side content may feel unimportant. However, often it offers many more benefits to progression and party bonuses that make them worth seeking out regularly.

Screenshot for Final Fantasy VII Rebirth on PlayStation 5

Partnered with this fantastic story writing and events is some excellent gameplay that iterates on the previous title in many small ways. This time the game expands out of a singular city environment of Midgar and into the open world. Using this reviewer's favourite open world design of open, and very large yet linear level design, there are basically wide open levels rather than a contiguous single map, allowing for more focussed design and more unique theming. More expansive than any area in the first part, these places feature a nice variation of collectables and side activities without ever forcing the player to partake in them and most of them are also bookended by fully featured Final Fantasy towns which also feature side content and offer some spectacular designs and regional differences that reflect the original game and expand on a lot of the world lore.

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None of these levels and towns would feel any good however if movement wasn't fun, so it's nice to be able to say that the controls are excellent almost all of the time. Movement feels responsive and a lot of the things like climbing and environmental actions are fairly automated but never feel like they are doing anything outside of the expected directional input. One slight oddity when running around is that there are lots of incidental physics objects which all seem fairly weightless; it's not unusual to see Cloud booting rocks into the stratosphere as easily as a cardboard box for example. However, unlike, say Uncharted 4, they all carry an appropriate sound which is all part of the surround sound scape, meaning there are frequent clangs and bangs from behind the player as the party runs into the environmental objects.

The party has a ton of new traversal options as well, from riding chocobos and other vehicles to swimming, climbing and swinging, meaning there is a lot of versatility to the exploration, which is tapped into a lot in certain story and side missions. In fact, a lot of the side missions also feature one-off gameplay styles like guiding an animal by throwing and retracting a feeding tin or more in-depth gameplay like the new Queens Blood card game which is an excellent and time-eating diversion. This card game is super simple to learn but can present a good challenge and has a couple of light variants across the title. Some of these gameplay styles feel great; for example the returning rhythm action gameplay or the piano mini-game which is reminiscent of the guitar in the Last of Us: Part 2. However, the aforementioned feeding mini-game is occasionally frustrating as Cloud gets caught on scenery when moving backwards. Overall it's an insane amount of different games, mini-games and single use controls that are used, but they're mostly a triumph and really give the game a unique identity that can easily thwart open-world boredom. This barely scratches the interesting and near bottomless pot of side/mini-game content on show.

Screenshot for Final Fantasy VII Rebirth on PlayStation 5

Combat has also seen several changes since the first part with an extra layer of complexity through synchronous party skills and abilities alongside other non-controlled party member interactions. The general ebb and flow of the combat will feel immediately familiar but, as the game opens up, there are certain challenging fights to be found and even on Normal difficulty dying and retrying is quite common. Luckily the combat is still fun and interesting and often flashy with in-game cutscenes and particles galore. It really makes the party feel like they are working together in ways the first game couldn't quite match in palpability. The controlled combat party is limited to three characters at a time and this feels quite restrictive at times. However, the other non-party characters are often still involved in the fight but just AI controlled and they do a decent job overall. Sometimes the game splits the party either for story reasons or just for the heck of it and at these times it really pays for players to have familiarised themselves with as many characters' play styles as possible.

There are also extra additions to levelling up now, with even more avenues to expand powers and earn new abilities. Keeping on top of each of these is simple enough but it's easy to forget about things such as folios while trying to manage character equipment and materia. It's great having the added depth however, given the length and breadth of the content in the title. That's not even to mention the expanded and returning combat arena and other challenges that grow from Chadley's re-introduction!

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Visually, the title is mostly a real treat too. Characters look fantastic even under close scrutiny, though they can look odd in some lighting scenarios. Everyone looks miles better than their appearances before this title and even a fair bit better than they appeared in part one. This can also be said of side characters who now look a little more unique and less stiff. Most NPCs blow Final Fantasy XVI's out of the water in terms of characterful animation. There are also tons of variations of NPC designs that differ per region, keeping the world alive and a little more believable.

In general, the same can be said of locations which have incredible levels of detail. Rocky mountains, lush greenery and characterful towns are just the surface. There are loads of incidental details that add a bit of grounded-ness to the locations. One of the best locations is Junon. The city is luscious, grand, adorned with insignias and gratuitously wealthy. Exploring this place not only paints a picture of the world wealth situation but also how Shinra operates. The environments do however suffer from a mixing of seemingly lower quality elements among the excellent ones. It doesn't take much exploring to find muddy textures that clash with the detailed characters or an item that is lacking in polygonal details. These stand out in a rather jarring way at times that really feels odd given the otherwise stellar visual quality and design.

Screenshot for Final Fantasy VII Rebirth on PlayStation 5

In terms of the most stellar moments, Square has done some absolutely magnificent CGI cutscenes. With the amazing detail achieved in the normal gameplay, it feels like there wouldn't be much space for further details or visual fidelity. However, in-game cutscenes are fantastic; they showcase the best PlayStation 5 has to offer, with lifelike and fluid animation work as well as some incredible cinematic cuts and shots that would otherwise be impossible in gameplay. These are then thwarted by the most Final Fantasy CGI cutscenes the series has seen in a while. These scenes are reminiscent of the Advent Children movie in style but with a level of fidelity that really can't be explained here. The Opening itself showcases this fantastically but again the scenes from the Junon section of the game showcase the best of these visuals with amazing character animations and huge filmic sweeping shots. Hopefully that gets the point across. The story presentation is second to none.

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Now none of this would be worth it if the sound design couldn't keep up. Luckily the composers have blown it out of the water in regards to the soundtrack. With something bonkers like 400+ music tracks in the game, all of which are incredible and feature a great mix of genres and performances, it is not only interesting at all times but it can evoke such emotion all on its own that it's staggering. Battle themes on the "overworld" parts of the map are dynamic themes that kick the nice exploration music up a notch for an invigorating encounter. While it's possible to gush about the amazing character of the soundtrack all day, it is also supplemented by an excellent environmental soundscape and fantastic multilingual voicework.

The environments all have their own soundscapes, with places that are more tropical having the sea and things like more tropical animal sounds to increase that grounding and immersion in the world. In more urban locations there is a lot of dialogue in the environment, most of which comes up on the left hand side of the screen in the chat log. Much of this dialogue is time appropriate with the story events though some of the incidental sentences don't change over the game's duration. Voice work from the main cast is great; the way each character emotes is fairly believable even if the game features more "anime" moments than the previous part. Cloud is one of the highlights with a very effective portrayal of a person with an internal conflict and Barrett is a constant hilarious element but even he has his emotional and serious moments.

Screenshot for Final Fantasy VII Rebirth on PlayStation 5

Cubed3 Rating

Rated 9 out of 10

Exceptional - Gold Award

Rated 9 out of 10

There is an abundance of things to love in Final Fantasy VII Rebirth. It successfully provides players with an excellent linear critical path and a ton of side content which some players might call bloat, though it is entirely ignorable. It has absolutely insane production value, housing one of the most insane and interesting Final Fantasy VII stories so far, which strikes a perfect balance between incredibly silly, self-referential and very serious. It has a couple of slight technical issues but is otherwise the perfect follow-up to part one and the perfect setup for part three. Absolutely recommended!


Square Enix


Square Enix


Action Adventure



C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  9/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  0 (0 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date Out now   Australian release date Out now   


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