Game Reviews PlayStation

Final Fantasy VII Rebirth Review-In-Progress

Despite Final Fantasy VII Rebirth’s embargo lifting last week and starting the conversation months ago, we did not have the luxury of receiving our review code for Rebirth alongside the majority of the media, only receiving it Monday morning, three days before launch. As someone who has been covering Square Enix games for their entire career from announcements to in-depth reviews, I want to open this up by saying this is by far one of the most disappointing moments I’ve had in the review portion of said career.

If you have been following me and my writing for some time, you know that I take completing the games I review very seriously. A prime example of this is actually Dragon Quest XI, which was not provided with anywhere near enough time to complete before the embargo lifting (the game was well over 100 hours long). In my personal opinion (I do not speak for all reviewers out there), it really takes you out of the whole experience – having to stop and write a review in progress. What do you include? What don’t you include? And most importantly: What things can you confidently and conclusively speak on without actually finishing the game?

Cloud Strife Final Fantasy VII Rebirth

As of writing, I’m in the beginning stages of chapter six of fourteen. I haven’t really been keeping track of whether or not the chapters are truly the same length, but I will say chapter five felt a lot shorter than chapter four. So while on paper I may be almost at the halfway point, I cannot confidently say that’s where I am. This game is massive, and there’s a ton to do. While Remake is essential for understanding the story and what’s going on, my word of advice to you is to throw out everything you remember mechanically and gameplay-wise out the window.

Now don’t get me wrong, I thoroughly enjoyed Remake. It came out during a tough time for all of us I’d say, and it was a breath of fresh air. Reliving one of the most popular titles in the Final Fantasy franchise in a new light (which some find controversial for certain reasons), with modern graphics and a new engine was like a dream come true. But there was still so much wrong with it. Even now, I can remember things about the gameplay and minigames that drove me up the wall and made me want to give up several times. Rebirth, so far at least, isn’t like that. Six chapters in, it seems like Square Enix took everything wrong with Remake and genuinely fixed it.

Cloud and Sephiroth standing next to two Shinra soldiers

Graphically, this game is nothing to write home about. To me, it looks fine. The open-world environments look good, and I haven’t run into anything that makes me think, “Oh god that looks like shit” outside of not using performance mode, which will allegedly be addressed in the day one patch. While this is being published on the day of release, I am clearly writing this before the patch.

Playing before the patch, changing the graphics setting from prioritizing performance to graphics, first of all, didn’t make a ton of difference that I could see on my 4K Sony television, but it did cause an incredibly choppy 24-30 fps frame rate that was capable of inducing motion sickness. Better lighting is always a given with better textures, but again, nothing to write home about. When toggling the setting in crowded city areas, people are added (graphics) and removed (performance).

Final Fantasy VII Rebirth Chocobo races

The second thing I noticed that I found odd was Cloud’s clothing does not appear wet after swimming – in both prioritizing graphics and performance – something even MMORPGs like Final Fantasy XIV have on the lowest graphic settings. It may seem like a weird thing to point out, but in the year 2024, it feels like a standard at this point. As a disclaimer, if there are noticeable differences after the patch, I will be including those in my full review.

Only being maybe halfway through the game, I want to tell you that yes, it is very good. It’s only the end of February, but this is very much a GOTY contender. I have a lot to say, but as I mentioned before, I have to be absolutely confident about it all before I say it, and that means finishing the game.

Final Fantasy VII Rebirth Tifa Lockhart

In the beginning, I debated on just blasting through the story to get it done to review it as soon as possible but quickly realized that would be the cheapest move. The way minigames, sidequests, and the open world are integrated into Rebirth’s main story is done in a way that makes it flow so nicely. It’s not overwhelming like it was in Final Fantasy XVI. The quests weren’t long and daunting like in Remake. It’s not insanely linear like the previous title, either. It gives you room to breathe, and it’s a very refreshing experience.

If you’re on the fence about picking it up, you should do it. Rebirth is phenomenal so far and has a ton to offer. I’m very eager to finish the game in its entirety, share my review with you, and join the conversation. Until then, it’s back to the grind.

This review-in-progress piece was written based on a Final Fantasy VII Rebirth review code for PS5 provided by Square Enix.

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