Opinion

Rebirth Gets the Best Part of Final Fantasy 7 Right

Make it weird.

Final Fantasy 7 Rebirth
Square Enix

Final Fantasy 7 is a weird game. One moment you see a sword-wielding villain brutally eliminate the president of a fascist company, and the next you’re talking to an anthropomorphic cat that rides a stuffed animal. Part of what made the original game so memorable was how it managed to toe the line between reality and absurdity, and in all regards, it looks like the latest entry has taken that idea to heart. Final Fantasy 7 Rebirths final trailer, released during Tuesday’s State of Play, goes all in on the weird and wild nature of the original, and Square Enix couldn’t be making a better choice.

Final Fantasy, as a series, has always had a sense of humor and lightheartedness, but nowhere is that more clear than with Final Fantasy 7. The original game is filled with moments both shockingly dark and surprisingly humorous, especially in the latter half. Final Fantasy 7 did a lot of things right, but the effortless way it managed to seesaw between tones was a key part of its identity.

Now looking back 20 years later Final Fantasy 7 Remake certainly had quirky elements, like the Honey Bee Inn, but because the game only covered the events in Midgar its story was largely serious, at least compared to what came next. Most of the absurd elements of Final Fantasy 7 come in as you leave Midgar and explore the larger world, exploring wildly different locations like the opulent Gold Saucer.

Rebirth is finally diving into these events, and the Final Trailer is a perfect encapsulation of the whimsy that’s at the core of Final Fantasy 7. The opening two minutes of the trailer build a serious tone set to the iconic One Winged Angel, as we see the stakes getting raised even higher for Cloud and the party. But even here there’s some of that absurdity mixed in, like a combo attack that sees Aerith don a pair of Barret’s sunglasses before blowing away a monster.

Rebirth is putting a heavy emphasis on its characters, and more specifically the relationships they build.

Square Enix

The final half of the trailer feels like a fever dream of a slideshow, showing us a dolphin-riding minigame, Barrett in a sailor suit, Rufus’ welcoming parade minigame, Elena skydiving onto a truck, and more.

The rest of the State of Play presentation becomes even more unhinged, showing us even more wild scenes like Red XIII dancing in a Shinra uniform and minigames that turn the party into chibi forms. We even get confirmation that you’ll be able to bring more party members to the infamous Gold Saucer date. You better believe I can’t wait to see Cloud sitting alone in a gondola with a bizarre Scottish cat.

Rebirth isn’t just reimaging elements of the original, like minigames, but expanding and enhancing everything with wild new options, like Red XIII soccer.

Square Enix

All of this is to say that the team behind Rebirth clearly gets what makes Final Fantasy 7 so special. But vitally it’s not just recreating the original game’s feeling, but striking out in bold new ways. Rebirth’s world feels vast and alive, it has a host of new minigames, and the development team isn’t afraid to add new wrinkles to beloved characters.

Remake’s linear format was the perfect way to reimagine the grandeur of Midgar, and by that same token, Rebirth feels like the ultimate realization of Final Fantasy 7’s world at large. It looks like Square Enix has put so much care and thought into redefining every aspect of the original, now the big question is how much more ambitious can the third and final game in the trilogy be.

Final Fantasy 7 Rebirth launches on February 29 exclusively on the PS5.

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