Monday, April 29, 2024

Game Review: 'Final Fantasy VII Rebirth'

With impressive ambition, monumental scope and exuberant execution, "Final Fantasy VII Rebirth" somehow manages to match and even surpass its sprawling fanbase's unreasonable demands.

Expanding on the impressive start of 2020's "Final Fantasy VII Remake" and its 2021 follow-up, "Final Fantasy VII Remake Intergrade," the massive release expands on the foreboding groundwork established before it. There are spiritual and story similarities to the original game, which works as a sort of framekwork which the current team of developers flesh out with current interpretations.

Perhaps the greatest accomplishment of the new series, particularly its towering recent release, is that it manages to break the shackles of "Final Fantasy" archetypes while also embracing them conceptually enough to preserve the commanding feel and tone that's been established. 

The middle section of a planned trilogy, the game's story veers off in daring new directions, blending with an immersive combat system and seamless world-building to craft a whirlwind assault on the senses. "Final Fantasy VII Rebirth" goes beyond a cinematic impression to a realm that movies themselves can never touch and video games only rarely reach. Think the grandiosity of "Red Dead Redemption 2" blended with the sizzling combat of "Elden Ring" and the challenging narrative of "Chrono Trigger" and you begin to claw at the surface of the plateau in which "Rebirth" hovers.

All seriousness aside, it's also a joy to see how non-self-important the game is. Side quests, Easter eggs and knowing nods to superfans show a dev team unafraid to make fun of itself, the game development process, and JRPG cliches that date back to the series' original entry.

It's rare that a game takes me by the shoulders and sinks into me, body and spirit, from the opening moments and never lets go, but that's exactly what "Rebirth" managed to do. This is truly one for the ages, and the shivers that started in my spine at the opening titles were matched an exceeded many times over as the story twisted and turned, drawing chuckles, winces and, very nearly, tears.

"Final Fantasy VII Rebirth" is aptly named because, even though this is the hungry-for-attention middle child of a colossal endeavor of a trilogy, it feels like a fresh rejuvenation of all things "Final Fantasy," and perhaps gamedom itself. It makes you see its world and your own as if for the first time.

Publisher provided review code.

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