Reconstructing a well-loved, classic video game is no small undertaking. Modernizing an influential title so that it is still recognizable, but also offers something new can be a dangerous line to walk, and one that has often left fans feeling lost in worlds that fundamentally shaped them as gamers. Square Enix’s reimagining of Final Fantasy VII is the perfect example of blending old with new – and this tight-rope walk of game development continues in Final Fantasy VII Rebirth’s new demo.
In a special demo session hosted by Square Enix, Gamepur had the unique privilege of an early hands-on with this highly anticipated title’s demo. The gameplay, which lasted roughly an hour, provided insight into new character battle styles, and the sprawling world outside the confines of Midgar. As someone who has been on the fence about Remake’s storyline, it was a delight to see the wider world and what it has to offer.
Play As Sephiroth In Final Fantasy VII Rebirth to Wreck Havok
In the first part of the demo, players have the opportunity to play as Sephiroth in Final Fantasy VII Rebirth. Having played every Final Fantasy VII game available to date, including Crisis Core, I wouldn’t say I was eager to step into the shoes of a notorious, blood-thirsty villain. However, as you work your way through a flashback set during the storyline of Crisis Core, (where Cloud is presumably reliving Zack’s memories), you have the option to switch to Sephiroth as a playable character and deal devastating damage via fast-paced attacks.
What struck me about this portion of the demo – and the mission – was how different the space felt compared to similar events in Crisis Core. Tifa acts as a guide, offering players the opportunity to truly appreciate the space, explore the various levels of the location, and feel the unsettling tug that something isn’t right. Whether it’s Sephiroth calling you “puppy”, or the fact that Cloud doesn’t seem to recognize Tifa, there is a general sense of unease that left me unsettled. This is exactly what makes Final Fantasy VII Remake and Rebirth exciting for long-time fans. Knowledge of the lore allows you to identify when the story is taking a strange turn, or when the reality previously set down in earlier games is being distorted.
Pet a Baby Chocobo & Dig Up Treasure
In the second part of the Demo, Final Fantasy VII Rebirth picks up right where plays left off after INTERmission, with Cloud and the members of AVALANCHE leaving Midgar behind for Junon. The story wastes no time introducing you to what has already happened, making a playthrough of Remake necessary for those who haven’t already tackled it.
The narrative segues seamlessly, with Cloud headed towards Junon. However, players won’t need to immediately track to the next story mission. Instead, the map outside of Junon opens up, offering a chance to explore, gather crafting materials, and pet baby Chocobos.
On his Chocobo mount, Cloud and his team can follow each baby to a Chocobo Stop, and setting the tipped sign upright will gain the player access to unlimited pets. This was easily my favorite part of the demo.
Additionally, the Final Fantasy VII Rebirth demo offers several battles to track down and complete. These encounters have a list of challenges set, and finishing them will reward the player with special items and materials. These were fun to tackle, but I enjoyed finding the hidden story elements of the local Chocobo farms a bit more.
It was also a delight to ride around this open area on Cloud’s mount and pick up the materials scattered around the map, as well as digging up anything hidden from plain sight. These functions immediately challenged something I’d been concerned about since the long, drawn-out car rides of FF15 – the amount of possible content on the map. I was delighted to find that the space seemed to be better utilized, and I was happy to take my time combing through before heading to Under Junon for the next story marker.
Battles Are No Small Order in Final Fantasy VII Rebirth
The biggest takeaway I have for Final Fantasy VII Rebirth is the difficulty level. Players will not need to worry about being reset to a walkthrough style difficulty with low-level combat. Right from the minute you step out onto the map, challenges will be available that test skills and refamiliarize players with combos, spells, and weapons.
The most notable of these is the boss encounter within Under Junon that reintroduces Yuffie. The boss uses a range of attacks, requires players to strategize through multiple stages of the fight, and necessitates a balanced understanding of magic, physical attacks, and terrain use. To me this was the correct mixture of exciting boss fights from FF16, and good, open-world exploration from FF15 and even the original FF7 titles.
Overall, I am excited about Final Fantasy VII Rebirth. The demo is an encouraging look at a game I was genuinely nervous about following FF16’s Devil May Cry-reminiscent gameplay. While FF7 Remake wasn’t what I’d been expecting, knowing the formula now, I am more ready for this new chapter in Cloud’s story. While I am personally partial to the original FF7 storyline and everything it has to offer, fans of Final Fantasy VII Remake will find an exciting continuation of the new story in Rebirth – and will likely have an even more enjoyable time as they fight against Shinra’s nefarious plots.