Revisiting Final Fantasy VII: An Open World of Opportunities

Rebirth takes a step back and approaches the problem from a new angle, using the original story to its advantage. There’s a lot to do, even if not immediately.

After a linear section in the village of Kalm, the gang makes its way into a lush open area with green meadows and small oddities stretching as far as the eye can see. We know well that this kind of scenery wants you to step off the main path and explore a bit, leaving the main quest in the background for a while.

However, after wandering among empty landmarks with no purpose, we realized that the game wanted us to walk to the opposite side of this open area to trigger a section of the main story before unlocking open-world activities. On the contrary, by the time these activities unlock, the thrill of discovery will have disappeared because of our already acquired familiarity with the area.

Such a seemingly small decision really takes away a lot from the appeal of having open-world areas in a game like Final Fantasy VII Rebirth. That being said, once unlocked, the activities are quite enjoyable.

If you’ve played any open-world game in the last ten years, you won’t find anything particularly surprising, yet it’s pleasant to have combat challenges or puzzle platforming sections in a series like this. The hunting challenges, in particular, are fun, as they require reaching certain objectives like staggering the prey instead of just killing it.

The story sequences are stronger than ever in Rebirth, and while we’ve only experienced a limited part of the early game, it’s clear that the game has not lost any of the meticulous craftsmanship that characterized the Remake. More importantly, it’s evident that the plot of the saga has been meticulously planned in advance.

It may sound obvious, but given that this is the second of three parts taken from what originally was a single game, there was always the possibility that this middle chapter would result in a bit of a lull compared to the first and final acts. We won’t be 100% sure of how things will end until we see the finale, of course, but the initial narrative segments in Rebirth show that certain revelations, details, and even some of the most beloved scenes from the original have been kept warm specifically for this second episode to ensure it’s as nostalgic as the first.

The combat has largely remained unchanged in Rebirth. The hybrid real-time and ATB solution is the same as in the first chapter, with the only notable addition being the combo attacks, where two characters deliver a quick joint move.

As expected, some of these moves deal massive damage, while others inflict buffs or debuffs that can be helpful in battle. Moreover, there’s a new skill tree that focuses on enhancing these special attacks.

These early hours show that Final Fantasy VII Rebirth can strike the right balance between the need to move forward and not appear too different from the first chapter. *Written by Ryan Woodrow for GLHF* © ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

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