THERE IS AN EMBARGO
Say that Final Fantasy 7 Rebirth is the most anticipated game of 2024 and it’s raining on the wet, mainly due to the reception of the first part of the remake of Square Enix’s RPG. But the conclusion of this first part left all fans very curious about how the sequence would be presented.
Would we still have something very close to what we saw in the 1997 game, with small changes and beautiful graphics, or a completely new adventure, as Aerith suggests by the freedom that the characters now have in deciding their destiny?
O FreeGameGuide went to Los Angeles at the invitation of Square Enix to play the first two chapters of the game and find out exactly what Naoki Hamaguchi and producer Yoshinori Kitase, present at the event, had prepared for the game’s fans.
“Was I raised like this?”
The demo that we had access to, which should be very similar to the one that was released on PSN shortly after the exclusive State of Play Final Fantasy 7 Rebirth, shows Cloud’s flashback in Nibelheim. Telling the story to his companions, hiding in a hotel in the city of Kalm after the events of the first game, the hero reveals that he went there with Sephiroth on a mission.
In the flashback, which allows the character, who was not yet a villain, to show all his power by being part of his party, it is possible to notice an interesting work in giving Sephiroth a little more personality.
In practically all Final Fantasy 7 original, the villain was of few words, having an impact on players much more due to his story and appearance than his personality. In a few scenes, it is possible to say that Sephiroth, before he turned against everything and everyone, was a good guy. For those who are not so familiar with Crisis Core: Final Fantasy 7 and I remembered the character much more from the original game, it was a pleasant surprise.
The city of Nibelheim looks much more visually impressive and the reunion between Cloud and Tifa is really cool. The entire climbing sequence to the reactor, the secrets discovered there and even the scene with Sephiroth looking for information in the library inside the Shinra Mansion are the same as the original game.
This entire first chapter is quite linear and follows very closely what was done in the 1997 game. I confess that when the remake project was announced, I thought that Square Enix would transpose almost 1/1 of what happened in the original to the new engine, with graphical improvements. Fortunately, it was wrong and several changes were made that made the first part very interesting.
However, this first chapter of Rebirth It’s exactly what I thought would happen with this project, presenting practically nothing new and only showing what I knew from the PS1 version, but much prettier.
I even found it a little strange how everything was so linear and without major revelations that it seemed like a missed opportunity even as a tutorial for those who haven’t played the first part of the remake or would like to remember the commands. It was worth it just to see Sephiroth for a few minutes being cooler.
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When the game really starts
The demo seems to really kick into gear from the moment we move on to chapter two, which begins in Kalm, much larger than a small square in the original game. It is there that we see a new feature in the game’s gameplay, which includes a kind of relationship link between the characters, a mechanic reminiscent of the franchise’s Social Link. Persona.
By carrying out some activities with the characters, which can be dialogues or simple activities such as accompanying someone to a location, it is possible to make the relationship between them and Cloud stronger. Through this mechanic, synergy abilities in combat are unlocked. Working more or less as a form of Limit Break between two characters, you can use this link to cause differentiated damage, among other skills.
It is possible to unlock more skills through a skill evolution tree, accessible from the game menu, which has been completely reworked. This idea is explored in a very superficial way in the first chapter, between Cloud and Sephiroth, but it becomes easier to understand from the second part onwards, as you have more time to experiment more with these abilities.
Another change is the use of “Folios”, or skill books that unlock new powers as you progress. Exchanging special points, these books bring different possibilities to the characters, going beyond the Matters, which are obviously still present in the game.
Within Kalm, you also have some new features presented, such as the possibility of working with the transmutation of materials, creating consumable items and even equipment. With each new type of item created, you gain experience to create better items. I found the way this system works to be very simple and intuitive, probably becoming very useful throughout the game.
Cards for fun
Still in the city of Kalm, the player is introduced to a new minigame called Queen’s Blood. Basically, it is a card game similar to other deckbuilders available on the market, such as Marvel Snap e Gwent. With relatively simple gameplay, you must download cards that add points to a row.
Your goal is to have more points than your opponent’s row. Whoever wins at least two rows, accumulating the most points, wins. The rules reminded me a lot Marvel Snapand despite the short time with the minigame, it seems to be a good addition to the game.
A world to explore, but not that much
The second chapter of Final Fantasy 7 Rebirth It really shows off the game’s potential by placing Cloud and his party in an open world. The part available in the demo has the Chocobo farm and a section of the map to explore.
During the event in which we were able to test the demo, the time to poke around the entire map was very scarce, something that seemed a little strange to me, considering that everyone had to go through the first chapter, which didn’t present anything new, while what could be in fact, it became more detailed.
However, it was still possible to learn a little about the available region, which still follows in the footsteps of the original game, but with a little more freedom. An unexpected return is that of Chadley, a Shinra employee who researches materials and is responsible for releasing new Summons for his team.
Fleeing Midgar, he now wants to explore the world and asks Cloud for help. There are Shinra towers spread across the map, which can be reactivated, showing activities in the surrounding area. Yes, in a way, the infamous Ubisoft game towers that influenced so many other games also show their power in the new part of the remake of Final Fantasy 7.
This second chapter has some side quests, leading up to a fight with a boss, a gigantic snake that will be remembered by those who played the original game. She is presented in a different way, which pits the group directly against her before they advance to the third and final chapter of the demo.
Still no answers
The preview of Final Fantasy 7 Rebirth It’s cool to notice that what worked in the first part is back in a refined form. Some interesting additions to combat, such as synergy skills, really pleased me in this demo, but other elements, such as Folios to unlock more skills, seem like something that needs a little more time to get used to.
One thing that made me a little uncomfortable is how everything seems quite linear. The first chapter follows a script too much, but in the second, which would have the open world as its main attraction, with more missions and an opening for you to explore further, it seems restrictive.
The scenario is huge, but the game doesn’t offer that many things to divert you from the path desired by the developers. Maybe this is just something that is present in the demo, but it was a feeling that bothered me a little.
Throughout the presentation of the demonstration to the press, the tone of secrecy was understandable, but everything that was presented did not deviate much from what was expected by those who played the first part of the remake.
Questions about the fates of characters such as Aerith and Zack were answered with “we don’t know” or “we can’t say anything about it”. The presentation itself didn’t even show Zack, a character who should appear much more in the final game.
Let’s face it, with just over a month to go until the game’s release, it makes a lot of sense to still keep some surprises. But by showing only what was absolutely expected after the first part of the Remake, there is a feeling of “What now?”.
We will know soon, because Final Fantasy 7 Rebirth will be released on February 29th for PS5.