Final Fantasy 7 Rebirth review: Ambitious joyous, and bursting with an energy FF hasn’t had since the 90s

In the original Final Fantasy 7, a beloved character dies in the most brutal of ways. Half an hour later, you’re snowboarding.

That dichotomy has always been at the heart of FF7’s status as one of the most important games of all time. It’s also something that the developers at Square Enix have struggled to replicate over the years. Part of it is, I suspect, down to a free-flowing development that simply wouldn’t fly today. Experimenting with 3D for the first time, FF7’s staff just made stuff. Many of these creations were then stitched into the game’s narrative. This is perhaps best exemplified by how a story scene attached to the snowboarding event has unused dialogue coded in for the recently-deceased character. That was how development was; whoever initially wrote and programmed that scene likely didn’t even initially know where in the narrative the scene would fit.

Here’s the best possible news I can give you about Final Fantasy 7 Rebirth: it is the first Final Fantasy since that PS1 era to truly embody that spirit. While undoubtedly every single thing in it went through endless layers of pre-production and approval as things do in modern game development, the vibe the game has is one of a production where if somebody had a cool idea, it went in. Just like the good old days.

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