Final Fantasy 7 Rebirth Has A Lot To Fix From Remake
Can the upcoming sequel save the series?
After Final Fantasy 7 Remake made serious changes to the story and character arcs of the original release in 2020, Rebirth will expand into its own version of the remake’s continuity. Will Rebirth carve its own path into a parallel Final Fantasy universe, or revert some of the controversial decisions made in the remake?
Despite development problems that included a complete overhaul of the dev team, the game was released in 2020 to mostly positive reception. How will Final Fantasy 7 Rebirth continue from here? Before even discussing Rebirth, it’s probably best to go over Remake’s various changes and what a sequel actually entails.
The critiques of the Final Fantasy VII Remake story bear repeating. Starting with the minor stuff, Sephiroth is all over the game. While Sephiroth is a popular villain that people were looking forward to seeing in Remake, his overexposure took away a lot of his specialty he had in the original. In the original, Sephiroth was built up over tens of hours of playtime. You were slowly introduced to his relationship with Cloud, and learned more about his character through his feats rather than anything he said to another character or did in front of you. No matter what they had him do in Remake, having him show up so frequently was always going to take away from his mystique. It’s possible to correct this change with the ensuing two entries, but for players who haven’t played the original Final Fantasy VII, it’s not likely to have the same impact.
Another major change that could be a problem is the Sector 7 plate dropping. Shinra wants to remove the Avalanche splinter group, destroying their reactors by completely taking out the sector they are hiding out in (and killing tens of thousands of people in order to do it). In the original, this is depicted with a masterful shot of the interior of one of the Sector 7 slum houses, with a wide shot revealing both a television newscast and the upper part of the sector. The news anchor reacts to the plate coming down as the entire sector is shown being destroyed outside. The remake version of this is done by showing the plate coming down just out of frame (with a hilariously inappropriate Cait Sith cameo). If you haven’t played the original, this cameo means absolutely nothing and the game makes no effort to explain what it is you are seeing.
The game had trouble finding a healthy blend of both original story content and new additions. Any time a major change was made from the original Final Fantasy 7, a ghost-like creature that travels in packs called “The Whispers” prevents the main characters from advancing to a certain point or even attempting to kill minor characters who had been dead far earlier in the original game. The use of the Whispers as a plot device to halt the story any time a drastic change is happening is interesting thematically, but it halts the story and the player’s interest in it as well. Not to mention the Whispers don’t seem to be much of much interest to the characters when they’re not on-screen.
Remake itself was plagued with padded content which included revisiting old areas, copious amounts of poorly thought out side-quests, and timewasting mechanics like moving shipping containers around with a giant hand. However, Tetsuya Nomura has not had the best track record in recent memory. with both Kingdom Hearts III and the more recent Stranger of Paradise proving pretty divisive. It’s hard to say how much Rebirth is going to change exactly. The trailer for Rebirth shows off Cloud and Sephiroth visiting Nibelheim from the original game, on top of the expected allusions to the fact that this game runs within its own universe from this point on. Narratively Square Enix is able to do whatever they want with the game’s story from this point forward.
Anyway, What About Final Fantasy 7 Rebirth?
In defense of Nomura, he claimed he simply wanted to retread the story of the PS1 game, while Yoshinori Kitase, the Director of the original, wanted far more drastic changes in remake. It’s hard to imagine what more could have been altered had Kitase been chosen as the director for the remake, but it’s probably for the best with this new trilogy that they have the flexibility to adjust what they want going forward. With the Whispers removed from the plot by the end of Remake, as well as the final scene of the game teasing just how different this new reality is, the door is wide open to see a drastically different version of Final Fantasy 7, one that will be made or broken by how much Rebirth wants to stray from its roots.