A dad and his surrogate kids: thoughts on FFVII: Rebirth

Barret and Yuffie horsing around

It took me three months to carve out the 45 hours I needed to play through the main story in Final Fantasy VII: Rebirth, but I finally did it. A few (spoiler-free) thoughts about what mattered to me the most:

The game focuses on its cast and relationship between its characters, which are its greatest strength. Though it tonally shifts all over the place from serious and brooding to funny and goofy (just like the original), the strong characters make it work. If you haven’t played the original, the cast can seem patently ridiculous, but for everyone who did, you spend less time thinking about the practicality of characters' appearances and more on how well-realized they’ve become.

By far, my favourite (unexpected) character pair is Barret and Yuffie. What starts out as a depiction of a cranky, middle-aged man (Barret) who doesn’t want to deal with a greedy teenager’s silly antics turns into a funny and heartfelt series of scenes of a dad treating his new companion like his own daughter.

Tucked into the margins of so many story moments are Barret and Yuffie horsing around as their friendship evolves. It’s really wholesome and endearing and I kept looking for it as the game progressed.

Next, I didn’t realize how much of the original game’s story I completely forgot. I was sure FF7: Rebirth was swinging wild as an interpretation at points, only to look up plot synopses online and realize that yes, that awkward story beat was in fact in the 1997 release!

And finally: boy, this game can be exhausting. I really only played the main story and ignored most of the side content for time’s sake, but I’ve read of people spending 140+ hours in this — the second chapter of a three-chapter series! FF7: Rebirth leans into its minigames pretty hard, but I wish it didn’t; it felt like it was stopping me and gating me unecessarily many times. (I really didn’t want to play Queen’s Blood, for example.)

But I’m so glad I picked this up and found the time to get through it. And I’m happy that in the absence of his own daughter, Barret found a new friend.