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Final Fantasy VII Rebirth’s Best Moment Isn’t The One You’re Expecting

What if the real “final fantasy” was the friends we made along the way? Final Fantasy VII has the most memorable and adored RPG cast of all time, with fans even falling in love with the optional characters that were a pain to recruit in the original 1997 game. If there’s one thing Final Fantasy VII Rebirth gets right, it’s doubling down on these iconic characters and carefully crafting the relationships between every party member. These dynamic bonds are at the heart of everything in Rebirth, from side quests to the combat system. And all this extra time getting to know everyone culminates in a big payoff late in the game, as Rebirth’s most unforgettable sequence explores how past trauma brings the party together.

Three Things We Learned From The Final Fantasy 7 Rebirth Demo

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The original FF7 often feels gaudy and wacky, but it balances these elements with some surprisingly dark storytelling, like Barret’s hometown of Corel being wiped out to cover Shinra’s negligence, or the death of Tifa’s father. Every party member has some kind of heartbreak and loss in their past that shapes the kind of person—or dog creature—they are now. While every member gets their moment in the sun, the original FF7 often dropped those plotlines afterward, opting instead to keep the focus on the big picture.

That’s not the case in Rebirth, which deliberately fleshes out each character’s backstory over the course of the game’s 14 chapters, and provides a clear throughline that connects the entire party together. These are all broken people that have suffered in one way or another, but that mutual suffering brings everyone closer, and allows them to create meaningful bonds. Cloud can understand Barrett’s grief over Dyne because he’s also lost friends. Tifa understands Aerith’s loneliness because everyone she’s loved has been stripped away from her, too. Even Yuffie and Red XIII have a lot in common, as both are adolescents who have had weighty expectations—and the fate of their communities—suddenly thrust upon them.

It all comes to a head in the final hours of the story as Cloud and his companions explore the Temple of Ancients. There, each party member is forced to confront what’s essentially the worst moment of their lives. It’s a harrowing segment—and easily the most effective storytelling beat in all of Rebirth.

Short playable segments dive into the psyche of each character, using gameplay mechanics to illustrate their greatest fear. Red XIII is captured by Shinra soldiers and dragged to an operating table for Hojo’s ghastly experiments, unable to escape no matter how much you hit the triggers. Tifa sees Cloud ripped out of her life, just like her father was years ago. Yuffie is plagued by a shadow of her subordinate and big-brother figure, Sonon, whose life she simply can’t save, no matter what she does. Barret is haunted by visions of an idyllic life that’s all stripped away in an instant, leaving him cradling his wife Myrna’s body.

But none are quite as moving as Aerith’s trial. If you were ever lost as a child, even for just a few minutes, this section is like a dagger to the heart. Controlling a seven-year-old Aerith, you’ll wander the area near the train station in Midgar’s Sector 7 slums, desperately begging everyone you see for help taking your mom to a doctor. But everyone either ignores you or straight up tells you to beat it. It’s a gut-wrenching moment that perfectly encapsulates how cold and uncaring the world can seem to a small child, illustrated through both story and gameplay mechanics.

By this point, Rebirth has spent dozens of hours making you love these characters, only to force them through the most arduous tasks imaginable. It sets a somber tone as each member leaves their respective trial and meets back up, completely silent and stone-faced. The silence is deafening, but there’s also an understanding in that moment. Everyone knows that their friends likely just faced something as horrific as they did, and there’s an air of acceptance. They aren’t as alone as they felt in those awful moments, and they have others to help “take the load off their shoulders,” as Barret says.

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