PLAY

Reintroduc­ing…

A recap of who’s who and what’s what after Remake’s rewrite – with only a few spoilers along the way

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Cloud Strife

Allegedly a former First Class SOLDIER, this brooding young man has more recently turned his talents to mercenary work. In Rebirth he returns to combat with his free-wheeling Operator mode, as well as the low-mobility, high-damage Punisher mode.

On the run from the Shinra corporatio­n, at least he’s not alone, accompanie­d by much of what remains of the ecoterrori­st cell Avalanche. This includes his childhood friend Tifa Lockhart, who he’d not seen for a number of years before looking for work in Midgar – however, Tifa is beginning to voice her suspicions about how true his cover story for all that time apart really is. As the party presses forward, more questions follow, and we’re still wondering what exactly Sephiroth meant when he told Cloud he’d have ‘seven seconds till the end.’

Red XIII

Rescued from the clutches of Shinra’s creepy research and developmen­t department in Remake, Red XIII joins Rebirth as a fully controllab­le party member. While he looks uncomforta­bly prawn-shaped riding on the back of a chocobo in our hands-on, he’s a natural in combat.

A close-quarters fighter, he can sink his talons in with swipes of his claws tied to taps of r. Holding r unleashes a twirling flurry of strikes that looks not too far removed from a furry catherine wheel in motion. Successful guards on u charge this four-legged friend’s Vengeance mode. This can be triggered at any time by pressing w, enhancing his attack power and speed while dodging, but obviously it makes sense to save up the Vengeance juice and down it when the gauge is fullest.

Barret Wallace

The leader of the Midgar chapter of ecoterrori­st cell Avalanche, and the proud father of a young daughter called Marlene. Barret puts up a strong front, but he only needs to doff his shades to reveal the softie underneath.

With a gun in place of one arm, he’s best suited to long-range attacks. In our hands-on he really shines against floating fishie boss the Terror Of The Deep – and to think, he almost didn’t make it this far. Towards the end of Remake, we thought we might lose him at the hands of Sephiroth, but fate apparently had other plans. Still very much alive in Rebirth, he’s sworn to join the fight against Sephiroth’s destiny-defying, potentiall­y planet-destroying plans.

“ON THE RUN FROM THE SHINRA CORPORATIO­N, AT LEAST CLOUD STRIFE’S NOT ALONE”

Aerith Gainsborou­gh

An enigmatic flower girl from Midgar who’s got the Shinra corporatio­n all aflutter. We found out in Remake that this is due to her status as the last living descendant of the Cetra, an ancient people who could commune directly with the planet, and so she could potentiall­y lead the hungry, hungry energy company to a prophesied promised land rich in Mako energy. We also discovered, after a wrong turn through a train graveyard, that this apparently means

Aerith can talk to ghosts now too.

While she’s your party’s primary source of healing magic, the events of the original Final Fantasy VII suggest you may want to consider more evenly distributi­ng your Cure Materia among your party. However, we can’t help but think of Sephiroth’s words at the end of Remake: ‘That which lies ahead… does not exist,’ and hope that perhaps there’ll be no vacancy to fill at the end of Rebirth.

Cait Sith

We’ve already briefly seen this kitty mourning the destructio­n of the Sector 7 Slums in Remake, and therefore odds seem good that he’s no friend of Shinra’s. That said, appearance­s can definitely be deceptive. This fun-loving feline will be a playable party member in Rebirth, fighting alongside an absolutely jacked Moogle spewing hefty magical attacks, though it was im-paws-ible for us to make the acquaintan­ce of either in our hands-on.

Derived from the fae figure found in Celtic mythology, the Japanese dub pronounces this kitty’s name ‘Ket She,’ skewing quite close to the original Scots Gaelic pronunciat­ion. Bizarrely, the English dub goes its own way and calls this cat ‘Kate Sith,’ as though he’s about to bust out a princessy tiara and a lightsaber.

Zack Fair

For a dead man, Zack is looking surprising­ly chipper from what we’ve seen of him so far.

His fated demise at the end of spin-off Crisis Core was altered at the end of FFVII Remake, though quite what that means is still unclear. Is he truly back with everyone else, or stuck in an alternate timeline where the heroes we know and love actually die instead?

Whatever the case, he shares a strong bond with Aerith, Sephiroth, and Cloud. Crisis Core players will already know how integral a part he plays in events referenced through flashback in the original game, which is a key part of FFVII Rebirth. But just how will these new threads of fate weave together?

Yuffie Kisaragi

No longer an optional party member, she joins the fight against Shinra out of love for her homeland, Wutai – and Materia. A ninja, a thief, and a self-styled Materia Hunter, the pint-sized fighter is not to be underestim­ated, even if we do come to her rescue in our hands-on.

Were she not knocked out, we’ve no doubt she could’ve solo’d the Terror Of The Deep. Why? Her introducti­on in Remake’s Episode Intermissi­on DLC is memorable, to say the least, demonstrat­ing long-range combat skills along with the unique ability to change her elemental affinity at whim. Partnering up with fellow Wutai operative Sonon Kusakabe, this DLC even gave us a glimpse of what to expect from Synergy abilities all the way back in 2021 – It’s just a shame Sonon won’t be returning to Rebirth to see his Boss’ ninja star rise.

Tifa Lockhart

Cloud’s tough-as-nails childhood friend. Versed in Zangan-style martial arts, she can beat up Shinra muscle on Avalanche ops just as easily as she can throw rowdy patrons out of her bar in Midgar, Seventh Heaven. In combat her furious fists are great for piling on pressure and staggering enemies.

Though when we met her in Remake she was a fixture of the Sector 7 Slums, she’s originally from the mountain town of Nibelheim, like Cloud. Many years ago something terrible happened there, fuelling Tifa’s hatred for Shinra ever since – and Rebirth will see you play through that awful incident.

As the Midgar gang’s eyes adjust to the light, they’re confronted by a foreboding scene: a row of cloaked figures lying in wait. You may remember Cloud’s unusual nextdoor neighbour Marco, a former Shinra test subject exposed to experiment­s that turned him into a very much unwilling conduit for the spectre of Sephiroth. These men in the shadow of Junon share Marco’s fate, only swaying passively as one of their own is carried off by a winged beast. Not even shedding a tear for their lost comrade, the cloaked figures shuffle towards the city in the distance.

Junon itself is Shinra territory. Once a small fishing village, the military installati­on that developed there all but crowded out the local community. Now a huge cannon looms over the landscape like an oversized Chekhov’s gun.

Despite everything, a fishing village still persists in Shinra’s shadow as Under Junon. As we approach this so-called ‘sunless oasis,’ we’re stopped by the community’s mayor and sheriff, Rhonda. Avalanche hasn’t quite outpaced disaster, and it turns out there’s a bounty of at least 100,000 on each of their heads. (Aerith is ecstatic to hear she alone is worth 500,000.) Rhonda lets the tension simmer for a moment as she sizes up the party, before finally revealing she has no intention of doing Shinra any favours. Barret isn’t quite so quick to trust her, but Rhonda reassures him that everyone in Under Junon knows how to turn a blind eye, then pointedly directs the

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party towards an inn where ‘everyone is welcome.’

FUTURE PERFECT

But before we can catch our breath, there’s trouble. A cry for help from a young girl called Priscilla urges us to hurry down to the dock. There we see a lone boat tossed about by something beneath the water’s surface. Its sole passenger, Materia Hunter Yuffie, isn’t left dry for long, but a friendly dolphin – of all things – hauls the passed-out princess to shore while our party rushes towards the water.

The Terror Of The Deep tests everything we’ve learnt so far, with not even Aerith’s Healing Wind Limit Break saving one attempt. This frightful fish boss loves to bind your party members in water cells (you need to burst them) or to scoop up your buds for a snack. Spells, Barret’s bullets, and a little aero edge to Cloud’s sword slashes leave this fishie gasping but it’s not yet sushi-ready. Retreating back to the water, it sends out oceanic tornadoes, and water jets to wear us down on the dock.

By this point we’ve thrown out a lot of abilities and you know what that means: it’s time for Synergy. As Red XIII stares down the sea beast, he calls to Barret, hopping onto the gunner’s arm before being launched at the boss like a fastball special with explosive results. This is the Synergy attack Overfang, and it’s just one of many options your party has.

Sending the tepid terror packing, there’s one last twist in this fishy tale. Cloud takes one look at the retreating fin soup, and tears down the dock before leaping out to sea.

The friendly dolphin from before returns to give him a midair boost before he lands the killing blow.

“BY THIS POINT WE’VE THROWN OUT A LOT OF ABILITIES AND YOU KNOW WHAT THAT MEANS: IT’S TIME FOR SYNERGY.”

Junon has it all – melodramat­ic foreboding, bombastic action, and goofy charm – and feels faithful to the original Final Fantasy VII while introducin­g fresh flourishes. We’re sure this journey will leave us misty-eyed by the end of the road too, especially as a certain forgotten capital seems a likely pit stop. But bear in mind that what lies ahead is far more than just superficia­l switch ups; the future remains unwritten.

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1 Rebirth reinvents movement, offering a wealth of options for traversing the world, from Segways to chocobos! 2 Sparks will fly – in more ways than one. For instance, Aerith and Cloud’s Synergy move Firework Blade is a sight to behold. 3 Seeing Sephiroth and Cloud fight side-by-side in a playable flashback raises more questions than answers. 4 Teamwork always did make the dream work, but new Synergy abilities better incentivis­e you to throw out everything your party’s got.
1 1 Rebirth reinvents movement, offering a wealth of options for traversing the world, from Segways to chocobos! 2 Sparks will fly – in more ways than one. For instance, Aerith and Cloud’s Synergy move Firework Blade is a sight to behold. 3 Seeing Sephiroth and Cloud fight side-by-side in a playable flashback raises more questions than answers. 4 Teamwork always did make the dream work, but new Synergy abilities better incentivis­e you to throw out everything your party’s got.
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