FF7 Rebirth and a Solar Eclipse

April 12, 2024

Last weekend was our kid’s spring break and we travelled to Nashville for the week. I made a bad gaming decision: I had a couple of hours left before beating FF7 Rebirth and I tried to finish it the same day I had an afternoon plane flight. To my future self: don’t try to rush the ending of a video game. It was one of my most frustrated gaming experiences ever.

The short version is that I wasn’t able to beat the final boss in a couple of hours before we had to leave. So I spent the whole vacation in a vexed state wishing I had done things differently. Basically, the final fight in the game seemed to be poorly polished. First, the final boss has a final DPS check at the end of a 10-stage fight, where if you don’t finish him, you get one-hit killed in an attack you cannot dodge. The fact that it is a damage check is not obvious (especially the first time), and it’s not obvious that you can’t dodge it until you die 3-4 times. You will notice that one of the hits does 9999 damage every time regardless, and that all of your characters are bound so that they can’t escape out of the attack’s range. But the game doesn’t make it obvious.

To make matters worse, the restart options don’t seem to have been translated well. Choosing “Restart This Battle” takes you back 5 battles and you lose an hour of your time. You wanted to select “Restart Before Current Battle.” Shaking my head. On top of that, the assess ability is useless in all the stages (“no data available”), whereas in pretty much any previous battle it gave you a little overview of what to expect, how to pressure the enemy, etc. There is no easy option to enter the menu and adjust equipment or materia between battles, so you are sort of stuck with your original loadout. The whole game is a fairly standard difficulty and then they try to do souls-like for the last fight. Save some ATB for the attack that brings everyone to 1 HP so that you can heal someone before the fairly quick follow up attacks.

While I was in Nashville, I made a trip to Paducah, Kentucky, to see the total solar eclipse. Probably the most amazing thing I’ve ever seen. I spent about 10 hours total in the car that day, which is a little more than I was expecting for what should have been 4.5 hours roundtrip. The traffic was pretty bad I guess. Anyways, we were lucky to make it in time–we got to the park about 15 minutes before totality started, and left about 15 minutes after. When totality happens you can take off the solar glasses and see a black ball with white flares coming around the edges. I think the fact that visibility is also time-dependent adds to the effect.

So, I got back home today and beat FF7 Rebirth pretty quickly. My playstation restarted from rest mode, causing me to lose my progress for the second time (the first was when I chose “Restart this battle”) in the final boss fight. I used the opportunity to respec Cloud to get the level 3 limit break which makes the final DPS check trivial. As for the game itself, I’m a little conflicted. It was generally fun and well made if you stuck to the story (the side content felt a little boring), but I think they botched the ending. I don’t think it was the right decision to introduce parallel multiverses. A game like Xenoblade Chronicles 3 was sort of designed around that idea but I’m not sure it belongs in FF7. I think FF16 was better executed, and would probably get more praises if it wasn’t for the nostalgia FF7 brings.