Is Final Fantasy 7 Rebirth a Sequel to 1997’s Final Fantasy 7?

Is Final Fantasy 7 Rebirth a sequel, remake, reboot, or something between those concepts that we can't see quite yet?

FF 7 Rebirth
Photo: Square Enix

While the recently released Final Fantasy 7 Rebirth is filled with intentionally unanswerable questions, one of the most popular questions surrounding the game at the moment has little to do with the details of its labyrinthian plot. Instead, gamers everywhere are asking some variation of the same basic question, “Is Final Fantasy 7 Rebirth a sequel?”

Yes, Final Fantasy 7 Rebirth is a direct sequel to 2020’s Final Fantasy 7 Remake. This topic is about to become surprisingly complicated, but let’s not make it more confusing than it needs to be. 2023’s Final Fantasy 7 Rebirth continues the story of Final Fantasy 7 Remake, which makes it a sequel to that game by pretty much any definition of the word. Unless you are someone who argues that pre-planned second parts of a larger story (such as the recently released Dune: Part 2) should be counted as continuations of a shared narrative rather than traditional sequels, you can’t argue against Final Fantasy 7 Rebirth being a sequel in that specific respect.

In this instance, though, the confusion over Final Fantasy 7 Rebirth’s sequel status is more about the chronological confusion surrounding its predecessor, Final Fantasy 7 Remake. See, despite its name, Final Fantasy 7 Remake actually changes quite a few things about the original game’s (meaning 1997’s Final Fantasy 7) narrative. Such changes are hardly unusual for a remake in any medium, but Final Fantasy 7 approaches those changes in a rather unusual way. 

Without diving too deeply into spoilers, Final Fantasy 7 Remake suggests that the events of 1997’s Final Fantasy 7 already played out in some way (or are destined to play out as they occurred in that game) and that some of the game’s characters are aware of those events. More importantly, some of those characters are trying to alter those events while others are trying to preserve them. Imagine if the final act of Back to the Future Part 2 played out across a multiversal scale, and you’ll have a basic idea of what Final Fantasy 7 Remake is trying to do.

So what’s the problem with all of that? Well, we rarely see remakes that acknowledge the events of the original material in quite that way. Media with relatively similar time jump plot points (such as the aforementioned Back to the Future Part 2 or Avengers Endgame) are typically labeled as sequels rather than remakes.

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One of the closest multimedia comparisons would be 2009’s Star Trek, which tried to toe the line between being a reboot and a sequel in order to conceal its true nature. Again, though, that movie was never really advertised as a remake, and it (as well as the other movies we mentioned) featured fairly clear plot devices that helped explain its relation to the original material. As of the time of this writing, Final Fantasy 7 Remake and Rebirth haven’t offered such obvious narrative explanations.

On top of that, you have a notable number of Final Fantasy 7 fans who were disappointed that Final Fantasy 7 Remake wasn’t more of a conventional update of the original game. Put it all together, and some simply find it easier to see Final Fantasy 7 Remake as a sequel to Final Fantasy 7 rather than a more traditional remake. By extension, that would make Final Fantasy 7 Rebirth not just a sequel to Remake but a sequel to the original Final Fantasy 7

Unfortunately, the Final Fantasy 7 Remake team hasn’t yet stepped in and settled this debate once and for all. The closest thing we’ve gotten to a definitive answer is this Inverse interview with Rebirth director Naoki Hamaguchi in which Hamaguchi is directly asked about the “sequel” theory. Though he doesn’t provide an equally direct answer, here is what he has to say about the topic:

“I think, due to this point being effectively done throughout the series, that’s a big reason why a lot of fans consider it to be a sequel and not a reconstruction. As for how it will play out, of course, we want players to see for themselves. But as far as the reactions that we’re getting, it’s as we expected, and we’re happy to hear that.”

Interstingly, Final Fantasy 7 producer Yoshinori Kitase also previously stated that the team intends for these Remake games to eventually connect to Final Fantasy 7 Advent Children: the 2005 film that takes place a couple of years after the events of 1997’s Final Fantasy 7. That could be interpreted to suggest that they don’t see these games as true sequels to the original Final Fantasy 7, though it’s again difficult to reach any definitive conclusion regarding that subject based on what we know and don’t yet know.

For what it’s worth, Final Fantasy 7 Remake was described as a “re-imagining” of the original game quite often during its initial marketing campaign. Since then, the words “re-imagining” and “remake” have been used to describe both titles, while “sequel” has really only been used by fans. Furthermore, the game’s creators have been fairly consistent in their insistence that these changes are designed to keep things fresh rather than completely rewrite the book. Indeed, their desire to mess with people’s minds and expectations has been their most consistent statement regarding the true nature of these games.

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For that matter, much of this sequel speculation seems to be fuelled by those who are really into the logistics of the remake/sequel/re-imagining wording and those who are disappointed by Remake and Rebirth’s deviations. Most importantly, there is an untitled third part of this trilogy that Remake and Rebirth belong to that has yet to be released. Without the answers that game will (hopefully) provide, it’s impossible to say how big these changes really are and what they mean for the connections between these titles. Until we have that information, any seemingly definitive takes on this matter should be treated as speculation.

So, Final Fantasy 7 Rebirth is a sequel to Final Fantasy 7 Remake which is technically a remake/reimagining of 1997’s Final Fantasy 7 but may actually be slightly closer to an alternate timeline sequel/reboot of that game’s story. Oh, and even though each game is being billed as a standalone release, you should absolutely play Final Fantasy 7 Remake before playing Final Fantasy 7 Rebirth. For that matter, you should probably get caught up on 1997’s Final Fantasy, that game’s various canonical spin-offs, and (apparently) Advent Children if you want to fully understand Final Fantasy 7 Remake.

Confusing? Absolutely. Would we have it any other way? Absolutely.