Cait Sith celebrates in front of a huge firework display at the Gold Saucer in Final Fantasy 7 Rebirth
Image: Square Enix

Play as Cloud and Sephiroth now, explore the world map later

Square Enix has released a free demo for Final Fantasy 7 Rebirth on PlayStation 5, after showing off the second part of its remake of the 1997 classic in a dedicated State of Play stream on Tuesday.

The demo comes in two parts, with the second to be added later in an update. The first part, available now, is almost the first full chapter of the game. It lets you play as hero Cloud and antagonist Sephiroth in an early flashback section called “the Nibelheim episode,” based on a memorable moment from the original game. It’s very dramatic, and makes a brilliant jumping-on point for the Final Fantasy 7 story.

The second part of the demo, which will be added between now and the game’s release on Feb. 29, gives players a taste of combat and exploration in a more open setting, Junon, ending in a boss fight at the fishing village of Under Junon. In this second section, you can pick from Cloud, Tifa, Aerith, Barret, and Red XIII to form a party of three, and experiment with the characters’ synergies as you hunt down monsters on the world map before facing a boss. Polygon had the opportunity to play this section back in September, and it’s a great taster for what the majority of Rebirth will play like.

Sadly, since the demo features sections from across Rebirth, progression won’t carry over to the full game once it releases for PS5 on Feb. 29.

Elsewhere in the State of Play, Square Enix offered a deep dive on Rebirth’s structure and features, including the often surreal and funny side quests and minigames that will flesh out what looks to be a colorful and expansive adventure.

Polygon recently had a chance to play the opening hours of Rebirth. After that momentous first chapter recalling the Nibelheim Incident, the action moved to the picturesque town of Kalm, where Cloud and his friends are resting after the events of Final Fantasy 7 Remake. There, we could chat with the party and locals and explore some of the game’s systems, including a promising Gwent-alike collectible card game called Queen’s Blood. After an escape from a Shinra raid on Kalm, the action moved out onto the Grasslands for open exploration reminiscent of the Junon section of the demo.