Why Final Fantasy 7 Rebirth's Cid deserved better

Cid flies the Tiny Bronco
(Image credit: Square Enix)

Final Fantasy 7 Rebirth is a fantastic example of ensemble storytelling in a role-playing game (RPG) done right. The second part of Square Enix’s ambitious Final Fantasy 7 Remake project does a stellar job of providing a roster of deep, vibrant characters whose interactions uplift and sustain the ambitious open-world project from start to finish. 

However, not every one of Rebirth’s central characters gets the same level of love and attention. While gruff, ornery pilot Cid Highwind does feature in Rebirth, the game cuts corners when it comes to his story. While it’s not enough to stop Rebirth from being a gripping ride, I did finish the game feeling that Cid had received a bit of a raw deal.   

In the original Final Fantasy 7, we’re treated to a famous set piece known as ‘Rocket Town’ where we’re introduced to Cid as a flawed, relatable figure whose dreams of being the first person in space were curtailed by budget cuts from the ruthless Shinra corporation. Conversely, in Final Fantasy 7 Rebirth, we run into Cid at an airstrip in the middle of a jungle. He agrees to ferry protagonist Cloud and pals around for a small price but otherwise keeps his cards close to his chest. Rather than organically joining the party as he does in the original, Rebirth’s Cid feels more like an interloper, despite his easy, rugged charm. 


Cid and Aerith talk outside the temple of the ancients

(Image credit: Square Enix)

Cid played a vital narrative role in the original. Throughout the game, we’ve seen the evils of the Shinra Corporation first-hand. Final Fantasy 7 even famously begins with an act of eco-terrorism, where Cloud and Barret work together to destroy a Mako reactor which, while helping to power the city of Midgar, is also draining the life energy from the planet itself. Until we meet Cid, a lot of our run-ins with Shinra have been very dramatic and over-the-top. 

Cid shows us another side of the coin. Here’s an ex-Shinra employee who had his dreams and ambitions shattered, not by a giant mech or a corporate army, but by something as mundane as budget cuts. Cid is, in some respects, an ‘average Joe’, doing his best to live life as well as he can under the boot of a massive, militarized megacorporation. He puts a comprehensible, relatable face on Shinra’s excesses, helping players to understand that corporate greed is damaging on both the societal and individual levels.

Even the most charming taxi service imaginable is still just a taxi service

Conversely, in Rebirth, Cid is more of a glorified taxi service. To be clear: he’s an immensely cool taxi service. His suave witticisms and rugged confidence are a delight, and do a great deal to sell him as a down-to-earth character. 

Unfortunately, even the most charming taxi service imaginable is still just a taxi service. After arriving at your destination, he simply dumps you there, waiting around for you to take off. Though he does accompany the party during the game’s final chapters, he takes a back seat, waiting outside the game’s final dungeon rather than joining the fight.

This all serves to make Rebirth Cid feel like an awkward tag-along rather than a full member of the party. In the original, Cid joins the protagonists after they thwart Shinra’s attempt to steal his plane, the Tiny Bronco. This eventually results in a crash landing, forcing Cid to travel with the party. As the plot thickens, allies of convenience eventually become friends in what proves to be a rewarding arc for Cid. On the other hand, Rebirth Cid doesn’t have nearly as much to tether him to the party as original Cid. It’s a shame and a missed opportunity for the character, especially given his connections to Aerith’s family, which I won’t spoil here.  

Bigger is better 

Yuffie prepares a Ninjitsu technique

(Image credit: Square Enix)

Final Fantasy 7 Rebirth is an immense, weighty, and ambitious project. Full of side quests, mini-games, and explorable areas, it boggles the mind to think of the sheer amount of effort that must have gone into crafting the RPG’s impressive environments and setpieces. As such, I find it easy to forgive the omission of story beats from the original for the sake of time and sanity. In fact, given the bold new direction undertaken by Rebirth’s story, deviations from the original narrative seem in keeping with the trilogy’s desire to buck established canon and blaze its own trail.

For instance, despite recruiting Yuffie early on in Rebirth, we never visit her homeland of Wutai - a moment from the original that serves as a key part of her arc. To make up for this, we’re treated to all sorts of extra character development for the lovable young ninja. Her efforts to connect with the party are charming, as is her sense of idealistic bravado. This means that Rebirth doesn’t quite need the visit to Wutai from the original to get Yuffie's character ‘over the line’. In fact, Shinra’s war with Wutai hangs heavily enough over Rebirth that fans of the original sequence can feast on the foreshadowing alone. 

Cid wasn’t given a chance to shine in Rebirth

By contrast, Cid doesn’t get any extra attention to fill in the gaps left by Rocket Town’s omission. Instead, Rebirth’s treatment of the character feels lopsided and like a missed opportunity. Even a few short references to his ambitions or his history with Shinra could have done wonders to flesh out the character on his own terms. Though we do get some cagey comments from him during travel sections, they’re not enough on their own.     

While a visit to Rocket Town seems extremely likely in the upcoming third installment of the remake trilogy, it remains a disappointment that Cid wasn’t given a chance to shine in Rebirth. This oversight becomes even more pressing when you compare Cid’s limited screen time to the exceptional dialogue and character development on display for other members of the ensemble. Hopefully, our gruff dreamer will get his due in the final part of the trilogy.

Want more experiences like Final Fantasy 7 Rebirth? Check out our lists of the best RPGs and the best story games. 

Cat Bussell
Staff Writer

Cat Bussell is a Staff Writer at TechRadar Gaming. Hailing from the crooked spires of London, Cat is an experienced writer and journalist. As seen on Wargamer.com, TheGamer.com, and Superjumpmagazine.com, Cat is here to bring you coverage from all corners of the video game world. An inveterate RPG maven and strategy game enjoyer, Cat is known for her love of rich narratives; both story-driven and emergent.