Dirge of Cerberus is still the most incoherent Final Fantasy game ever

Vincent Valentine shops at Hot Topic.

Dirge of Cerberus Key art
Square Enix

In the years after Final Fantasy VII’s massive global success, Square Enix decided to give this entry in their already successful franchise its own sub-franchise which would be dubbed The Compilation of Final Fantasy VII. This project birthed the recently remastered cult hit Crisis Core, starring best boy Zack Fair and also the ongoing Remake series that includes the upcoming Final Fantasy VII: Rebirth. The forgotten black sheep in this project, however, stars the edgiest boy of all: Vincent Valentine. 17 years later, Dirge of Cerberus: Final Fantasy VII is still a perplexing genre shakeup that revels in the progressively complex narrative of the world.

A hero even edgier than Cloud Strife — While Final Fantasy VII is beloved for its complex characters and emotional story that still stands out as one of the best narratives in gaming (just ask current Batman, Robert Pattinson). It’s also a game with a hefty dose of campy humor and characters that feel like they come out of left field. One such character is the optional party member Vincent Valentine.

Dirge of Cerberus answers the question “what if we gave that moody vampire from Final Fantasy VII a gun?”

Square Enix

From the moment you meet Vincent, it is clear he is on the dramatic side, awakening from a slumber within a coffin in the depths of a spooky mansion. Despite everything about him implying the contrary, he is not actually a vampire. Though like many teens in their cringe era, he dresses and acts like one.

While picking projects for the Compilation of Final Fantasy VII, Crisis Core was developed for PSP and would take place prior to the events of the original game while Dirge of Cerberus for PlayStation 2 takes place three years after.

The good, the bad, and the ugly — In its simplest terms, Dirge of Cerberus follows Vincent’s mission to stop a new shady organization called Deep Underground from ending the world through the use of the Omega WEAPON. In detail, there are so many convoluted twists and turns that any Kingdom Hearts fan will not be surprised at the involvement of Tetsuya Nomura in this game.

Vincent Valentine’s solo adventure is the pinnacle of Final Fantasy's weirdness in the best and worst ways.

Square Enix

Yet despite new shady groups and dead people possessing your enemies the heart of Dirge of Cerberus does engage with Vincent’s tragic story. While optional in Final Fantasy VII, Vincent has a deep connection to the creation of Sephiroth and the Turks. His is a story of forbidden love that ends tragically. Dirge of Cerberus asks what is left for Vincent to do with his life after the immediate need to stop the end of the world in Final Fantasy VII. It shows a world still trying to heal in the aftermath of Sephiroth through the eyes of a broken man trying to do the same.

If that sounds good then it is heartbreaking to say that the gameplay is not nearly as interesting. Instead, it is legitimately atrocious. Instead of Final Fantasy VII’s turn-based encounters, or Crisis Core’s action hack-n-slash combat, Dirge of Cerberus is a third-person shooter. Based on critics’ reviews the Metacritic score sits at 57, with most reviewers noting that while the story could be interesting even when convoluted, the gameplay was nearly unplayable and boring.

Even with its many flaws, Dirge of Cerberus still has a place in the Final Fantasy VII universe thanks to its engagement with the larger world and the characters within it. While it isn’t the most welcoming to actually play, it is a great game to watch for its campy yet earnest portrait of the (not) vampire Vincent Valentine.

Related Tags