Editor’s note: this review only covers the DLC portion of Final Fantasy VII Remake Intergrade. We’ll be covering our impressions of the PS5 upgrade separately.
Yuffie Kisaragi may be the last character I thought would be the star of DLC for Final Fantasy VII Remake. In the original game, Yuffie was an optional character who didn’t have much of a backstory, and what little there is was tucked away in a sidequest. She was just the chirpy, cheeky materia thief. And while the Compilation of Final Fantasy VII attempted to flesh her out, it didn’t compare to the attention her fellow optional party member, Vincent Valentine, got.
But putting a character like Yuffie front-and-centre of Episode INTERmission is what makes this DLC feels so fun and refreshing.
In truth, there aren’t too many differences in INTERmission compared to the base game. The combat is primarily the same, and the visuals have received that same PS5-lift that Intergrade gave. The music is still absolutely fantastic, with some incredible arrangements of songs such as “Descendant of Shinobi,” “Wutai,” and more. Some locations and enemies are reused from Remake too, which makes sense. INTERmission is simply more Remake, which is far from a bad thing. It’s Yuffie who’s the star of the show and lifts it from being good to delightful.
Split into two chapters and set after Cloud falls from the Sector 5 Reactor, the story follows our favourite ninja as she infiltrates Midgar to steal top-secret materia. She’s joined by new character and fellow Wutai agent Sonon Kusakabe. The story does little other than introduce characters and new tidbits into this modern-day adaptation of Midgar and the world of Final Fantasy VII. But it also acts as a vehicle for our materia thief and gives her the spotlight she so sorely deserves. INTERmission takes itself a bit less seriously than Remake overall, which lends itself to its bite-sized length. It’s a small snippet of joy amidst many of the heavier events that Remake makes you play through. Not to say that the whole thing is a barrel of moogles, especially when Deepground shows up, but I had a smile on my face throughout my entire five-hour playthrough for reasons wholly different from the base game.
Yuffie brings a lightness to Remake that I didn’t realise was missing. She’s a little hyperactive and overconfident in the way that teenagers usually are. She’s obsessed with materia in the same way her PS One counterpart is, but in a much more tolerable way. The way she throws herself onto the save benches or athletically jumps over gaps adds to her character endearingly. She’s totally different from anyone else in the main cast, and seeing her shine alone gets me excited at the prospect of her joining the main cast when part two comes to light. Throughout the DLC, it’s lovely to see her growing relationship with Sonon and the differences between the two play out. Sonon is a much more down-to-earth character: level-headed, but enjoys a bit of fun on the side. He also has to put up with Yuffie’s antics more than once.
I confess, while I spent well over five hours on the DLC, you can beat it in three to four hours. The biggest time-sapping culprit for me was Fort Condor. Reimagined as a board game, you claim victory by either taking out your opponent’s tower or dealing the most damage to their units. Placing a unit down on the board uses one ATB charge, and the three unit types (Vanguard, ranged, and defense) work in a Fire Emblem-style weapon triangle. You can see your enemy’s units before you start a round, letting you select the best ones for the job. You can also set down a board type before starting, which determines which materia spells are available to you. It’s a simple twist on the original version but so much more manageable. I couldn’t stop going around the Sector 7 Slums to challenge other characters. Not that I was any good at it at all, but I was much better than I was at the original! Which means something to me, at least. I just adore this twist and love how simple it is to pick up and play, rather than the fiddly PS One version.
There’s not much else to do in terms of side content, sadly. One quest is a fun little reference to another sidequest in FFVII involving the Turtle’s Paradise, but the rewards are pretty flimsy. Then there’s the box-breaking minigame from Sector 5 in Remake, this time in a new location for Yuffie. But otherwise, INTERmission is pretty linear, moving place-to-place and from combat encounter to combat encounters.
It’s a good thing that Remake‘s combat was so good, and it still is! There aren’t any huge differences in how fighting works here, but Yuffie does have a few tricks up her armguard. Firstly, the ninja is an absolute blast to play as. She attacks at both long and short-range, slashing with her shuriken or throwing it, and then casting elemental ninjutsu from a distance. I wasn’t sure how they would adapt Yuffie into an action RPG, but they completely nailed it. She’s furiously fast and fun to control.
The other new wrinkle to the combat involves Sonon. As a substitute for not controlling him, you can synchronise your attacks with Sonon with the touch of the L1 button. Pairing the two up slows Sonon’s ATB charges but allows the two ninjas to attack and unleash some devastating dual abilities simultaneously. The key is to use this when an enemy is pressured or staggered, which can either break enemies quickly or whittle their health down dramatically. It’s easy to get the hang of and satisfying to pull off.
The only real caveats with INTERmission come because of its exclusivity. It’s PS5 only; at the time of writing, the PS5 is still incredibly hard to get hold of. And for a short adventure, it hardly seems worth trying to search the console down just to experience a fun little adventure with this agent of Wutai. You unlock a few extremely hard optional bosses after beating the DLC, and you’re rewarded with hints on where the story goes next (and I won’t spoil that, but I will say that this additional ending is unexpectedly lighthearted), but that’s it. If you’re picking up Intergrade as someone new to Remake, then this comes with it. If you’re upgrading from the PS4 version, the DLC is $20, which might be a bit too much for some.
While it won’t change anyone’s world, Episode INTERmission will surprise almost everyone with its tone and Yuffie’s newfound star power. If this is a test of the PS5’s capabilities in preparation for the second part of Remake and a trickle of what’s to come, I am still very much here for whatever Square Enix wants to do next to these characters and this world. They’ve shown time and time again just how much care and attention they’re putting into Remake‘s interpretation of this beloved classic.