Ever since the fantastic Final Fantasy VII Remake launched last year with a fresh take on early events in the original Final Fantasy VII, fans have been clamouring to see what’s next. While we’re still waiting to find out what the next part of the remake has in store for Cloud and friends, we are very soon to be treated to the double-feature of both the PS5-upgraded Final Fantasy VII Remake Intergrade as well as the PS5-exclusive new DLC chapter, EPISODE INTERmission.
We were lucky enough to be given access to 13 minutes of behind-internet-doors footage of the new expansion starring everyone’s favourite Wutai ninja, Yuffie Kisaragi, ahead of the launch of Intergrade and the new episode on June 10, giving us a small but exciting look into what to expect.
Our look at EPISODE INTERmission begins with Yuffie’s arrival at Midgar, as she makes her way to the Sector 7 slums to meet up with the members of Avalanche HQ; Zhijie, Nayo, Billy Bob and Polk. On her arrival, Yuffie meets more than a few interesting characters, including a man named Old Snapper who sends players on a very familiar flyer-hunting quest. We see her visit some familiar areas in the hunt for these flyers, including a certain makeshift feline sanctuary with a very content Wedge gently petting a cat in the background.
Shortly after, we cut to a huge shipping facility that sees Yuffie and her Wutai warrior partner, Sonon, tailing Shinra forces as they chase after Zhijie. In the interest of time we’re only able to see short glimpses at various sections of this area, eventually culminating in a very typical boss battle against a giant, angry robot – the Gigantipede in this instance. I’m very keen to see how this new content plays out against the backdrop of the Remake story, and how it might tie into its continuation, but what we’ve seen so far at least isn’t lacking in the kind of flair and excitement you’d expect from a Yuffie-lead chapter.
Being a Wutai-trained ninja means that Yuffie has access to a range of skills that players hadn’t seen in Final Fantasy VII Remake. Similar to most of the DLC episodes in Final Fantasy XV, this means that Square Enix has been able to shake up gameplay in this self-contained story both in and out of combat.
Our preview shows Yuffie making her way through various environments from the slums of Midgar to a towering facility, giving her the chance to show off a range of impressive new traversal skills such as swinging, sliding and wall running. She’s also able to use her trademark Shuriken to interact with the environment, the examples we saw showed her smashing out-of-reach crates to collect items as well as activating switches in far-off parts of the environment.
In battle, Yuffie plays with a mix of both short and long ranged attacks. Her basic attack command has her strike enemies with the Shuriken in close quarters, but it’s when she uses her special move to hurl it away that things get interesting. Much like Kratos’ axe in the PS4’s God of War, the throwing star is thrown and retrieved by a button press, but when Yuffie isn’t holding it her standard attack is replaced with special long-range ninjutsu. This ninjutsu can then be imbued with elemental properties to exploit enemy weaknesses, such as using Lightning Ninjutsu against the aforementioned giant robot centipede.
Yuffie looks like a whole heap of fun in combat, bringing together a range of styles into one powerhouse ninja warrior, and I can’t wait to see how her playstyle compares to those on offer in the base game. Oh, and did I mention she summons our old friend Ramuh right at the tail end of our demo? More of that, thanks.
Joining Yuffie in her mission is another Wutia warrior, Sonon. After training under Yuffie’s father, he’s been assigned to accompany her in infiltrating Midgar and bring some balance with a more serious, grounded approach.
Unlike the supporting cast in Final Fantasy VII Remake, Sonon can’t be directly controlled in EPISODE INTERmission. Players will still issue him orders in much the same way as they could with non-controlled party members in Remake, though. Yuffie and Sonon are also able to synergise when both have ATB gauges available, giving them access to team-up versions of particular attacks that do seemingly huge damage to enemies’ HP and stagger gauges.
Both Yuffie and Sonon are able to use Limit Breaks as well, with Sonon’s Dance of the Dragon assaulting enemies with a myriad of blows from his staff.
Fort Condor Returns
Something I really appreciated in the original release of Remake was new takes on some of Final Fantasy VII’s iconic minigames, such as G-bike racing and squats at Wall Market, so seeing Fort Condor make a return is exciting. Similar to the original, it’s a tower defense-esque minigame, only this time around in the form of a competitive pastime in Sector 7 as opposed to a mission found in the game world.
Fort Condor in EPISODE INTERmission takes the same basic ideas from its Final Fantasy VII counterpart, tasking players to spend ATB charges to place units on a battlefield which will then automatically push toward the enemy’s base and engage their units. Each unit fits one of three roles, adding a rock-paper-scissors element to skirmishes, and players can also cast powerful one-off spells in an effort to swing the battle in their favour. After being introduced to Fort Condor by Polk, Yuffie is able to play and work her way through the ranks in an effort to face off against the grandmaster and win a rare (read: huge) materia prize. We only saw a brief portion of a full skirmish in the game, but it looks surprisingly fleshed-out and is sure to be a legitimately fun diversion as well as a nice nod to the original.
Just this short look at EPISODE INTERmission has us super-ready to get hands on with Yuffie and Sonon’s mission, use our ninja skills to infiltrate and incapacitate, and probably spend way too much time on ridiculous minigames. There isn’t long to wait either – just a couple of weeks until June 10, when we can experience both this new episode as well as the Intergrade version of Final Fantasy VII Remake in all of its upgraded glory on the PlayStation 5. It’s going to be a blast!
Final Fantasy 7 Remake Intergrade releases on June 10th, 2021 exclusively on PS5.