Last year’s Final Fantasy VII Remake felt fairly divisive among fans, if not for the shift to a real-time combat system then certainly for the fact that it’s merely the first part in multi-title saga spanning the original game’s story. The people want more, and while we’ve still got a while to wait for a Part Two, we at least now have EPISODE INTERmission. A DLC expansion for the (PS5 exclusive) Final Fantasy VII Remake Intergrade, this new chapter stars a fan-favourite, optional character from the PSX release in Wutaian ninja, Yuffie Kisaragi.
EPISODE Intermission (let’s just call it Intermission from now on) sees Yuffie on a mission from Wutai to infiltrate Shinra headquarters and steal an experimental new Materia that the megacorporation is supposedly cooking up in their unfathomably huge and labyrinthine research facility. Accompanied by fellow Wutaian ninja, Sonon, and backed up by members of Avalanche (the regular ones, not the splinter group made up of Cloud and friends), Yuffie’s Materia-mugging mission makes up the entirety of the DLC. Its two chapters offer up a brisk four-to-six hours, depending on how much time you spend on side content, across the familiar Sector 7 slums in Midgar as well as the depths of Shinra’s labs.
They’re not entirely new locations, though you will see new parts of both, but given the DLC takes place concurrently with earlier events in Final Fantasy VII Remake it’s an interesting look into familiar places at a different time. There are some neat cameos as well, including a face or two that deserved more time in the main game. The slums, especially, feel like both a retread and a fresh take at the same time, partially because of the improvements made in the updated PS5 version of the remake and partially thanks to some fun new nods to the original PSX game. It might sound strange to be excited about a modern take on a flyer-collecting fetch quest, and the Happy Turtle flyer objectives in Intermission certainly tick all the boxes of ‘filler’ content, but hot damn. Only Square Enix would make the conscious choice to commision half a dozen original songs across multiple genres purely for a fetch quest. If Happy Turtle Metal doesn’t wind up on Spotify at some point I’m going to be very cross.
There’s also Fort Condor, a take on one of the original FF7’s many minigames. Where that game’s version of events had you involved in a siege on an actual Shinra fort, this time around it takes the form of a strategy board game that’s become popular across Sector 7. It’s similarly a lite-RTS/tower defence game though, where players spend gradually-recharging points to place a variety of units on the board to capture enemy points and defend their own. I had a decent time working my way up to Fort Condor Grandmaster as Yuffie (and playing a few familiar faces along the way), though I wish it were more challenging. Despite being able to find more capable boards and units over the course of the DLC, I’d managed to ascend the ranks well before being totally kitted out in both Normal and Hard mode.
The whole Intermission experience plays like a condensed take on FF7R, with players rapidly gaining experience and new Materia to experiment with in this iteration of the same recognisable combat experience. Yuffie is the sole playable character this time, with Sonon acting of his own accord in support, using her famous shuriken as a combination close-quarters and long-range weapon. With a basic attack input that can be held down to push away from enemies and a God of War-style throw-and-return special move that allows her to swap out melee for elemental Ninjutsu, Yuffie’s fighting style is all about creating distance. Some frustrating moments caused by the game’s camera in tight spaces aside, it’s a fun and fresh alternative to the combat in the base game that feels true to the episode’s fan-favourite protagonist.
Whether in combat or out of it Yuffie is a boundless, kinetic fountain of energy, the complete antithesis to Cloud’s stoic brooding. Square Enix has given her plenty of opportunities to flex this during exploration, with more range and verticality in environments with distant switches to throw the shuriken at and even the odd bout of wall-running. Her moment-to-moment priorities run quite differently as well, often making a concerted effort to break as much of Shinra’s property as she goes.
Given the above, it’s fortunate that Yuffie has a partner like Sonon. He’s cool, calm and capable. He doesn’t judge Yuffie for her clumsiness or messy character, like a great partner he simply anticipates it and attempts to fill in the gaps. As a support in combat, he’s perfectly useful under AI control but can be called upon to team up with Yuffie in Synergy mode, where the pair attack in tandem to really press on the enemy and gain access to Synergised versions of certain abilities. It lends a surprising depth to fights that goes well beyond what I’d expected from such a compact experience.
What this all amounts to is, essentially, a condensed repeat of what’s come before that’s carried largely by the strength of its characters and those classic Square Enix production values. That makes it great for fans, which shouldn’t be a surprise, but it’s the degree of your fandom that’ll decide whether this is a fun curiosity or a must-play and ultimately worth a purchase. It does come with a kicker of an ending sequence though, one that I obviously don’t want to say too much about, but it’s absolutely got implications for the larger Final Fantasy VII Remake universe.
As part of the Final Fantasy VII Remake Intergrade package or at a small cost on top of the free base game upgrade, the Yuffie-centric EPISODE INTERmission is a nice chunk of compelling new content to keep fans going in the absence of the next big title. It's not a radical departure, and it would've been nice to get a proper glimpse of some new locales, but what's here is still largely entertaining. Impressively, it manages to squeeze a nicely-paced and climactic experience out of its abridged RPG format. Plus, Yuffie is just too entertaining and likeable to not deserve a bit of the spotlight.
Yuffie's redesign and characterisation are delightful
Combat and RPG systems work well in abridged format