The PlayStation 5 remaster Final Fantasy VII Remake Intergrade reintroduces players of the 1997 version to Yuffie Kisaragi, a young ninja from Wutai and the playable protagonist of a DLC story called Episode Intermission. Wide-eyed and donning a raggedy Moogle costume, this side story makes it immediately evident that Yuffie is no Cloud Strife. Whereas Strife had emotional baggage and constantly expressed reluctance in his mission, Yuffie is spunky and ambitious, albeit to a fault. With a proper sequel to Final Fantasy VII Remake still quite far off, seeing this story from a brighter set of eyes was much needed to hold fans over.
Even on the PlayStation 4, the world, environments, and aesthetics of Final Fantasy VII Remake were well-realized, but anyone who paid the premium for the PS5 will still find Intergrade to be a worthwhile time investment. With the option to switch between 4K resolution or 60 frames per second, Midgar looks better than ever. The only new playable story content is the Yuffie-starring Episode Intermission, which is only two chapters and takes around five hours to reach credits. There isn’t anything graphically or technically in this DLC that made unique usage out of the PS5’s capabilities, but as it stands, it acts as a nice bridge between Remake and the next chapter, which could very well be exclusive to PS5.
Ultimately, Final Fantasy VII Remake Intergrade is just here to show us what a next-generation sequel could look like, and to quell any impatience for the next part in this saga, which at the time of this writing has no release date, meaning it’s likely years off. Intergrade does include a new cutscene that acts as a coda to Remake and a setup for the next game, and even just these few extra minutes will get fans talking.
Episode Intermission primarily takes place in familiar territory, with Chapter 1 set in the Sector 7 Slums and Chapter 2 taking Yuffie and her battle companion Sonon to the Shinra Building. As this DLC takes place parallel to the events of the main game, there are moments where Yuffie is essentially Forrest Gump, accidentally witnessing major events from a different and afar perspective. Yuffie will hear civilians talk about Avalanche’s attacks on Shinra or watch the aftermath on the news, and at one point she even spots Tifa, Barrett, and Biggs discussing Cloud’s disappearance after the Airbuster battle — it comes across like a deleted scene in a DVD’s extras.
Luckily, Yuffie’s story holds up well, and the fact that she has a smaller perspective on all of the high stakes goings-on in Midgar actually thematically fits well with what Episode Intermission is going for. What makes Yuffie’s point of view so distinct is her naivete amongst all of the high-stakes actions and machinations happening in the world. This naivete can be charming — she seems rather ignorant to the exact nature of shadiness in Wall Market, for example, thinking that drinking is as deep as that seedy hole goes. It is sometimes an advantage, as enemies will underestimate her and dismiss her as “some kid” before she shows them up in combat. But overall, her immaturity is what leads to her quest to steal some unspecified “ultimate Materia” becoming entirely quixotic, as she faces unimaginable opposition in a tale that depicts her loss of innocence.
Essential in Yuffie’s character growth is Sonon, a fellow ninja who is significantly older than her, yet follows her lead, even calling her “boss.” Although Episode Intermission doesn’t provide enough time to fully flesh him out, the game does try to convey that he is a warm, older-brother-like figure to Yuffie. The bits of backstory for Sonon are short, but efficient enough to support that sibling-like nature to him. And while there could have been more chemistry between the two in dialogue, Sonon and Yuffie are a force as a duo in combat.
Since Episode Intermission assumes that you have already played through and mastered Remake, it does little to teach you the basics of mechanics, but the action RPG elements of Remake are still strong in this DLC. Yuffie’s shuriken can dole out damage at close range, but it’s quite useful as a long-range boomerang-like weapon, and while that star is out of her hands, she can utilize elemental ninjitsu attacks. Sonon isn’t playable, but a tap of the left trigger will have he and Yuffie “synchronize” and attack simultaneously in graceful fashion, with enhanced abilities and attacks to take advantage of at the cost of gaining ATB slower.
It was difficult to invest too much in leveling up Yuffie and Sonon and their equipment when I went in knowing how short the experience would be — it isn’t a game that makes you feel like you can stop and smell the mako. There are a pair of side quests, as well as a subplot involving a tournament for a fully playable MOBA-like game called Fort Condor, if you’re looking for something to do. All of this content may have fit well if it were part of the larger Remake Intergrade game, but it felt skippable for something self-contained like this DLC.
Episode Intermission is here for anyone who missed Yuffie last time around and can’t wait until the next game to play as this feisty but brave little ninja. It expands the larger Final Fantasy VII worldbuilding by just a sliver, but to some diehards, that might be all they need during the long wait ahead for whatever the next entry in this Remake saga will be.