Final Fantasy 7 Remake has arrived on PS5 in the form of Intergrade – an enhanced upgrade of the JRPG with visual and performance improvements that you won’t find on last generation platforms. It’s now the definitive way to enjoy the first chapter of an increasingly convoluted reimagining and I absolutely love it, even if the conclusion of its excellent Yuffie expansion had me scratching my head and desperately wanting more. I won’t be spoiling anything ahead – so rest easy and read onwards.
This is the same game you played last year, albeit with a number of additional bells and whistles. If you hated it then, this won’t change your mind. But if you loved it – you will adore everything it has to offer. I won’t waste valuable time recounting the excellence of the original when we have an existing review that does just that. It was my favourite game of last year, and I was surprisingly excited to revisit it after such a short amount of time. Square Enix has taken advantage of the PS5, using Intergrade’s exclusive nature to craft an experience that simply wasn’t possible on the PS4. It even has textures on all the doors now! If you’re after a more thorough breakdown you can check out my detailed comparison.
For this review I’m going to be focusing entirely on Episode Intermission, a standalone expansion that follows the adventures of Yuffie Kisaragi as she infiltrates Midgar in search of the Ultimate Materia. Previously an optional character in the 1997 classic, the remake completely alters her place in the universe by implementing our beloved ninja into the wider narrative. Her history, motivations, and the politics that underpin the relationship between Wutai and Avalanche have been entirely rewritten. Like much of Final Fantasy 7 Remake, Intermission is seen as a new interpretation of this universe, with its brief runtime teasing a number of revelations we likely won’t see fulfilled until the sequel rolls around.
Yuffie enters Midgar with a chip on her shoulder, dialogue hinting at a traumatic conflict between her people and Avalanche that has left a once prestigious alliance in tatters. She willingly takes on the help of local resistance cells to achieve her mission, but it’s only in a fellow Wutain where our heroine finds solace. This is where Sonon comes in, a new character isolated entirely within Intermission.
He shares a similar past to Yuffie, having lost loved ones in a fruitless war. He turns his focus to the downfall of Shinra as a form of redemption. He’s a little older, a little wiser, and acts as a tremendous foil to Yuffie’s more unpredictable exploits throughout the expansion. Intermission sadly doesn’t give his backstory enough room to develop so many of the more dramatic moments feel rushed, but the overarching message still lands.
Yuffie learns the sinister truth behind Shinra’s actions, having to confront her own adolescence and how she really is just a kid playing around in an adult’s world. She can’t be the world’s mightiest ninja forever, especially when the reality of loss threatens to change her worldview and twist it into something much darker. Despite all this, she maintains her upbeat attitude, cementing them as the definitive iteration of Yuffie Kisaragi in any medium, and I hope she has a huge role to play in Remake 2.
It’s hard to discuss the narrative implications of Intermission without delving into serious spoiler territory, but I heartily recommend having completed Final Fantasy 7 Remake before touching this expansion. It assumes knowledge of mechanics and the base game’s ending, building upon it in the final act in ways that will have serious consequences moving forward. Square Enix isn’t messing about, and I feel it could be somewhat more welcoming to newcomers who either haven’t played the original and its various spin-offs or are jumping into Remake for the first time. I’m a veteran of the lore because I’m a loser, but I’m likely in the minority, and much of the audience should be provided infinitely more context.
Outside of the story, Intermission is a brief yet brilliant solo outing for Yuffie Kisaragi. We follow the trusty ninja as she arrives in Midgar, meets up with Avalanche, and seeks to infiltrate Shinra HQ. That’s the long and short of it, and you’ll be free to explore the Sector 7 Slums to take on side quests and partake in a few cheeky rounds of Fort Condor before dedicating yourself entirely to the main questline. It’s designed to be a nostalgic revisit across familiar territory, with Yuffie arriving in the wake of a second reactor explosion, listening to conversations between locals about the tyranny of Avalanche and how the terrorist group is apparently living among them.
It’s fascinating to view this world from a new perspective, one where I had keen understanding yet Yuffie was utterly in the dark, asking countless questions like the inquisitive teenager she really is. She can be abrasive, but I feel that’s essential to her immaturity as a young adult, learning to understand how the world around her works and how the people under the thumb of Shinra’s oppression aren’t the enemy, they’re simply trying to carve out a living amidst a world that is infinitely set against them. Yuffie doesn’t understand this philosophy, but she comes to accept it, learning that fighting for nothing but personal revenge isn’t the right path forward. If anything, it will destroy you.
I don’t want to spoil anything else, but Intermission is an unexpected delight for those after a deeper dive into Final Fantasy 7 Remake’s story. For hardcore fans, this is positively essential. When it comes to combat, Yuffie feels tremendous. She’s fast, unpredictable, and is capable of combining both ranged and melee attacks into a cohesive string of elementally-charged combos that feel so satisfying to execute. She’s the sole playable character here, with Sonon only available through scripted commands and synergised actions where you can press the shoulder button to deal additional damage and activate special moves. It’s sweet and simple, and Intermission simply isn’t beefy enough to support two playable characters with the depth required to help them shine.
Square Enix has struck the perfect balance, even if I never felt compelled to delve into Yuffie’s equipment and materia because I knew the journey would meet its end in only a few short hours. However, her character is fully formed, pieced together in a way that I imagine will be explored further in the coming sequel. In many ways, Intermission feels like a prologue to Final Fantasy 7 Remake 2, introducing new personalities and mechanics that will reach their full potential in the years to come. For now, it’s a waiting game.
Despite this prototypical assessment, it still feels wonderful to play, with boss battles and optional skirmishes providing ample challenge even for seasoned veterans. I got my ass kicked a few times, especially in the final few encounters. Yuffie’s athletic nature also places a larger focus on platforming, with the ninja being capable of leaping across cargo containers in factories and Naruto-running atop reactors in Shinra HQ. It’s a level of verticality that wasn’t really present in the base game, with many of the environments possessing a sense of ambitious scope that takes advantage of their PS5 exclusivity.
Side content is your usual filler, with the exception of Fort Condor. A real location in the universe has now been morphed into a popular board game where you command a number of units across a small battleground to defeat your enemy. It’s fun and simple, using the rock-paper-scissors approach of Fire Emblem to implement a strategic distraction that I had a decent amount of fun with. Those who become smitten with it can climb the leaderboards in search of rare rewards, but otherwise it can be ignored entirely. Beyond this you’ll collect posters, partake in battle simulators, and complete odd jobs that aren’t worth your time unless you’re a true completionist.
Intermission is an excellent expansion for the world of Final Fantasy 7 Remake, introducing Yuffie Kisaragi and expanding upon her character and history in ways that simply weren’t possible in the 1997 original. She absolutely steals the show here, bolstered up by a selection of compelling newcomers and a continuation of the main narrative that teases a tantalisingly exciting future for this ambitious project. I’m unsure when we will next see something from Final Fantasy 7 Remake, but if it’s anything like this – we’re in for a treat.
Score: 4.5/5. A review copy was provided by Square Enix.
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