When Final Fantasy 7 Remake got an enhanced port on PlayStation 5, Square Enix was generous enough to offer scalpers exclusive content in the form of DLC. Episode: INTERmission would not only reintroduce Yuffie, but would also see the remake inventing new characters and further revision story elements seen in the real Final Fantasy VII.
For $19.99 USD, owners of Final Fantasy 7 Remake: Intergrade can upgrade and get this side story. With a price that is about a third of what the core game cost at launch, one would expect that INTERmission would be a substantial expansion. The foundation was there; Midgar as a setting still held a lot of potential for a side story.
Yuffie was an optional side character in the real Final Fantasy VII. Introducing her much earlier in this way offers unique possibilities to give fans and customers an experience that can further flesh out Midgar in ways no possible in the main game.
Much like Final Fantasy Remake, INTERmission will be another chapter in the big book of “What Could Have Been Great” that is currently being written by Square Enix developers.
Final Fantasy VII Remake: Intergrade – Episode: INTERmission
Developer: Square Enix
Publisher: Square Enix
Platforms: PlayStation 5
Release Date: June 10th, 2021
Price: $19.99 USD
Yuffie is a spunky, tomboyish kunoichi, who was best remembered for being an optional party member in the real Final Fantasy VII. She had an entertaining questline where Don Corneo gets his final comeuppance, and there is also one final clash with the Turks in Wutai.
Most of all; Yuffie is remembered for ripping off the party’s materia in an attempt to arm her people with a means to fight back the Shinra Electric Power Company. In the original game, there was not a lot of depth to her character, but she was easy on the eyes, and had decent stats.
INTERmission attempts to flesh her out, and also do double duty of further realizing the remake’s setting, making it feel more real. While some of these goals are met, what really stands out in this expansion is how far Square Enix has come with refining their combat mechanics.
The DLC only allows control of Yuffie. Unlike the vanilla game where players can control any of the four party members in combat, the designers focused all their attention on making one very technical fighter who can do tandem attacks with an AI partner.
Yuffie is very versatile; able to attack long range with her giant throwing star and ninpo, or get up close and personal with lightning fast martial arts. She is also able to quickly home in on enemies, immediately closing gaps with any threat that has been tagged with her weapon. Yuffie plays a bit like a mix of the ranged magic attacks that Aerith used, who can alternate with aggressive combos like Tifa.
INTERmission uses the rebalances introduced with Intergrade. It’s likely that this side content might have informed the changes done for the core game, which have affected the package as a whole. This is for the betterment of the gameplay; since it’s now a much more fluid and technical action game as a result.
It’s as if Square Enix has finally given up any pretenses that Final Fantasy VII Remake and its eventual future parts is going to be an RPG of any kind. The spectacle and action in the gameplay commands a similar level of skill that fans of the Devil May Cry series have been enjoying.
It’s unfortunate that the remake won’t deliver on the promise of being a remake of Final Fantasy VII; but it would be unfair to ignore this impressive action game.
Yuffie has a much wider range of attacks and expression compared to the cast in Final Fantasy Remake, and it’s because the developers put everything into her, and she doesn’t have to share abilities with anyone. Thanks to the Intergrade rebalancing and 60 frames per second, inputs feel incredibly visceral. Stringing combos together and connecting abilities is very fluid and seamless.
The combat refinements in Intergrade were amazing, but INTERmission takes it to the next level by introducing some new materia that is exclusive to this side story. Synergy was worthless on the PlayStation 4 version, but now is invaluable thanks to it coming with no costs, and the new materia Yuffie acquires doubles down on its utility.
Sonon, Yuffie’s bow staff wielding partner, is more like an extension of her own abilities than a AI partner. He still has his own HP and stats that must be managed along with his own gear, but his abilities can tie directly to Yuffie’s actions, and can execute devastating team-up attacks.
Compounded with the immense flexibility of the materia system; the possibilities for builds are nigh endless, and options for clever players will lead them to cheekily breaking the game.
Canceling, juggling, and chaining attacks against different enemy types isn’t as easy as it seems. Monsters and Shinra goons will often have their own weaknesses, and require a bit of effort to feel out. The refinements to the combat payed off, and the result is an action game that is much more involving than anything Square Enix has produced thus far.
The action and materia system is easily the highlight of the experience. Regretfully, the story and scope of INTERmission will leave customers wanting. For $19.99 USD, players will get a handful of locations based off the industrial outskirts of Midgar, and a few interiors set inside of Shinra HQ that have very linear designs.
Sector 7 is the primary hub where Yuffie can explore and chat up the locals. There are a few very easy side quests where she has to find a couple of flyers and partake in a mini game. Unfortunately, all routes that lead outside are blocked off. This is one of the most disappointing aspects of INTERmission; for roughly the cost of a third of the vanilla game, the DLC is roughly the length of a long demo.
There is no Wall Market, Train Graveyard, Loveless Street, or any of the sectors. INTERmission should have been the opportunity to be able to explore all the old locations at the player’s leisure, since Yuffie is not beholden to the narrative of Final Fantasy VII. She can’t even visit 7th Heaven, and trying to invokes the asinine arbiters of fate who stop her from entering.
INTERmission is a very focused on pushing the story forward like the vanilla game, and to set up some things for the eventual Part 2. The problem is nothing is being set-up, and Yuffie’s stint in Midgar amounts to nothing. She makes no changes, and there are no revelations. The plot amounts to Yuffie wanting to rip off some materia from Shinra HQ, so she can arm the people of Wutai.
The one thing INTERmission does is give Scarlet more scenes, and explains what her role is in the greater scope of this iteration of Final Fantasy VII. While she is given more scenes, Scarlet is still a very simplistic archetype of the evil noblewoman character. She’s sexy, looks down at everyone, is intensely snooty, and not complex.
There is the old guard of Avalanche that is shown, and how they operate compared to how Barrett ran things with his splinter cell. The characters in this branch of the resistance are given names, but nobody will ever remember them, and each of them are given only a few lines of dialogue before they fade into the background and are never seen ever again.
One guy is only memorable for being the tutorial for INTERmission‘s main mini game: Fort Condor. This side activity is one of the other highlights of the DLC, and can become very involving when trying to devise a load out of units for the RTS gameplay. Highly useful units are found or purchased with condor coins, which are earned from winning against designated NPCs who will play matches.
Coincidentally, all Fort Condor players happen to be the supporting cast of the vanilla game. Jesse, Roche, Wedge, the lowly Shinra executive, and even Kyrie are up for a game. Why would anyone want to pursue this mini game? It is because the condor coins can also be used to acquire extra weapons, materia, or other equipment.
The problem with all these wonderful extras is INTERmission is woefully short, and none of the loot can carry over to the much longer and substantial vanilla game. This would have breathed new life into the main game, and implementing some of her unique items would make it ripe for replays.
Even more frustrating is that Yuffie herself can’t be brought over to be playable in the main game, or the VR missions. She doesn’t need to show up in cutscenes or while exploring, she should just be usable during battle. Her fighting style is very fast and reactive, and not be able to use her beyond the scope of the DLC is disappointing.
INTERmission is exclusive to the PlayStation 5 version of Final Fantasy VII Remake, and with that came all the visual improvements from Intergrade. While the vanilla game on new hardware looks better than ever, it does not push the specs far enough.
With INTERmission, the artists attempt some visuals that would have brought the PlayStation 4 Pro to its knees; wheezing pouring sweat like a feminist walking up a flight of stairs.
Sector 7 is far more bustling than it ever was when Cloud made his visit. The train station is especially crowded, with every single NPC available to the artists to fill out the scenery and make it feel lively and lived in. All of the town area is festooned with people and dialogue, making it easy to get immersed in the setting and to absorb the atmosphere.
The Shinra building is the other main location where Yuffie visits, and she infiltrates Scarlet’s development floor. Square Enix’s artists go all out with the industrial design, huge fans with different colored lights that glow in these cold and misty metallic caverns.
The materials have a wide variety of different kinds of brushed metallic surfaces, some polished, and all kinds of worn machinery to give the impression of an operating factory. The outrageous polygon density in some areas are jaw-dropping and look impressive; all while maintaining a fluid 60 frames per second.
The music delivers as expected from DLC that uses Final Fantasy VII Remake as a basis. This remake’s score and various melodic motifs are based on one of the best soundtracks to an RPG on the original PlayStation. Naturally, the music would be excellent.
However, INTERmission does no go as far as it could have, and it’s probably due to the DLC being so short, and not having a lot to work with in terms of emotion and scenes. The vanilla game had a fun side activity where Cloud could collect music CDs from certain NPCs, and the music would always be unique and rearranged interpretations of classic Final Fantasy VII songs.
Regretfully, INTERmission has nothing like this, and misses the chance to continue this activity. Not only did the collectible discs have really creative takes on the beloved tracks; but there was also custom album art for each disc, making them all the more special and interesting.
Even more worrying is what will be cut in future installments. Fort Condor is an actual location in the world of Final Fantasy VII, but in Remake, it exists as a board game. Does this mean the location only exists as this mini game now? The real Fort Condor was a place where a major event took place, and this could mean further story revisionism as this remake continues to unfurl itself.
When Final Fantasy XV got its DLC, it established a terrible precedent. Square Enix could release sloppy, incomplete stories, and try to fix things up later. Final Fantasy XV never got all of its DLC to fully explain its story, and now Final Fantasy VII Remake is beginning to follow suit. Can this story be realistically retold with modern technology in our lifetime?
For $19.99 USD, there is not enough here to make Final Fantasy VII Remake: Intergrade – Episode: INTERmission worth it. Yuffie is incredibly fun to play as, and has so much utility on the battlefield; but her time in the sun is extremely short lived. The bonus scene at the end is not worth the the price of admission, and will only frustrate fans of the real Final Fantasy VII.
Final Fantasy VII Remake: Intergrade – Episode: INTERmission was reviewed on PlayStation 5 using a review copy purchased by Nichegamer. You can find additional information about Niche Gamer’s review/ethics policy here.