Final Fantasy VII Remake Episode Intermission Review
Final Fantasy VII Remake was far from perfect, but it’s also pretty fair to say that it’s a remarkable piece of work. The task it had before it was so insurmountable as to appear impossible - and yet its developers somehow managed to deftly thread the needle, simultaneously creating a satisfying remake while also not betraying Final Fantasy’s dedication to reinvention - in this instance finding a balance in a generous interpretation of the word ‘remake’. It still holds up one year on.
For those who enjoyed the original, there’s now a little bit extra to enjoy in the form of Episode Intermission, a new story episode included with new boxed copies of the PS5 upgraded version of FF7 Remake, or available as a DLC for those who partake in the free upgrade from the last-generation version of the game. For the record, the new content is not available in the original PS4 version of the game.
In many ways, Intermission follows the same template as the rest of FF7 Remake, pitting nostalgia-bait against something all-new. The nostalgia-stoking element here is the lead character - Yuffie Kisaragi, beloved optional party member in the original FF7 who is essentially guaranteed a more significant role in future installments of the remake.
Yuffie is familiar, but the story here is new, concocted for the Remake. What’s on offer is a heady and impressive case of asset reuse, with many existing elements from the main FF7 Remake retooled and recontextualized into a two-episode DLC that should take between three and six hours to finish depending on how much of a completionist you are.
In the first chapter, Yuffie finds herself in the semi open-world Sector 7 Slums area from the earlier chapters of the game. You’ll visit many of the same surrounding areas Cloud did while tackling two fairly uninspired side quests in the form of a tournament playing the satisfying and straightforward new mini-game Fort Condor, plus a basic fetch quest. To advance the story, you explore an all-new dungeon area. The second chapter takes you to Shinra HQ, where you delve into new areas within the building, though there’s some canny asset reuse from the Shinra HQ sections of the core game.
The story on offer here is interesting, but nothing too revelatory. It’s difficult to say if any of the events here will have a major bearing on further games in the FF7 Remake series, but it seems relatively unlikely. What lore nerds will get here is an interesting tease at the state of the nation of Wutai in the Remake universe, with the status quo seemingly quite altered when compared to the original FF7. There’s also a deluge of references to Dirge of Cerberus, the PS2 FF7 spin-off starring Vincent in which Yuffie had a significant role. Indeed, one of the main, new bosses of the episode is from that game, while another gets added to the main game’s combat simulator as an uber-hard challenge boss. Other post-game challenges are also added specifically for Yuffie to tackle.
For those focused on the ongoing remake story, besides getting to know Yuffie there is an ending CG movie that does have repercussions, acting as a short continuation from the main game’s ending, serving to help set up the next part of the adventure. If you don’t have access to a PS5 or don’t plan to buy this DLC, you’d be well-served to at least look those scenes up on YouTube.
Between the story scenes, you’ll of course be playing, and the good news is that Yuffie continues FF7 Remake’s streak of creating interesting characters with unique move sets. In FF7R I felt Cloud was by far the most interesting to play as, followed by Tifa, and with the other pair trailing well behind; Yuffie is easily as interesting to play with in combat as Cloud.
Her gimmick is that she can fight with or without her oversized Shuriken weapon. Attacking with it leads to standard physical attacks, while tossing it away with Triangle will make Yuffie’s normal attack instead a long-distance magical assault, while the Shuriken wreaks havoc off in the distance, eventually returning. The magic attacks can be augmented into one of four elements with an ATB-powered skill, but it leaves Yuffie as a character that can curiously rip out elemental attacks with casual ease and without spending ATB charges or MP. Add to that her combination attacks with non-playable guest character Sonon and she feels actually a little dramatically overpowered - though the boss encounters here are similarly souped-up to balance matters out.
Indeed, how fun and just plain good Yuffie is makes me wonder how she’ll slot into Remake 2, however - if she plays as good there as she does here, she’ll never leave my party - which feels appropriate, as she was always a staple for me in the PS1 game.
As far as Yuffie as a character goes, she’s a wonderful addition here, and the DLC episode proves a wonderful introduction to the character. Experienced hands will enjoy the fan service, and the five or six people who loved the dreadful Compilation dreck that was Dirge of Cerberus will find even more to love. Those unfamiliar will still find much to enjoy, however, with Yuffie’s spunky personality that made her so beloved in the original leaping to life thanks to sharp writing, strong localization, and excellent voice work.
Intermission is ultimately both inoffensive and enjoyable. I’m not quite sure why it’s PS5 exclusive - nothing in it is mindblowing, though FF7 Remake’s main cast character models continue to be what feels like an industry best. Rather, it’s a fun little jaunt most appropriate for those who already played and enjoyed FF7 Remake. If the idea of replaying the game is too much for you, this might be exactly enough ‘more’ FF7 Remake for now, a year from release and with any sequel probably a good way away. If you’re already planning a replay, chances are you already intend to play this. If you haven’t played the original, you should experience that first.
The DLC episode has its flaws. It’s overwhelmingly linear, and when it does set you loose it’s in a familiar area with a smattering of very basic side content. Fort Condor is fun, but lacks some depth. And towards the end, the narrative gives in to some of the most Kingdom Heartsian of predilections that I honestly find not a brilliant fit for FF7’s universe.
Even on PS5, there are strange problems with unevenness - beautiful visual marvels of world design or character modelling put next to stuff that wouldn’t have felt all that out of place on PS3. Textures are now sharper on things like the Slum's trash piles and other background minutae, but that then only serves to further expose low-poly models and geometry that look out of place next to as lavish and detailed a character as Yuffie. The same is true for how Yuffie interacts with a mix of characters - some as lovingly detailed as her, others looking like they're on vacation from a much worse looking game, bumbling their way through scenes with the same selection of basic canned animations.
All of these things are also areas where the original FF7 Remake suffered - and so it is perhaps not a surprise to see its DLC stumble in the same ways. In every way, Intermission is simply more of the same - just with an exciting new character to get to grips with.
That makes its quality roughly equivalent to the main game - which of course ended up one of RPG Site’s favorite games of 2020. That’s about as strong a recommendation as they come - though understand that because of how samey it ultimately is, it isn’t an essential must-play. If you’re stressing because you can’t find a PS5 and are worried about seriously missing out, you shouldn’t - you should be able to head on into FF7 Remake part 2 whenever it arrives with or without experiencing this fun but missable add-on. If you have a PS5 and couldn’t get enough FF7 Remake, however, this will prove to be a thrilling extra couple of hours.