It’s fair to say that last year’s Final Fantasy 7 Remake turned out better than most people would have expected. Remaking a beloved classic is always tricky, especially in the manner that FF7 Remake is going it, while Square Enix and Final Fantasy both also have a knack for disappointing fans. In short: people were nervousness- which, of course, proved to be blessedly unfounded. Now, Final Fantasy 7 Remake Intergrade brings the excellent remake to the PS5, and it improves what was already a great game.
The biggest draw of Intergrade is, of course, Episode INTERmission, a meaty new expansion (which has to be purchased separately if you upgrade to Intergrade from the PS4 version of the game for free). Rather than following the tale of Cloud and co, INTERmission puts the focus on Yuffie- an odd choice, given that she was an optional character in the original Final Fantasy 7, and hardly a fan-favourite. But it’s a choice that pays off. Episode INTERmission does an excellent job of introducing Yuffie, fleshing out her backstory and personality, and setting her up as an important part of the universe going forward. Her childlike innocence and bubbly personality make her easy to root for, and by the time I rolled the credits on the DLC, I couldn’t wait to see her meet Cloud, Aerith, Tifa, Barret, and Red XIII.
"Final Fantasy 7 Remake Intergrade brings the excellent remake to the PS5, and it improves what was already a great game."
Joining Yuffie is Sonon, a fellow Wutai ninja. Sonon is a much more serious personality, and his calm and level-headed persona serves as the perfect foil for Yuffie’s boisterous charm. He, too, gets enough of his backstory revealed to make him an instantly likeable character. Yuffie and Sonon make for a great duo, and watching them interact is constantly enjoyable. Though they start out more or less as strangers to each other, by the time Episode INTERmission ends, they’ve formed a believable friendship.
The story told through Yuffie and Sonon is also a solid one- not immensely crucial, but nonetheless highly recommended to those who played Remake and are invested in its narrative. Episode INTERmission sees the two Wutai ninjas heading to Midgar and working with members of Avalanche to infiltrate Shinra HQ and steal the ultimate materia. The story runs concurrently with parts of Final Fantasy 7 Remake, and sees Yuffie almost-but-not-quite crossing paths with Remake’s main cast on a couple of occasions, while also pulling in elements from other games in the Final Fantasy 7 universe, Dirge of Cerberus most of all. All in all, INTERmission not only fleshes out the base game’s story in smart ways, it also sets up interesting things for the sequel… which is all I can say without heading into spoiler territory.
Of course, it’s not just the story where Yuffie shines- she’s also an excellent character to play as. Combat was easily one of Final Fantasy 7 Remake’s biggest strengths, and the same is true for Episode INTERmission as well. Yuffie is equipped with a massive shuriken that doubles as a melee and ranged weapon, and those two facets are implemented brilliantly. Combining melee attacks and ranged attacks makes for some gleefully flashy attacks and combos, while the ATB system is, of course, as excellent as ever. Meanwhile, thanks to Yuffie’s greater mobility and versatility, aerial combat is also significantly better in Episode INTERmission than it was in Remake. Another new mechanic is synergizing, which sees Yuffie and Sonon working in conjunction to let lose special and more powerful variants of her abilities at the cost of ATB bar for both characters. Synergy attacks throw an interesting new element into encounters, and contribute significantly towards making combat that much more varied and dynamic.
"It’s not just the story where Yuffie shines- she’s also an excellent character to play as. Combat was easily one of Final Fantasy 7 Remake’s biggest strengths, and the same is true for Episode INTERmission as well."
If I have one gripe with the combat though, it’s that you cannot take control of Sonon. You can still issue commands to him, and he’s part of the synergy attacks, of course, but I loved constantly switching between characters in Final Fantasy 7 Remake so that I could always ensure a steady stream of ATB bars to use, and it’s just a tad disappointing that Episode INTERmission doesn’t let me do that. Even so, there are enough memorable combat encounters here – especially the boss fights, which are typically amazing – that I could almost overlook that flaw for the most part.
Outside of combat, Episode INTERmission has a little bit of side content on offer as well. Chapter 1 of the DLC is set in the Sector 7 slums, an area that those who’ve played the base game will be more than familiar with. On top of being able to freely explore the slums and its surrounding areas, here, you can also hunt down collectibles in the form of pamphlets, which is about as fun as it sounds, and you can play Fort Condor, a minigame that combines tower defence, tower offence, collectible card game mechanics, and real-time strategy. Fort Condor is surprisingly fun, and though I can’t say I was compelled to track down every single Fort Condor match that’s available in the game, the matches I did play were quite enjoyable.
All in all, Episode INTERmission is a pretty meat new chunk of content. On normal difficulty and with quite a bit of exploring, I finished its two chapters in just a little under five hours, but I know that if I had explored even more thoroughly, tried to get all the collectibles, and played all the Fort Condor matches, it could have taken me about six or seven hours to finish the DLC. For those who’re starting for more Final Fantasy 7 Remake but can’t wait until the next instalment comes out (and who knows when that’ll be), Episode INTERmission is an excellent stopgap.
"For those who’re starting for more Final Fantasy 7 Remake but can’t wait until the next instalment comes out (and who knows when that’ll be), Episode INTERmission is an excellent stopgap."
Of course, Final Fantasy 7 Remake Intergrade has other enhancements on top of the added content as well. Lighting has been improved, load times are much quicker, environments are more detailed, and yes, Cloud’s door has finally been fixed. Meanwhile, Intergrade also has two graphics modes, one that favours 4K resolution, and one that favours 60 FPS gameplay. For my money, better performance is always the way to go, especially for a fast-paced action-oriented game like this one, and 60 FPS does indeed do wonders for Final Fantasy 7 Remake.
Final Fantasy 7 Remake Intergrade is, all in all, an excellent enhancement of a great game, thanks to its technical improvements and a solid and meaty new chunk of content with Episode INTERmission. Those who haven’t played Remake yet (and have access to a PS5) should have no doubt that this is the best way to experience the game. Meanwhile, for returning fans, Episode INTERmission is the perfect excuse to jump back into Midgar and make life miserable for Shinra as a giant shuriken-wielding teenage ninja.
This game was reviewed on the PlayStation 5.
Yuffie is an excellent character; Sonon is pretty good also; Solid story in Episode INTERmission; Combat with Yuffie is a ton of fun; Fort Condor is an enjoyable little minigame; Episode INTERmission is 4-7 hours long; Noticeable visual upgrades; 60 FPS option.
Can't control Sonon in combat.