Alongside Intergrade—Final Fantasy VII Remake’s PS5 upgrade—comes Episode: INTERmission. INTERmission is a separate DLC focused on Yuffie. Though it’s set in the middle of the main game, it plays an important role in the story at large by introducing one of the main protagonists. I’ll avoid major story spoilers, however, I will discuss late-game things that were already revealed in official trailers. Reader discretion is advised.
I’ve been a fan of the original Final Fantasy VII for nearly twenty years, and Yuffie has been one of my favorite characters practically since the beginning. Recruiting her is the first thing I do in the original game after leaving Kalm. So when I discovered that she would be the focus of this DLC, I couldn’t wait to play it. There are a ton of points I want to hit, so without further ado, let’s get into this.
Violence: Just like in the base game, the combat is stylized, with no blood or gore. However, there is some blood splatter in a cutscene.
Language: There is considerably less language than in the main game. You will still hear s***, d***, a**, a**h***, b*****d, and the Lord’s name taken in vain, just a bit more infrequently.
Sexual Content: A few characters, Yuffie included, wear outfits exposing a lot of skin. A couple of characters mention how Wall Market has “adult entertainment.”
Illicit Substances: Several characters talk about alcohol in reference to a bar called “The Happy Turtle.” However, there is no depiction of alcohol itself or drinking. Additionally, songs that play during a side mission have lyrics about partying and getting drunk at The Happy Turtle.
Spiritual Content: There is significantly less spiritual content than in the main game. The most I could identify was that Yuffie sometimes mentions “his providence” in battle. However, it’s unclear who she’s talking about. I don’t recall seeing the whispers of fate at all in the story, however, they may show up once or twice.
Positive Themes: Characters are willing to risk their lives to help others.
INTERmission wastes no time getting you into the action. At the title screen, the game warns you that there are no explanations of the combat mechanics and recommends that you finish the main game first. During the beginning battles, it does give you a few hints about Yuffie’s fighting style. Aside from that, though, it wisely chooses to jump into the story instead of explaining combat mechanics that players should already be familiar with.
The combat is essentially the same as the main game. However, there are a lot of nuances to Yuffie’s style that make fighting a lot of fun. Yuffie has two primary modes of attack: standard and ninjutsu. Standard is exactly how it sounds; she moves in close to the enemy and attacks with her shuriken.
Ninjutsu is where the fun really starts. When you hit Triangle, Yuffie throws her shuriken, and it stays alongside the enemy for a short time, damaging them repeatedly. While Yuffie is without her weapon, she will use magic from a distance. Its basic form is non-elemental, but you can use an ATB gauge segment to change it to be either fire, ice, lightning, or wind. This is a great advantage, as there is no need to have any of the corresponding Materia equipped. It’s completely ability-based.
The game also gives you a head start on levels, with Yuffie and Sonon both starting in the 20s. Materia also starts at level two, so right away you have the option to use magic like Fira and Cura. The weapon upgrade system is exactly the same, and there are two new weapons for each character to find.
In the original Final Fantasy VII, Yuffie is a powerhouse. She is still powerful in INTERmission, and is extra fast on top of it. Once you get the hang of her fighting style, you can make quick work of many enemies. Then, once Sonon joins the party, things start getting really good. He will auto-cure Yuffie as well as himself if either’s HP gets low. If Yuffie is KO’d, he uses his ability Self-Sacrifice to revive her at the cost of his own health. It knocks him out, but all of his HP transfers to Yuffie. Of course, if he also has low HP, then Yuffie only gets a little, so you’ll need to heal as quickly as possible. Finally, pressing L2 has Yuffie and Sonon synergize their attacks, which adds yet another dynamic to the mix. Two of Yuffie’s ATB abilities, Art of War and Windstorm, have increased power when synergized.
There are at least two new Materia: the summon Ramuh, and Ninja Cannonball. Ramuh, of course, deals lightning damage to your opponents. As with other summons in the game, you have to defeat him in battle to unlock him. In the second quarter of chapter one, you have the option to find and talk to Chadley, and he sets you up in the virtual battle simulator. Getting Ramuh is tough, but luckily it’s also optional. He is a great help in a few boss battles, though, so it’s worth taking the time to get him.
Ninja Cannonball is fun, but not incredibly useful. Yuffie jumps onto Sonon’s staff, and he launches her forward at a nearby enemy. You can only do it while synergized, and it has a short range. It’s a decent way to hit an enemy as long as you are close enough, but the sheer spectacle of the attack is why I use it occasionally.
The newly added photo mode is incredibly limited, unfortunately. You can’t really move away from Yuffie, and zooming in and out only goes so far. There are also certain points where it’s unavailable altogether. I would have preferred for it to be as diverse as Ghost of Tsushima’s photo mode. However, those gripes fade from view when it comes to the cutscenes, which is where it really shines. If you time it just right, you have the potential to get some incredible screenshots.
Fort Condor is now a mostly optional minigame. You have to play one round when it’s introduced, but any further games are avoidable if desired. I must say I find it a little upsetting that such a major part of the original story has been reduced to a minigame. I can’t help but wonder how it will affect future installments. That said, I enjoy Fort Condor for what it is.
I’m a sucker for tower defense games, and Fort Condor adds an offense-based spin. Before every game, you get to choose which units will comprise your loadout. There are three types of units, each with their own emblem: offense (sword), defense (shield), and ranged (bow). Each unit costs a certain number of ATB gauges, which builds over time. Stronger units have a higher ATB cost. The goal is to knock out your opponent’s headquarters and outposts, while defending your own. There is a time limit for each round, and if the time runs out, then whichever side has knocked out more outposts wins.
There is a rock, paper, scissors aspect to the combat. As units meet in battle, one may have an advantage over the other. Sword beats bow, shield beats sword, and bow beats shield. As you obtain more units—either from winning matches, buying them from shops, or finding them in chests—you can more easily select the right units to counter the opponent’s loadout and give yourself the advantage.
Most boards have Materia, which can be the difference between a win or loss. The Materia in the loadout I typically use has one cure and one fire. Unfortunately, you can only use each one once per game. But there were times I may have lost were it not for that cure. I like the dynamic the fire adds, especially when it allows you to really pummel the lower level opponents.
There is also a side quest related to The Happy Turtle, a famous bar originating from Wutai. Your goal is to retrieve six Happy Turtle flyers and bring them to Old Snapper, a man advertising the bar while dressed as a turtle. Each flyer has a unique challenge you have to overcome to get it. The reward for finishing the side quest is well worth the trouble.
The soundtrack is spectacular. I believe that a soundtrack either improves a game (such as Stardew Valley) or harms it (see: Story of Seasons: Pioneers of Olive Town). There are eighty-six songs in total, ranging from upbeat and fun to calm and emotional. “Nero, the Sable” is easily my favorite track, though “Chorus of Pain, Dance of Death” is a close second.
The events of the story are contained within a few chapters of the main game, starting in chapter seven’s wake. You can find and talk to a couple of familiar faces at the beginning. We get a never-before-seen glimpse of the Avalanche crew as they wrestle with what had just happened at the reactor. It’s only a couple of minutes long, but it’s a nice tie-in to the main game.
The narrative’s course has everything you can expect from a Final Fantasy title, just condensed into a few hours. There are funny moments, quiet emotional scenes, and epic battles. Perhaps the best part is that even though it’s a small piece of the larger Remake, INTERmission is a full story in its own right, with a satisfying and complete three-act structure.
As the story progresses, we get to learn more about Sonon’s backstory and motivation. While the other new characters introduced are likable enough, Sonon gets more attention. I found it to be very impressive that they were able to naturally develop his character so much in such a short time. In the scope of the main game and this DLC, Sonon just might be my second favorite new character, behind Madam M, and just barely edging out Andrea Rhodea.
The story overall is great, but the part I loved the most appears in the DLC’s reveal trailer. Decently into the game, you encounter Shinra’s secret military, Deepground. Deepground originally appeared in Dirge of Cerberus: Final Fantasy VII—my favorite PS2-era game—so the implications for the future of FFVIIR are interesting, to say the least. Looking back, the main game has subtle breadcrumbs of foreshadowing in the second half of the game, and INTERmission picks them up. In addition to paying off the main game’s setups, INTERmission simultaneously plants larger setups that will (ideally) have huge payoffs in future installments. The future of the Remake is exciting indeed.
Speaking of the future, INTERmission also comes with an expanded ending for the main game. After defeating the final boss, the player is treated to a cinematic that is around thirteen minutes total. That includes the wrap-up of INTERmission, so the expanded ending is roughly six minutes. The scene further sets up Part Two, making it the icing on an already delicious cake.
However, I have two primary complaints. The first is major, while the second one is more of a nitpick. The PS5 exclusivity means a lot of fans will miss out on this experience for a while. Worse still is that they won’t get to see the expanded ending without finding the video online. At the time of this review, the PS5 is still a royal pain to get, so too many fans will be locked out of the DLC for reasons outside their control.
The minor complaint is the length. The story’s pacing is well done and doesn’t overstay its welcome. But personally, I would have welcomed at least a couple more hours with it. If you play straight through the story, it takes around four hours. If you throw in the side missions and all of the Fort Condor opponents, you might be able to extend it to five or six hours. Granted, there are collectibles that you can only find in hard mode, as well as more difficult Fort Condor opponents—also in hard mode—to challenge. The DLC has high replayability for me, so I’ll probably spend another dozen or so hours on it at least. I just wish I had more time with it during that first playthrough.
INTERmission is a splendiferous example of DLC done right. It has fun gameplay, great new characters, and enough story setups for the next two or three Remake installments. If you enjoyed the base game—and are able to get your hands on a PS5—you would do yourself a favor to give INTERmission a shot.
The Bottom Line
INTERmission is a tremendous but short addendum that sets up the next installment with many exciting possibilities.