Yuffie Shines in Her Dedicated Story DLC
When Final Fantasy VII Remake released in 2020, its reception came as a welcome surprise. Between an underwhelming FFXIII, a messy FFXV, and weighty expectations for a Midgar reunion, it felt like Square Enix couldn’t possibly deliver on the promise for FFVIIR. Yet, here we are.
As fans wait for part two of the Remake saga, Square Enix dropped yet another pleasant surprise in the form of Episode INTERmission. Part of the PS5-enhanced Final Fantasy VII Remake Intergrade, INTERmission provides a two-chapter break from the escapades of Cloud and the Avalanche crew. And it does so by giving players control of a fan-favorite: Yuffie, Wutai’s proudest ninja.
At $20 (or $70 with purchase of Intergrade), INTERmission may seem like an expensive excursion. Thankfully, Yuffie’s story is worth the asking price, providing new combat mechanics and mini-games across a generous seven to nine hours. It’s not without its faults, but those hankering for more VII Remake will find a lot to love here.
Wutai’s Greatest Ninja, Reporting for Duty!
Whether you’ve played the original Final Fantasy VII or not, there’s a lot to like about Yuffie Kisaragi. She hails from the land of Wutai, a once-independent nation that fell to Shinra during the Wutai War, which took place prior to the events of FFVII. A passionate ninja, cunning thief, and dedicated materia hunter, Yuffie longs to restore Wutai to its former glory, and harbors deep resentment for Shinra and the people of Midgar.
In the original game, Yuffie served as an optional character players could recruit only after leaving Midgar. Yet, in a surprise even to VII veterans, INTERmission has her arriving in Midgar, prior to the collapse of the Sector 7 plate. Her goal: to infiltrate Shinra and steal a piece of powerful, top-secret materia.
Same Yuffie, All-New Adventure
As with several parts of Final Fantasy VII Remake, INTERmission is shaking up what we know (or think we know) about Cloud’s iconic journey. Yuffie’s DLC is completely new territory for VII, introducing a new storyline and characters. The most notable addition is Sonon Kusakabe, a fellow Wutaian who served under Yuffie’s father during the Wutai War. Together, Yuffie and Sonon must navigate the Sector 7 slums, coordinating with a sect of Avalanche to gain access to Shinra HQ—and the materia inside.
The DLC provides some welcome color for Yuffie, who played more of a backseat role in the original VII compared to the likes of Cloud, Tifa, and Aerith. Her relationship with Sonon adds a new dimension to her character, thanks both to their shared past and their current mission. One particularly fun throughline: Despite Sonon being her senior in age, Yuffie has him beat on the chain of Wutaian command. Sonon regularly calls the teenage ninja “Boss,” despite being old enough to drink (and do some recon in Wall Market).
At roughly one-fifth the length of VII Remake, INTERmission doesn’t carry the same heft as the base game’s massive campaign. Still, with two chapters, multiple location changes, and a surprising number of side missions and distractions, it’s just lengthy enough to feel substantial. There’s a beginning, middle, and end to Yuffie and Sonon’s story, and by the end I grew to really care about the unlikely duo.
A Potent One-Two Punch
Most of Yuffie and Sonon’s development occurs not through INTERmission’s story, but through its combat. While Final Fantasy VII Remake had players switching between Cloud, Barret, Tifa, and Aerith, INTERmission puts Yuffie at the heart of the action.
The ninja brings her own moveset and abilities to encounters. Her basic combo centers around her shuriken, which she can use to do battle at close range. Hold the attack button, however, and Yuffie will bounce backwards, creating distance between you and your foes. Tap the special button, and she’ll throw her shuriken, opening up a set of ninjutsu attacks you can use from afar. You can even activate various elemental ninjutsu, allowing you to exploit enemy weaknesses.
Adding another wrinkle to combat is Sonon. You can’t control him directly, but can issue commands to him. He comes equipped with some of FFVIIR’s more gambit-like materia, such as Auto-Cure and Provoke, ensuring a crude, if not effective, version of AI. In addition, you can tap the left trigger to sync Yuffie and Sonon’s movements. Doing so slows down Sonon’s ATB bar, but yields powerful tag-team attacks that’ll quickly stagger the enemy.
The Joys of Combat
There’s a definite rhythm to Yuffie’s play style. Unlike Cloud and Tifa, who are physical fighters, or Barret and Aerith, who fight from range, Yuffie flows between both styles. Given she’s the only character you control and you’re no longer swapping between party members, this altered design philosophy makes sense.
It took me a bit of practice to balance Yuffie’s attacks, Sonon’s commands, and the pair’s tag-team abilities. But once I got the hang of it all, Yuffie became one of my favorite characters to do battle with.
It’s a shame, then, that her combat style is locked to INTERmission’s campaign. A feature that unlocks her and Sonon for use in the main game would have been a great bonus. Though, I’m sure balancing that would have been a nightmare for the developers.
As is, this is a great teaser for Yuffie’s character in Final Fantasy VII Remake part two. It also helps that, like VII Remake before it, Episode INTERmission isn’t a pushover. Even on normal difficulty, the game’ll challenge you, particularly with some of its later encounters. There’s plenty of incentive to go back on hard mode and put your skills to the test.
How ‘Bout Some Fort Condor?
Helping to flesh out Episode INTERmission is an impressive amount of side content. The DLC crams several activities into its two episodes to keep you busy, from a new take on the whack-a-box mini-game to the addition of a Ramuh VR mission. (Tip: Definitely grab Ramuh when you can in Chapter One. You’ll need all the help you can get for Chapter Two.)
The main side-gig, by far, is the new Fort Condor mini-game. In the original FFVII, Fort Condor was an optional location you visited in your travels. There, you were tasked with defending the fort from Shinra, in the form of an RTS-styled mini-game.
INTERmission carries over the spirit of the original mini-game, but changes up its “flavor” considerably. In Remake, Fort Condor is a board game the people of Midgar, Wutai, and presumably other nations play to pass the time. Throughout Chapter One, you can challenge various people around the Sector 7 slums to a friendly game—à la Triple Triad or Gwent—as you work your way up the competitive ladder.
In terms of gameplay, Fort Condor plays essentially like Clash Royale. You build a deck of cards, ranging from infantry to turrets and barracks. You spend ATB meter (i.e., elixir) to deploy these cards, with the goal of destroying up to three enemy towers. The side that eliminates these towers first—or maintains a lead when the timer hits zero—wins.
While not nearly as complex as Supercell’s hit mobile game, Fort Condor is surprisingly robust. There are close to 20 different units, and a variety of deck archetypes you can build. As with INTERmission’s combat, it’s a shame Square Enix couldn’t implement something for replayability, such as online matchmaking. I can only hope the mini-game makes the cut for part two of the Remake, as it certainly earns that right.
While there’s a lot of good within Episode INTERmission, it’s not a flawless performance.
Despite some solid character moments, the DLC’s plot falls flat. Yuffie and Sonon’s mission adds virtually nothing to the overall narrative of FFVII Remake, and feels more like a Macguffin search than anything else. The story does add a bit of context to Midgar’s treatment of the people of Wutai, but don’t go in expecting any massive revelations.
There are also a few moments that gave me pause. Some, like Yuffie’s unbuttoned shorts, are direct carry-overs from the original game that I wish had stayed in the past. Others, namely a few late-story interactions between Yuffie and Sonon, felt wildly inconsistent with the characters INTERmission had taken care to build up over the course of several hours.
Considering the otherwise excellent package, it’s easy to overlook these qualms. But if Square Enix decides to invest in future episodic DLC—which I hope they do—hopefully they can build on these faults.
Despite some story misgivings, Episode INTERmission makes for an exceptional piece of DLC. It adds thrilling combat, a fun new character in Sonon, and Final Fantasy VII Remake’s best mini-game to date. It also includes a few bonus scenes that—without giving anything away—fans of the base game will want to watch.
At $20, Episode INTERmission isn’t the cheapest proposition, but it’s certainly a worthwhile one. If you’re lucky enough to have a PlayStation 5, do yourself a favor and give it a go. Yuffie fans, rejoice!
Enjoy our Episode INTERmission review? Check out our continued coverage of Final Fantasy VII Remake here.