The PS5 upgrade for Final Fantasy 7 Remake just dropped and while the glorious 4K/60fps visuals are certainly a sight to behold, and the photomode alone almost makes me want to replay the entire game from start to finish, it’s the new DLC episode that pulled at my curiosity the most. This review will cover only the Episode Intermission content, but we’ll also dip into a few of the PS5 enhancements along the way.
If you missed my PS4 review for Final Fantasy 7 Remake last year, you can READ IT HERE.
I even named it my 2020 Game Of The Year!
In this DLC episode that takes place between the bombing of the first Midgar reactor and the crash of the sector 7 plate on the slums, we control Yuffie Kisaragi. The teenage (not quite mutant) ninja (not quite turtle) from Wutai. She’s invading Midgar to help out Avalanche and stick it to Shinra by stealing their most powerful materia.
She doesn’t get to join the main party of FF7R, but we do get help from a fellow Wutai ninja; Sonon. He’s a brand new character but he’s likeable, has enough backstory so we get to know about his motivations (but I won’t go into spoiler territory here) and his interactions with Yuffie are lighthearted and fun.
Yuffie controls amazing in combat and feels somewhat similar to Tifa in how quick she dishes out a flurry of kicks and punches, but she also has her signature four-point giant shuriken which she can throw to deal significant (elemental) damage from afar. It’s already a blast to play with her, but it gets even more fun when Soron joins the party.
We don’t actually get to control Sonon in combat, but we can issue commands to him and more importantly: synchronise his movements to Yuffie’s for some pretty cool team attacks.
The particles explode on the screen like fireworks and the action is blistering fast, especially now that the game runs in 60fps (in performance mode). FF7R Intergrade looks magical in motion and the character animations are deserving of the utmost praise, especially if you spot the smallest details in how they evade enemy attacks or react to each others presence on the battlefield.
It’s not the “most” beautiful game out there, even though it’s gorgeous by my standards, but it’s still noticeable how some surfaces have worse textures than others, like steel gates or slum walls, and when you spot those it does feel like a downer, even though the effect is quickly forgiven and forgotten. But yes, before you ask, they did fix the infamous door.
There is a PS5-related nitpick I do feel warrants bringing up here, and that’s the arduous task of getting to play the PS5 enhanced version if you owned the PS4 version of FF7R. Here is the flow I had to go through.
- Install the PS4 version of the game. It didn’t have the option to transfer save data yet.
- Install an 80GB update for the PS4 version, which now allows the transfer.
- I also installed the 10GB DLC at this point + some extras
- Install a ~90GB PS5 version (which was almost hidden in the PS5 game hub)
- Boot the PS5 game and try to start the DLC, a warning popped up that I needed to download it again
- Install what seems like the full 90GB of the main game again
It feels like there are a few too many steps in this process, and while I appreciate the save file transfer option, it’s weird we can’t just import it from a local save file or a cloud version. What IS nice though, is that all the achievements for the base game transfer over, so if you platinumed the PS4 version of FF7R, you can sit back and see the trophies pop one after the other.
Speaking of the base game, you’ll be happy to hear that a lot of fan-favourite characters make a return here, even though it’s only a brief appearance. Like our speed-demon buddy Roche.
They serve as more than just short cameos and act as opponents for the brand new Fort Condor minigame. Players of the original Final Fantasy VII may recall this part of the game where you needed to find off the attacking Shinra soldiers. Here it’s turned into a popular board game that you can play against people spread across the Sector 7 slums.
It may not be the most tactical game out there, but it is a whole lot of fun. You get to place pawns on the battlefield by spending points from your ATB bar. Wait longer and you can place more powerful pieces, but you’ll leave yourself open to the opponent’s assault in the meantime.
The goal of the game is to destroy the opponent’s central Condor tower (think of it like their King, in chess) while making sure your own is protected. It’s fun, it looks nice enough and there are multiple levels of characters to face and even a grandmaster to beat (which will reward you with rare materia)
And that’s not the only minigame you’ll get to play. The box buster minigame from FF7R makes a return in the DLC as well. It’s significantly more challenging this time around, especially if you’re going for the 50.000 points ultimate reward and you’ll have to carefully plot your route, attacks and target the boxes that give you more time first and foremost.
I especially liked how nimble Yuffie moved across the world, she can ninja-run on the sides of some walls and she can use her trusty shuriken to hit far-off targets, like buttons and levers that help solve some minor exploration puzzles.
Yuffie’s portrayal feels spot on. The way she acts as a young teen that wants to be treated like an adult, small bits of lore like her handing out da-chao nuts to everyone, breaking their teeth and jaw because they’re not Wutaians who’ve grown accustomed to them, and her giddy demeanour even when facing formidable foes. Her English voice actor is also perfectly cast in my opinion. She even joins Barret in the ultimate charm-offence: chanting the Final Fantasy victory fanfare after some battles.
The best part of the game is sadly also the one I don’t feel comfortable writing about. There are some spoilers here that I’d rather avoid, especially for people who’ve played Dirge of Cerberus and can’t wait to see some of that game’s characters make a return.
And even more importantly, after the credits roll on this ~4-hour adventure, you’ll be treated to some cutscenes that stitch together the ending of FF7R part 1 and the upcoming part 2. Just take it from me that these are both heartwarming but also exciting enough that you won’t be able to wait for the next part to drop.
Now, after beating the DLC, that doesn’t mean the fun has to end. You can still go into a NG+ to further level your characters and weapons, try the hard mode if you didn’t already, fight an optional boss (in chapter 17 of the main game) or go for the title of Grandmaster in Fort Condor (if you somehow skipped past that). I would have appreciated an option to simply dive back into the slums in Chapter 1 without having to redo all the story content though.
FF7R Episode Intermission is a perfect content drop to tide people over for the long wait until part 2 will release. It shows us some of the events from the main game from a different perspective, lets us play with a completely new combat style, has plenty of side content to keep busy with and even teases some major stuff for the sequel. I’ve really only got one complaint and that’s that I wish it lasted longer and had a bit more story content.
*Disclaimer: Reviewed on PS5. Review copy provided by the publisher.
Want to see the game in action? Here’s the complete first chapter. (beware of spoilers)