Final Fantasy 7 Remake Intergrade Review: Yuffie Saves the Day
Final Fantasy 7 Remake Intergrade is an expansion focused on what happens behind the scenes when Cloud and Avalanche are busy trying to take Shinra down. It’s brief and revolves around a character you could completely miss in the original Final Fantasy 7, and it might be tempting to pass it off as a missable bit of fluff.
Don't do that. Intergrade is even better than Final Fantasy 7 Remake and, aside from being vital to understanding how Square Enix will proceed with future chapters, it's a serious contender for one of the year’s best games so far.
Final Fantasy 7 Remake Intergrade Review: Yuffie Saves the Day
Technically, it’s Intermission Episode Yuffie, but for simplicity’s sake, we’ll just call it Intergrade.
FF7 Intergrade starts with Yuffie infiltrating Midgar to steal Shinra’s ultimate Materia. There’s just a handful of tutorials, so despite being able to start Intergrade from the main FF7 Remake menu, it assumes you remember how combat and everything else works. The tutorials cover Yuffie’s special moves, which we’ll get to in a bit, and they’re mercifully quick and simple to get through.
Intergrade is fairly short, clocking in at maybe four hours or a little more depending on how many quests you undertake, so don’t expect it to retread everywhere Cloud and co. walked in the original Remake.
You’ll begin in the Sector 7 slums shortly after the Mako reactor explosion when everyone’s on edge about the possibility of another war with Wutai. Most of this worry comes from snatches of overheard dialogue, but it’s still good to see Square Enix expanding FF7’s worldbuilding, even if just in subtle ways.
The best part of this expanded focus on the world is Yuffie herself. She’s an optional character in the original game that, despite having important connections to Wutai and the conflict with Midgar, never plays a big role or gets any character development.
With Intergrade’s Yuffie, Square Enix manages to pull off the “spunky, peppy kid” anime trope and make her much more interesting and sympathetic from the moment Intergrade starts — and especially as it draws to a close.
The second half of Intergrade follows Yuffie infiltrating Shinra to find its ultimate weapon in the basement. I won’t spoil anything, but suffice to say good things rarely happen in basements in most stories. Intergrade's is no different.
Remake Chapter 2 could change my mind, but Intergrade shows the narrative team is committed to making Final Fantasy 7 Remake a thoughtful, well-considered story instead of just a flashy bit of nostalgia with some off-the-wall fanservice.
If you’ve played FF7 Remake part one, you know the ending goes completely off the rails in terms of Final Fantasy 7 lore. Intergrade proves that was a good thing on several levels. Nomura and the narrative team completely shattered our expectations for Remake and can now build a new story unencumbered by what we think Final Fantasy 7 should be.
Some of what seemed ridiculous at the end of Remake looks to be setting up some surprisingly interesting and emotional scenarios for later in the series. After finishing Remake and wondering what point these changes could possibly serve, Intergrade has me excited to see how Square Enix changes the story moving forward and, more importantly, how it continues developing FF7’s characters.
The only problem is that the story almost demands familiarity with all of the Final Fantasy 7 spinoffs. Intergrade’s antagonists play a different role than in their source material. While you can still understand their purpose without playing Dirge of Cerberus, the real impact comes from knowing what changes Square Enix is throwing in — something just reading a Wiki doesn’t quite replicate.
Judging from the very spoilery second part of the DLC’s ending, future Remake chapters will continue that trend, which would be fine, except it’s impossible to play most of the spinoffs because they’re locked on dead systems.
Outside the broader story beats, Intergrade is mostly the same as Remake — most of the same summons, the same linear level design, the same quest structure, and the same annoying Chadley. The same-ness you’d expect from DLC, though the continued linearity does make me long for Chapter 2’s (hopefully) more open world.
The Sector 7 slums have a few sidequests that are as mundane as Remake’s in structure but offer a bit more worldbuilding that makes them worthwhile.
One very annoying quest has you finding turtle flyers for a Wutai bar, for example. Frustrating fetch quest that it is, I still appreciate how it explores, if briefly, more of the tension between Midgar and Shinra and what it’s like for Wutai people living in or visiting Midgar.
The Fort Condor mini-game makes a return as an optional quest chain, tasking you with taking on all players in Midgar (or the parts of Midgar you can actually go to) and making Yuffie a champion. It's absolutely worth your time. I never played Fort Condor in original Final Fantasy 7 because I'm perpetually short on cash in RPGs, but it's such a fun, bite-sized strategy game.
Intergrade’s combat improves on Remake’s, making it more strategic and less reliant on spamming normal attacks. In place of Cloud’s normal and operator modes, Yuffie gets long- and short-range attacks with her shuriken. There’s ample opportunity for creating combos with long-range shots and Yuffie’s ninjutsu skills, and combat opens up further with Sonon involved.
You only control Yuffie, but Intergrade adds a synching option where you and Sonon team up for stronger attacks and get better synch abilities to spend the ATB meter on. It’s an excellent system that adds a welcome extra layer of strategy and will hopefully make a return in Chapter 2.
One other thing worth noting is the soundtrack. I didn't think it was possible to make something even better than Remake's soundtrack, and yet here we are. Intergrade's soundtrack is a sweeping, genuinely epic and moving one
From a technical standpoint, Episode Yuffie benefits greatly from the PS5 update. The 60fps framerate in performance mode is smooth, clean, and a substantial upgrade over the original Remake’s 30fps, but that’s just the start.
I can’t speak for the 4K resolution since I don’t have a 4K TV, but the asset enhancement and dynamic lighting are such a massive improvement over the original.
You can see the improvements everywhere in Episode Yuffie, minus a few instances where Yuffie’s Moogle cape has a mind of its own.
However, the biggest upgrades are obviously in the FF7 Remake PS5 version, and you’ll notice them immediately. Lighting is much brighter and more varied, nearly every texture’s been polished and improved, and it almost makes the PS4 version seem like a tech demo.
Final Fantasy 7 Remake Intergrade Review — The Bottom Line
- Strong story and excellent characters
- Admirable worldbuilding that makes good use of Remake's more controversial plot twists
- Slick combat that improves on the base game's even more
- Top-tier soundtrack
- Superb visual upgrade for Intergrade and FF7 Remake on PS5
- Still claustrophobically linear
- A few technical hiccups
- Please make more interesting side quests in Chapter 2
Take the cons above with a grain of salt. As I mentioned before, this is DLC, so expecting it to do anything radically different is just setting yourself up for disappointment. What Episode Yuffie lacks in substance or new areas to explore it makes up for in creating a stronger world, setting up the rest of the story, and assuring us it's a story worth sticking with.
If you've got a PS5 and had even a slight bit of enjoyment from Remake, this is absolutely worth your time.
[Note: Square Enix provided the copy of Final Fantasy 7 Intergrade used for this review.]