Final Fantasy VII Remake INTERmission Review – More Like Fort Condor Simulator
Title: Final Fantasy VII Remake INTERmission
Developer: Square Enix
Release Date: June 10, 2021
Reviewed On: PS5
Publisher: Square Enix
Yuffie is a beloved character of the original Final Fantasy VII, so having a DLC centered around her was an admittedly delightful concept. Yet, it also spurred a semblance of hesitation, given this DLC’s canonical nature to the Remake being affixed to introducing Yuffie in a separate and simultaneously told experience. After experiencing this DLC, there are a variety of mishaps and questionable writing decisions. Stumbles aside, we’re here for Yuffie, and that’s exactly what we got.
This DLC acts as more of a stepping stone rather than a leap, so hopefully, we see more of these characters in the future.
Final Fantasy VII Remake Episode INTERmission is two chapters long and takes place after the events at the Sector 5 Reactor. Players take control of Yuffie and experience Sector 7 from another perspective that was unseeable during the base game. This alone is a cohesive novelty, and it served to flesh out a few more of the characters.
Yuffie also meets brand new characters, who, to be honest, were rather underwhelming in retrospect. For instance, Billy Bob, Polk, and Zhijie were merely plot devices and exposition dumps at best, which is unfortunate. This DLC acts as more of a stepping stone rather than a leap, so hopefully, we see more of these characters in the future. This does not excuse how forgettable they were, but it’s to be expected with this being more of a companion piece.
Sonon, though, is not so easily redeemed. He is the sole party member throughout the DLC. As harsh as this may sound, he was not memorable or standout enough to make a lasting impact, even with occasional humorous deliveries. While his backstory is conceptually enticing, very little is done for the vast majority of the experience for him to spur any meaningful connection with the player.
Cases may vary, but I believe his introduction being in a DLC episode neutered the opportunities that would have otherwise been present in a fully-fledged title, especially with his status as the only party member.
Despite Sonon being the one-party member during this DLC episode, he is not playable and is only AI-controlled. This does sound like an inherent negative, but I found it to be a lucratively wise move. With this DLC being a 5 or 6-hour experience assuming a player mostly focuses on the main story, making Yuffie the only playable character also grants the development team time to focus on her combative capabilities exclusively, rather than needlessly branching out to another fighter.
Dungeon design is a facet INTERmission undeniably aced.
This proof can be found in the way Yuffie’s combat is designed. She is both close-combative and ranged so that she can cover all sorts of ground. In addition to being expectedly agile, her primary gimmick is Ninjutsu. This is a long-ranged maneuver that is vital for destroying various enemies.
Mechanics from the original game return, such as Materia being as imperative as ever and weapon proficiency also being present. The combination of Yuffie’s fresh take on combat alongside the underlying foundations of Remake’s systems helps make this DLC feel more distinct regardless of its associated nature.
Sonon adds to this unique sense of combative identity as well. He can be controlled via the menu to use abilities and items, for instance, and, most importantly, synergize with Yuffie. Synergy makes the two a united force and does wonders for decimating pressured enemies, eventually pushing them to a staggered state.
There are even powerful special abilities that can be used during Synergy, and in all honesty, are a bit too powerful in several instances. There is the caveat of Sonon’s ATB gauge building up slowly while synergized, though, so you can not consistently stay in the state without suffering the ramifications, especially on Hard mode.
I rarely had to think about the mechanics on the fly until the final boss on my Normal Mode playthrough. Spamming attacks and abilities with little thought while occasionally guarding got the job done for the most part. It’s a shame because the depth of the gameplay loop can go unnoticed with how poorly the DLC emphasizes and teaches its traits.
Hard Mode is there for those seeking a deeper dive into the combat. Still, the lack of challenge necessitating proper learning of the combat for the vast duration of Normal Mode, the baseline difficulty, was unfortunate, to say the least.
Dungeon design is a facet INTERmission undeniably aced. Yuffie’s shurikens are taken advantage of and can destroy crates from afar as well as activate switches. These are used in conjunction with each other swimmingly with events encouraging proper spacing and timed shots. This more active involvement in dungeons is a design choice I hope to see in the future instead of the long-winded dull designs we’ve seen before. The dungeons were the perfect balance of rightfully thought-provoking and digestible without overlaying complications and overstaying their welcome.
Gameplay-wise, there is an enjoyable depth to the battle system with better use of the environment.
Minigames are an unexpectedly addicting part of this DLC, with Fort Condor being the primary offering. This minigame was present in the original Final Fantasy VII but altered heavily to make it more contextually sensical and modernized. Players place units on a board and watch events play out against the opposing player’s units.
The objective is to have more surviving bases by the end of the time limit. There are several factors to consider, such as not only the type of units to place but the affinity triangle, cost of the units themselves, the Materia benefits of each board, and far more. In addition to this minigame being a joyous and addicting time, it has roadblocks of difficulty requiring actual strategy. There is even a harder difficulty to this mode for adept players to go wild.
Story-wise, INTERmission was a mixed bag, personally. Not much from the first half of the DLC really ever stuck aside from Yuffie’s optimism being a comically endearing sight. The second half is where events generally pick up, but once again, Sonon’s poorly executed characterization ultimately lessens the potential impact that would have resulted during certain key events. If anything, Yuffie is adequately set up for whatever plans the next title has for her, and some surprise scenes provide further enticing hooks for what awaits.
The voice acting from the entirety of the new cast is incredible, with Yuffie being the standout. Her voice actress perfectly nailed her gutsy optimism and vulnerability, and I am enthused to see her tackle her further in the future.
Final Fantasy VII Remake INTERmission is a must-play for those jumping off from the base game solely to introduce Yuffie and other assuredly key elements and characters. Gameplay-wise, there is an enjoyable depth to the battle system with better use of the environment. Still, the poor difficulty balance and forgettable supporting cast weigh heavily on the experience throughout. You’ll ultimately buy it for a few extra hours in Midgar, but stay to hang out with Yuffie as we inch closer to Part 2 of this Remake effort.
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