Final Fantasy 7 Remake Intergrade
FF7R Intergrade: The Return of the GOAT
The stars were aligned for the release of Final Fantasy 7 Remake last year, as were many AAA titles during the year 2020, due to the early effects of the pandemic leaving players with a lot more free time than usual. During the lockdown, many sought gaming as a way of escape, attracting a userbase outside of the conventional “gamer” and making it mainstream focus as evident with Animal Crossing: New Horizons breaking record sales for the Switch, selling out the console.
Released in April 2020, Final Fantasy 7 Remake received critical acclaim from critics and players alike, welcoming the modernization of what many consider one of the best RPGs of all time, Final Fantasy 7. The seamless transition from battles to exploration combined with fully voiced dialogue and an updated story that stays true to the original.
These factors made it a hit with newcomers to the game and veterans of the two-decades-old title. The ending of the game left players with many questions, most of which will more than likely be answered in its sequels, yet there are many events behind the scenes outside of Cloud’s party that alter how Cloud’s story ends up in Final Fantasy 7 Remake.
Yuffie Kisaragi -- The Ultimate Heroine
Enter Yuffie Kisaragi! Famed materia hunter of all time! Greatest ninja ever to grace Midgar in search of the legendary Ultimate Materia! Your favorite Wutaian’s, favorite Wutaian--- My apologies, Yuffie’s personality is just as infectious as it is a breath of fresh air to experience.
Players control Yuffie as her “Intermission” story takes place, as the name suggests, during the middle of Cloud’s campaign, following the events of the reactor bombing. At some point, Yuffie “meets” Tifa and Barret albeit in passing only, momentarily crossing paths before the team heads to Don Corneo, while Yuffie has to beat some of his thugs in the process.
Accompanied by her ally, Sonon, who endearingly if not at times sarcastically calls her “boss,” Yuffie is tasked to steal the “Ultimate Materia” from Shinra yet things don’t go as planned due to many interferences from street thugs to Shinra forces and the local wildlife themselves. The majority of the reasons why things don’t go as planned is also due to Yuffie herself as she’s very “anti-ninja.”
Subterfuge is not in her dictionary and it shows, often getting herself into battles and otherwise avoidable situations by simply lacking subtlety. It’s all a part of her childlike whimsical charm, taking pride in what she does while being serious when the time comes for it. A lot of her allies and enemies tend to take her less seriously, which leads to her more crowning moments.
The Mood In Intergrade Differs Heavily From Final Fantasy 7 Remake
The gameplay is largely unchanged from the original FF7R except more emphasis is on Yuffie’s abilities and her mix of long-range and close-range combat. Unlike in the main game where players have a party to round out each other’s weaknesses, Yuffie begins her story with much more materia than the entire main roster combined (She is the “fabled materia thief” after all) and at a high enough level where returning players can jump right in the action with minimum difficulty.
Her main method of attack is throwing her shuriken at a distance, bombarding her foes with ninjutsu, then closing the gap and finishing them off with her abilities. While synergized with Sonon, she has access to upgraded variants of her abilities, dealing more damage and attacking a wider range of foes. The shuriken can also be used to access hard-to-reach long-range targets, like switches and destructible environments, to change the area around her or obtain hidden items.
As this was my first time playing Final Fantasy 7 Remake, it took a while for me to get used to the controls even though the tutorial does a fairly decent enough job in teaching players the basics, should they decide to jump into Intermission from the beginning. While there are some mild plot spoilers, Yuffie’s story is self-contained as it coexists with whatever the main story is going through at the time.
Intermission features as many memorable scenarios as its original title
The graphics look impressive on the PS5, compared to the already amazing graphics that were on the PS4 version. Square didn’t take the easy route and simply “upscale” the graphics quality, but, they upgraded to match the PS5’s specs as much as possible, outputting in 4K while also offering a “60 FPS” option for stability. The music is just as amazing and catchy as the main game, opting for a more jazzy score that fits Yuffie’s personality quite well. The difficulty is standard enough, as simply “mashing” will lead to a quick death.
It’s because of the music that I felt things began to pick up during the beginning of Intermission, specifically during a sequence where Yuffie and Sonon are chasing after their contact, who in turn is being chased by Shinra soldiers. Throughout the ordeal, a spiced-up jazz tune is playing with increased intensity and the whole thing plays out like something from out of Cowboy Bebop, including wise-cracking humor that ultimately ends in a payoff with a battle against a large bird. Things take a turn for the serious once the Moogle coat comes off and the first actual boss fight begins.
Enemies here tended to lock me in place more often than not, meaning I couldn’t heal when I wanted to and neither could my partner. If an enemy struck a fatal blow, Sonon would sacrifice himself to give his remaining health total to Yuffie, as you cannot directly control Sonon, but once players get the hang of the synergy mechanic and Yuffie’s abilities, everything begins to flow almost like playing a fighting game.
Yuffie's Intermission Is A Good Starting Point For New FF7R Players
During my time with Final Fantasy 7 Remake Intergrade, there wasn’t any ability that Yuffie had that wasn’t useless and she was more than capable of mowing down enemies, but her fragility meant that if she was caught in a dire situation, it was my fault rather than the game’s fault.
As Intergrade adds not only the bonus Yuffie Intermission story but as well as some bonus scenes for the main game, including some included DLC items, there are a lot for players to enjoy as fans of the original FF7R. PS5 players are in for a treat especially if they missed out on one of the best RPG games in recent years as Intergrade takes everything from the original and adds on to it. I just wish we were able to keep the Moogle outfit by the end of the First Look.
Final Fantasy 7 Remake Intergrade is currently available on the Sony PlayStation 5.