Final Fantasy VII Remake Intergrade
2020’s Final Fantasy VII Remake was the stuff of legends – long-wanted by the industry given how dated the PS1 original was, but also controversial in how it approached the story. Instead of being a one-to-one retelling of the tale, a lot more detail was put into the characters to the point where it would be a multi-release game. It also shifted things to a more action-centric approach; although a turn-based option was there, it also felt a bit stilted compared to the intense and fast-paced newer gameplay style. It was a fantastic reimagining of the story for the portion of the overall adventure that it covered, and brought the world alive in ways that weren’t done in the PS1 original.
After many years of hard work, Square Enix finally got the Remake out and wound up with a great-playing game that became a door texture meme over time and the narrative kind of got muddled a bit. At the end of the day, the core of the FF VII Remake is a great action RPG that does more to flesh the world out and now, Intergrade adds Yuffie into the mix in a new expand-alone piece of content that doesn’t require main story progression to enjoy. Now, it is something that assumes the player has knowledge of the battle system – so it is best to come in with the main campaign beaten, but if you’re a series vet that dabbled a bit in the Remake and didn’t get around to finishing it, then you’re still in good shape here.
There are two main components to the Intergrade release – the all-new Yuffie side story and a revamp of the existing Remake. The big takeaway from this new content is that Yuffie, like the other side characters from the original FF VII, winds up gaining a lot of characterization that was lacking previously. In the core FF VII remake, Jessie truly shined more than ever before thanks to the massive increase in screen time. Instead of just being a character with a fairly small arc, she played a major part in the overall story for the portion of the original game that Remake covered. In an adventure stacked with characters, Yuffie stood out in part due to her unique weaponry and ninja style in a game filled with magic users, a guy with a machine gun arm, and of course, Cloud and his sword that is larger than some buildings.
Yuffie was largely stoic in the original release, barring an optional scene where she did show a great deal of emotion when Aerith is killed. The Remake, as it did for so many of the folks in the slum who were given broad stroke character details in the original game, adds so much more depth. A lot of that comes down to not only improving the depth of the character, but having more life breathed into them with voice acting that made it easier to hear the emotions in the characters themselves. For someone like Barret, it’s easier to tell that he’s putting up a tough front in the Remake because you have vocal inflections to work with – so the player can tell right away when he is actually confident, or when he’s putting on a brave face for his daughter.
Yuffie stands in stark contrast to the main game’s cast in that she’s pretty goofy and lacking a bit in real-world knowledge. Her arc in Intergrade is very much like Raiden in Metal Gear Solid 2 where she has the on-paper skills, but lacks the social skills and so she’ll do things like launch into elaborate materia ball routines upon entering a room as if life is a slice of life anime series. She’s got a ton of personality though and in a lot of ways, she winds up being a more contemporary character now than she was in ’97. Her moogle outfit is something that gives the player insight into her being a bit goofy right away, and her non-stop bravado is more endearing than it is annoying – which can be a tricky balancing act. Hearing her fly into battle proclaiming that ‘THE GREAT YUFFIE HAS ARRIVED’ gives you enough understanding as to why her enemies would just be annoyed by her from the get go.
New to Intergrade are a slew of side-quests that offer a wide variety of activities to enjoy. Fort Condor has gone from being a part of FF VII to now its own mini-RPG/RTS experience baked in. This is something that is perfect for those who love tactical RPGs and were maybe a bit upset over the Remake being more action-centric. So if someone is in the mood for something that is more tactically-infused, this mini-game is perfect since it’s its own RTS-style experience complete with its own chain of enemies. Yuffie as whatever the world’s otaku equivalent would be in the FF VII universe makes her a great fit for this, and there are also a slew of exploration-based side quests as well.
In terms of how she plays, Yuffie is very much a blend of short and long-range, and using her reminds me a lot of a modern-day Devil May Cry or Bayonetta-style game – only with JRPG roots. She can shift between fast kicks and dives alongside blade slashes and her multi-blade makes not only a great long-range weapon, but also a makeshift boomerang to take out item boxes from a distance. Her party members compliment her speed with more power and unlike the first game, we get a strong sense throughout her adventure of what kind of person Yuffie is like. She’s silly on the surface, but also quite caring.
Remake Intergrade offers up the best-looking version of the game to date – with the full game featuring better reflections thanks to full ray-tracing and an increase in clothing textures. The core game is the same, but the boost in texture quality helps drive home how much damage has been done to the slums by Shinra, while also making facial expressions pop a bit more. The PS5 improvements aren’t astonishing in stills, but do shine in motion where the improvements in lighting make the world of Midgar come alive – and make me really excited to see what the future installments in the Remake will have to show for areas like the Golden Saucer.
The voice acting for the cast in Intergrade is fantastic, beyond the repeated lines that you’ll encounter running down halls and the like with NPCs just saying the same thing repeatedly. Outside of that, the voice work is fantastic and Yuffie is an absolute riot to hear. She evolves a lot vocally – starting off a bit naive, and then growing into a more mature young adult as she goes through things like confusion, anger, and loss. The soundtrack is still fantastic, with some revamped songs for her adventure that go between relaxing fare to more intense tracks. The absolute highlight is Yuffie singing the FF victory fanfare herself after some wins – which makes no logical sense in the world, but is so great.
With graphical refinements that create a better-looking experience, the PS5 version of Final Fantasy VII Remake is the best way to experience the core game, while Intermission is a finely-tuned side story. Yuffie is completely unlike any other character in the main adventure, and will make for a lot of fun to use when she takes on a bigger overall role in future entries of Remake. Anyone who held off until now to get the game will be happy to see just how much more of Midgar’s world is showcased in Remake versus the original release in ’97, and those wanting a faster-paced gameplay experience will love the action-centric take on FF VII’s ATB system. It’s a must-buy for long-time fans of the series and PS4 owners of the original full-on Remake release can upgrade to the PS5 version for free, with Intermission only costing $20.
Reviewed By: Jeremy Peeples
Publisher: Square Enix
This review is based on a digital copy of Final Fantasy VII Remake Intergrade for the PlayStation 5 provided by Square Enix.