Final Fantasy VII Remake isn’t a complete story. Instead, the game explores the beginning of the classic RPG, with later chapters planned to finish the narrative at some point in the future. This means you’ll meet most of the main cast, but certain characters haven’t yet made an appearance — which turned out to be helpful when co-director Motomu Toriyama started thinking of the game’s first add-on.
“We were going to depict a side of Midgar that took place during the same timeline as the Final Fantasy VII Remake base game, and so I thought Yuffie, who was an optional character [in the original game], was the logical choice,” he tells The Verge. “Even in the source material, she makes an appearance in the middle of the journey, but the events of her journey were never depicted, so I took the liberty to create this new story.”
The result is a short add-on called Episode Intermission, which recently launched alongside an enhanced PS5 version of the game. It stars Yuffie Kisaragi — a fan-favorite ninja obsessed with materia, FFVII’s strange magical orbs — as she heads to the sprawling metropolis of Midgar to meet up with the Avalanche and seek out a particularly powerful magical item. The story takes place concurrently with the main game; you’ll even see characters like Barrett and Jessie in brief snippets and hear about the impact of events that they were involved in. Episode Intermission only lasts a few hours, but it’s designed to show the story and world from a different perspective.
“Players can see a new side of Yuffie, the Avalanche members living in the slums, and the dark side of Shinra, allowing them to immerse themselves even deeper into the world of Midgar,” Toriyama explains. “By getting an understanding of FFVIIR Intermission, I think players can further enjoy the relationships between the main characters and more of the world of Final Fantasy VII Remake opening up.”
Yuffie wasn’t the only optional character in the original Final Fantasy VII that launched in 1997. Players were also able to recruit Vincent Valentine, a gunslinger with a dark, mysterious past. And while his dual-pistols would probably be a lot of fun with FFVIIR’s more action-oriented combat, his backstory made it a more challenging fit. Yuffie, on the other hand, had a less-defined history, making her an almost ideal candidate.
“If, for example, this were Vincent, he would have been sleeping in a coffin in the Shinra mansion, so we couldn’t move him around; but Yuffie was traveling the world as a materia hunter,” Toriyama says. “By having the events from Midgar depicted in FFVIIR Episode Intermission be a part of her travels as a materia hunter, we are able to see the emotions beneath her fun character, which will then connect to the story.”
Aside from the new story elements, the new episode also has some gameplay tweaks as well. One of the highlights of FFVIIR is how each character has a very different feel; combat is completely different if you’re wielding Cloud’s comically large sword or Tifa’s kickboxing skills. For Yuffie, her ninja background means she moves incredibly fast and can attack both from up close and afar, giving her a distinct style among the cast.
She even moves through the world quickly outside of combat. Intermission has a number of environmental puzzles that involve clambering up pipes and running along walls. “The controls focus on leveraging the lore of her being a ninja, so we were very particular about making Yuffie’s movements fit that unique characteristic about her, with having her deftly move across latticed walls and poles,” says co-director Naoki Hamaguchi.
The new episode is relatively brief — you can probably experience all of it in around five hours — but it manages to cram a lot into that small package, from gigantic boss battles to brand-new characters. And while we still know very little about when the next main part of FFVVIIR is coming or what it will actually entail, it sounds like this isn’t the last players will see of Yuffie.
“With this episode, we were able to delve further into Yuffie’s back story, have her go through an experience similar to Cloud and his team, and leave Midgar at around the same time,” says Toriyama. “This will then lead to her encounter them — as an ally — in the story down the line.”