I’m a huge fan of the Kingdom Hearts series and am as excited as all of you to be able to play it on my PS4. Personally, I think it would have been made much more sense to release the 1.5 and 2.5 remakes on the PS4 first but it’s Kingdom Hearts, I’ll take it.
The Dream Drop Distance HD remake is fine, and the extended cutscene for Kingdom Hearts X is an enjoyable way to spend an hour, the real reason you’re going want to play Kingdom Hearts HD 2.8 Final Chapter Prologue (That sure is a mouthful) is for the three-hour teaser for Kingdom Hearts 3.
Kingdom Hearts 0.2: Birth by Sleep – A Fragmentary Passage is truly incredible. It expands upon a secret chapter from the PSP exclusive Birth By Sleep. After playing through this in exactly 3 hours I can’t tell you how excited I am now for Kingdom Hearts 3. This is the perfect teaser to get fans excited. Who knows when we are actually going to see Kingdom Hearts 3 release, so it’s best to savor every moment of this short prequel.
A Fragmentary Passage starts right where the secret chapter of Kingdom Hearts Birth by Sleep Final Mix leaves off. Legendary Keyblade wielder Aqua standing before Cinderella’s castle in the Dark World.
As you move Aqua towards the castle, the ground beneath her feet gives out, the clock on the tower rapidly advancing. In the initial sequence, she must travel across the crumbling town on the other side of the castle, hunting clock gears in order to turn back time and restore the bridge that broke.
Seeing the Heartless pop up filled my heart with joy. After slogging through Dream Drop Distance I had missed those little buggers. They look exceptionally creepy in this game and I can’t wait to finish them off for good in Kingdom Hearts 3. After a few fights and restoring all the clock gears, it’s time to take on a Heartless swarm and holy shit that’s a fight that did not disappoint. Alone they are weak but combined they provide quite the challenge.
The movement is rapid and fluid, the combat is visceral, and I liked being thrown into the chaos. The game runs beautifully and the image is extremely crisp. This is a sexy game.
After the first Heartless swarm fight, you will guide Aqua further into the Dark World, where she will battle herself, new Heartless, strangling vines and so much more. There’s one particular mirror puzzle you will come across that is one of the most trippy experiences I’ve ever had in a video game.
I finished the game in exactly 3 hours. This includes all cutscenes and some thorough exploration. The only criticism I do have is the boss fights were all very similar with the Heartless swarm just getting bigger and tougher. It’s a pretty on the rails experience and there isn’t much to do outside the main story. Maybe I missed a secret or two and will go back this week and see what I can find.
You can’t upgrade your Keyblade or abilities in this game, but you can customize the look of Aqua by giving her different accessories. If that’s your thing then you’ll be happy to hear there is a New Game+ option.
I was so impressed by A Fragmentary Passage, I can’t say enough good things about it. The wait for Kingdom Hearts 3 might just kill me.
Now onto the rest of what’s included on the disk.
Kingdom Hearts Dream Drop Distance HD is the same 2012 3DS game but with a much more polished PS4 look. The touch screen mini-games and menus have been tweaked in order to facilitate the PS4’s gamepad (though why can’t I check the map during battle?). The HD graphics sure do look remarkable but you’ll notice that the world is pretty boring due to the limitations of the 3DS.
Dream Drop Distance is not at all like A Fragmentary Passage and isn’t very similar to either the first two Kingdom Hearts but it does feature some pretty crucial story points and is worth playing if you’re trying to keep up. It is far from a perfect game, and I do have some gripes and complaints.
The absolutely pointless Drop system is still intact and it’s a f’ing nightmare. I don’t understand it’s point. Essentially you only get 10 minutes with each character before the game forces you to switch to a different character, either Sora or Riku. I can’t tell you how many boss fights I was in where I had the bastard almost killed before the game decided to switch out on me. This would have only been a slight annoyance had when I went back the boss remained nearly beaten but it didn’t. I’d have to start all over again.
Also, two of the first three worlds are entertaining but the Tron world is incredibly boring and feels very out of place for the series. You have to play each world twice with both characters and it’s fun the first run through but going back to a world that only really has three different places to explore gets boring and tedious fast.
The game really picks up steam and shines once you reach Traverse Town for the second time.
The soundtrack is also rather whatever, but the voice acting is quite good. Especially in the weak Tron level.
The combat is overall pretty tight and the camera is shockingly really good for the most part. Boss fights can get a little messy but I was never overly annoyed. The typical Disney cast of party mates is replaced with raving Pokemon called Dreameaters who you can pet, take photos of and upgrade. There’s plenty of these little critters to choose from and tons of skill trees to upgrade which adds for quite a lot of depth.
If you’re keeping up with the Kingdom Hearts storyline Dream Drop Distance is a must play, but it’s not the most enjoyable experience.
Finally, Kingdom Hearts X Back Cover which is essentially an hour-long movie that simply tells the story of the Facebook/mobile prequel to Kingdom Hearts.
I threw this on, hungover on Saturday and rolled myself a little treat and enjoyed the movie. The plot revolves around animal-masked Foretellers, who are the overseers of the dwindling light in the world leading up to the colossal Keyblade War. If I had to choose between this and Final Fantasy XV Kingslaive, I’d take this in a heartbeat.
The visual and voice acting are also top notch!
For any Kingdom Hearts fans out there this is an absolutely essential purchase. The story of Kingdom Hearts always gets shit on for being too convoluted but if you follow these games it all starts to make sense, and these .5 and .8 additions really help especially if you don’t play on the PS Vita or the 3DS. Also for completing each of the different games on the disk you get a free PS4 theme as a bonus. If you have yet to play any Kingdom Hearts games yet, wait until 1.5 and 2.5 hit the PS4 this spring.