Kingdom Hearts HD 2.8 Final Chapter Prologue or Kingdom Hearts 2.8 going forward is the latest HD collection for the series and first to release on current gen consoles. This package includes the HD remaster of Kingdom Hearts: Dream Drop Distance which originally released on the Nintendo 3DS, Kingdom Hearts: 0.2 Birth By Sleep – A Fragmentary Passage – & Kingdom Hearts χ Back Cover. Is this game worth the drop or should you keep your distance? Dive in to find out!
Kingdom Hearts: 0.2 Birth By Sleep – A Fragmentary Passage –
First off I’ll start by talking about Kingdom Hearts: 0.2 Birth By Sleep – A Fragmentary Passage, this is the first, never before playable bit of content releasing in any of these collections and aims to answer some questions and shorten the bridge between Dream Drop Distance and Kingdom Hearts III.
KH: 0.2 is in essence the first playable teaser at Kingdom Hearts III, it runs on the engine KH III will be on and offers a brief glimpse into how the game will play. The game follows on from the first in the series Kingdom Hearts: Birth By Sleep, you take up the role of Aqua as she works her way through the Realm of Darkness.
The story for this section is quite interesting, more so for people who are much deeper within the lore, you get to learn more about one of the main characters of the series, see a great deal of the Realm of Darkness and uncover a few revelations which will help build the hype for the upcoming Kingdom Hearts III.
Visually the game is stunning, running on the Unreal 4 Engine the characters have never been so detailed and animated. The settings within the Dark Realm are all distorted and fragmented (hence the name) and are some of the more interesting settings within the series. The game runs at blistering speeds and I suffered only a few instances of slowdown, Magic effects looked stunning and the lighting really added to the visual awe of this game.
The game’s audio is top notch as you would expect from Square-Enix & Disney, the voice work for all the characters are all well done, there was only one voice that sounded a little off. The music as always is beautiful and the main Kingdom Hearts theme has never sounded so good!, they did murder Simple & Clean with some strange remix though which was puzzling & they really should bring back Sanctuary!.
A Fragmentary Passage fortunately plays just as good as it looks and sounds, the combat has never been this good in Kingdom Hearts!. Incorporating aspects from the previous games, stage interactions, double jumps and air dashes mean you’re fighting and traversing in style.
In the opening section of the game you unlock some new abilities for you to use throughout this 3 hour episode, you’ll be doing considerable amounts of combat throughout and the pace never lets up. The lock on camera still tends to have a fit when following flying enemies but fortunately the game controls intuitively and handles so buttery smooth it’s rarely an issue.
As mentioned the whole episode will see you about 3 hours should you just follow the story, there are quite a few optional objectives for you to complete which gives you access to items to customise your new favourite Kingdom Hearts Waifu. Bar the first area the game is quite linear in it’s progression and there is only one section that starts to outstay it’s welcome but as a whole the prologue is decently paced and held my interest throughout.
Kingdom Hearts: 0.2 Birth By Sleep – A Fragmentary Passage – may possibly be one of my all time favourite demos, it’s certainly not long enough to justify as a full game but has much more content than some other paid prologue than involves the number Zero.
Upon first completion of this section it brought back something I thought I had lost and that was my interest in the Kingdom Hearts series, I was utterly captivated by 0.2 & have already waded in again in hopes of finishing all objectives and completing the game on Proud Mode.
Kingdom Hearts: Dream Drop Distance HD
As previously mentioned KH:3D HD is the latest remaster for the series and is remastering the previously 3DS only Dream Drop Distance, this is chronologically the latest game before Kingdom Hearts III & does offer some very important plot points for the upcoming game.
Dream Drop Distance splits the story between Sora & Riku who you’ll be very familiar with having played any of the Kingdom Hearts games, they are taking the Mark of Mastery test to become Keyblade Masters in time for the next big Keyblade War.
The story isn’t at it’s strongest here and does lack the comedy duo of Donald & Goofy, choosing to replace them with the cast of the criminally underrated The World Ends With You. By the time you reach the last boss of the game you’ll be scratching your head and just what has happened but also have that slow hype build as your mind drifts off into what direction they are taking with it’s follow up.
The settings vary from well known Disney Worlds to new world unique to this series such as the Keyblade Graveyard, it’s always good to see Tron based worlds but I may scream if I ever have to see Traverse Town again!.
Visually the game isn’t great, it’s an obvious 3DS port and even at it’s highest points looks only on par with the original Kingdom Hearts. Dream Drop Distance does infact run at a wonderful 60fps which is quite jarring at first but does show off the charm of the Flowmotion aspect much more than when it originally released.
As always with the Kingdom Hearts series the music and voice acting are top notch, the tracks have been retouched to make them sound bigger and better for speakers larger than the 3DS. The Voice work for the cast is brilliant as standard and even the new crowd from The World Ends With You are voiced fantastically and really fit in with the game.
Kingdom Hearts: Dream Drop Distance HD play very much like the mainline titles with little extras to differentiate it from them, the first two that truly stand out are the Dream Eaters & the dual protagonist system. There are other factors aswell such as smaller levels, Flowmotion and quirky stage interactions but the initial two are the biggest change.
Starting off we have the dual system, this means you’ll be jumping inbetween Sora & Riku throughout the game, this doesn’t mean you can just pick your favourite though as there is a timer, once that runs dry you instantly jump over to the other character. Both characters experience the same levels, only different layouts and have different stories to tell to combine into the main story arc, it fluctuates the pacing and can be somewhat of a pain when you are really feeling one character to only be thrown out of them mid boss battle.
The second biggest change is swapping Donald & Goofy for the Dream Eaters which are the new enemy in this game but also your new allies. Throughout gameplay you’ll find items you can combine to make new Dream Eaters, there are over 50 to collect and 4 new ones exclusive to this version. Naturally with this brings in raising and training the perfect team for both characters, it adds a decent bit of gameplay but also can be a nightmare when wanting to raise just one of your Dream Eaters as the feeding to raise ability is now luck based.
Another addition in this game is flowmotion, with the press of the button you’ll fly across the map, interacting with the environments with a number of parkour moves much like grinding. This is also brought into combat where you can bounce off enemies, use them in attacks or even interact with the level in interesting ways to change the flow of battle.
The game lasts around 25 hours for a story run and the higher end of 30 hours should you want to 100% it, it also features the usual Proud Mode difficulty and secret ending if you perform well enough or tackle the game on Proud.
Despite the games visuals lacking and it’s age showing compared to the other playable in this game it’s still worth playing Dream Drop Distance, one of the more interesting spin off games with firmer ties to the main narrative. The fact it runs at 60fps, has had improved audio and controls have been much improved over the 3DS version should be enough to warrant curiosity.
Kingdom Hearts χ Back Cover
Kingdom Hearts χ Back Cover is the final section of this package and unlike the previous two titles isn’t playable but is infact an 80 minute video animation. Based within the timeline of Kingdom Hearts χ which has had an online browser game and App this CGI aims to show you a little more backstory and lore to further the series into Kingdom Hearts III.
The CGI is stunning, the whole thing is done on the Unreal 4 Engine using the KH Shader, Square-Enix have always worked magic with CGI and once again they have done wonders here. The audio once again is spot on so I won’t dwell on this.
The story unfortunately isn’t over interesting and in typical Kingdom Hearts fashion raises more questions than it provides answers, still it’s worth sitting through for some delicious lore and the free theme download once it’s finished.
At a brief glance you’d feel that full retail price for one HD Remaster, one playable demo & an 80 minute CGI film is a little steep, after playing the Prologue and getting stuck into Dream Drop Distance I feel it’s easily justified the purchase from fun alone. Back Cover isn’t the greatest watch but is certainly fresher than the previous cutscene adaptations from the previous games and the playable games in this package easily see you to around 40/50 hours even if Dream Drop Distance feels somewhat dated now.
It’s easy enough to mock Kingdom Hearts for it’s various spin off titles and especially this one at a glance but this does it’s job so well, it prepares fans for Kingdom Hearts III especially if you hadn’t been able to play Dream Drop Distance and rewards you with fun gameplay and an engaging storyline which may be confusing but you’ll enjoy the ride anyway!.
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