If you thought the Zelda series had the most confusing timeline in video game history then let me reassure you when I say Kingdom Hearts wins by default; with the unusual title and most confusing story I have ever come across Kingdom Hearts HD 2.8 Final Chapter Prologue is here but in all it left me feeling quite Goofy.
Kingdom Hearts HD 2.8 Final Chapter Prologue is the stage setter for what is yet to come and what everyone is really yearning for which is Kingdom Hearts 3. If you have yet to play Kingdom Hearts at all then you will go into this without any idea as to what has happened or confused as to what will unfold. That being said either sheathe your Keyblade and go play the first two in the series then come back or if you have already done that then still be prepared for an utterly confusing story and delve into Kingdom Hears HD 2.8 Final Chapter Prologue.
Much like the 1.5 and 2.5 remix games on PlayStation 3 and soon to be PlayStation 4; Kingdom Hearts HD 2.8 Final Chapter Prologue is composed of three chapters. Just to save further confusion I will talk about each in order of appearance.
Kingdom Hearts Dream Drop Distance HD
Kingdom Hearts Dream Drop Distance HD is the first chapter in the prologue and essentially it is a full remake of the 3DS game released back in 2012. While I had never played this originally I had no trouble getting into it; the game very quickly throws you into action while allowing you to play through tutorials if you so desire. You play as both Sora and Rikku who both awaken in different time zones, and yes this only adds to the confusion of the series, however, you learn that this is a test set before them.
You will find yourself switching between both characters quickly; at each point you switch you will earn a sum of munny and experience for that character. While Sora is asleep Rikku awakens and you will find yourself now playing as Rikku and vice versa. Progressing through the worlds requires completion from both Sora and Rikku and will allow other worlds to unlock. Getting to new worlds each character must fall through a Dive Stage while obtaining a certain number of points, hitting targets or dodging attacks. While I enjoy these, I do miss the Gummi Ship mode of transportation from previous entries. Dream Drop Distance introduces additional party members in the form of Dream Eaters; these are cutesy animal creatures that can be cared for in the same fashion as Nintendogs and Pokemon. While this is a feature that was on the 3DS it seems well received on the PS4 and doesn’t seem much of an issue with the exception of the mini games that can be played and for me can be a little frustrating. Dream Eaters can be created using fragments which are drop from defeated enemies alongside items or a certain spell and can be done by experimenting or using recipes which you will find throughout the game.
The real surprise comes from the games combat and for me has the best combat system I have seen in Kingdom Hearts to date. The game allows you to perform a variety of moves using the Flowmotion system; you can slide off rails and lamp posts or otherwise use the terrain to your advantage and pull off devastating moves. On top of this the game uses a deck system you can edit at any time allowing the use of abilities in combat; there is no MP here; each ability has a cool-down and then allows you to use another ability not currently on cool-down. Rather than feeling like a spin off the game itself for me feels like a full experience and something that can be enjoyed after Kingdom Hearts 2 while waiting for Kingdom Hearts 3. My only gripe with the game is it doesn’t break any grounds when it comes to graphical enhancements; while it is an obvious step up to its 3DS counterpart, for a PS4 game I feel the game could look just as good as the second chapter which I will now talk about.
Kingdom Hearts 0.2 Birth by Sleep A Fragmentary Passage
Birth by Sleep A Fragmentary Passage is the continuation which is what most people have been longing for. This is a new game taking place after the events of the original Birth by Sleep and you play as female protagonist Aqua. The chapter is simply stunning to look at; the floating debris of a ruined Cinderella civilization with the castle standing tall from afar is superb and really gives any Kingdom Hearts fan a true glimpse of what to expect in Kingdom Hearts 3.
A Fragmentary Passage is a fitting name as a fragment of gameplay is all you will see. The game itself will be done in just over 3 hours; more challenges are available as are secrets to unlock which will extend your playtime if you wish.
The chapter itself while short is full to the brim with exploration and combat. Aqua is powerful and comes with an arsenal of hard hitting abilities; aswell as magic, she is able to perform double jumps, a constant air dash and an aimed Shotlock hitting all enemies she is currently locked on to. She is powerful but never feels like she is overpowered in the sense that boss fights are hard and each one definitely has a sense of accomplishment. Chests, items and enemies can be found at high altitudes which never feels a pain or annoyance to overcome as Aquas abilities allow you to tackle these obstacles.
Alongside all of this, you can also dress Aqua in all manner of attire such as bunny ears and arm bands which is definitely one of my favourite features. The chapter in all definitely shows us a push in the right direction of what to expect from Kingdom Hearts 3. The graphical level of detail from the characters down to the terrain is something we haven’t seen before and it definitely is the pinnacle of this chapter.
Kingdom Hearts X Back Cover
The final chapter of Kingdom Hearts HD 2.8 Final Chapter Prologue only left me feeling more confused to the series as a who;e. We have come a long way since the original Kingdom Hearts and Back Cover takes us back to some of the earliest points in the Kingdom Hearts story and for me left me needing to ask more questions rather than answering any that I had up to this point which is a lot. Still, for what this is it is an animated movie split into segments and very well scripted and voiced and it isn’t forced on you to watch in one sitting.
Anybody that knows me knows how much of a Kingdom Hearts fan I am. After the release of Kingdom Hearts 2 back in 2005 the series became quickly alienated to me due to the fact there were so many sequels which were all on handheld consoles. Now that Square Enix are bringing the series up to date onto home consoles I am grateful, aswell as many others that we can be up to date or at least make more sense of what is now going on. I pray that Square Enix now does away with the confusing decimal point system of naming the Kingdom Hearts games and goes back to its roots going forward and beyond.