Video Games

A Hearty Entry Into The Kingdom Hearts Series: Kingdom Hearts HD 2.8 Final Chapter Prologue Review

It’s been a while since we have posted any game reviews here at Nerd Union but we decided to kick off out year or game reviews right by reviewing a game that actually features 2 games in it. (And a short movie too!) It’s our review of Kingdom Hearts HD 2.8: Final Chapter Prologue!

Lets get started in this adventure of a review with Kingdom Hearts: Dream Drop Distance

I would say that Dream Drop Distance, or 3D for short, is probably one of the more exciting entries into the series for me. Kingdom Hearts 3D starts off with Yen Sid giving Sora and Riku their mark of mastery exam so that the two may become full fledged keyblade masters. You’d think with as many times Sora has saved the day that he would already have become a master by now but as the game progresses you begin to understand why he isn’t quite there yet. During this quest Xehanort shows up again, which anyone who has played Birth by Sleep will tell you is ALWAYS bad news. I won’t give a ton of the story away but this becomes the catalyst that not only does a fantastic job of plot exposition but also lays the groundwork for what may very well end up being a large part of the plot for Kingdom Hearts 3. The game still features lots of fun and interesting Disney worlds in it and features some great moments with some of the most memorable Disney characters along with it. Overall, it actually features one of the more cohesive plots of the series but does rely some on the previous titles for it to make sense. In a game featured as a part of a series it’s not a bad thing but I just wanted to communicate the fact that if you are picking up a Kingdom Hearts title for the first time, you may want to start with a different one so that things will make sense. Luckily Square Enix is releasing a Ps4 Kingdom Hearts 1.5 and 2.5 combo soon.

The gameplay of 3D has Sora and Riku showing of a lot of new skills in combat that definitely prove that they were not quite keyblade masters before but are advancing in their skills with the weapon. You will be doing everything from unleashing long attack combos, casting new spells, unleashing various combos with the spirits who party up with you and doing rebound attacks from any surface around you that you can find. The game definitely gives you a great opportunity to prove your gaming skills with the complexity of the battle system and rightly so given the difficulty of some of the later battles in the game (the final boss is HARD y’all.)  You will certainly want to spend some time learning the combat styles of both Sora and Riku and making sure you master both of them if you want to even have the slightest hope of finishing proud mode. That’s not to say that the game is not friendly to newer players who might not be used to Kingdom Hearts combat style though. The system can be picked up by newer players but its definitely designed in such a way that leaves a lot of room for growth and mastery, pleasing both casual gamers and the more hardcore gamers all at once.

Kingdom Hearts Dream Drop Distance is both a visually and musically appealing game as well. As usual the, the level designs do a fantastic job of fitting the thematic of whatever Disney movie or other environment the game is going for and let’s you feel as if Sora and Riku have genuinely jumped into your favorite classic film, (or not so classic in the case of the new tron level, which actually is still really cool.)

Overall, if you are a fan of the Kingdom Hearts series in general this title is a must pick up. While some may have initially written this off as just a side entry it is time to re-consider that opinion given the number of events that occur in this game before Kingdom Hearts III. Or you know, you could just walk into Kingdom Hearts III more confused.

 

Now onto Fragmentary Passage!

 

Kingdom Hearts 0.2 is a VERY short game that comes as a part of the 2.8 final chapter prologue package but it does feature a lot of interesting exposition of the plot that centers mainly around Aqua and Mickey, but mostly Aqua. The game basically provides some explanation as to what Aqua has been doing ever since Birth by Sleep. It seems that time passes differently in the realm of darkness so its not as if she has just been sitting there for an actual 10 years or anything but it does give some important details regarding the status of not only Ven and Terra’s hearts, but also Aquas own heart as well after the events of Birth by Sleep. These details prove to be crucial given the buildup to Kingdom Hearts III and the events it seems it will center around. Mickey shows up as well, giving us some explanation as to what he was doing for most of the first Kingdom Hearts game as well. Overall, if you are curious as to what has been going on in the background with some of the other major characters in the series then you should give this a play through. There also happens to be a fun scene at the end that basically serves as the introduction to the first level of Kingdom Hearts III and very well might have been the first scene of the game.

It was previously stated by Square Enix that 0.2 Fragmentary Passage was meant to give players an introduction into the combat system but what this game also does is shows you just how powerful Aqua is in comparison to Sora and Riku. Aqua’s battle casting skills flow so smoothly that you can just continue casting spells while simletaneously moving across the battlefield in order to set up your next devestating combo allowing you to finish off your foes with an upgraded magic attack like the one in the above. Did I mention that this final magic attack also costs NO MP. Aqua op y’all. But on a serious note, the combat system is definitely the most fluid and easily accessible of all the games in the series and should succeed in getting players excited for the upcoming Kingdom Hearts III. The game also brings back the popular shot lock system that has saved many players lives countless times in later parts of the Birth by Sleep and will continue to save your behind in this entry as well.

It should just be expected that Kingdom Hearts games will excel in the visual and music category. 0.2 easily features the best visuals of the series for sure and while short, features some great musical compositions as well that set the ambiance of the realm of darkness and the events of the game incredibly well. This does a great job of immersing the player into Aqua’s plight and the soundtrack does nothing but complement her struggle and musically paints the emotional scene of her journey though the Realm of Darkness. (It gave us a huge case of the feels.)

Overall, if you are wondering what exactly happened to Aqua after the events of Birth by Sleep then it would definitely be worth a play through. (Or if you want to get a taste of how Kingdom Hearts III will play.)

 

Next up, Kingdom Hearts Unchained X: Back Cover!

 

Initially I was worried that watching this would ruin the entire story of Unchained X for me. I was wrong. Back Cover does a good job of presenting its own story in the context of Unchained X without spoiling all of the details and lets you have a clearer picture of what exactly the Foretellers have been up to while you were off gathering lux. The story of Back Cover is fairly interesting but leaves you with more questions than answers at the end of it. Having a lot of questions and mysteries set up at the end of a Kingdom Hearts game is nothing new and in fact has been one of the things that has kept people interested in it’s story all these years but this entry leaves us with far more questions than usual and seemingly doesn’t present much in answering any previous ones we had from other entries. It does do a great job of presenting who the Foretellers are as people and gives you a good deal of insight into their struggles during the events of Unchained X and really helps you connect to the characters on an emotional level. Plus the cutscenes are beautiful and genuinely enjoyable to watch. It also presents you with a bit more context of how exactly all these keyblade wielders came to be and helps provide more of an origin story for the entire struggle of the Kingdom Hearts series but again, only to a certain degree given the lingering questions of what the Master of Masters was really up to or is he even the problem in the first place …. and also …. WHAT IS IN THAT BOX?!?!?!

 

Overall, Kingdom Hearts 2.8 as a whole present itself in an interesting position as a whole given the large amount of content contained in the title. It isn’t necessarily mandatory for people who are caught up on the series up to Dream Drop Distance and Unchained X but Aqua’s story in Fragmentary Passage makes the title much more enticing and might be the tipping point for those who are on the fence about purchasing the game (and rightly so!) If you have not caught up to Dream Drop Distance due to not having a 3DS previously then this title is a must buy for anyone who wants to keep up with the Kingdom Hearts series and have a good grasp on the situation by the time Kingdom Hearts III comes out. The entire package is a lot of fun and expands on the Kingdom Hearts story in some very interesting ways and gives a lot of background context that we never knew that we wanted and in retrospect will probably end up wondering why we didn’t ask for those answers sooner.

 

Overall Score 8.5/10

 

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