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Kingdom Hearts 2.8 Review

Updated on February 9, 2017

Overview

Kingdom Hearts 2.8 Final Chapter Prologue includes 3 parts: A remastered edition of Kingdom Hearts Dream Drop Distance (originally released on Nintendo 3DS), Kingdom Hearts 0.2 Birth By Sleep - A Fragmentary Passage, and Kingdom Hearts X (Chi) Back Cover movie. Together these 3 titles provide an excellent final teaser for the long awaited Kingdom Hearts III, showing us the beauty of Kingdom Hearts on current-generation consoles as well as adding some much-needed story elements that will directly lead up to Kingdom Hearts III.


Kingdom Hearts 3D Dream Drop Distance HD Remix

Let's start out by looking at Kingdom Hearts Dream Drop Distance HD Remix. The events of this game take place directly after Kingdom Hearts 2, with both Sora and Riku tasked with taking the Mark of Mastery Exam from Mater Yen Sid, who says the duo must forget everything they know about the Keyblade in order to complete the task. Sora and Riku are sent to awaken 7 "sleeping worlds" that never emerged from the darkness after the events of the first game, and such exist in a sleeping state, replaying old memories of the world.

Upon diving into these sleeping worlds, Sora and Riku are separated from one another, in seemingly parallel versions of the same worlds. As the 2 move forward through the worlds, they encounter a mysterious figure in a black coat, who turns out to be Young Xehanort, who continually tells them that they are off course before vanishing into darkness. This is where things get complicated. This Young Xehanort turns out to be a time traveling entity, with a master plan of luring Sora to Where Nothing Gathers in order to turn him into the 13th vessel of darkness (along with Xemnas, Saix, Xigbar, and other time traveling versions of Xehanort).

The visuals of this remix version are much improved over the 3DS version of the game, which was very welcome. Cutscenes and gameplay are smooth, and elements that were originally built for the touchscreen system have been more or less seamlessly integrated to the PS4. The gameplay does feel snappy at times, most likely due to the game being played on a much larger screen than it was originally built for, but it's nothing that takes away from the experience. Overall, this is a wonderful remaster of a game that really adds some great story elements to the Kingdom Hearts saga, now on a system that is much more accessible to Kingdom Hearts fans.

Overall score: 9/10


Kingdom Hearts 0.2 Birth By Sleep - A Fragmentary Passage

This... This is what we've been waiting for. Finally, we are able to see Kingdom Hearts on a current generation console, utilizing the Unreal Engine 4 to bring every aspect of the Kingdom Hearts series to life to an extent we've ever seen before.

The short game features Aqua, a well-known hero of the Kingdom Hearts series from Birth By Sleep, originally released for PSP. Aqua finds herself stranded in the World of Dark following the events of Birth By Sleep. We follow Aqua through the ruins of worlds lost to darkness including Castle of Dreams, a trippy Magic Mirror level inspired by Dwarf Woodlands, and the forest of Enchanted Dominion. Aqua faces various heartless forms, from simple shadows to monstrous Darksides. Each poses a unique challenge to the player, adapting to play styles like we've never seen in a Kingdom Hearts game before.

Let's move on to the look and feel of the game. The Unreal Engine 4 makes even small details look amazing, from the environment around you to the various effects from casting magic, it just looks beautiful. Controlling Aqua will feel very familiar for fans of the series, as the menu system looks very similar to what we all know and love from Kingdom Hearts 2, with some nuances thrown in as well. Those nuances include reaction commands based on your playing style, similar to what we saw in Birth By Sleep, but much easier to trigger. For instance, if you use Thunder magic a few times during your combo, you'll be given a reaction command to cast Thundaja, an overwhelming spell that rains lightning on all of the surrounding enemies. Square Enix has confirmed that we'll see this system in Kingdom Hearts 3 as well, which is great news because it's a really great addition to Kingdom Hearts combat.

Square Enix intended this small chapter to be a teaser of what we can expect from Kingdom Hearts 3 in terms of visuals and performance on the PS4, and I have to say, they did not disappoint. Kingdom Hearts 0.2 Birth By Sleep - A Fragmentary Passage makes it seem like Kingdom Hearts 3 will live up to the hype, and will be worth the wait (Square Enix, if you're reading this, please don't take that to mean it's ok to take another 3 years to develop this game).

Overall Score: 10/10


Kingdom Hearts X (Chi) Back Cover

The Kingdom Hearts X Back Cover movie gives us some neat insight into the history of the Kingdom Hearts series, long before even the events of Birth By Sleep. We follow the adventures of the five (six?) Foretellers, a mysterious hooded group who are tasked with assembling Keyblade wielders in unions in order to maintain the balance of Light and Darkness in the worlds. The mysterious master of the group known only as the Master of Masters, dressed in the iconic black robe with a few very subtle differences that we'll explore more in depth later on, has an all seeing eye that allows him to write the Book of Prophecies, a book detailing events destined to take place in the future.

Each of the Foretellers is given a copy of the book (save one missing page claiming there is a traitor in the group) as well as a role chosen by the Master of Masters, which gives them a task that they must complete in order to maintain the balance of Light and hopefully prevent (or at least delay) the eventual, and seemingly inevitable, triumph of Darkness over Light as explained in the Master of Master's book.

The voice acting in this roughly 60 minute film is surprisingly good for the company who is known for putting out scenes that probably worked well in Japanese, but just sound funny in their English dub. We get some big names with the actors, including Ray Chase as the Master of Masters, who recently starred in Final Fantasy XV as Prince Noctis. Chase gives us a delightfully sarcastic (and equally as mysterious) portrayal of the Master of Masters that aligns perfectly with the Kingdom Hearts feel without the 90s era catchphrases (I'm looking at you Axel and Xigbar). Overall, Kingdom Hearts X Back Cover provides excellent content to the story of Kingdom Hearts. It does however, make the already convoluted story that much more hard to understand, but honestly, it wouldn't be a true Kingdom Hearts installment if that weren't the case.

Overall score: 9/10


Rating Summary

Series
Category
Rating (out of 10)
Kingdom Hearts Dream Drop Distance HD Remix
Game
9
Kingdom Hearts 0.2 Birth By Sleep - A Fragmentary Passage
Game
10
Kingdom Hearts X Back Cover
Movie
9

Conclusion

Kingdom Hearts 2.8 is a must-have for fans of the series who are anxiously (maybe not so patiently) awaiting Kingdom Hearts 3, and can also appeal very well to new fans of the series as well given the diversity of the content. Overall, this teaser title shows that the future of the Kingdom Hearts series is very bright.

Final Score: 9.5/10


What do you think of KH 2.8? Rate the game yourself below

5 out of 5 stars from 1 rating of Kingdom Hearts 2.8 Final Chapter Prologue

© 2017 Matt Kellar

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    • AlexisG profile image

      Alexis 5 weeks ago

      I had mixed feelings about Kingdom Hearts X, but I loved all the other games in 2.8. Each game was great, though I did wish Fragmentary Passage had been longer!