The wait can’t get anymore tiring for Kingdom Hearts 3 but Square Enix are somehow able to keep the hype going for the much awaited sequel with Kingdom Hearts HD 2.8 Final Chapter Prologue and the upcoming Kingdom Hearts HD 1.5 and 2.5 Remix. For the uninitiated Kingdom Hearts HD 2.8 Final Chapter Prologue is a collection of a high-definition remaster of Kingdom Hearts 3D: Dream Drop Distance (a Nintendo 3DS game that was released back in 2012), Kingdom Hearts χ a one hour cinematic that goes deep into the series’ history and lastly, Kingdom Hearts 0.2: Birth by Sleep – A Fragmentary Passage which is essentially a 3 hour long, brand new game and our first look at how at some of the mechanics in Kingdom Hearts 3 will play out whenever it launches.
So it goes without saying that A Fragmentary Passage is perhaps the most exciting part of this collection. The story is told from the perspective of Aqua and it takes place after the events of the original Birth By Sleep. The first thing you will notice is how gorgeous the game looks on the PlayStation 4. Running at a slick 60 frames per second, the shift to Unreal Engine 4 has done wonders to the game’s visual fidelity. Platforming and navigating as Aqua feels so much better and this fluidity translates extremely well to the combat.
"Kingdom Hearts 0.2: Birth by Sleep – A Fragmentary Passage does not offer much in the way of customization and the only feature that can be played around with are the wardrobe unlockables that can be achieved by completing certain objectives."
Kingdom Hearts games are known for their fantastic worlds and art style and the series’ shift to modern technology has done wonders for the game’s aesthetics. The Castle of Dreams and the world disturbed due to the time shift during the initial gameplay sections look absolutely drop dead gorgeous and makes navigating through them a complete blast. Aqua has various magical powers that she can use to take down enemies and thanks to the power of Unreal Engine 4, the various post processing and particle effects generated from casting magic and killing enemies look stunning at times.
Kingdom Hearts 0.2: Birth by Sleep – A Fragmentary Passage does not offer much in the way of customization and the only feature that can be played around with are the wardrobe unlockables that can be achieved by completing certain objectives. So overall, this short teaser manages to capture the essence of the Kingdom Hearts series but it’s rather light on content, lasting a mere 3 hours. If this is the kind of consistent, solid and fluid action players are going to experience in Kingdom Hearts 3 then Square Enix possibly have a winner in their hands.
"Kingdom Hearts 3D: Dream Drop Distance remaster looks really sharp with a better anti-aliasing system in place along with high resolution character models and support for 60 frames per second gameplay."
As mentioned before this collection also comes packed with a high-definition remaster of Kingdom Hearts 3D: Dream Drop Distance. However the game has undergone drastic changes not only in the graphics departments but also the way player controls several actions during gameplay. The various touch screen based elements have been converted so that they can support the traditional control scheme and mini-games have been translated into a card based system. The remaster looks really sharp with a better anti-aliasing system in place along with high resolution character models and support for 60 frames per second gameplay.
Lasting a good 30 hours, the game introduced new concepts in the series such as raising a friendly Dream Eater which can take several forms. These creatures will fight alongside you and provide you with back up whenever the going becomes tough. Once their link meter is full they will be able to deliver a devastating attack resulting into some dazzling graphical effects.
As you may already know by now, the remaster also brings back the Drop system, which forces the player to switch between playing as Sora and Riku. Once their time limit is over, you will be forced to switch however you can use certain items to increase the time limit. Although this system may be annoying for some players, it actually adds more tension to the gameplay. I mean, imagine a situation when the system kicks in during a battle scene? The Drop system ensures that there is never a dull moment between the two stories of Sora and Riku.
"This collection will not quench our thirst for Kingdom Hearts 3 but it surely has us excited about the future of the series."
And lastly, we have the Kingdom Hearts χ Back Cover which is an hour long cinematic telling the story about the game’s origins. Based on the mobile game Kingdom Hearts χ, Kingdom Hearts χ Back Cover focuses solely on the cinematics without any sort of gameplay from the original game. Without spoiling anything, the cinematics will provide a few answers about the game’s origins but at the same time it will raise a number of questions.
In the end Kingdom Hearts HD 2.8 Final Chapter Prologue is a game primarily for fans. If you are a fan of the series, you will enjoy the extended lore provided by Kingdom Hearts 0.2: Birth by Sleep – A Fragmentary Passage but for the uninitiated the game will simply make you wonder what the hell are you doing. This collection will not quench our thirst for Kingdom Hearts 3 but it surely has us excited about the future of the series.
This game was reviewed on the PlayStation 4.
Sharp remaster work done on Kingdom Hearts Dream Drop Distance, 60fps gameplay, Kingdom Hearts 0.2: Birth by Sleep – A Fragmentary Passage has fantastic gameplay which will make players excited for Kingdom Hearts 3.
Not much customization in Kingdom Hearts 0.2: Birth by Sleep – A Fragmentary Passage and it only lasts 3 hours, some controls have not been translated well into Kingdom Hearts 3D: Dream Drop Distance.
Kingdom Hearts HD 2.8 Final Chapter Prologue is not some cheap cash-in collection. It’s a bridge to what is going come in the future backed up by an amazing remaster and an intriguing teaser to the next game.
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