Now that Kingdom Hearts 3 has been out for a whole year, it’s much easier to look at what the game offered with a more balanced perspective. Where the game would succeed with its set-pieces and beautiful aesthetic, it would stumble in its pacing and lack of difficulty. Updates and tweaks have steadily been refining this game into a more complete and satisfying experience, but there’s always been some intangible thing missing that made the older titles so replayable.
With Re:Mind, Kingdom Hearts is trying out DLC for the first time, offering new additional episodes and gameplay modifiers. But is this pack the thing that elevates Kingdom Hearts 3 into the same stratum where its console siblings reside?
Re:Mind is accessible only with a finished save file and with good reason. This DLC spends no time bringing players up to speed with the events at the end of Kingdom Hearts 3, and since this entire DLC ties in so closely with the ending events of Kingdom Hearts 3, there will obviously be massive spoilers ahead.
Re:Mind begins directly after the climactic finale at the Keyblade Graveyard. After taking down the entire Organization along with Xehanort, Sora sets out to try and figure out how to bring Kairi back from the brink of death. After a little bit of thought, the answer that Sora lands on turns out to be time travel and body possession. His spirit goes back in time and hitches rides with other characters throughout the entire Keyblade Graveyard battle. While this is a kind of cool (if confusing) idea, it does lead to one of the biggest problems that Re:Mind has: recycling old content.
"While its setup is a kind of cool (if confusing) idea, it does lead to one of the biggest problems that Re:Mind has: recycling old content."
You essentially play the entire conclusion of the base game over again. Even though there are occasionally new cutscenes added as well, a majority of what you’ll be seeing throughout this story DLC will be old hat. You do eventually get to experience new events and even get to explore Scala ad Caelum from the base game. There are even treasure chests to find here and you spend a little bit of time solving puzzles scattered throughout. It’s such a striking location, but unfortunately, it comes far too late into the DLC and doesn’t stick around for long. Appropriately enough, considering the base game, Re:Mind doesn’t really get going until the last quarter of its runtime. And with a total runtime of about four hours, that’s not a good look for the package.
As a neat twist though, you can sometimes assume control of other characters throughout the story. During some paired battles, you will sometimes be given the option to switch control to another character and play the battle through their perspective. Although some characters feel somewhat clunky compared to Sora’s expanded mobility, it’s still pretty neat to just play as them, with Roxas and Kairi being standout examples. Oftentimes, playing as the other characters will be the best way forward in order to get any sort of challenge from the enemies. Sora’s stats and levels carry over from the base game, so you end up steam-rolling most fights, which sort of deflates the tension the game attempts to build. The guest characters, on the other hand, are set to a level that’s appropriate for the fight at hand, which lets you still enjoy some of the battles.
The story is pretty much what you’d expect as far as Kingdom Hearts standards go. There’s lots of talk about darkness and light, impressive abilities that characters seemingly pull out of nowhere, and plenty of scenes of people nodding their heads at one another.
Character interactions are still pretty stilted, just like in the main game, although there are some fun bits of banter between the Guardians of Light thrown in there. Fan favorite characters like the Final Fantasy gang get brought back, too, and even though they only have a handful of lines apiece, it’s still nice to see them. For those fans who were hoping that Re:Mind would answer some of the burning questions left behind by the base game though, you may want to temper your expectations. Instead of answering old questions, this DLC practically doubles down, adding even more questions to the pile. So while Re:Mind will undoubtedly be important in future titles in the series, there are no definitive revelations coming out of this package for the time being.
"For those fans who were hoping that Re:Mind would answer some of the burning questions left behind by the base game though, you may want to temper your expectations. Instead of answering old questions, this DLC practically doubles down, adding even more questions to the pile."
After completing the main story episode, the biggest drawing point that Re:Mind has is its Limitcut episode. For fans familiar with the data battles of old, this will be very familiar. The Limitcut episode offers players a chance to battle super-charged versions of the series’ main baddies. If you found yourself wanting more from the climatic battles during Kingdom Hearts 3’s Keyblade Graveyard, this is for you. Now you’ll get the chance to take on each member of the Organization individually. But the bosses on offer here aren’t just their base encounters with a bit more health. They’ve been completely reworked, not only to suit a one-on-one battle, but also to completely break any unaware players who thought that a level-99 Sora would be enough to stroll through this DLC.
Limitcut is hard. It’s really hard. The bosses are relentless, and you have to struggle to hold out against their onslaught long enough to retaliate. Coincidentally, Re:Mind released around the same time as a free update that gave Sora more combo options and mobility during battles. But looking at the battles this episode offers the player, that additional mobility is borderline mandatory. Kingdom Hearts 3 has built up a stellar combat system over time. And now, with these bosses, Re:Mind gives KH3 players an opportunity to actually use the combat system to the fullest.
Re:Mind also gives a massive boost to replayability by offering “Fast Pass” and “Black Code” options. During the initial tutorial of a new game, players will be prompted with the Premium Menu. From here, you’ll have the option to either opt into an easier version of the game, or to crank up the difficulty. The Fast Pass modifiers can give you things like auto-block and health regen, among other positive effects.
And on the flip side, the Black Code modifiers can do things like disable multiple battle abilities, constantly drain your health, or reduce your defense to zero. These modifiers are exactly what the game needed. Kingdom Hearts 3 was heavily criticized for its lacking difficulty at launch. While this issue was somewhat addressed with the addition of Critical Mode in a patch, the mode seemed like it went too far in some areas. By putting these difficulty options into the hands of the players, not only are more people likely to find something that suits their tolerance, but you also open up the possibility of creative challenge runs. Although it seems at first glance to be a small, forgettable addition, the Premium Menu will be a catalyst for added replayability and is a welcome addition.
"By putting new difficulty options into the hands of the players, not only are more people likely to find something that suits their tolerance, but you also open up the possibility of creative challenge runs. Although it seems at first glance to be a small, forgettable addition, the Premium Menu will be a catalyst for added replayability and is a welcome addition."
There’s also a Data Greeting mode available. What this is is essentially an expansive photo studio that you can fill with whatever characters you’d like in whatever pose you’d like. You plop characters down and then get to work, changing their expressions and spinning them around in all sorts of directions. There are plenty of characters, objects, filters, and locations that you can utilize to your heart’s content. This mode seems like a clear evolution from the photo mode included in the base game, but with far greater depth. You can even create individual points of colored light for some real mood setting. Although this type of mode may not be for everyone, its inclusion in this pack is bound to strike a chord with players with an eye for art and a penchant for photography.
So with all that’s been added, does Re:Mind make Kingdom Hearts 3 a better game? Does it shift it closer towards the lofty heights of the first two games? Well, yes and no. For many players, this pack will only offer a lopsided four-hour story mode. And while it may have cool ideas from time to time, this story DLC isn’t the amazing exclamation point that Kingdom Hearts 3 really could have used at its end.
But for players who are looking to dive into the mechanics of this game and really buckle down against some of the toughest fights that the series has seen yet, this DLC more than delivers. While the content on offer is certainly divisive, the amount of replayability offered by the Black Codes, paired with the grueling difficulty of the Limit Cut bosses, will be deeply satisfying for a very select group of fans, and will keep them playing until the next entry in the Kingdom Hearts franchise.
This game was reviewed on the PlayStaion 4.
Limitcut Bosses test the limits of the KH3 combat system; Premium Menu creates much more replayability.
Recycled content; Lackluster story.