Welcome to another one of my reviews you lovely individual! This time I’m going to be going through each of the different pieces that make up Kingdom Hearts: 2.8 Final Chapter Prologue!
Please note that this review will spoil the ENTIRE plotline of Kingdom Hearts: Dream Drop Distance, so be warned!
Kingdom Hearts: 3D (Dream Drop Distance) is technically the 7th game within the Kingdom Hearts franchise, being set canonically after Kingdom Hearts II and Kingdom Hearts: Re:Coded, is the last game before we move onto the long-anticipated Kingdom Hearts III! Given it’s position within the series, and how it’s the last game before the climax to this beloved story, how does Kingdom Hearts: Dream Drop Distance fare against not only the main-line Kingdom Hearts titles, but it’s spinoffs as well?
Set before Sora and his merry band of buds go to fight the pure darkness that is Xehanort, they first must undertake the Mark of Mastery Exam hosted in Kingdom Hearts: Birth By Sleep, in order to gain the strength to overcome the fearsome challenges that await Sora, Riku, Kairi and the gang in Kingdom Hearts III – In order to obtain the Mark of Mastery, Sora and Riku need to rescue the remnants of the worlds that fell to darkness in Kingdom Hearts I, with seven in total, their mission is to unlock the “Sleeping Keyholes” in these “Sleeping Worlds”, `and return unharmed – It’s not long, however, until things start to go awry with the forces of darkness, Xehanort, and other lovely villains causing a ruckus, and confusing the story of Kingdom Hearts to such a degree that it’s now barely understandable…
As with every spinoff within the Kingdom Hearts franchise, Kingdom Hearts: Dream Drop Distance adds a new layer of spice to the mix with the inclusion of brand new, collectable followers, known as Spirits, and the new combat mechanic of Flowmotion – Starting off with Flowmotion, what it is in essence is a way for players to navigate across the local terrain, and use it to propel themselves in various ways to execute fresh and exciting attacks and moves against enemies and bosses – Players can also use Flowmotion to manipulate enemies, from which the effects vary from world to world (This being called “Reality Shift”); as a long-time fan of the Kingdom Hearts franchise, I do have a soft spot in my heart for Flowmotion, however it’s not without it’s faults, with the controls being the one biggest bugbear that I personally encountered whilst trying out KH:3D HD; in order to use a “Reality Shift”, players have to hold both Circle and Triangle when a specific reticule appears over an item or enemy – This isn’t usually a problem, but when you’re running around, trying to dodge enemies left, right and centre, it can be an extremely annoying fumble to try and remember to mash both buttons.
Spirits act as your companions through each world, being sort of like Pokemon in comparison – You can craft more powerful Sprits by using different crafting materials gathered from slain enemies, which have a large array of different abilities, from projectile firing, melee attacks, healing, spell casting and buffing / debuffing – There’s certainly a lot of colourful variety within the Spirit system, and allows you to use them in minigames like battle arenas and Pokemon Amie-styled play-area.
However, despite the Sprit system being quite filled with content and fun to explore, another issue I had whilst playing Kingdom Hearts: Dream Drop Distance was the difficulty; I realise that this is from my own doing, but as someone who’s played through KH 1 on Proud, KH 2 on Critical, KH: BBS on Proud and KH: 358/2 Days on Proud, I have to say that Kingdom Hearts: Dream Drop Distance’s idea of Proud Mode is absurdly difficult – With areas such as The City of Bells’ opening area for Sora being filled to the brim with annoying, difficult enemies that can easily stunlock you and decimate you with no warning. The first boss too, Hockomonkey, with Sora’s side was surprisingly difficult too, so be warned challenge seekers! I’m not looking forward to seeing what Critical Mode holds in store for me…
And yes, you may have seen that I said “Sora’s side” there; that’s because KH:3D is split (Rather interestingly) into two halves – One half for Sora, and the other for Riku, allowing you to swap between the two campaigns at any point by selecting to “Drop” into the other’s world – “Dropping” also occurs naturally when you stay in a world for too long, which can be a little bit of a pain where you’re fighting a boss or trying to explore to find some treasure chests.
Now…Onto the big spoilery behemoth…The plot. God the plot. It’s by no means bad by any stretch of the word, but Kingdom Hearts: Dream Drop Distance is notorious for bringing numerous plot points into the main story that contradict the established lore (Well…Overwrite is a better word for it) – For starters, nearly every member of Organization XIII who were killed off in KHII make a return in this game in some form? How? Some appear as nightmares within Sora’s dreams…However, the big ruckus is that, apparently, when a Heart’s Heartless and Nobody are both destroyed, the original person is revived and reformed into their original selves, meaning that everything from Axel’s sacrifice, to the climactic fight against Xemnas was all for naught, since the original selves are just revived. Yes. That does mean that Axel (Or as his original self is named “Lea”) returns in this game, nearly becoming a main character of sorts near the end of the game, even going as far as to obtain his own Keyblade, even though he has a Keyblade associated with him already in Kingdom Hearts II (Bond of Flame)? This means that, of course, Xehanort has once again returned to flesh, despite his heart being stored within Terra from Kingdom Hearts Birth By Sleep – Another jump that KH:3D makes is into the wonderful world of time travel! Nearly every “Mysterious Character” at some point in Kingdom Hearts (Especially the odd stranger at the start of KH1) is hinted to be Xehanort in some shape or form, with the game’s main antagonist, “Young Xehanort” being the one who fought against Aqua / Ven / Terra in Kingdom Hearts Birth By Sleep…Yeah…It makes a lot of narrative leaps that seem to contradict established lore…But I guess that’s the fun of Kingdom Hearts? I guess? I don’t even know any more.
Regardless, Kingdom Hearts: Dream Drop Distance HD is an enjoyable romp that’ll last you a good number of hours. If this is your first Kingdom Hearts game, then for the love of God almighty PLAY ALL THE OTHERS PREVIOUSLY. You won’t understand a single thing otherwise! The combat can be clunky at times, and can be a bit annoying to control, but once you get a knack for it, you’ll be hooked.
Overall, I would rate Kingdom Hearts: Dream Drop Distance HD, a solid 7 / 10; definitely not the best Kingdom Hearts game, but does set up some interesting things narrative-wise, and will provide you with more than enough content to make the wait for Kingdom Hearts 3 a little bit shorter!