Developer: Square Enix
Publisher: Square Enix
Tested on: PS4
Kingdom Hearts HD II.8 Final Chapter Prologue – Review
Kingdom Hearts fans have been endlessly waiting for the new instalment of this franchise: Kingdom Hearts III. Square Enix is still finalizing this game, so we will have to wait a bit longer, but they have released something else to keep their fans occupied. Kingdom Hearts HD II.8 Final Chapter Prologue has quite some content to keep you busy and will give you some useful background information for the upcoming title.
This title won’t only provide you with Kingdom Hearts 3D: Dream Drop Distance, but you’ll also receive a cinematic short film called Kingdom Hearts X Back Cover and a short playable fragment with Aqua as Kingdom Hearts 0.2: Birth by Sleep – A Fragmentary Passage.
In the revision of the 3DS game, Sora and Riku need to go through a Mark of Mastery exam to be given the title of Keyblade Master. Our good-hearted friend is quite sceptical about this test, as both Riku and him have overcome quite some obstacles. Yen Sid isn’t really convinced as they are self-learned Keyblade users and the upcoming battles will be rather feisty. Riku on the other hand doesn’t mind to undergo an exam, as he wants to test himself. You will need to enter several ‘Sleeping Worlds’ to awaken them from their slumber and extinguish the Dream Eaters that are running rampant. From the start of their mission, things go wrong quite fast and they get separated. It gets clear that this task will be significantly harder and that they’ll need to tackle quite some obstacles and problems.
The second playable game will take you to what has transpired after the ending of Dream Drop Distance and Birth by Sleep. You will be able to play as Aqua and find out what her inner thoughts are. Will she be able to find Ventus and Terra or will darkness consume her heart? The events that occur here will also have their sprouts in Kingdom Hearts III so it might be a good idea to tackle this episode. Kingdom Hearts X Back Cover gives you some history of the franchise and will tell you the tale of the Foretellers. This subject is already tackled in the mobile game ‘Kingdom Hearts X’, where you’re right in the middle of the Keyblade Wars. Back Cover will tell you what happened before these unfortunate events occurred.
Next to the revised version of Dream Drop Distance, you’ll also have enough extra content to get your head around the rich lore this franchise has to offer. You won’t be disappointed by what Kingdom Hearts HD II.8 Final Chapter Prologue has to offer and you will be craving for more rather sooner than later.
The main goal of the game is to provide you with a remastered version of the 3DS game. This means that the graphics have had an big update and that some of the touch functions were altered as well. The quality of the footage is surely improved and you’ll be able to fight the Dream Eaters on a whole new level. Even more, the cutscenes are truly amazing in this game. Don’t worry about the color scheming, the different palettes and vivid tones are still present which will have their effect on your mood, although the darker areas will do the same. As you’re visiting some worlds from the Disney universe, you can expect some specific detailing that will bring back some memories. At any rate, be ready to get engulfed by a roller-coaster of backgrounds, details and monsters.
Kingdom Hearts X Back Cover and Kingdom Hearts 0.2: Birth by Sleep – A Fragmentary Passage are made with the same technology that will be used for Kingdom Hearts III. To be honest, these graphics are amazing and will show the capabilities of the PS4. The cinematic movie resembles more of an animation movie rather than something you can expect from a video game and it stays true to the recognizable characteristics Kingdom Hearts provide.
If you’ve played previous games from this franchise, you surely know what you can expect. Exciting, joyful tunes that will get you ready for what is yet to come, while the more emotional parts also have a fitting track. Of course, just as with the graphical details, you will hear some familiar jingles that are representative for that Disney world. The sound effects help to get immersed and to get into fighting all those baddies. Swooshing your Keyblade and hearing them hit your foes is quite satiating, while gathering your fruits of the fight will also make you feel satisfied. Every effect feels also genuine and fits the setting completely.
Of course, voice acting is also rather important and Square Enix provided some fitting voices for their characters. Sora is been profiled as rather young and cheerful while Riku has a more darker undertone. Overall everything matches, especially in combination with the graphics.
There are several games in this franchise but most of them are action RPGs with hack ‘n slash elements. Depending what story you’re in, you play with Sora or one of the other protagonists. Normally, your main targets are the Heartless like in ‘A Fragmentary Passage’, while Dream Drop Distance will have you take up arms against the evil Dream Eaters or Nightmares. In the end, they both need to be exterminated, which is done by swinging your Keyblade, casting magic or performing skills. In Dream Drop Distance, you will get help from Spirits rather than from Donald or Goofy. These helpful sprites can be built by collecting the plans and by gathering the necessary parts. These homemade buddies have a ranking which is influenced by the amount of items you use and if you add optional items to the mix. Higher ranks mean that they will perform better in battle but you need to nurture and spoil them a little bit as well. They’ll become more friendly, giving you the opportunity to gain affinity and experience. This can also be obtained by taking them to battle so they gain points that can be spent in their talent tree.
These minions can be shared between Sora and Riku as they’re fighting in different images of a world. This switch between characters occurs when the Drop Gauge is depleted. During this time, you can continue the story for one of the characters and try to gather as much points as possible. When the drop takes place, these points can be used to buy some perks for the next run or you can get some ‘munny’. You can get some bonus points by completing certain objectives so it might be a good idea to keep this in mind.
Switching between worlds means that you will need to clear the Dive mode. This is some kind of mini-game where you will need to complete the objective before you can pass the goal ring and enter the world. It could be that you need to collect a certain amount of points or that you need to kill a boss. You can attack or slow down your falling speed for instance, while you can also perform a special attack when you’ve collected a magic prize. When you’re able to enter the world, you will have to battle against some new foes, which could mean that you need some new commands to tackle the new enemies you’re facing. On your journey, you can find certain abilities in chests, while others can be bought from vendors. Also, some skills are learned from levelling your Spirits, making them quite important assets. You can set different moves, ranging from magic to skills or the usage of items. Next to these extra attack options, you can also link with one or both of your Spirits you have summoned in battle. Before you can actually use their skills or perform a devastating attack, they need to fill their link meter by attacking your enemies.
Kingdom Hearts wouldn’t be an RPG if there weren’t any bosses that needed to be killed. These are obviously in line with the world you are in and will require all of your skills to kill. In the end, you will receive some nice goodies like a new Keyblade and some well-needed experience. Before you head into a world, you can see what levels the enemies have so it could be that you need to stay in a certain area longer to gain some levels before you’re ready to tackle the next world. It is your own choice to face these monsters whenever you like but the level indicator is mostly spot-on regarding this matter.
Dream Drop Distance has some other elements on its sleeve, starting with the Flowmotion. This means that, by rolling into certain items or by jumping on them, you can start gliding through the air and perform other types of attacks. If you’re facing big Nightmares, this means you can roll into them and start spinning them around. At other times, you can do an aerial attack and finish of some flying foes. It surely makes the gameplay more dynamic and it is a fun way to get around faster. The next perk is the Reality shift, where you can trigger certain actions by pressing the circle and triangle button. Depending on the item, you can send it flying for instance or you can inflict more damage. Last but not least are the Link Portals, where you can take up arms against Spirits or where these good ol’ creatures come to your aid for a limited time.
Since this game is a revision from a Nintendo 3DS game, it is amazing to see how well it works on the PS4. Dream Drop Distance plays really smooth and you would almost forget this was a title that was released on a handheld. One of the assets of the touchscreen were available in the minigames. These have been altered to card games, so you will be able to enjoy these little gems in the PS4 as well.
Kingdom Hearts 0.2: Birth by Sleep – A Fragmentary Passage will take you on a short journey with Aqua and her fight against the darkness and Heartless. The battling system is quite similar to Dream Drop Distance, although all spells are linked to one magic meter. Using Firaga for instance will deplete the meter, so you’ll need to wait until this is filled again before you can perform a new spell. This is quite important as it can lead to life or death. Also, constantly attacking enemies will also give you the opportunity to go into a certain state, like Spell Weaver, which will give you bonuses and even a finishing move.
Kingdom Hearts HD II.8 Final Chapter Prologue doesn’t provide you with one game but gives you so much more. Next to the revised version of Dream Drop Distance, you will also receive a playable episode which is filled with info for the upcoming Kingdom Hearts III. Also, you’ll be able to dive more into the lore of the franchise thanks to Kingdom Hearts X Back Cover. Dream Drop Distance is visually really nice and the music surely is the cherry on the pie. The same can be said for the other two titles on this disk, as they use the same software that will be used for Kingdom Hearts III. If you’re a fan of the franchise, you’ll definitely like what this game has to offer but if you’re new then this title will throw you right in the middle and it might get a bit confusing.