Published on February 2nd, 2017 | by Daniel Coomans
Kingdom Hearts 2.8: Final Chapter Prologue Review
Summary: A brief teaser before the main event, a game only for true fans of the series.
Kingdom Hearts, Disney’s cry for their own Final Fantasy is a fan fiction of sorts for the Disney franchise to have a place for all their many worlds to come together in an affordable way. Even those who can’t travel all the way to the real Disneyland, this game is a means to experience the magical grandeur of the real thing, with a typical Square-Enix twist to it.
2.8: Final Chapter Prologue, isn’t much, it’s simply a HD version of Dream Drop Distance that featured on the DS some five years ago, and two new short story additions: 0.2 Birth by Sleep – A fragmentary Passage; which takes place directly after Dream Drop Distance and after the original Birth by Sleep which was a direct ten year prequel to the original Kingdom Hearts as well as a short cinematic piece dubbed Back Cover; a prequel to Kingdom Hearts x which takes place one hundred years before the first game, telling an as yet unseen story about how the five Keyblade Masters became who they are in Kingdom Hearts x.
Convoluted I know, the story would confuse anyone who wasn’t already at least a little bit versed in the series’ lore as a whole. I myself having only played the original first pair; Kingdom Hearts I and II am confused when I read how much story there is going forward and backward and across different timelines and running parallel to, so please as you read below, contain your hate as I try to explain the story and my experience with it.
Kingdom Hearts x: Back Cover, is interesting in itself, before checking up where it fit in to the overarching plot of the series I didn’t quite understand what it was trying to explain, although I got the rough gist. Taking place before the game Kingdom Hearts x it explains how the five Keyblade Masters came to be, their struggle to grasp the book of prophecies given to them by the master, their difficulties trusting one another as they learned of each members true role and their reasoning for creating legions to collect light for the as yet unseen but foretold battle against the darkness. The animation is a little too colourful for my tastes, as is the case with the series as a whole, the game tries to be bright and happy despite it’s relatively dark plot, but it was smooth, fluid and well-paced. By the end of the hour long episode, I had a much better grasp of what was going on in the series.
Kingdom Hearts 0.2: Birth by Sleep – A fragmentary Passage tells a story that runs prequel to and parallel of Kingdom Hearts I, tells the story of Aqua being trapped in the realm of darkness trying to reconnect with her lost friends, losing hope and then finding it with the help of King Mickey and the acquisition of the Keyblade of Darkness. It doesn’t do the best job of explaining just whereabouts it features in exact chronological order because part of it is the prequel and another gives the impression of being parallel, but without being versed in the lore, I cannot say for sure.
Kingdom Hearts: Dream Drop Distance HD is a High Definition remake of the original game from back in 2012, this game plays after the events of II and is the current direct prequel to III, in which Sora and Riku return to seven of the worlds that were restored after the events of the first game into a sleeping state, separate from the rest of the worlds as a means to complete an exam to become Keyblade Masters. Not everything goes to plan however as Sora’s heart is shrouded in darkness after defeating Xemnus, and Xehanort attempts to make Sora his final vessel, during which his body is rescued by the human form of Axel, a former Organisation XIII member and Riku defeats the Nightmare possessing Ventus’ armor with Sora’s heart trapped inside. Riku is granted the rank of Keyblade Master and it is revealed that Axel is now a Keyblade Wielder with the hopes of also becoming Master, Sora is undeterred and Riku is instructed to bring Kairi forth to become a Keyblade wielder in the hopes they will become part of the seven “Guardians of Light” before Kingdom Hearts III.
The video quality of the game is great across both 0.2 and Back Cover as they’re both newly created for the PS4 system, the animation is fluid, smooth and colourful and the action scenes in both really stand out. The HD revamp of Dream Drop Distance however is quite low on the scale when you compare it to some of the other HD collections out there and especially Square-Enix’s own HD remake of Final Fantasy X and X-2, the pace of the animation however is great so you don’t get the sense that it’s fallen too short, just that you wish it were on the same par as some that are available today.
The audio is as great as ever, a vast voice cast bring a massive palate to your ears and enough music to make a whole discography. The iconic return of Mickey, Goofy and Donald gives you a smile you never knew you had, it’s almost hard to take the game seriously when you hear their lines but at the same time the game wouldn’t be what it is without them, the sound effects fit well within the Disney world with sprinkles of fairy dust on every hit, smack and whack making it almost non-violently comical despite essentially beating things up with a giant key.
In conclusion the game is okay, it’s not for me specifically as I’ve never been a huge fan of Kingdom Hearts but I can see why it is as popular as it has become, thus as a result fans will enjoy it, I don’t know if they’ll love it though as the content level is minimal, one revamp of a full game, one short extra game lasting barely a couple hours and an hour long cinematic to fill the gaps for the cost of $69 AUD? Not the best value if you ask me. But no doubt many will pay for the small amount of content to fill their void until the release of Kingdom Hearts III the twelfth instalment of the series as a whole, and HD remakes are always a welcome addition giving a fresh new take on games that players can sometimes miss after replaying the originals as many times as I have playing mine. So in the end, Kingdom Hearts fans will feel their money was well spent.