Kingdom Hearts 2.8 Final Chapter Prologue
It’s been 12 years since the last core Kingdom Hearts game. Finally, Kingdom Hearts 2.8 Final Chapter Prologue feels like the last stepping stone before the third entry. 2.8 is another uprezzed collection much like Kingdom Hearts 1.5 and 2.5 but misses out on not including a game from the main series. This time around players are given Dream Drop Distance (the 3DS game), Birth By Sleep: A Fragmentary Passage (a short section from the PSP game), and a collection of cutscenes from the mobile title Unchained x. While there is plenty of content, it is nowhere near as substantial as the prior remasters but manages to remain fun with what is delivered.
Developer Square Enix put a lot of work into making the old 3DS title, Dream Drop Distance work on the PS4. Playing the game feels way more comfortable on a Dualshock controller then it did on the clunky 3DS gamepad. The combat flow feels smoother and getting invested in the worlds is easier when you can see everything that’s going on. That being said, this is still an apparent 3DS port. Touch and motion controls were a big part of the title and they don’t always translate well to the PlayStation. The game also plays differently than a core Kingdom Hearts so newcomers beware,this is not a traditional Kingdom Hearts experience.
Sora and Riku: Dynamic Duo
Dream Drop Distance relies on a gimmick that has the player switch between controlling Sora and Riku. A drop meter is added underneath the health bar and when the automated timer runs out the player is forced to switch to whichever character they were not using. Seeing the two heroes stories develop simultaneously is entertaining, but the invasive drop system ruins the experience. Once the drop timer runs out, no matter where you are or what enemy is being fought the game force switches your character. I had too many instances of long boss encounters having to be restarted because of this new system. Also gone is the traditional buddy system. Sora no longer fights alongside famous Disney characters. New to the series is the spirit partner system that has players create pets based on the enemies you fight. Using these new partners, our heroes are able to utilize spirit link attacks that let Riku fuse and Sora combo attack with their respective monsters. These new abilities are fun to use but only add to the chaos of the combat system which sometimes feels a little too hectic.
Kingdom Hearts 0.2 Birth By Sleep: A Fragmentary Passage
The next entry available to players is “Kingdom Hearts 0.2 Birth By Sleep: A Fragmentary Passage.” This snippet of the PSP game Birth By Sleep has been completely remastered in the Unreal 4 engine. The new style is a first glimpse into what Kingdom Hearts 3 is going to look and play like. The combat is fast and fluid and the story gives a good impression of what’s going on in the events right before the third core game. Aqua is an awesome hero and the new option to customize your character’s appearance is an entertaining distraction. The only downside to this experience is that it is not terribly long. I managed to complete 0.2 in 2 hours 45 minutes on normal difficulty, albeit without finding a ton of the secrets that the game has hidden. This small section of gameplay leaves you wanting so much more, but unfortunately that is still a ways off.
Overall Kingdom Hearts 2.8 is a welcomed addition to the series, but at the end of the experience it only leaves a desire to play the main games. This title is a treat for fans who need something to tide them over while waiting for Kingdom Hearts 3. Newcomers to the series will be left confused and should wait for the re releases of 1.5 and 2.5 on the current gen consoles before sinking money into 2.8. If you’d like a look into what the game looks and plays like, we have a Let’s Play at the bottom of the article that will give more insight into the game.