A special Kingdom Hearts compilation
Kingdom Hearts HD 2.8 Final Chapter Prologue for the PlayStation 4 is a special compilation, which includes three full Kingdom Hearts experiences that no fan should miss. Square Enix has included is a full-HD remastered version of Kingdom Hearts Dream Drop Distance, originally on Nintendo 3DS and available on home consoles for the very first time. Additionally, a completely new playable episode made just for the PlayStation 4, entitled Kingdom Hearts 0.2 Birth by Sleep – A Fragmentary Passage, is included and directly connects to the story of the upcoming Kingdom Hearts 3 game.
Finally, Square Enix has included Kingdom Hearts X Back Cover, a new HD movie that retells the events of the mobile title Kingdom Hearts Unchained X.
Platform: PlayStation 4
Release Date: January 24, 2017
Developer: Square Enix 1st Production Department
Publisher: Square Enix
ESRB Rating: E10+ (Everyone 10+)
Kingdom Hearts Dream Drop Distance remastered
Originally released on the Nintendo 3DS 5 years ago, Dream Drop Distance has made its way to the PlayStation 4. Dream Drop Distance focuses on Sora and Riku’s Mark of Mastery exam. Both Sora and Riku have to protect parallel worlds in preparation for the return of Master Xehanort.
With the hopes of becoming Keyblade Masters, Sora and Riku must take down the evil Master Xehanort once and for all. There are a total of seven worlds to explore, like most Kingdom Hearts games, Dream Drop Distance’s worlds are from well-known Disney movies such as Pinocchio, Fantasia, and Tron: Legacy, amongst others.
Gameplay is fun and frantic with the flowmotion mechanic
While Dream Drop Distance doesn’t contain any new gameplay mechanics that weren’t found on the Nintendo 3DS, it does a fantastic job of translating the gameplay to the PlayStation 4. Touchscreen-based commands have been changed to a more traditional control scheme, which works really well. One of my favourite gameplay mechanics from Dream Drop Distance on the Nintendo 3DS was the flowmotion mechanic. I’m happy to say that the flowmotion mechanic works great on the PlayStation 4 and will have you bouncing of walls, spinning around poles, and grinding on rails.
With a simple press of the square button at the right time, you’ll become a master of the flowmotion mechanic in no time—keeping battles fun, frantic, and making combat fluid all at the same time. Furthermore, the Reality Shift mechanic, which allows you to use perform unique moves in certain worlds, is here.
Dream Drop Distance adds an element of customization by giving Sora and Riku a command deck, and as you progress, new abilities, moves, spells and items can be switched out and selected. This adds an element of customization to the game, and can help you strike a nice balance of attack, especially if you have some decent Dream Eaters at your side.
A new episode made just for the PlayStation 4
Kingdom Hearts 0.2 Birth by Sleep – A Fragmentary Passage is told as a story by King Mickey and yen Sid to Kairi and Riku. Based off of a conversation in Kingdom Hearts Birth By Sleep, a spin-off of the original series released in 2010 on the PSP, this game takes place after the events in Kingdom Hearts Dream Drop Distance.
Staring Aqua, Kingdom Hearts 0.2 Birth by Sleep – A Fragmentary Passage tells the tale of King Mickey’s confession that he has a few secrets relating to Aqua and her time in the Realm of Darkness. What makes this new episode important to Kingdom Hearts HD 2.8 Final Chapter Prologue is that it directly connects to the story of the upcoming Kingdom Hearts 3—one of my most highly anticipated Square Enix games.
Familiar gameplay with an advanced control system
Kingdom Hearts 0.2 Birth by Sleep – A Fragmentary Passage’s gameplay is very similar to other Kingdom Hearts games, but changes have been made to the control system. For example, Command Styles are now activated through Situation Commands, and shortcuts have multiple pages that can be scrolled through with the D-pad, which separates magic from items. These changes in the control system allow you to jump higher, pull off more fluid attacks, and use new magic effortlessly.
Overall, Kingdom Hearts 0.2 Birth by Sleep – A Fragmentary Passage’s gameplay felt modern and easier to control than Dream Drop Distance.
An early history of the series
Kingdom Hearts X Back Cover is a non-interactive movie that was rendered using the same graphics engine that Kingdom Hearts 3 uses. Approximately an hour long, the story delves into the very early history of the Kingdom Hearts franchise. With a focus on the five Foretellers, it tells the story of the missions bestowed on them by their master.
Overall, Kingdom Hearts X Back Cover is a nice inclusion to Kingdom Hearts HD 2.8 Final Chapter Prologue, and gives us some insight as to how Kingdom Hearts 3 may pan out. However, if you are new to the series, Kingdom Hearts X Back Cover may cause some confusion in regards to the overall storyline of the Kingdom Hearts games.
Enhanced graphics with visual flare
Both Dream Drop Distance and Kingdom Hearts 0.2 Birth by Sleep – A Fragmentary Passage look incredible on the PlayStation 4. While Dream Drop Distance is based upon a five-year-old game, it looks remarkably well considering its age. A Fragmentary Passage uses the same graphics engine as Kingdom Hearts 3, and supports 4K on the PlayStation 4 Pro. Both titles benefit from visual flare and high framerates that make combat quick and fluid.
Kingdom Hearts HD 2.8 Final Chapter Prologue is perfect for the Kingdom Hearts enthusiast who missed Dream Drop Distance on Nintendo 3DS. It’s story and gameplay are excellent, and some of the boss battles will give you a real challenge.
Conversely, if you have previously played Dream Drop Distance, the inclusion of A Fragmentary Passage and Kingdom Hearts X Back Cover makes Kingdom Hearts HD 2.8 Final Chapter Prologue a worthy purchase. Not only did I enjoy my time with Kingdom Hearts HD 2.8 Final Chapter Prologue, it also made my enthusiasm towards the inevitable release of Kingdom Hearts 3 grow by leaps and bounds.
+ Excellent HD remake of Dream Drop Distance
+ A Fragmentary Passage looks incredible
+ Great tide over until Kingdom Hearts III releases
– A Fragmentary Passage is a bit too short (approximately 3 hours to complete)
– Dream Drop Distance’s gameplay at times seems dated
Lasting Appeal/Replayability: 4/5