Kingdom Hearts HD

Kingdom Hearts HD - cover art

The keys to the Kingdom Hearts

It’s no secret that Kingdom Hearts is one of my all-time favourite action RPG series, so reviewing six experiences on one PS4 disc was certainly a treat. That disc, Kingdom Hearts HD 1.5 + 2.5 Remix, is an unforgettable compilation celebrating the 15th anniversary of this groundbreaking franchise.

If the title sounds familiar that because it combines two compilations previously released on PS3. Specifically, Kingdom Hearts HD 1.5 Remix and Kingdom Hearts HD 2.5 Remix. Now all that content comes on a single PS4 disc, along with numerous enhancements that make these games play ever better.

If you’ve never tried a Kingdom Hearts game, this should absolutely be the first destination of your journey. And if you’re a huge longtime fan like me, there’s no better way to re-live all your favourite moments from the Kingdom Hearts franchise.

Kingdom Hearts Final Mix
KH Final Mix

What you get in the box

Very few PS4 games can come close to rivaling the sheer value of this collection. It includes four full KH games, plus two HD cinematic experiences covering events of two more games. In all, you’re getting at least 120 hours of incredible gameplay and entertainment.

Here’s everything you get on one disc:

Kingdom Hearts HD 1.5 ReMIX KINGDOM HEARTS HD 2.5 ReMIX
  • Kingdom Hearts Final Mix
  • Kingdom Hearts Re:Chain of Memories
  • Kingdom Hearts 358/2 Days (HD remastered cinematics)
  • Kingdom Hearts II Final Mix
  • Kingdom Hearts Birth by Sleep Final Mix
  • Kingdom Hearts Re:coded (HD Remastered cinematics)

 

Kingdom Hearts Rechain of Memories
KH Re:Chain of Memories

Why Kingdom Hearts is so magical


Game Details

Platform(s): PS4
Developer: Square Enix
Publisher: Square Enix
Genre: Action RPG
Modes: Single-player
ESRB Rating: E10+ (Everyone 10+)


I’ll never forget the moment when I saw the teaser trailer for Kingdom Hearts 3 at Sony’s E3 2013 press conference. Beside me, fans jumped out of their seats, some erupting in gushing tears. The noise was deafening. I knew fans’ connection with this franchise was huge, but at that moment I knew it was really out of this world.

I fully understand their feelings too. When I first played the original game back in 2002 it was a surreal moment. This unique crossover game combines iconic Disney properties and Final Fantasy characters, and tells an extraordinary tale of friendship and love.

Along your journey you’ll meet over 100 beloved Disney characters like King Mickey, Donald Duck, Goofy, Aladdin, and Peter Pan. From the Final Fantasy franchise, you’ll also meet fan-favourites such as Leon (FFVIII), Tidus and Wakka (FFX), and Sephiroth and Cloud (FFVII). It really is a dream mashup.

Kingdom Hearts 358/2 Days
KH 358/2 Days (HD Remastered Cinematics)

Discover the Kingdom Hearts timeline

Saying that the KH‘s timeline is utterly confusing might be one of the biggest understatements in all of gaming. The original game spawned sequels, prequels, remixes, HD remastered editions, compilations, and spinoffs. Not only that, the games continuously jumped gaming platforms, including PS2, Game Boy Advance, DS, 3DS, PSP, iOS, and Android. Keeping track of it all was research essay unto itself.

Thankfully, this PS4 compilation organizes the core story into one neat and tidy package. In fact, all you need is this disc plus the recently released Kingdom Hearts HD 2.8 Final Chapter Prologue to be fully prepared for Square Enix’s upcoming Kingdom Hearts 3.

When you boot up the disc, a clean, polished main menu lets you effortlessly navigate between the KH games. The games are also ordered in such a way that you can follow the story and understand the larger narrative at play. From a presentation standpoint, this compilation has never made it easier to understand and enjoy the franchise.

Kingdom Hearts 2 Final Mix
KH II Final Mix

Performance updates

While all six games appeared in the PS3 compilations, these PS4 versions go above and beyond straight ports. For starters, the load times are significantly improved. In fact, most scenes take only a couple of seconds to start vs. the 30-seconds or more on PS3. Furthermore, the framerates have all been bumped to 60 frames per second, up from the 30fps in the originals. That means the games run faster and smoother, feeling more like modern games.

If you have PS4 Pro, you’re in for an even bigger treat. The games run using 4K resolution, making them look crisper, brighter, and more colourful than ever before. Revisiting enchanting locations like the Disney Castle, Wonderland, 100 Acre Wood, and Agrabah in beautiful 3840×2160 Ultra HD resolution is a real treat.

Kingdom Hearts Birth by Sleep Final Mix
KH Birth by Sleep Final Mix

A few technical niggles

While these technical improvements make these phenomenal games even better, there are occasional hiccups. For one thing, the cutscenes are a bit uneven in quality. Some have downgraded textures compared to the gameplay, and most run at 30fps. It’s a bit jarring at times transitioning from 30fps cutscenes into gameplay that suddenly double the frame count.

Also, the bump to 60fps seconds changes the speed at which some moves are performed. As a result, tactics that worked in the past may not in these versions. Additionally, it alters the speed of boss attacks, which again may require a change in your approach. Luckily,  impacts like this are minimal, and overall the increased framerate enhances the gameplay.

KH Re:coded (HD Remastered Cinematics)

Final Thoughts

Kingdom Hearts HD 1.5 + 2.5 Remix compiles six incredible gaming experiences that are simply must-play and must-see. Disney, Final Fantasy, and action RPG fans will have a smorgasbord playing through four full-length adventures, and watching hours of HD remastered cinematics. KH3 is (hopefully) right around the corner, and this collection will get you primed and ready for what’s sure to be an epic finale to the current story arc.

+ Unbelievable value
+ Includes four of the best action RPGs ever made
+ Presents the story of two additional KH games through HD remastered cinematics
+ Truly fascinating and satisfying story
+ Over 100 beloved Disney and Final Fantasy characters/properties
+ Impeccable 60fps gameplay

– Cutscene quality sometimes dips
– Improved framerate can make old tactics less effective

OVERALL

Gameplay: 4.5/5
Graphics: 4.5/5
Sound: 5/5
Lasting Appeal/Replayability: 5/5

Overall Rating: 4.75/5 (95%)

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