Reviewing the Kingdom Hearts series
I’ve decided that I want to give my favorite game series an honest review.
Some people would probably think that I’m unfit to review this game series because it would end up being biased. But I really don’t think so. You see, I’m of the mindset that you can favor a game, movie or book without it necessarily being “good”, and vice versa.
For example, there are a many movies out there that I (among many others) consider to be masterpieces. Like “The Sixth Sense” and “2001: A Space Odyssey”, even though they’re not close to being on my favorite/re-watch list.
However, despite my undying love for Kingdom Hearts. I’m still perfectly capable of seeing all the flaws in it (and boy, are there some). So I’m going to give my honest review of the series as a whole. I’ll be splitting the various aspects into different segments and then I’ll calculate a total review score at the end. So let’s get started.
The story (at least to me) is arguably the most important part of any RPG game. And the overall story and lore of the Kingdom Hearts series can be rather convoluted.
I wonder what happens if I Google “convoluted story”…
How convoluted it is, depends on how much you pay attention while playing and how deep you dig into it. Everything is pretty much okay up until Dream Drop Distance comes along. That’s where time travel gets involved. Because everyone loves time travel plots. They’re always so easy to understand… *eye twitches*
To be honest, I don’t mind the confusing plot. I think it’s part of the charm. But I’m still going to give the overall story of Kingdom Hearts a whooping 358/2… I’m joking. I’ll give it a…
The gameplay is also a very important aspect of a game. Which is fairly obvious, because, you know… It’s a game. It can’t be ignored.
Giving a fair score here is going to be difficult for two reasons. The first being that it’s so vastly different between the different installments. And the second reason being that I haven’t actually played all of the games. For two of them I’ve only watched cutscene compilations. And one I only played a little bit before giving up and watching the cutscenes on Youtube instead.
So I’m going to give the ones I have played individual scores and then calculate an average afterwards.
The very first Kingdom Hearts game has a pretty okay combat system. It can be slow in the beginning. But once you level up a little more and unlock more abilities, it gets a little better.
When it comes to platforming and level design, I’m a little bit torn. Personally, I don’t like the level design all too much. In most of the worlds, navigating around can really be a pain in the ass. It has great variation when it comes to platforming. Which some people consider a good feature. But in my opinion, I don’t like it. But not because of the platforming itself, It’s mainly because of the tacky jumping and grabbing mechanics.
I’m not gonna be too harsh on this one tho, since it was one of the first (or the first?) video game Square Enix (then called SquareSoft) developed that didn’t utilize a turn based combat system.
So overall I’d give this entry a 7/10.
Kingdom Hearts: Re: Chain of Memories
This is the game that I barely played before giving up. The platforming on this one was pretty much non-existent and enemy fights took place within open themed arenas.
In terms of combat, I absolutely hated it. Most people seem to be okay with it. And that’s completely fine, but the card system really didn’t work for me.
The game is included in the 1.5+2.5 bundle for PS4, so by all means. Try it out and judge for yourself. If you’re more of a strategy kind of person. Maybe you’ll even like this type of gameplay.
But on a personal level, I’ll give this one a 3/10.
Kingdom Hearts 2
This game definitely stepped the game up when it comes to combat. And so far, it’s my favorite installment in the entire franchise both in terms of gameplay and story.
The combat is much faster and smoother (and flashier) than in the first game. That is for sure. There are tons of new abilities and the drive forms definitely helps to spice it up a little.
The level design however, is in a grey area. It’s really open and simple (like really open) and there aren’t many dead ends. So getting lost in any of the worlds is definitely not an issue. The problem here though, is that it may be considered a little bit too simple. To the point where it almost gets boring. Which obviously isn’t a good thing either in a RPG style game.
So I’ll give this entry a 8/10.
Kingdom Hearts: Birth By Sleep – and – Kingdom Hearts: Dream Drop Distance
The reason I’m combining these two is because the gameplay is relatively similar in both of them (except for the “flowmotion” mechanic in Dream Drop Distance).
This one changes the gameplay quite a lot. In terms of how fast-paced and smooth it is. It lies somewhere between KH2 and KH1. But it’s worth noting that they were both created for handheld consoles. Which at the time had a significantly less amount of power in them.
The command deck is the major difference in these two installments. It lets you customize your combat setup with a huge variety of different commands. And is has perfect balance between strategy and just fun hack n’ slash gameplay.
So I’ll be giving these two a combined score of 8/10.
Kingdom Hearts: 0.2 Birth By Sleep: A Fragmentary Passage
Yes, that is the actual complete title. No one should be surprised at this point. Even abbreviating this one isn’t effective.
Bob: “Hey Greg, wanna come by and play KH02BBSAFP this afternoon?”
Greg: “Say again?”
It’s a pretty short game. Including cutscenes, you’ll be able to play through the whole thing in barely 2 hours. But it’s no secret that it’s really just a taste test of how the upcoming Kingdom Hearts 3 will feel in terms of graphics and combat. Rather than a full blown game. It is included in the Kingdom Hearts 2.8 bundle on PS4.
I will not be judging it based on length though. Only in terms of gameplay. And holy xehanort is the gameplay in this one good. The combat is fast, crisp, flashy and just pure amazing. And the level design from the first game is back, but this time with much better mechanics, so it actually works now.
There isn’t much more to say here other than that I’ll give this a 9/10.
So in total the gameplay aspect of the series gets a score of…
It’s not the best score a game could ever have. But it’s an okay average.
The soundtrack in this game is hands down the absolute best video game soundtrack I’ve ever heard. And it probably makes up over 50% of the reason why I like the franchise so much. It’s really emotional and relaxing (and I’m a sucker for emotional stuff). And it is what drew me to check out the game to begin with.
Yoko Shimomura is a great composer. And combined with the upbeat intro songs by Utada Hikaru. It’s just damn near perfect.
So I’ll be giving the soundtrack a well deserved…
I’ll also be including an hour long video with a bunch of relaxing Kingdom Hearts music if any outsiders wanna try listening to it. It’s the perfect kind of music to just leave on in the background while doing other stuff.
The Final Conclusion
The entire game series as a whole gets a score of…
Which is I think is a okay score. And it proves that I am certainly capable of making an unbiased review of my favorite game franchise.
But then there’s the question…
Why exactly do I like this game so much if I think it has so many flaws?
Well… It’s because it’s an emotional story about friendships. Which is something I’ve always struggled with (and still do). I’ve had many friends during the 20 years I’ve been alive. But most of them last only a few years at most. And it can really cause an emotional strain on me when combined with my mental health problems.
But I still have two best friends that has been with me since my early childhood. And I know that no matter how much we fight. No matter how much we shit on each other. They’ll always be there if needed. And I’m grateful for that. And if both of you read this. You know who you are. Thank you!