That’s right, another Square Enix game. In their on-going quest to release a game whose title includes every possible number combination besides 3, they released Kingdom Hearts 2.8 Final Chapter Prologue. Much like the other releases whose titles feature a decimal, it includes a re-mastered version of a previous game and a movie version of another game. In this case that would be Dream Drop Distance and Kingdom Hearts x Back Cover respectively. The game also features a brand new segment titled Birth by Sleep – A Fragmentary Passage. I’ll offer a quick overview of all three here, but for the sake of keeping this readable I’ll be assuming you’re familiar with the franchise. If you’re not, I highly recommend picking up Kingdom Hearts 1.5 and starting there. Fair warning, some light spoilers ahead.
I don’t know how much I need to say about Dream Drop Distance, since it’s technically been out for a while and this isn’t a throw-back article, but here goes. This game is placed immediately after KH 2 in the timeline and follows Sora and Riku as they take the mark of mastery exam to determine whether or not they are worthy of being called keyblade masters. Much like all of the other games you go from world to world, helping people out and unlocking keyholes. Unlike other games that featured multiple characters, you don’t play Sora’s story then pick up Riku’s. You’ll actively swap back and forth between them, playing both stories at once. Every time you switch you’ll have a limited amount of time before you’re kicked back over to the other character no matter what you’re doing at the time. DDD also adds a unique movement system called flowmotion which lets you pull ninja gaiden like stunts, jumping off walls and dropping down on your enemies. All in all a pretty fun game and it does continue the story from where KH 2 left off, so if you don’t want any missing pieces in the lore it’s definitely worth a play through.
Kingdom Hearts x Back Cover is based on the phone game Kingdom Hearts Unchained and isn’t really a game so much as a mini-movie. The events shown here are all back story, taking place before the original key blade war and provides insight into why there was a war in the first place. Again, worth watching and actually entertaining. The dialogue is actually pretty good, as well as highly entertaining in the case of the character referred to only as The Master. I will say it leaves about as many questions open as it answers, since it doesn’t tell the entire story and cuts off as things begin to get tense.
The main attraction to this latest Not-Quite-3 title though was 0.2 Birth By Sleep, A Fragmentary Passage. This picks up after the events of Birth by Sleep, which tells the story of Aqua, Terra and Ventus and follows Aqua’s journey through the realm of darkness after the events of that game. Aside from providing some information on what she was up to around the time of KH1, Fragmentary Passage features the Unreal Engine 4 that KH3 is being built on and showcases vastly improved graphics and gameplay. Again, if you’re really into the lore of the series this is an interesting addition to the game and advances the plot directly towards the third game in the opening and ending cut scenes. It’s also a lot of fun to play as Aqua again, who comes fully equipped and skilled out at level 50.
All in all, 2.8 is definitely worth adding to your collection if you’re a fan of the series and want to get ready for KH3 when it finally releases. For all of my frustration over 3 not being out yet, it is cool that Square Enix is re-releasing all of the games it had originally made for handheld so that more people could experience the other pieces of the story. And if the trailers and 0.2 Birth by Sleep are anything to go by, 3 is going to be awesome.