Kingdom Hearts Dream Drop Distance is Square Enix’s latest entry in the Kingdom Hearts series, exclusive to the 3DS. I’ve played all of the Kingdom Hearts games to date, apart from that seemingly disastrous mobile game “Kingdom Hearts V CAST” (Check it out http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RjvxiKQYJ9E). I have, for the most part, enjoyed them all.
This game’s story takes place directly before the upcoming Kingdom Hearts 3 and right after Kingdom Hearts re:coded for the DS. But that doesn’t really matter; At points where the game touches upon lore from one of the past games the player is presented with a choice to read a brief summary of the past game’s story. This immediately puts it all in context, thus making it friendly for those unfamiliar with the series. It is also really useful for the hardcore fans as the Kingdom Hearts story is revered by many as being so complex to the point of confusion. By slowly fitting the picture together for the player, the game almost feels like one giant recap as preparation for Kingdom Hearts 3. Which will finalise the saga (but not the series).
In brief it’s about two boys, Sora and Riku, who wield a sword-like object in the shape of a key called the keyblade. They are tasked with traversing many worlds which in the wake of previous confrontations are left in a “sleeping” state – i.e riddled with monsters known as Dream Eaters and with time paradoxes – and setting them free with the power of the keyblade(s). This is all considered both a test and trial for the boys known as the “Mark of Mastery” exam. Should they succeed they will not only be considered keyblade masters, but prepared to take on the saga’s main antagonist Xehanort. Of course this being Kingdom Hearts we are talking about, that was one gross simplification. The game is a Square Enix and Disney crossover. Each world essentially covers a different Disney film and usually integrates Sora and Riku into the existing plots.
The worlds are absolutely beautiful. The game really pushes the 3DS hardware and the result is some lovely graphics which look all the more lovelier in 3D. I personally kept the 3D slider at the midway point as it’s what worked best for me. The sense of depth really brought more life to the worlds. The game is however (like all 3DS games) fully playable with 3D off and it certainly won’t inhibit the experience if 3D is not your thing. All of the environments were very faithful to the source material.
The game play was very fun and with the addition of the new flow motion mechanic felt very fresh. You defeat hordes of Dream Eaters, have some clever (and epic) boss battles and platform/parkour with flow motion . The game also retains its traditional rpg elements with an experience based levelling system, magic abilities and upgradable weaponry.
Sora and Riku actually split at the start of the game, but fear not as you are not alone on the journey. You are assisted by your own ‘good’ Dream Eaters. There is a ‘linking’ mechanic you can perform with them once you’ve filled the link gauge. For Sora this lets him perform certain powerful abilities and attacks. For Riku it powers him up and changes his handling. The Dream Eaters have there own little ‘day care’ in the main menu. From here you use the experience they have gained to unlock items, power ups and abilities. You create new Dream Eaters and change around your party. Also you can even pet and interact with them using the stylus. You can throw them food and play some fun mini games with them. It’s a game within the game. Gameception.
The music score is what you would expect from a Kingdom Hearts title: wonderful. It opens up (typical) with an orchestrated rendition of Hikaru Utada’s simple and clean. It’s absolutely glorious, here is a link:
A tear inducer for the long time fans. Most of the levels have original compositions which can sometimes draw on ideas and motifs from previous games. In any case I always felt that the music was adding to the experience and never deterring. One world in particular “Symphony of Sorcery” uses famous classical tracks to set the scene. Each stab of the keyblade cleverly produced a smack of percussion. The use of the music, along with the aesthetics, left such a lasting impression on me. I’d consider it my favourite Kingdom Hearts level. Here’s some footage from it:
All in all I have to say I really enjoyed Kingdom Hearts 3D. I even played it twice!
Have you played the game? Did you enjoy it? Did you feel it lived up to the Kingdom Hearts name? I’d love to hear from you in the comments.
Thanks for reading, I’ll post two more images below
This is the map, displayed on the touch screen.
A final snap of the game.