‘Hearts’ Creeps Close to Perfection

Courtesy of Square Enix

The newest game in the massive “Kingdom Hearts” franchise, “Kingdom Hearts 3D: Dream Drop Distance,” is a stellar piece of work, but it’s not perfect. Fair warning to the reader: if you haven’t played a “Kingdom Hearts” game or don’t know about the series, then some of this may elude you. I’m going to assume that if you’re into “Kingdom Hearts,” you’ve been following some of the new features about this game pretty closely, so sorry if I don’t fully explain everything I say. Instead, I’ll describe the cons and pros of this game, in that order.

The Drop System was a big pain because it forced me to move between the characters Riku and Sora after a certain amount of time had passed, even if I didn’t want to. The developers created ways to delay this Drop between characters, but it has always happened.

The story was more confusing than usual, which is saying a lot for a “Kingdom Hearts” game. I had numerous “What the heck is going on?” moments throughout the game. Towards the end, they do explain most of it, which is a blessing, but it still left me in a confused state several times.

Additionally, the game was much too content-driven. If you’ve played nearly every “Kingdom Hearts” title, or you’ve kept up with them, then you should be able to muscle it through this title. If not, the developers have a recap of every other title included in the game, but it still may not be enough for some people. Not to mention the very direct and heavy connections to the cult hit (and my personal favorite DS game) “The World Ends With You,” which, without any prior knowledge of, may confuse the crap out of you and turn you off the game for good, as the allusions to that handheld title are made from the get-go.

It also takes a great deal of time to effectively beat the game. Not because there are so many worlds and missions, but because of the Dream Eaters. Your abilities, and some of your commands, all come from leveling up the Dream Eaters and unlocking their powers, which sounds cool at first since each is significantly different from the others, but it ends up being a drag. When I kept dying during the last few boss battles, I wondered aloud why I sucked, but then I realized that I just didn’t have “Once More” and “Second Chance” equipped (abilities that allow you to retain 1 HP if the boss hits you with a 1 hit KO move or a relentless combo) since I hadn’t unlocked them through a Dream Eater. Part of me wanted to finish the game, but I realized that I needed to spend more time leveling the Dream Eaters.

Fortunately, this game is not littered with woes. With the exception of the above, the game was simply awesome. Here are a few highlights:

The game contained excellent voice acting. There were a few characters that made me cringe, but most of the time, the voices both paired up with the mouths and fit the personalities of the characters. It also contained an excellent soundtrack, which included songs from “The World Ends With You” and “Fantasia.”

The battle system as a whole is very fresh and fun, as new ways to play were introduced to the series. There are reality shifts, which are unique per world, and flowmotion, which allows you to move quickly on the map and attack enemies at the same time as well as the Dream Eaters, which I explained already. With all of these features in the game, I noticed the game wasn’t so hack-and-slash anymore. You had to use these new battle systems to defeat your opponents, and simply pressing “A” or “X” got you nowhere. Personally, I think that this is a tremendous upgrade from previous titles, but others may argue otherwise.

Overall, I liked “Kingdom Hearts 3D: Dream Drop Distance,” though I did find myself wanting to throw the game at some points in time, which wasn’t an unfamiliar feeling with “Kingdom Hearts.”

Rating: 4 out of 5