Kingdom Hearts HD 2.8 Final Chapter Prologue is the answer for fans who have been waiting for a new Kingdom Hearts game in many years (excluding the mobile 2016 game). Kingdom Hearts HD 2.8 Final Chapter Prologue is actually a package of three stories, with only one of them being a new experience. Like Kingdom Hearts 1.5 and Kingdom Hearts 2.5 before it, Kingdom Hearts HD 2.8 Final Chapter Prologue remasters one of the handheld games and tells the story of a second in cutscenes. Where it differs is that it includes an all-new Kingdom Hearts story, albeit a short one, in lieu of another remastered title. In this case the handheld game is 2012’s Dream Drop Distance, the retold story is from the iOS/Android game Unchained, and the new story is Birth By Sleep – A Fragmentary Passage.
For most people it is this last story, Birth By Sleep, that will be the main draw of the title since it is entirely new. The main downside to the story is that it is short, clocking in at around two to three hours on normal difficulty. But for those few hours gamers will get to enjoy a polished, exciting game that will make the wait for Kingdom Hearts 3 all the more painful. The experience is light on story with the bulk of the narrative coming in the opening and closing cutscenes (make sure to not miss the clip after the credits), and the actual game focuses more on the combat and exploration. Unlike previous, longer Kingdom Hearts games you will not get to explore one of the many Disney animated worlds (though Cinderella’s castle is quite prominent), and instead will be trying to fight your way out of the Darkness. Since combat is the bulk of the game it is good that it is fluid and intuitive, so even Kingdom Hearts newcomers (like myself) can enjoy it without worry. I did have issues with the choices that were made with button mapping, and the lack of ability to change them, but for a short experience that isn’t too big of an issue. If it carries over to Kingdom Hearts 3 that could be problematic.
Despite all that it would be hard to recommend Kingdom Hearts 2.8 on the strength of Birth By Sleep – A Fragmentary Passage alone. Even a well-polished three hour game is not worth $60 except to those so starved for Kingdom Hearts content that will buy anything. So it is good that the package is bolstered by Dream Drop Distance. The game was originally released for the Nintendo 3DS, so I was not expecting much in terms of graphics or fluidity, but the team did a great job porting it over to home consoles. There are some gameplay elements which are a bit awkward since they were originally designed for touch-screen controls, but the core game is solid and plays like it was designed for home consoles all along. If you already played Dream Drop Distance there is enough here to make a second adventure worthwhile, and if you have never played it then you will get your money’s worth with this title.
Kingdom Hearts HD 2.8 Final Chapter Prologue Review Final Thoughts:
The overall package for Kingdom Hearts 2.8 is easily worth the cover price. It may not be quite as beefy as Kingdom Hearts 1.5 or Kingdom Hearts 2.5 owing to the lack of a full game in the primary series, but that doesn’t make Dream Drop Distance any smaller of a title. If you are in it just for Birth By Sleep then I would recommend waiting for a sale unless you are a hardcore fan of the franchise, even though there is replay value to be had thanks to a New Game+ mode and combat challenges to complete. The short movie is not worth factoring into the equation for most people since you will watch it once and then be done with it. Fans heavily invested in Kingdom Hearts lore will find things in it worth examining and debating, but for me it was a waste of an hour. In the end, Kingdom Hearts HD 2.8 Final Chapter Prologue is a great value and easy to recommend. The one thing I would caution is that it is not the best place for new players, like me, to jump in, and you’d be much better off waiting for the Kingdom Hearts 1.5 / 2.5 collection in March.
Kingdom Hearts HD 2.8 Final Chapter Prologue on PS4
- Birth By Sleep has gorgeous graphics
- Excellent port of Dream Drop Distance
- Lots of value for your money
- Fluid combat gameplay across both titles.
- Button mapping is inconsistent between games
- Options menu is lacking
- Not a good entry point for new players