There are not many franchises that have built up as massive a following as Kingdom Hearts has despite releasing only a trickle of games since its launch. While fans are still awaiting Kingdom Hearts 3 newcomers and veterans alike have been given an opportunity to experience the franchise from the beginning with the re-release of Kingdom Hearts HD 1.5 + 2.5 ReMix for the PlayStation 4. It has been fifteen years since the first Kingdom Hearts game came out, and the fan following behind it still so strong that its re-release garners attention even with games like Horizon: Zero Dawn and The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild released in the time frame. Even the fact that Kingdom Hearts 1.5 + 2.5 HD ReMix is just a repackaging of the remastered games that came out on the PlayStation 3 a few years ago doesn’t hold back the hype. As it turns out the attention Kingdom Hearts 1.5 + 2.5 HD ReMix has earned is absolutely warranted, and there are few games that can offer the kind of value this package does.
Kingdom Hearts 1.5 + 2.5 HD ReMix collects four full games that will, at a minimum, take about 140 hours to get through. That is if you know exactly where to go, don’t get distracted by side quests and don’t get bogged down by difficult boss fights. On top of that you have two other games summarized by three-hour movies, and while it definitely would have been an even better deal with those two games being fully playable, them being movies instead of games hardly detracts from the value of the package. It helps to remember that the two games in question, re:coded and 358/2 Days, were Nintendo DS games that used the dual-screen format of that system and would have been difficult to translate to a regular console. It is also important to keep in mind that many of these games were developed before a lot of current concepts made their way into action RPGs. You won’t find bread crumbs or quest markers here, and the games do little to guide you in your journey.
Since even the newest game in this collection is more than five years old I am not going to look too closely at them for their story but instead look at the technical side of the games, which for the most part perform admirably. The graphics look dated, but not as bad as you would expect. This is owed to the game being previously remastered for the PlayStation 3 in 2011, which brought it up to a rough standard for the time period. They even upgraded Chains of Memories, a Game Boy Advance game, to use a graphics style only a few steps removed from the core titles. The jump from PlayStation 3 to PlayStation 4 has brought with it a bump to 60 FPS, which is welcome, but also problematic. The increased frame rate has caused certain issues with the physics in the game, most notably with boss fights. A day one patch has reportedly fixed or smoothed most of this, but it is worth keeping in mind. A bug which also caused the game to freeze while saving — a bug I encountered twice — has also been patched, but as with any RPG the mantra of “save often” is a good one. Beyond the bump to 60 FPS you will not notice any significant technical changes from the PlayStation 3 release aside from faster loading times.
Final thoughts on Kingdom Hearts HD 1.5 + 2.5 ReMix:
In the end, it is hard to deny that Kingdom Hearts HD 1.5 + 2.5 ReMix is an exceptional value. Four massive games and two movies for $50 is a bargain by any gamer’s standard, and it will only get better as retailers start having sales. That said, if you already own the PlayStation 3 versions there isn’t much new here to encourage you to make the switch. Even the bugs that occurred in the PlayStation 3 release got ported over, which you would have thought would have been something they would have focused on fixing. Still, the convenience of having all six titles on a single system cannot be denied, and if you are eager to dive into Kingdom Hearts again, or for the first time, in anticipation of Kingdom Hearts 3 then this is the way to do it. If you have tried Kingdom Hearts in the past and it just wasn’t for you then nothing here will change your mind, but for anyone else, this is the definitive way to experience the series.