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- The following reviews reflect the opinions of their respective authors.
- For additional reviews, see KH3D Review Supplemental.
Kingdom Hearts 3D: Dream Drop Distance is the latest instalment of the popular Kingdom Hearts series. Featuring all new Disney worlds, creative gameplay, and a story that both brings together the previous games in the series and sets the stage for the much-anticipated Kingdom Hearts III. (Knock on wood.)
So, let's take a look, shall we?
The many new gameplay features of Kingdom Hearts 3D
add a great deal of depth to the game. The Flowmotion system takes some getting used to, but incoporating movement into attacking enemies is a good alternative from the normal button-mashing style of combat. The fast and fluid movements create a feeling of great mobility, allowing me to fling myself across the field map in a way that reminds me of Infamous
. Reality Shifts are a very innovative feature, adding a unique spin on fighting in the different worlds. They break up normal combat, keeping it fresh and interesting, and they are effective in finishing battles and managing crowds of enemies.
The normal combat system, derived from that of Kingdom Hearts Birth by Sleep, is well-implemented in Kingdom Hearts 3D, with the only wrinkle being the different control placement of the Nintendo 3DS from the PlayStation Portable. I found myself slightly hampered by the placement of the D-Pad below the analog slider, which forced me to stop moving before I could select Deck Commands during battle. The addition of the Drop system adds a extra sense of urgency to combat that draws the player in. Moments like trying to defeat the Char Clawbster boss in the last ten seconds completely engaged me in the game.
Collecting and raising Dream Eaters is an engrossing and enjoyable experience, with over fifty colorful species available. It was a sad moment when I had to swap out the Dream Eater I'd been raising for a while with a higher-leveled one I had just created. The Flick Rush mini-game is another great diversion, and it makes for a great callback to the card-based battle system from Kingdom Hearts: Chain of Memories. I did feel that it could have benefited from a deck customization feature, however.
The worlds in KH3D are visually stunning, with graphics that surpass those of Birth by Sleep and much shorter loading times. They seem somewhat empty, however, since, as is usual for the series, the worlds seem devoid of residents, outside of the few characters featured in the storyline. The 3D is used to great effect, and it feels nonintrusive and natural. That it lets you look into the screen instead of having things pop up is certainly to its credit.
The story in KH3D is well presented throughout the game. The flashbacks and cutaways are an effective tool for expounding on the background of both the main plot and the individual world stories, and both these and the side story depicted between worlds are inserted nicely into the main storyline, without seeming intrusive. Finally, Kingdom Hearts 3D ties together the games that have preceded it,
Kingdom Hearts 3D: Dream Drop Distance
has a creative and awesome premise (which cleverly solves the recurring problem of "Why is Sora starting at Level 1 again?"), and the incorporation of story elements from previous instalments of the series is largely well done. The Chronicle feature helps in putting all the previous games in perspective with respect to KH3D
, in a series of straight-forward and digestible chunks that cuts down the learning curve for series newcomers. I especially liked the well-timed manner in which the summaries are made available to the player, which is a great way to introduce returning characters and concepts to the storyline.
The individual world stories are fairly well preserved and incorporated into the main story. The Symphony of Sorcery plotline is very interesting, especially when you consider how much of it is original. The split between Sora and Riku's progression adds an additional element that keeps the player engaged as the story continues, and we can all be glad that it divides the story into parts instead of having both characters treading the same ground (figuratively speaking, anyway). Exposition is made as simple as possible, with the Memoirs effectively filling out background with a only a handful of optional flashback scenes.
The main story of KH3D is chock full of twists and surprises—Just try counting the number of times the game makes you do a double-take—and most of these are cool and enjoyable moments. However, the major plot twist revealed late in the game, along with most of the last chapter of the story, seems overly convoluted and even a little forced. In fact, it feels eerily like a fan fiction, or maybe a daytime soap opera. While it sets up the next chapter—Kingdom Hearts III, hopefully—it seems to rely heavily on the goodwill and open-mindedness of the fans in order to pass scrutiny.
Luckily, the final stretch of the story lets the game end on a high note, combining an creative final battle scenario with a number of well-placed callbacks to previous games, going back to the beginning of the first Kingdom Hearts.
Overall, the story stays interesting and, for the most part, well-balanced, and as long as the player is willing to exercise a bit of suspension of belief, it will keep them engaged in the series as it continues forward.