Kingdom Hearts Dark Road
Kingdom Hearts Dark Road is the thirteenth game set in the Kingdom Hearts series. It was released on iOS, Android, and Amazon smartphone devices on June 22, 2020 globally, as part of Kingdom Hearts Union χ's second rebranding. Now titled Kingdom Hearts Union χ Dark Road, the app makes both games available for play.
Online service for the game has ended on June 17, 2021 for Japan, and June 30, 2021 for the global server. Following the 4.40 update, the game was rendered inaccessible. The game was set to have its final story update in September, 2021, with version 5.00; however, this update has been delayed to an indeterminate date for the 2021-2022 winter season. With this update, players will be able to access most gameplay features of the online version in an offline capacity, including the ability to play through main quests and world battles, watch cutscenes in theater mode, and level up and acquire new cards through BP.
The game was first hinted by series creator Tetsuya Nomura on January 22, 2020 in a Q&A to celebrate the release of Kingdom Hearts III Re Mind and that it will be announced by the Kingdom Hearts Union χ team on January 23, 2020. On January 22, 2020, the Kingdom Hearts Union χ posted a sketch artwork depicting a young Xehanort and Eraqus along with blurred out other characters.
Kingdom Hearts Dark Road was initially announced with the working title "Project Xehanort" along with a guess-the-name Twitter campaign on January 23, 2020 . The official name was revealed on January 31, 2020.
On June 8, 2020, new characters were revealed to have trained with Xehanort and Eraqus in their youth.
On June 22, 2020, The Kingdom Hearts Union χ[Cross] app was rebranded as Kingdom Hearts Union χ Dark Road that contains both Kingdom Hearts Union χ[Cross] and Kingdom Hearts Dark Road.
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Living quietly on Destiny Islands, Xehanort begins to contemplate the existence of other world outside his home, when he is greeted by a mysterious hooded figure. Unbeknownst to him, this figure is Ansem, his Heartless from the future, who tells him it is his destiny to travel to other worlds. He then opens a portal to Scala ad Caelum, a world where Keyblade wielders are trained, and instructs Xehanort to travel there. Some time later, Xehanort, now a Keyblade wielder, and his classmates Eraqus, Urd, Bragi, Vor, and Hermod are told by their master Odin that seven upperclassmen have gone missing before their Mark of Mastery exam, with the sister of fellow classmate Baldr among them. While they are far from ready, Odin tasks the youths to find the missing seven by scouring the many worlds.
Before they leave, Xehanort and his classmates discuss the state of the worlds: even long after the events of the Keyblade War, many fragments of the World are still forming, and those that have already formed flow on different timeframes — while one may be far in the future in terms of technology, another may be still in the beginnings of bearing life or basic technological advancements. With that in mind, and the order not to interfere in the affairs of other worlds, Xehanort and his friends begin their search. The group first travel to Agrabah, only to find the world uninhabited yet full of Heartless. Xehanort suspects the world is still growing and has not developed living beings yet. They next go to Wonderland, where they find the world has some inhabitants, including the Queen of Hearts, who appears to have darkness in her heart. After experiencing the Queen's darkness, Xehanort and Eraqus begin to deduce their own theories about the nature of darkness, and suspect the upperclassmen were consumed by darkness themselves.
Four years later, Xehanort, having just put fresh flowers on four gravestones, before saying his goodbyes to Eraqus, stating he is going off on his own, to see what Odin has not shown them. While Eraqus is against the idea, he does not stop him, knowing that he will be back since they need to settle the score for their games. Xehanort then returns to Wonderland to find that the Queen, who had forgotten him during his last visit, is still possessed by darkness as he awaits his trial. Sometime later, Xehanort finds himself traveling through the corridor of darkness where the darkness begins to infect his heart.
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Unlike Union χ, Kingdom Hearts Dark Road does not feature world exploration as one of its gameplay elements. The game is ultimately divided into two categories: Navigating the main menu, and battles. Players can advance the main story by completing a series of required quest(s) - once the requirement is met, they will be able to view the next story cutscene. Some examples of quest requirements are "Defeat x500 enemies in Agrabah" or "Earn x2000 BP." This can be achieved by tapping the "World battle" icon on the lower center in the screen. This will immediately launch a series of unending battles, growing slightly stronger with each new encounter before looping back to the initial enemy level. World battle difficulty can be unlocked as players progress through the story.
During battle, players have control of only Xehanort's actions. In story quests and world battles, Eraqus is always present as a party member. The player can select either Bragi, Hermod, Vor, or Urd as the third party member, each one bringing a unique support style to aid in battles. Whereas battles in Union χ were turn-based with the use of medals, Dark Road instead uses a real-time combat system with cards. Players can build a deck of cards (up to 30). Subtypes include attack, magic, and support, with all three additionally divided into upright and reversed cards, and split into three colors: red, blue and green. When a battle begins, the player is given five random cards - displayed in a row on the bottom - to "flick" or "tap" three at a time. The first card determines what the action will be (i.e., a standard attack or a Cure spell) while the two subsequent cards determine the efficacy - tapping three cards of the same color doubles the damage or effectiveness of the card effect. As soon as the attack is executed, the player is immediately given three new cards.
Once the player runs out of cards, they must tap the row quickly to restore their card deck - similar to the Reload Card mechanic. As players defeat more enemies and deal more damage, the row begins to glow yellow from the bottom up, slowly filling in. Once completely full, the player enters "Bonus Time" where the glow will begin to deplete. During this time, all cards will be doubly effective regardless of color pairing. While this is all happening on the player's side, Heartless will freely attack the player using their own ATB-esque timer, located to the right of their HP gauge.
It is possible for Heartless to interrupt player actions, thus making an observation of the Heartless' timer gauge and timing their own attacks a key factor in battles. Optionally, players can toggle "Auto" mode on, where the in-game AI will fully control Xehanort's actions and make the best card-decisions based on the situation. Whenever an enemy is defeated, they drop BP, which can be used to level up Xehanort in the Stats menu.
Outside of world battles and main quests, players can tackle special Missions - long-term objectives that reward the player for continued play or meeting certain accomplishments.
The in-game shop allows players to purchase new cards, using either Jewels, Shop Points, or Draw Tickets. The game does not allow duplicate cards in the inventory - instead, duplicate cards are automatically used to power up the same existing card in the player's inventory, up to 10 levels. After 10 levels, they are converted into BP or Shop Points. In addition to new cards, players can also purchase Charms and Quest Keys; the former allows players to continue battles unimpeded in case of a Game Over, while the latter allows players to undertake special Event Quests that reward large amounts of BP. Both Union χ and Dark Road share the same Jewel cache - spending Jewels in Dark Road will deduct that amount in Union χ and vice versa.
Worlds and Characters
Notes and references