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Kingdom Hearts Dark Road

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Kingdom Hearts Dark Road
Kingdom Hearts Union χ Dark Road Logo.png
キングダム ハーツ ダーク ロード
Kingudamu Hātsu Dāku Rōdo
Developer(s) Square Enix
Publisher(s) Square Enix
Release date(s) Japan/Flag of the United States.png/Flag of Canada.png/Europe/Flag of Australia.png
June 22, 2020

Offline version
Japan/Flag of the United States.png/Flag of Canada.png/Europe/Flag of Australia.png
August 26, 2022
Genre Collectible card game
Action role-playing game
Game modes Single-player
Ratings CERO: N/A

ESRB:Everyone 10+Everyone 10+

Platform(s) iOS, Android, Fire OS
"Why did he become the seeker of darkness?"
—Tagline

Kingdom Hearts Dark Road is the twelfth 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. The fully completed offline version of the game was released on August 26, 2022.

The game explores why Xehanort became a seeker of darkness and his days of training to become a Keyblade Master.

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 was delayed to an indeterminate date for the 2021-2022 winter season, and was delayed again until finally releasing on August 26, 2022.[1] With this update, players can 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.[2]

Development[edit]

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. He stated that it would be announced by the Kingdom Hearts Union χ team the following day.[3][4] On January 22, 2020, the Kingdom Hearts Union χ twitter posted a sketch artwork depicting a young Xehanort and Eraqus, along with other, blurred-out characters.[5]

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 .[6][7] The official name was revealed on January 31, 2020.[8]

On May 18, 2020, amid the COVID-19 pandemic, Square Enix announced that the game's development would be delayed.[9]

On June 8, 2020, new characters were revealed to have trained with Xehanort and Eraqus in their youth.[10]

On June 22, 2020, The Kingdom Hearts Union χ[Cross] app was rebranded as Kingdom Hearts Union χ Dark Road, which contains both Kingdom Hearts Union χ[Cross] and Kingdom Hearts Dark Road.[11]

On May 30, 2021, the app's servers were shut down and the game was no longer playable, leaving the plot of Dark Road incomplete. However, Square Enix assured that the offline version of the game would be released with the finished storyline at a later date.

On October 8, 2021, the offline version of Dark Road was set to release in Winter 2021.

On February 27, 2022, the update was delayed to an unspecified date.

On April 10, 2022, the update was delayed once again to August 2022.

On August 8, 2022, the final release date of August 26, 2022 was announced.

On September 29, 2022, the app received its 5.0.1 update. Along with some minor bug fixes, this update slightly altered some cutscenes. Most notably:

  • Xehanort is no longer referred to as the "great-great-grandson" of a Keyblade wielder in "Child of Destiny" (only "share[s] a bloodline").
  • All of Player's appearances have been reworked to keep their appearance and gender ambiguous.
  • Multiple instances of vague dialogue have been replaced with explicit references to a "child of destiny".
  • Xehanort attempts save the main antagonist before deciding to slay them, as opposed to immediately deciding to slay them.

Story[edit]

Living quietly on Destiny Islands, child Xehanort and his blue-hooded mentor rest at a bonfire on the beach. The mentor believes Xehanort to be the "child of destiny", who is said to come from the Destiny Islands and able to feel what is in the hearts of others, combine hearts with another to become one, and save the world from darkness. The mentor's belief is affirmed by Xehanort's dreams, which accurately represent the mentor's previous life as Player, and by Xehanort's shared bloodline with Ephemer. As the years pass and Xehanort grows into a young man, his mentor eventually passes away.

Some years later, Xehanort wakes from a recurring dream about Player, though he does not recognize anybody in it. He begins to contemplate the existence of other worlds outside his home, when he is greeted by a brown-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 enter. He travels through the corridor of darkness, where the darkness begins to slowly infect his heart.

Two years after his arrival in Scala ad Caelum, Xehanort, now a Keyblade wielder, and his classmates Eraqus, Urd, Bragi, Vor, and Hermod are told by their master Odin that seven upper classmen - Heimdall, Helgi, Hoder, Sigrun, Vala, Vali, and Vidar - have gone missing while training for their Mark of Mastery exam. However, fellow lower classman Baldr has been assigned a different task, and has not been informed that his older sister Hoder is missing. While the lower classmen are far from ready, Odin tasks the youths with finding 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 time frames — 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 upper classmen were consumed by darkness themselves. Xehanort and Eraqus simultaneously recall a statement from Brain that darkness can hide within people, and they wonder if they could fight a being whose darkness was so deep-rooted that it was unaware of it.

Xehanort and Eraqus are curious about the Queen's darkness, and decide to continue investigating Wonderland while the rest of the group proceeds into other worlds. After observing the residents' fear of the Queen, Xehanort finds that the Queen's darkness is born of her anger, and that her darkness maintains the world's order. Due to the vow that Keyblade wielders should not disturb world orders, Xehanort reasons that the upper classmen may have been defeated in a world ruled by darkness, unable to oppose it. Xehanort concludes that pursuing darkness will be necessary to finding the upper classmen. The lower classmen regroup to share their findings, and recall a lecture from Odin, where they learned that darkness in ancient times would spread and infect people - but that as time went on, people began to spawn their own darkness through negative emotions. Eraqus recalls a conversation with Baldr a week prior, where he expressed concern over Hoder's well-being during her Mark of Mastery training.

Xehanort, Eraqus, and Vor continue their search by investigating the Dwarf Woodlands, though Vor gets separated from the group and encounters the Magic Mirror. After regrouping, the trio approach the Magic Mirror, and are told that the upper classmen are each acting alone. Eraqus begins to ask about Vidar in particular, but he quickly arrives in-person. Vidar voices his distrust of Xehanort, then offers for Vor to join the upper classmen's mission. Vor agrees and leaves with him, as she was earlier told by the Mirror that staying with her friends would stagnate her growth as a Keyblade Master. Eraqus and Xehanort recall a meeting among the lower classmen where they discussed why they wanted to become Keyblade Masters: Eraqus initially treated it as a family obligation, but later resolved to defeat darkness; Bragi wished to do what is right; Urd wished to learn about and explore the worlds; Baldr wanted to protect what's important to him; Hermod wanted to uphold the greater order; Xehanort wanted to reunite with the friends in his dreams; Vor tries to think of a reason, but ultimately refuses to answer.

The lower classmen try to inform Odin of Vor's departure, but are unable to contact him. Eraqus and Xehanort get into an argument over whether to search for Vor, or to keep pursuing the upper classmen - ultimately, Eraqus and Bragi leave to ask the Magic Mirror about Vor's location, while Xehanort, Urd, and Hermod decide to search for the upper classmen in new worlds. However, Eraqus and Bragi are unable to approach the Mirror due to The Queen guarding it, and leave to pursue other methods.

Xehanort, Urd, and Hermod arrive at Beast's Castle, where they find that two upper classmen have stolen the Beast's rose. The group is suddenly attacked by Heartless, one of which lures Urd away from the group, into an ambush in the ballroom. Just as Urd is about to be overwhelmed, Vala, who was watching from above, casts Faith to defeat all of the Heartless. Vala is impressed by Urd's determination, and offers for her to join the upper classmen's mission, but Urd insists that her mission is to bring the upper classmen home. Vala concedes and has Vali give the Beast's rose to Urd, stating that the object is essential to that world's order. Vala and Vali leave through a portal, and Xehanort, Urd, and Hermod return the rose to the Beast.

At a windy balcony in Scala ad Caelum, Odin warns Vidar that the thirteen ancient darknesses may be upon them soon. These darknesses are considered "true darkness", have no form, and are the source of most darkness in the world. Seven darknesses were imprisoned in the Lost Masters; four were trapped in the "Realm Between" of the data world; and two were supposedly destroyed with the collapse of the world, but there is no proof of that. Odin advises Vidar to recognize the differences between true darkness and other forms of darkness he might face.

Urd suggests finding Eraqus and Bragi, so Xehanort's group returns to Agrabah in search of them. Jafar approaches the group and requests that they search for the lamp in the Cave of Wonders, supposedly to assist Agrabah. Xehanort feels the darkness of Jafar's greed, but nevertheless agrees so that the group can search a new area. In the Cave, Xehanort's group reunites with Eraqus and Bragi, who Jafar had also sent with the same mission. Bragi begins to leave in disgust, but Urd suggests finding the lamp anyway, as it may be a world-order-essential object that the upper classmen are targeting. Her suspicion is correct, as Vidar and Vor appear through a portal just as the lower classmen reach the lamp. Vidar explains that the upper classmen need seven lights to defeat true darkness, but they have lost some lights - so they are seeking the objects in hopes of finding "true light" to replace them. Vidar rejects his vow to respect world orders, only concerned with avenging his fallen friends. Vidar asks that Eraqus join the upper classmen in their shared goal of defeating darkness, but leaves with Vor before Eraqus can respond. Eraqus is shaken, but maintains his allegiance to the lower classmen.

At Hermod's suggestion, the lower classmen inform Odin of Vidar's plan, and ask why defeating true darkness would require such methods. Odin recalls his conversation with Vidar on the balcony, when he was asked how true darkness could be defeated despite having no form. Based on the actions of the Lost Masters, Odin reasons that a true darkness who has taken a vessel could be defeated by sacrificing the vessel. However, Vidar is unwilling to accept further loss of life, and demands another method. Odin speculates that summoning Kingdom Hearts, which requires seven true lights, could possibly defeat darkness - but all worlds would be purged with them, and he is not certain that darkness would actually be vanquished by doing so. Odin heavily discourages the method, especially since he is uncertain whether true darkness is the current foe. Odin relieves the lower classmen of their mission, believing it to be beyond their ability. As they leave the classroom, Odin remarks that the "dark seeker" will finally be upon them.

The lower classmen are lost as to what to do next, when they are approached by Baldr, who has returned from a task to study different types of darkness. He suggests that the fallen upper classmen could be contacted in the Underworld of Olympus Coliseum. Eraqus lets slip the mission to find the upper classmen, but Baldr reveals Hoder's fate; shortly after Baldr's conversation with Eraqus, he followed Hoder to Enchanted Dominion, where she was then slain before his eyes while protecting him from Maleficent. Baldr lost consciousness and woke in the infirmary at Scala ad Caelum, and shortly after that was when Odin gave the task to find the upper classmen - Baldr was not assigned an alternative task, but instead given time to heal.

At Olympus Coliseum, Hades assists the lower classmen in reaching the Underworld, but splits them into two groups. Xehanort, Eraqus, and Bragi request to talk to Hoder, even though she died in a different world. Hades complies, with the stipulation that one of the lower classmen must stay in the Underworld as his pawn. Hades finds Hoder along with a group of others, and directs Xehanort's group on where to find them. On the way, the group is obstructed by Cerberus, but Baldr appears and suggests that Xehanort and Eraqus go on while he and Bragi fight the beast. Xehanort agrees and runs with Eraqus past it, where they find Urd and Hermod just regaining consciousness. The latter two go to help Baldr and Bragi, while Xehanort and Eraqus continue down the path, where they find Hoder alongside Heimdall, Helgi, and Sigrun.

The upper classmen had been investigating Enchanted Dominion, but determined that they could not offer help to Aurora, as doing so would upset the world's order. Despite this, Hoder splits off from the group in the night to fight Maleficent alone. Heimdall, Helgi, and Sigrun go to investigate, and find Hoder just as she fades away. The three face Maleficent to avenge their fallen friend, but are slain themselves, and their hearts end up in the Final World. Heimdall suggests that light and darkness are a matter of perception, and are born of conflicting beliefs - he wonders if finding a middle ground would be better than maintaining a divide between light and darkness, but Xehanort and Eraqus disagree with this advice. The upper classmen start to vanish, and Hoder asks Xehanort for a favor.

Xehanort and Eraqus return to where Cerberus was, and discover Urd alone while Hermod is searching for Baldr and Bragi. Hades suggests that one of them will be staying in the Underworld, but Urd rejects the deal and starts a fight with Hades. Hermod arrives to aid his friends, leading Hades to get angrier and ready a strong attack, but a dark portal suddenly appears and pulls the four lower classmen into a corridor of darkness before he can do so. Hades is stunned by the development, and sees a familiar entity nearby.

Inside the corridor of darkness, Xehanort locates Eraqus, and the two quickly put on their Keyblade Armor to buy time while they search for a way out. Urd and Hermod do the same, but Hermod is overwhelmed by the darkness and collapses. Urd recognizes a shadowy figure as a friend, but it then kills both her and Hermod. Eraqus and Xehanort collapse in a similar manner, but Odin arrives, and his light prevents the shadowy figure from finishing them off. With the Master's Defender Keyblade in hand, Odin opens a portal leading out of the corridor.

After Xehanort and Eraqus have recovered, Odin confirms that they are the only ones who came back. Odin is surprised to hear that Baldr met with the lower classmen, but before he can elaborate, Scala ad Caelum comes under attack. Odin summons the No Name Keyblade from its display overhead, and leaves the room to evacuate other students. Xehanort reasons with Eraqus that the attacker is likely Baldr, overtaken by darkness at the loss of his sister, and that Baldr likely killed Bragi. Eraqus and Xehanort run outside, where they witness conflicts across the city. Vidar, Vala, and Vali arrive through a portal, and Eraqus immediately lashes out at them for not protecting Hoder. Eraqus calms down after a battle, at which point the group is approached by Baldr, hovering and shrouded in darkness. Xehanort feels Baldr's pain sharply in his heart, confirming his suspicions of where Baldr's darkness originated. Baldr ridicules the group for failing to gather the seven lights, and Eraqus declares that he will save Baldr, only for the darkness to tell him it is too late. Vidar raises his Keybalde to fight, but Baldr quickly leaves for the tower to pursue Vor.

Baldr approaches an unsuspecting Vor and recounts his descent into the darkness: over seven days, his grief turned to self-blame, and eventually anger. A growing darkness goaded him to purge the world by plunging the thirteen lights into shadow. Baldr reveals his darkness to Vor, explaining that this darkness killed Hoder, and once it had taken Baldr's body, killed Heimdall, Helgi, Sigrun, Urd, Hermod, and Bragi. Vor raises her Keyblade to fight Baldr and is quickly overwhelmed, but Vidar, Vala, and Vali come to her aid. Xehanort and Eraqus reach the room to find the group locked in combat, but Baldr summons a massive Heartless that kills the three upper classmen in one slash. Xehanort and Eraqus fend off the Heartless while Vor attempts to strike Baldr, but he pierces her with darkness, taking her life. Baldr taunts the two survivors and escapes to the roof, deeming it more worthy for the occasion.

On the roof, Baldr explains that thirteen lights must be given to the shadows to summon Kingdom Hearts - his ultimate goal, as the world would be reborn in darkness. His initial plan was to kill Hoder, goading Vidar to seek revenge, then Heimdall, Sigrun, and Helgi as additional incentive. When Vidar would find out he had to kill Baldr, he would be unable to do so, and turn to gathering the seven lights to summon Kingdom Hearts instead. However, Vidar eventually abandoned that goal, so Baldr appeared before the lower classmen to slay them, summoning Kingdom Hearts with the thirteen darknesses instead.

Baldr takes the form of the giant Heartless, and battles Xehanort and Eraqus until both sides are exhausted. Eraqus deflects a finishing strike from Baldr, knocking them both down, and tells Xehanort to purge the darkness in Baldr's heart. Xehanort begins to gather energy in his Keyblade to do so, but stops and raises his Keybalde to end Baldr's life instead, to Eraqus' protest. Baldr takes advantage of Xehanort's hesitation, and shrouds the area in darkness to speak with him. Baldr's darkness asserts that it is neither an ancient darkness, nor born from Baldr's heart - instead, it was born from the darkness of the people Baldr met. Suddenly, Hoder's spirit appears from Xehanort's heart, and attempts to speak to Baldr. Baldr's serious composure is broken, and he frantically explains that he could feel what was in others' hearts for most of his life. He felt only light from Hoder and Eraqus, but felt darkness in most of the other people he met. That darkness frightened him, but slowly gathered in his heart and began to become his own. He felt safe with Hoder due to her pure light, but once she was gone, he fell further into his own darkness and finally submitted to it. Baldr asserts that there are two kinds of people: those with pure light in their hearts, untainted - and those with darkness, among whom that darkness would grow. Hoder and Baldr reach out to one another, but both suddenly summon their Keyblades, still distrusting one another. Baldr's darkness seizes control of his body and attempts to strike, but is suddenly held in place by glowing chains. The darkness shrouding the area is dispelled, and the chains are shown to come from Odin's No Name Keyblade.

Odin commands Xehanort to rid Baldr of the darkness, but Baldr can still fight - he clashes Keyblades with Hoder, knocking them both down and causing Hoder to fade away. Baldr remarks that he sees himself in Xehanort, and requests that he understand his cause: that those with pure light will coldly condemn those who have darkness, and that Xehanort must seek answers to the darkness and the unjust ways of the world. Xehanort points his Keyblade at Baldr, as if to purge his darkness, but swiftly changes his mind and kills Baldr instead. Baldr fades away, and Odin laments the loss of another one of his students.

One month later, Xehanort places flowers on eleven graves, naming his fellow lower classmen as he does so. Eraqus arrives soon after with his own flowers, and does the same. Xehanort asks about Odin, who has grown glum over recent events, but wishes for Xehanort and Eraqus to take the Mark of Mastery exam as his final students. Afterwards, Odin wishes to have them replace him, and then retire to a world other than Scala ad Caelum. Eraqus suggests playing a game of chess to lighten the mood, and the duo leave the graveyard together.

Shortly afterwards, Luxu arrives in the graveyard, disappointed that he has not found a "chosen one", though optimistic that Xehanort may be useful. He recalls an interaction between Bragi and Baldr in the Underworld: Baldr threatens Bragi's life, though Bragi remains nonchalant, countering that returning without him would confirm Xehanort's suspicions. He also ponders aloud about how taking Baldr's body would be inconvenient for keeping a low profile. Baldr attacks but is outmatched, and Bragi begins to walk away, conceding that he won't interfere with Baldr's plan and will simply disappear. Baldr, confused and enraged, strikes down Bragi but leaves without witnessing him fade away. Luxu removes his hood, revealing Bragi's face, and laments how Bragi's name in the graveyard means his current identity in Scala ad Caelum has been compromised.


One year later, Xehanort walks in a corridor of darkness during his Mark of Mastery training. He remarks that his Keyblade Armor is not fully protective against darkness, as some of it still seeps into his heart. Believing himself to be the "child of destiny", he wonders if his heart is strong enough to withstand the darkness on its own. He dispels his armor, but immediately collapses and is found by the Master of Masters, who describes him as "the singularity".

The Master takes Xehanort to the Keyblade Graveyard, where he introduces himself as a former Keyblade wielder. Xehanort is initially distrustful and summons his Keyblade, which the Master then summons out of Xehanort's hand and into his own, before returning it. He advises Xehanort to not go unprotected in corridors of darkness, and gifts him a black coat, which he remarks is more protective against darkness than Keyblade Armor is. He also requests that Xehanort look into people's hearts, to see how complex emotions or differences in power can harbor light or darkness.

Some time later, Xehanort returns to the Keyblade Graveyard and shares his findings with the Master of Masters. He is disillusioned about the growing darkness he witnessed in people's hearts, and is convinced that the only way to save the world from chaos is to use darkness to seize control of it himself. Xehanort feels a guided path in his heart and familiarity with the black coat, though does not remember his time-traveling endeavors that imprinted those feelings. The Master predicts that Xehanort will not need the coat soon, as he will be able to control darkness instead of needing protection from it. Xehanort questions the Master's claim, and the Master reveals his name and status as a Lost Master before departing.


Two years later, Xehanort and Eraqus return to their old classroom, and discuss what they learned on their travels in preparation for the Mark of Mastery exam. Xehanort laments that one lifetime is not enough, and Eraqus suggests finding people that can carry on one's legacy. Xehanort would rather do it himself, and decides that he needs fourteen lives - thirteen to remake the world, and one to explore the new world. Eraqus states that his dream is to stay true to light - that if anyone were to become lost in darkness, he would be a beacon to light their way back.

Four years later, Xehanort, having just put fresh flowers on four gravestones, says his goodbyes to Eraqus and states 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 of Hearts, who had forgotten him during his last visit, is still possessed by darkness as he awaits his trial.

Six years later, Xehanort and Eraqus become Keyblade Masters. Eraqus, considered the "true heir", is bequeathed the Master's Defender Keyblade, while Xehanort is bequeathed the No Name Keyblade, so that he might inherit the resolve of the Lost Masters.

Xehanort and Eraqus get into a disagreement regarding Kingdom Hearts. Xehanort insists that summoning Kingdom Hearts is the only way to protect the world, but Eraqus opposes using such a drastic measure. The duo clash Keyblades as the scene fades.

Fifty-four years later, at the Land of Departure, Xehanort and Eraqus get into a heated argument about Xehanort's interest in the χ-blade and starting another Keyblade War. Eraqus is unable to sway Xehanort with words and attempts force, but Xehanort retaliates with darkness. Eraqus's face is scarred, and he is shocked that his old friend would be taken by darkness.

Sixy-four years later, Xehanort returns to the Magic Mirror and asks if the friends in his dreams truly existed at all. The Mirror states that some of them still live, and reveals the location of Ventus at the Keyblade Graveyard.

Xehanort and Ventus, the latter with a blank stare, walk through a corridor of darkness. Xehanort reflects that these corridors are meant for spirit and emotion, not living beings - living beings would attempt to embrace the emotions, corroding their hearts with darkness, unless they wear a black coat for protection. However, Xehanort rejects this advice, believing that a strong heart is enough to survive. He recalls his mentor, who taught him of the "child of destiny who can connect their heart to others and feel what they feel". Xehanort asserts that he must embrace the emotions of the corridor, so that he might be worthy of the title.

Xehanort arrives with Ventus at the Land of Departure, as Terra and Aqua are training. He leaves Ventus at the door and speaks with Eraqus as they walk together down the hall. Eraqus mentions a letter that Xehanort had sent, and forgives Xehanort for their past conflicts. Xehanort explains that he has trained Ventus for the past year, and that he thinks Ventus is the child of destiny - therefore, he requests Ventus to be trained by Eraqus, a "true heir to light", rather than someone close to darkness like himself. Ventus suddenly screams in the other room, and the two go to investigate.

After dropping off Ventus, Xehanort walks along a hall and speaks to Vanitas. Vanitas is glad to be rid of Ventus, but Xehanort clarifies that bringing Ventus to Eraqus was done for Ventus's sake, not Vanitas's. The two walk together down the hall, as Xehanort recounts the whereabouts of the thirteen ancient darknesses: seven are trapped within the Lost Masters, four are trapped in the data world, and two were supposedly destroyed when the world collapsed - but one survived, disguised as Ventus. Xehanort asks if Vanitas is that ancient darkness, and if he might know where the other darknesses are, since the darknesses were all once together as a whole - but Vanitas denies Xehanort's accusations. Xehanort wonders why a darkness would need to hide, and reveals that he knows Vanitas was not born from Ventus's heart, but was an outside entity that hid within him. This finally breaks Vanitas's façade, and he asks how much Xehanort knows. Xehanort returns the question, but Vanitas is unwilling to elaborate on the matter.

Gameplay[edit]

Xehanort, Eraqus and Bragi fighting against a Shadow.

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 any one of 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.

With the 5.00 version update, the game no longer connects to the internet, and thus does not allow any form of in-game purchases. Due to this, several aspects of the gameplay have been tweaked.

Quests to progress the main story no longer have specific requirements to advance - instead, each quest is a shortened version of World Battle with a limited amount of waves. Once all of a quest's waves are cleared, the next quest becomes available to play. Quests cannot be replayed after being completed, but story scenes can be re-viewed in Theater Mode.

From episode 4 onwards, it is no longer possible to change the third party member from the menu. Instead, party composition will automatically change to match story scenes.

Special Missions and special Event Quests have been removed.

BP drops from enemies have been approximately tripled, and BP can now be spent to buy cards as well as level up Xehanort.

The shop has been completely reworked: Jewels, Shop Points, and the Draw system have all been removed, and all cards can be directly purchased in the shop for BP.

Data Transfer[edit]

Those who played the online version of the app had the option to locally backup their Dark Road save data on their device, prior to the online functionality being terminated. If they did so, kept Dark Road installed, and then opened the game after the 5.00 update, they would retain any earned cards, levels, BP, story progress, and certain items from their old save data. Items that were removed from the game, such as Jewels and Draw Tickets, would not be retained.

Worlds and characters[edit]

Scala ad Caelum
Destiny Islands fade in/out from Hollow Bastion
Agrabah
Wonderland
Dwarf Woodlands
Beast's Castle
Olympus Coliseum/Underworld
Enchanted Dominion fade in/out from Hollow Bastion
Keyblade Graveyard fade in/out from Hollow Bastion
Land of Departure fade in/out from Hollow Bastion
Daybreak Town fade in/out from Hollow Bastion
The Final World fade in/out from Hollow Bastion
Other

Notes and references[edit]

External links[edit]