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Kingdom Hearts 2.8 Final Chapter Prologue Review

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The Kingdom Hearts series has always been very close to my heart. It was one of the games that I grew up with, and it taught me about friendship, love, and the power of courage. It was sanctuary for me going through high school, surviving bullying, terrible people, and just the overall stress of being a teenager. I can barely listen to the Dearly Beloved soundtrack, the main Kingdom Hearts menu tune, without getting goosebumps, as it has been remastered for every Kingdom Hearts title to date. 

Kingdom Hearts 2.8 Final Chapter prologue is the first time in the series that something new has arrived in more than one way. The package comes with the previously 3DS exclusive Kingdom Hearts: Dream Drop Distance, the much-anticipated 0.2 Birth by Sleep: Fragmentary Passage, and a cinematic experience that follows the mobile game, Kingdom Hearts: Unchained X. It is the third time Square Enix has packaged three Kingdom Hearts games into one bundle, following Kingdom Hearts 1.5, and Kingdom Hearts 2.5 HD ReMix that released on PS3 a few years back. 2.8 is not the biggest package, but one that holds the most refreshing picturesque experience to date. 

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Starting off with Kingdom Hearts: Dream Drop Distance, which I played three times on the 3DS. To think that this was a handheld game. Square Enix really outdid themselves by porting this title to PS4. Controls work very well, and even 3DS features like the touch screen abilities and the gyroscope movement, have been converted to the DualShock 4. The game follows Sora and Riku through sleeping worlds as they partake in their Mark of Mastery exams. Along the way they face the dreaded Organization XIII, an evil group of Nobodies whose main goal is to unlock the power of Kingdom Hearts, and come across both cute and devilish Dreameaters and Nightmares that act as the main monsters in the game. 

Sora and Riku can tame these Dreameaters to fight alongside them in combat. Feeding them, training them, and even using them to unlock powerful abilities for Sora and Riku. It is like Pokémon, but with cute little monsters who feed on dreams. The game took me to wonderful Disney worlds like Norte Dame, and a Traverse Town that has been expanded on since the original appearance in the first game.

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Playing this on 3DS was fun, but it was not until I had it on my TV in front of me, that I realized just how wonderful this handheld game was. With trophy support, improved controls, and refined visuals, it will be the best place to experience the 3DS adaption of the Kingdom Hearts series. It is also nice to have a place to experience the game for those who never managed to play it on the 3DS 

Kingdom Hearts III might be a few years away, but Square Enix have made sure to keep fans intrigued with an all-new experience included in this package. Kingdom Hearts: Birth by Sleep 0.2 - A Fragmentary Passage is the first time we have ever seen the series get any sort of graphical upgrade, and oh my eyes does it look good! Running on Unreal Engine 4, I could not stop staring at the sheer beauty of the game as I explored the Dark Worlds with Aqua. Although the experience lasts around 2 hours, it was just enough to make me shed a tear at the ending that will slowly lead up to the opening of Kingdom Hearts III. 

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A Fragmentary Passage is beautifully constructed from start to finish. Combat is fluid with particle effects filling the screen as I casted Thundaja and Firaga at the Heartless. Environments are dark, as Aqua is trapped in the Depths of Darkness, but it looks magnificent with every vine and enemy crafted with the utmost care. It visually comes close the cinematics that we used to watch in the original games on PS2, and I cannot wait to see what Kingdom Hearts III will look like if this “demo” is anything to go by.

There are dozens of objectives to complete in the game that kept me going back even after the short experience. Killing certain enemies a specific way, and finding hidden items unlocked wardrobe items for Aqua that changed her look a bit. New outfit shaders, wings, and even Mickey Mouse ears, all added to the fun. Sure this is all padding for the very short experience to make it look fuller, but I could not care as it was beautiful to look at and backed by a magnificent soundtrack

Story wise it has the Kingdom Hearts charm we love so much, but it is the ending that we will all play this for as it is the last game before the sequel we have all be waiting for. Along the way however, I met King Mickey, Riku, and some cinematics touch on the events of Terra and Ventus. Do not expect a story of biblical proportions here, as you will not find it. It is a short experience that just builds on the hype for the game to come, and if you are a fan, then you will quietly shed a tear when you complete it. 

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Lastly, we have the cinematic experience in the package which comes in the form of a fully-animated chapter-based series of cutscenes. Kingdom Hearts X Back Cover, tells the story of the earliest Keyblade Masters, and sheds some light on the mobile game’s lore, Kingdom Hearts Unchained X. I have played the mobile game and although it was fun, the story was hard to keep track of, but plays a vital role in the Kingdom Hearts universe.

This cinematic experience was a welcome addition to the package as it meant I could put my feet up and enjoy the story in full Unreal Engine 4 glory, with great voice over work too. It has a confusing plot, and leaves many questions unanswered, which I hoped that it would answer, but again it, helps build up the excitement for the upcoming Kingdom Hearts III. 

After everything I played and experienced in Kingdom Hearts 2.8 Final Chapter Prologue, I cannot wait to see Sora and his gang in a full game again. It has been a long time coming, but this package has restored my faith that the Kingdom Hearts series is as alive as ever. With two games and a lengthily cinematic experience to go through, all of which explain the game's current story in quite some detail, the package is must for all veterans and newcomers alike. 

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"it has the Kingdom Hearts charm we love so much"

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