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Episode 7: Kingdom Hearts


Failinhearts

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GAME 63: KINGDOM HEARTS 1.5: FINAL MIX (PS4)

You know, I had a strange childhood in terms of gaming. I owned an Xbox. And while I got to experience many multiplatform hits through it, I definitely missed out a lot of exclusives that went on to define the 3D era of gaming. Be it games like Wind Waker or Pikmin on Gamecube, or games like Ratchet and Clank and Jak & Daxter on PlayStation 2. Hell, I didn't really get a PlayStation until the PS4.

And one of those defining franchises for the PlayStation I never got to touch was Kingdom Hearts. I certainly heard about it, who wouldn't have? But I never touched a single entry in my life despite being a film and Disney fan. I got into Disney Infinity long before I even touched this OG Disney crossover.

But now, after so many twists and turns, the time finally came to dive into the heart (heh) of this franchise by playing the game that started it all.

And needless to say it was... certainly a game.

Yeah, better buckle your seatbelts. Cause I got a steaming hot take coming: I don't think this game's good. It got close to being good, but it has a lot of things holding it back.

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I enjoy hack and slashes, I enjoy causing absolute mayhem and feeling like a boss on a 3D battlefield. I enjoy games like the Dynasty Warriors entries, or Devil May Cry 5, or even Disney Infinity 3.0 and that game's approach to combat. Seeing gameplay of KH, the combat seemed right up my alley. And maybe it still is as I play through this series but KH1 was NOT a good first impression.

In fact this could be the best summary of all my problems with this game as a whole. It makes a HORRIBLE first impression and doesn't pick up until much, much, much later. But by that point, it makes me wonder why someone would keep playing if the game actively fights you for this long.

The combat is very slow. The sound design is unsatisfying making me think I'm doing minimal damage at all. Sora's incredibly slow, the keyblade's range is pitiful, the combos don't get fluid until Slapshot comes into play (and even then, it's not that much better), and the lack of being able to see enemy health for a majority of the game means I continually feel like I'm doing chip damage. Sora fights with the damage and speed of a sopping wet towel.

And the magic aside from Aero and Curaga, my defensive buffs, is absolutely useless. The damage from any other spell is borderline miniscule in my playthrough on Beginner, and initiating the attack takes forever. I'm just a free hitbox while dealing no damage whatsoever.

Combat eventually gets good when finisher moves, Scan and other abilities come into play. But the good stuff is only given by the final third of the game.

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The platforming is just as, if not even more dreadful. Sora jumps with the height of a rock and drops like one too. This makes world navigation, traversal and furthermore airborne combat absolute hell. I can't make jumps in confidence until I unlock things like High Jump, and Glide, which makes platforming actually fun... But the good stuff is only given by the final third of the game.

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The Disney worlds, you know, the reason I decided to play this game, the main selling point... Also mostly suck. Wonderland, Deep Jungle, Agrabah, Traverse Town and Hollow Bastion are overly cryptic and unaccommodating. Especially with the bad platforming. You can't make it past through these worlds easily without a guide, and only act as tedious stop-points between the equally tedious combat.

This isn't to say there aren't good worlds. There are. I ended up having a fun time in the Coliseum, Halloween Town, Monstro (with guide), Neverland and yes, even Atlantica, as uncanny as that may sound. Most of these strike a better job balancing exploration with linear combat and context clues. But guess what? That's right, the good stuff only arrives by the final third of the game.

Starting to see the pattern here? It takes way, way too long for the game to actually click under any circumstances. A game should give the player a reason to keep playing, and that's typically with things like a strong first level, or solid gameplay mechanics off the bat. But no, I have to EARN the right for the game to even be a crumb of fun. And isn't the point of a game to be fun for the whole duration?

I don't watch a movie and go "I liked it, but I hated the majority of the film." No, it's "I don't like this movie. But at least that final part was good." And I certainly won't say that for a game that takes five times as long to play as a movie.

It's like Sonic and Secret Rings, you have to trudge through a lot of pain and tedium for the game to grant you the shit you should've had from the very beginning like GOOD CONTROL. One can chalk that up to just the age of the title, but that doesn't change the fact that there's a reason WHY this isn't the norm for games anymore. Cause it's bad.

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Speaking of movies, how about that story huh? Oh, you mean the Disney worlds that have hardly any thematic or important relevance in the story despite it taking up most of the game? Or maybe the stilted dialogue and bad child acting? Maybe it's the flimsy motivations and underdeveloped original characters? How about the forced drama and relationships between Sora, Donald and Goofy that really came into ahead at Deep Jungle's baffling narrative decisions?

Or how about the preachy, obnoxious word spaghetti as we reach the end that's all light, heart, darkness light, heart, friendship, light, dark?

At a certain point by the finale, I just tuned out. The game gave me no reason to care about these characters, their themes, allegories and adventures together. So this time, not even the final third can save it. In fact the final third is where the narrative completely falls apart.

And knowing the series is just gonna delve more into those elements doesn't instill much confidence.

I could keep going, but I think the point came across. This is probably the worst first impression to a series I have experienced in a long while. But I'm still willing to give the future games a shot. I hear KH2 at least has much snappier combat, and I hope to Nomura's pointy hair obsession that this is true.

But hey, that music's pretty boppin' though.

GAMES FINISHED: 63

GAMES COMPLETED: 57

 

 

 

 

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Covskin

Posted

Preach.

I only played KH1 for the first time late 2022 and felt pretty much the same as you. The controls in KH2 are a vast improvement but don't expect to see your other complaints get resolved. If you tuned out of the story here then whoo boy, have fun with that prologue...

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Failinhearts

Posted

49 minutes ago, Covskin said:

Preach.

I only played KH1 for the first time late 2022 and felt pretty much the same as you. The controls in KH2 are a vast improvement but don't expect to see your other complaints get resolved. If you tuned out of the story here then whoo boy, have fun with that prologue...

I'm looking forward to the prologue but that's cause I got a Roxas bias from the RP. Cool dude.

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