I’m going to be straight with you all from the start. I mainly went and played Kingdom Hearts HD 2.8 Final Chapter Prologue – 0.2: Birth by Sleep – A Fragmentary Passage on the EGX show floor so I had an excuse to type out that real video game title I played in full.
Totally worth it.
So, let’s break down that title a little to try to explain what exactly I played at EGX. Kingdom Hearts is a video game series where heroes with key-shaped blades beat up magical Heartless monsters in a world mashed up between Final Fantasy and Disney characters. A third entry in the main series has been in the works for a very long time.
Kingdom Hearts HD 2.8 Final Chapter Prologue is a collection of primarily remastered content from spin-off titles that acts as both a sequel to Kingdom Hearts 2.5 HD Remix and a prequel to Kingdom Hearts 3.
0.2: Birth by Sleep – A Fragmentary Passage is a short piece of new original content made as a sequel to the PSP game Birth By Sleep. I don’t know where the 0.2 part of the title really came from. Maybe the distance we are now from Kingdom Hearts 3? The interesting part of 0.2: Birth by Sleep – A Fragmentary Passage is that it allegedly uses tech from KH3’s development, as well as seemingly showing how the characters involved will be important to the story of KH3.
Phew, explaining Kingdom Hearts games at this stage really is the kind of task that needs academic referencing to make any kind of sense.
Moving past the gargantuan title, how was Kingdom Hearts HD 2.8 Final Chapter Prologue – 0.2: Birth by Sleep – A Fragmentary Passage? Surprisingly promising. The demo, set in a Cinderella-themed new world, focused on Aqua (of Birth by Sleep) exploring a town hoping to destroy gears, turn back time and rebuild a bridge. To do this, unsurprisingly for any Kingdom Hearts fans, you have to defeat a bunch of Heartless.
Gameplay for the most part is standard KH fare. Normal attacks can be combo’d without consequence, with magic spells costing a magic bar which slowly refills. Your character can double jump and dash, but for the most part you’re looking for ways to immobilise or reach enemies with magic, then whaling on them with your keyblade.
The combat system in Kingdom Hearts HD 2.8 Final Chapter Prologue – 0.2: Birth by Sleep – A Fragmentary Passage also allows for additional skill sets to be unlocked by collecting enough gems from defeated enemies, unlocking different combo strings that chain more effectively and visually stunning super moves which use up any remaining time you had in that additional mode.
Unsurprisingly the combat feels true to what we already know of KH games. It’s polished and flashy, the enemies are largely harmless unless they swarm you at speed. It’s predictable fare impressively presented.
The EGX 2016 demo ended with a boss fight against a fast-moving, swarm of Heartless which formed a fluid, powerful and hard to engage tower that had to be fought both like an enemy crowd, and like a standard larger enemy. The visual effect as Heartless were knocked off the tower by attacks and scrambled to re-form areas that had been damaged was spectacular to watch and, while the combat wasn’t anything new, the fight itself was a nice step up in visual polish and spectacle.
While the name Kingdom Hearts HD 2.8 Final Chapter Prologue – 0.2: Birth by Sleep – A Fragmentary Passage might be stupid, the game itself has been very reassuring of at least the scale, visual polish and combat fluidity of Kingdom Hearts 3. I just pray to the gods the titles of sequels to Kingdom Hearts 3 are not this convoluted.