LifeisXbox’s Kingdom Hearts review | Under the motto: better late than never! So, the Kingdom Heart series, by Square Enix, finally came to PC earlier this year (still screams in excitement). Personally, I’ve always been a PC player who was in love with the idea of playing KG, and the Kingdom Hearts series have a tendency of releasing on various platforms, most of which I never owned, unfortunately. Luckily, 2021 is the year ALL Kingdom Hearts games were released for PC. Four bundles were released on March 31st, of which we will cover three in this review. The first bundle includes no less than 6 Kingdom Hearts games and is definitely the most extensive one out of all four: KH Final Mix, KH Re:Chain of Memories, KH 358/2, KH II: Final Mix, KH Birth by Sleep Final Mix, and KH Re:coded. Some of these got HD remastered cinematics because as most of you know, these games are quite ‘old’ already. The original KH: Final Mix dates back to 2002, and was originally released for PlayStation 2. A remastered version (named KH HD 1.5 Remix) was then released in 2013 for PlayStation 3. The last one in this bundle, Re:coded actually is much ‘younger’ but still dates back to 2010. This one was originally released as a phone game but got two remakes for the Nintendo DS, and later for PlayStation and Xbox.
The second bundle includes three games: Kingdom Hearts Dream Drop Distance HD (a remake of the original 3D version), Kingdom Hearts 0.2: Birth by Sleep – A Fragmentary Passage, and Kingdom Hearts χ Back Cover (which is actually a movie that revolves around the story of the Foretellers from the series’ origins). The third and last bundle that we’ll cover in this review, includes Kingdom Hearts III and its DLC called Re Mind.
Safe to say it’s been a wild ride for the Kingdom Hearts series, with a franchise that’s been around for almost 20 years, a ton of remakes, the PC release, and the latest news about the Switch release of the KH titles. Now, we were very grateful to have received review keys for all Kingdom Hearts games, testing them took a while, but let’s dive into the pros and cons of these Kingdom Hearts games, shall we?
This review covers:
- Kingdom Hearts HD 1.5 + 2.5 ReMIX
- Kingdom Hearts HD 2.8 Final Chapter Prologue
- Kingdom Hearts III + Re Mind
This review does not include the fourth ‘bundle’: Kingdom Hearts: Melody of Memory (Switch review).
I’m pretty sure the Kingdom Hearts soundtracks are amongst my favourite ones from games, and if you ever play(ed) the game, you will understand why.
ℹ️ Reviewed on PC | Review code provided by PR/publisher, this review is the personal opinion from the writer.
What we liked!
- Graphics | The Kingdom Hearts games run very smoothly on PC, and I’m really relieved that they do. As expected, the first and second bundle look average, but are still enjoyable to look at. Luckily, over the years these games have had HD remastered so they don’t look as outdated as they used to. Even though you can definitely tell that these are older games, they still offer an enjoyable art style, probably thanks to the lively world, beautiful characters, and altogether popularity of the game. The best expercience, graphics-wise, was definitely with the last bundle. Kingdom Hearts III and its DLC Re Mind are by far the best looking ones, as they are the most recent releases, dating back to 2019 and 2020. The many cutscenes are, in all games, a joy to behold. Not only because they look good, but also because it enriches the story and tells it in a beautiful manner. I think, despite the fact that some cutscenes do still look outdated, they just have some sort of magic to them (as does the entire Kingdom Hearts series) excusing this lower quality. You might argue that the cutscenes are really long at times, but this is just something you have to accept in the Kingdom Hearts series. When looking around on the internet, the first game (Final Mix) has about 4 hours of cutscenes, while the second KH has about 13 (!) hours of cutscenes in it. I honestly didn’t mind and enjoyed looking at all of them, but I’m sure not everyone can appreciate sitting around for that long through a game.
- Wonderful musical aspect | Throughout each and every single Kingdom Hearts game, the one thing that is constantly amazing is the soundtrack. I mean, there’s a reason why Melody of Memory was released, a game that is all about the musical component of the series. I’m pretty sure the Kingdom Hearts soundtracks are amongst my favourite ones from games, and if you ever play(ed) the game, you will understand why. It’s composed perfectly for every opportunity in the game. Slow and soothing when you’re walking around, upbeat when you’re fighting. And in case you didn’t know: some Disney and Final Fantasy music is used in the Kingdom Hearts games as well! My all time favourite probably being This is Halloween from The Nightmare Before Christmas. If I’m not mistaken, the songs are altered a bit, but they’re still very close to the original releases, and it’s just wonderful to see characters and hear the music you know so well from your childhood.
- Story | Fans of Kingdom Hearts know that the series has a big story, but also one that can be quite complicated. As the storyline continues throughout the several games, it is thus very much recommended to play the games in the correct order. Jumping between games is definitely a no-go here if you’re going be invested in the story. The first game, Kingdom Hearts Final Mix start out on the Destiny Islands where Sora, Riku, and Kairi talk and dream of exploring new places and worlds beyond their islands. When a terrible darkness makes its way to Destiny Islands and consumed it, Sora (without a doubt one of the biggest names of the Kingdom Hearts series) gets taken to a new, bizarre world. He wakes up in a place called Traverse Town where he quickly runs into none less than Donald Duck and Goofy, helping him on his quest to find his friends and figure out what happened. The next games build on this where old and new characters are introduced. As you can probably tell by the number of games released, the story is very extensive, something I found to be very delightful. I feel like, if you’re just going to focus on combat in Kingdom Hearts, that you will not enjoy the game to its fullest. Again, this series is heavily story focused so I definitely recommend taking the time to enjoy evertyhing this series has to offer.
- Content | It’s no surprise that all these bundles offer an immense amount of content. If you look at the ‘time to beat the story’ at the end of the review, you get an indication how long it’ll take you to simply finish the story. Of course, there is more to do besides this as well, so safe to say the content presented to you here is gigantic. 7 games, one DLC, and three cinematic pieces will surely keep you busy for a while. Even if you’ve already played some or all of these on other platforms, the PC experience could open up a new world or make you relive the games you loved so much. The games also offer some degree of replayability, even if it’s just to relive the story again. Kingdom Hearts 3 offers the most replay value by far, so I suggest if you focus on replaying one game, you go for this one.
- Difficult | Kingdom Hearts game offer various options when it comes to difficulty settings, so there is something for everyone. However, the older games are definitely harder than the newer ones. If you are even a little bit familiar with the Kingdom Hearts series, you’ll know that this series is famous for giving you a harder time. Even on the lower difficulty levels, you might have a hard time getting past the enemies and bosses. If you want to go through an easier game, I think Kingdom Hearts III will be more your speed as this one is definitely a breeze on the easier difficulty settings. Either way, I think the steep difficulty is definitely one of the strongpoints of Kingdom Hearts. It doesn’t hand the gameplay to you and it ensures an exciting experience, prolonging the overal gametime.
- Disney nostalgia | Something that attracts many gamers to Kingdom Hearts is definitely the collab between Disney and Square Enix characters, with the focus on the Disney universe. Not only do we get to see the Disney characters, we also get to listen to some of the characters’ official voices! Yeah, an all-star voice cast was used in the games, isn’t that just amazing? Some of the first Disney characters you will come across are Donald Duck and Goofy, who are in search of the Keyblade for their king Mickey mouse and queen Minnie Mouse. The wonderful Maleficent, alongside with a cast of villians including Hades, Jafar, and Oogie Boogie appear in the very furst game as well. I was so happy when I saw Alice in Wonderland, The Little Mermaid, Toy Story, Monster Inc., Pirates of the Caribbean, Frozen, Big Hero 6, … characters (to name a few). So many Disney movie references and characters are featured, it really warmed my Disney-loving heart. Some of the characters will also be playable, others will not be.
- Controls | Even though most controls are pretty straightforward, some weird choices were made for the PC release of Kingdom Hearts. Of course, you can choose to play by using your keyboard and a mouse (you can even pick what keyboard you’re using, thank god), but you can also play with a controller. Again, various controllers were added and you can just select which one you’re using. I tried out both the keyboard and the controller option and ended up enjoying both. Focusing on the controller, there was one main issue: you still had to use the keyboard to access a menu… Not sure why they went with this choice because it just doesn’t make sense to have a controller option where you still need to use the keyboard often. If you choose a keyboard, there was one weird option: using backspace instead of escape to exit a menu. It’s like the people responsible for the PC port had never even played a PC game before, so weird. You get used to it eventually but you can understand it feels very unnatural. Another ‘issue’ I had with the keyboard option, is that there is on mouse support in the game when you want to access menus. It complicated things a little, but nothing too bad, luckily. Still, it becomes incredibly clear that this game was originally a console build and I feel like the developers disregarded the PC options a little. If I’m taking into account the high price of the game, I would have preffered a really optimized PC version, of course. The controller ended up being my prefered choice, but I suggest you go try out what fits you best.
- Save points | Over the last couple of years, gamers have been more and more spoiled, let’s face it. Most games have auto save features and these are just really welcome. Nowaday, we want to jump in and out of a game in a matter of seconds, without having to walk around for an extra 15 minutes before being able to save and shut down the game. Seeing as the Kingdom Hearts are a bit older already, it makes sense for the games not to have this option. Still, I think the implentation should’ve been considered more. If you’re familiar with the games, you know there are a lot of cutscenes. And really long ones too sometimes. This already makes the game less suited to quit whenever you want, and the missing autosave feature only adds to this.
- Two exceptions | We know there is a movie in the second bundle called Kingdom Hearts χ Back Cover. However, what some might not know, is that the first bundle also includes two cinematic portraits of games. Both Kingdom Hearts 358/2 and Kingdom Hearts Re:coded were originally playable games, but appear as some sort of movie made out of cutscenes and text filling in for important parts that are supposed to happen during combat. That means that out of the first bundle, only four games are actually games, and two games are just movies allowing you to get the complete story still. It is very noticable that these two look a lot worse compared to the actual games, as the graphics didn’t get a much-needed makeover. I still don’t fully support the decision to (1) make these games movies, and (2) the choice to not give these two titles a HD remaster, as they really stand out in the first bundle.
What we disliked
- Expensive | I think this is some criticism that most people will agree with, and has been mentioned quite a few times by various media outlet and people. For games that are several years old already, and have been re-released several times (as we’re seeing now again with the Switch announcement), they remain very expensive. If you want to buy all three bundles from the Epic Games store, you’ll be paying 170 Euros. And if you also want the Melody of Memory game, you can add another 60 Euros to that total. Even though the games do offer a immense amount of content, I still think older games that you re-release shouldn’t be priced this high. I’ve always wanted to try all Kingdom Hearts game, but in all honesty, even I wouldn’t have paid the full amount for all these bundles. I think, except for the die hard fans, you’re better of purchasing one or more bundles during a sale or something because the price is simply not justified. After the news that the Kingdom Hearts series was coming to the Nintendo Switch, I got excited again because this seems interesting, but my first thought was, again, that it will be just as pricey, and at this point, it just feels like the developers are only after money rather than trying to please the audience. One small note here: I saw that 3 months of Disney+ subscription was added if you bought the games for a short period of that. I guess that’s a nice extra, but I still cannot possibly justify the steep prices, I’m afraid.
How long to beat the story |
Kingdom Hearts HD 1.5 + 2.5 ReMIX: 143 hours
Kingdom Hearts HD 2.8 Final Chapter Prologue: 20 hours
Kingdom Hearts III + Re Mind: 35 hours
How long to achieve 1000G | 300+ hours
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Head of PC team. PC, Switch, and Xbox game reviewer. Also a marketeer, concert and animal lover, and photographer in training 🙂