Kingdom Hearts HD 2.8 Final Chapter Prologue, damn these titles are getting big, is a game collection developed by Square Enix and holds Kingdom Hearts Dream Drop Distance (DDD) in HD, 0.2 Birth By Sleep A fragmentary passage and Kingdom Hearts X Back Cover. While DDD was first released on the 3DS back in 2012, both Passage and Back Cover are new additions to the franchise in one form or another. Like 1.5 and 2.5, this collection is a remastered and remade versions of previous experiences, DDD being the first port to consoles in HD, Passage adding in new content to the BBS release and Back Cover being a movie to fill in the gaps of the mobile game… God this is going to be a long one.
Kingdom Hearts Dream Drop Distance continues on from the ending of Kingdom Hearts 2 and coded, following Sora and Riku as they meet with Master Yen Sid to undergo their trial for the Mark of Mastery. Stripping them of their self-taught power and techniques, Yen Sid sends the two Keyblade wielders into a deep sleep, to unlocked 7 keyholes within 7 sleeping worlds. Through this journey they will gain new power as well as learn how to use the Keyblade in the proper fashion.
DDD lasts around 20 hours long, depending on difficulty setting and your familiarity with Kingdom hearts games. There are unlockable difficulties, collectables and 100% completion tasks to be undertaken, lengthening the game to around the 100 hour mark. You will see familiar worlds like Traverse Town and Monster/Pranksters paradise, while seeing new ones like the Musketeers or Fantasia Mickey.
Kingdom Hearts 0.2 Birth by Sleep A fragmentary passage is set straight after Birth by Sleep and before Kingdom Hearts. After the ending of BBS, Aqua finds herself lost within the Realm of Darkness with no clear way out. Traversing the dark realm, Aqua starts to lose hope in the dim world yet continues to press on as she notices a world she had visited previously within the Dark Realm. Meeting with Mickey, Aqua will find hope within the darkness and push onwards to its end.
Passage lasts around 2 hours, with not much deviation in time from difficulties, though it does contain objectives to complete that add in new clothing accessories. For a 100% run it might reach 10 hours with a style of new game+ on offer. There isn’t really a world selection in this game, merely following the hallways presented to you.
Kingdom Hearts X Back Cover runs in time with Kingdom Hearts X on mobile devices, showing us the side of the Foretellers and their conflict. We are introduced to the 5 foretellers, their respective unions and the roles they all hold, given to them by The Master. As the movie plays out it is told that there is a traitor among the 5, the main point of the movie showing their trials and tribulations to find the traitor before darkness approaches.
Back Cover has a runtime around 1 hour long, with no real reason to go over unless you re-watch certain chapters or the whole movie again.
All in all, 2.8 has a story runtime of over 23 hours, with a potential 100+ hours for completionists. While DDD is a HD remake of the handheld game, Passage is a new game created for this collection, and as such shows a lot of work put into it, yet the length is much less than other releases in the franchise. Back Cover is also the shorted movie of all, being made exclusively for this collection also.
DDD plays very similarly to BBS, replacing attacks and magic with the command deck, while adding in new mechanics with Spirit beasts that enter your party and combine with you for new forms and attacks. Gameplay switches between Sora and Riku often, a drop meter showing how much time left between a switch, or switching at will within the menus. DDD also seems to have taken inspiration from Jet Set Radio, sliding across almost any rail you can see and jumping the speed up to 11.
As you play through the game you will level up and collect commands, which you slot into your short command deck. In battle you press Triangle to use these commands, ranging from attacks like Strike Raid to magic like Curaga. Instead of combining these attacks like in BBS, you instead can combine these when creating Spirit beasts, giving them buffs to their stats. DDD has one the biggest feeling jump in design, movement feels awkward to start and the speed at which Flowmotion puts you in can feel very jarring. However, once you come to terms with the new controls and abilities the game flows amazingly.
Passage plays similarly to KH 2, with the normal actions to scroll with the directional buttons. You can mash X on attack to do your combos, move over to magic and select a spell or use an item. The control scheme feels safe and is easy to get to grips with. While playing Aqua and defeating heartless you will gain EXP to level up and increase your stats, but has no real way to change abilities as she starts off as level 50 with most of them unlocked.
There isn’t much of a game to play to really say much else about passage, it works in the rail riding from DDD but tones it down so it still feels cool yet still controllable. Changing Aqua’s accessories is a nice touch but might appeal to those who see her as their waifu more. Passage seems to be more of a short demo to show off the tech in KH 3 more then what should of really been a full game release like the other HD collections, but is welcomed by fans nonetheless.
Back Cover is just a movie, press play and watch.
Overall thoughts and feelings
This collection, like the others, brings a handheld game to consoles, which on its own is a great reason to purchase. DDD was only on the 3ds and sadly was one I missed out on, however it isn’t the best game in the series. With DDD being the flagship title on this collection it doesn’t really hold enough weight to justify it’s pricing. Passage is only 2 hours long, shorter if you collect little to no collectables, being more of a Demo then anything, and we all know how people feel about paying for demos.
DDD looks amazing on console, the same goes for Passage and Back Cover but since those two were created especially for this it was kind of expected. DDD did have some glitch issues, like falling through the floor and walls, whereas Passage felt like an unpolished version of what KD 3 is going to be. Back Cover also had some pacing issues that irked me, but may not affect other viewers.
It seems with 2.8 you are paying mostly for the time spent creating Passage and Back Cover, from £40 to £50 at release it definitely feels like the most undeserving of its price tag. While 1.5 brought a treasured classic into the new age, while giving what seems to be the 4th version of the first game, and 2.5 gave us the arguably best games in the franchise, ending with 2.8 feels kind of wrong. I still hold 2.5 to be the best collection for your money, both in the length of the games it holds and the quality of said games.
Overall I give Kingdom Hearts HD 2.8 Final Chapter Prologue a 8/10, while it’s price may be high, you are really paying for a port of DDD and access to what feels like a demo and movie. 2.8 adds in a lot of information that is sorely needed for KH 3, yet still leaving us with questions about the end of Passage and Back Cover. DDD is an enjoyable experience and a unique one at that with it’s drastic change in controls, Passage is beautiful to look at and play while Back Cover shows the mobile game for those who don’t wish to pay a free-to-play game. Though, again, you have to ask yourself, is this collection worth over £40? If you haven’t gotten 2.5 you might want to get that first… Well you should actually get them all as the experience will feel too disjointed if you skip ahead or behind.