Dream Drop Distance is the latest entry in the Kingdom Hearts series, marrying Disney worlds with a complex fantasy storyline and throwing a few Final Fantasy cameos into the mix to create one of the strangest cross over series I can think of. This latest entry is on the 3DS and it aims to tie up all loose ends and set the stage for Kingdom Hearts 3.
The game begins soon after the events of Kingdom Hearts 2 making it the most recent game in the series’ chronological order. Our heroes, Sora and Riku, must dive into the sleeping worlds and free them from their slumber. This is part of a trial made by Yen Sid to prepare them for the final battle (Kingdom Hearts 3). Their trial gets hijacked and our heroes will soon discover the full extent of Xehanorts plans.
The plot thus far is incredibly complex. By throwing around pixie dust terms such as Light, Darkness, Friendship and Hearts, the game attempts to explain how and why things work. It's a complete mess with very few established rules to command the Kingdom Hearts universe. Anything could happen. At this point, any fan of the series is conditioned to just roll with it, a trait needed if you plan on getting through this latest entry. The plot also becomes much more complex in the course of this game, piling on more and more bullshit to an already stinky mess and I love it.
Take it for what it is, a magical Disney themed fantasy universe with rich back story, with villains dressed in black coats that will always know more than you, and be one step ahead. Any fans of the series will love this latest entry and have probably already finished it. Therefore the question that remains is will you enjoy this game if you are unfamiliar with the series?
This game is both the best and worst place to get into Kingdom Hearts. It's the best in the regard that it provides a brief summary for all previous events and does a great job of reminding the player of past plot elements. However, it's the worst place to start for those who wish to experience the whole series, since this game will spoil all previous events.
On its own this game makes a great action RPG for the 3DS. There are tons of spells and action commands that you can equip to suit your play style. You also have your range of blocks, parries and rolls you can perform. It's not as deep as a more focused action game such as Bayonetta or God of War, but as an RPG hack n' slash hybrid the combat is reasonably deep and the customization keeps it fresh throughout the adventure.
The combat is fast and frantic, like when a kid enters a sugar rush, bouncing off the walls in your living room. I didn't choose that analogy by chance either; you will literally bounce off walls. New to the series is what the game dubs “flowmotion”. Flowmotion allows your character to bounce off walls, grind rails and soar great distances. Flowmotion also extends your arsenal of attacks further, allowing you to attack as you swing from poles, grind rails and my favorite; a death from above styled plunge.
At first, the flowmotion seems a bit too effective making it easy to ignore all the other cool stuff you can do with the combat. I mean really, give the player a nuke why would he use a knife? However as the game progresses, the effectiveness of flowmotion dwindles making it less dependable (and this is very good!).
The last thing the game uses to spice up the combat is the introduction of Spirits. These are monsters you can create to aid you. You can go in with a party of three with one on standby. This is my least favorite feature of the game. The spirits will grow as you fight with them, giving you various stat boosts and most importantly, give you new abilities. While the abilities are permanent, the stat boosts are only active while that particular spirit is in your party. Every time you switch spirits you loose your stat boosts making you considerably more vulnerable. This whole system serves to give the game an uneven difficulty. The game encourages you to train multiple spirits to gain the more rare spells and abilities, yet taking on a new spirit will make you have to start over with the stat enhancers. This is a time consuming system that is entirely unavoidable, especially if you are playing on the hardest difficulty. It almost begs the player to go online to find out what spirits are the best and where to find the best abilities instead of wasting time with experimentation. While some may find this system to their liking, I found it all too detracting from the main game.
The last bit that makes this system unfavorable to me is the fact that the best way of gaining link points (experience) for the derpy little monsters is not through combat. While you do gain some link points through combat, the best way to gain them is still from playing various mini games. I am generally not a big fan of mini games. I would rather spend time fighting to earn link points since the combat is very good in this game like I previously mentioned. This can make combat feel unrewarding and pointless at times knowing the real reward lies behind the less fun mini game involving taking a bath.
The worlds you visit are some of the best in the series in my opinion. Flowmotion doesn't only add to combat but it also serves to make exploration more enjoyable. Since the player can now soar, grind and swing great distances almost effortlessly, a demand for more big open worlds was made. The worlds are not only vast and open, but they are filled with detail as well. From medieval towns in Notre-Dame to futuristic landscapes in Tron there is a ton of variety. It's safe to say that this game is one of the best looking games on the 3DS. It's the best looking game in the whole Kingdom Hearts series for that matter. It's truly amazing how much detail is squeezed into this game. It does however stutter occasionally when battling many enemies at once.
The music is definitively a highlight. Each area and boss has their own songs each and every one of them very memorable. Add in remixes of all the best songs in the series and you have a solid musical package. All of it perfectly nailed, not one annoying tune in the whole game. One of the worlds is based on Fantasia and features all the classical music from the film.
I can recommend this game to anybody who owns a 3DS with full confidence. If you are new to the series and are unfamiliar with the overarching plot, you are still bound to have a great time. The self-contained stories in each world are still really good, especially in the Tron world. The combat holds up very well with great variety and plenty of things in place to keep it fresh. Although I found the Spirits to be detracting from the game, I know a lot of other people enjoyed their inclusion. There is a demo of the game available on the nintendo eshop for anybody interested.
|We liked The music, the graphics and the worlds & the combat|
|We disliked The spirits and their accompanying mini games|