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Posted September 4, 2016 by Adam Ghiggino in Feature
 
 

Kingdom Hearts 0.2 Birth By Sleep – A fragmentary passage Hands-on Preview


It’s really clear at this point that Square-Enix is taking the piss with these Kingdom Hearts titles. I didn’t think it could get much worse after they tried the same shtick with Final Fantasy and the classic Dissidia 012 Final Fantasy duodecim prologus demo on PSP. But, I have to hand it to the company, they have out-done themselves here. Kingdom Hearts 0.2 Birth By Sleep – A fragmentary passage is one component of Kingdom Hearts 2.8 Final Chapter Prologue, which also contains a port of the 3DS game Kingdom Hearts 3D: Dream Drop Distance and a CGI movie based on the games. If Square-Enix spent as much time developing these games as they did typing out the excessively long titles for their demos and re-releases, KHIII and KHIV would be out by now.

So, not that it’s very clear from the title, but KH0.2 (I’m not writing it out again) follows Aqua from the PSP Birth By Sleep game, as she’s trapped in a chaotic, dream-like environment (presumably the same place that game’s ending left her in). The story seems to set-up the upcoming Kingdom Hearts III and introduce the visuals and gameplay mechanics that may be a part of that game. The demo I played was a short half-hour slice from the title, which promises much faster and more fluid action than I’ve seen in a Kingdom Hearts title before, with just as little narrative coherence as I’ve come to expect.

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Seriously, the first spoken line of dialogue in the demo is Aqua literally explaining how she is in a world without time – that is, aside from the giant time-driven clock that towers over her. With that contradiction out of the way, the actual world established in the demo is pretty interesting. The path to a huge white castle with a clocktower collapses in front of Aqua, although she soon finds she’s able to reverse time in chunks by destroying odd gear-like mechanisms around the town behind her. Time doesn’t gone from this world, it’s just all wonky. If Aqua can destroy all five gear-things, time will reverse far enough to complete the path to the castle and enable her to continue.

The town itself is somewhat half-frozen in time, caught up in some kind of crystalline explosion, lit by twilight. It’s a very moody and cool looking setting, and Aqua moves throughout it with a surprising amount of speed and fluidity. The series has come a long way from the blocky and constricted movement of the original Kingdom Hearts and Aqua feels responsive, is able to jump high enough to reach rooftops and flip onto high ledges, and can even perform a mid-air dash. Her fast and lightweight style carries over into combat as well, as many of the battles I got into were mid-air juggles, unbound by the usual constraints of gravity.

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You’ll face Heartless in greater numbers than encountered before, so to match this Aqua has access to her own set of special abilities to affect greater area damage. When her ‘focus’ meter is full, a bar separate from the usual health and magic bars, she gets access to different ‘styles’ such as ‘Spell Weaver’. These function like a Limit Break, in the case of Spell Weaver Aqua becomes able to spin around quickly taking out huge numbers of enemies, before finally culminating in one huge icy explosion. I spammed this ability pretty hard in the demo’s only boss battle, a column of Heartless tangled together, whirling around like some weird Rat King. It’s a more creative concept for a Heartless boss than I’ve seen in a while, especially when too often the series falls back on ‘toy-like boss with a Heartless face’ and writes it off as a boss design (or they just repeat Sora’s giant Heartless design from the original game for the umpteenth time).

The demo for Kingdom Hearts 0.2 is only short, but it shows a lot of promise for the final experience, and potentially Kingdom Hearts III itself. If you’ve been keeping up to date with the Kingdom Hearts story, whether you’ve stuck with it across the multiple consoles the spin-offs have appeared on, or having been catching up with these recent collections, Kingdom Hearts 0.2 promises to finally connect some of biggest elements of the story, in the lead-up to the next big title. And it’s also pretty fun to play, too. Kingdom Hearts 2.8 is tentatively out December this year.


Adam Ghiggino

 
Owner, Executive Editor of Rocket Chainsaw. I also edit TV, films and make average pancakes.


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