KINGDOM HEARTS FINAL MIX
PlayStation 4 (also available on PC, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch)
When his world is destroyed and his friends mysteriously disappear, a young boy named Sora is thrust into a quest to find his missing friends and prevent the armies of darkness from destroying many other worlds. During his quest, he meets many characters from classic Disney films and a handful from the Final Fantasy video game series.
My partner and I began our Kingdom Hearts journey around August 2021. I had been wanting to give it a go ever since I played some of the entries available for the Nintendo handheld systems. More specifically, I had already experienced Kingdom Hearts 358/2 Days, Kingdom Hearts Re:Coded, and Kingdom Hearts Dream Drop Distance. This gave me a rough idea of the overarching storyline and its main characters, as well as some of the recurrent gameplay features, so I must admit that the series wasn’t new to me and I went in with some expectations.
Being completely honest, I can’t say that I enjoyed the first installment as much as I had hoped. In fact, it took us around one year to complete it. Most of my frustrations came from two core aspects of the gameplay; camera and controls. I don’t believe this game has aged well in general, but this is most noticeable when taking on its many bosses. Unfortunately, most of their difficulty lies in being able to reach that single spot on their body that our beloved protagonist Sora can strike with his keyblade. The clunky controls and temperamental camera make this task much harder than it needs to be, often turning a single boss fight into a long infuriating session of many attempts.
I’d love to say that the awkwardness of its gameplay is the game’s only weak spot. However, there were other aspects that contributed to our lack of motivation to finish it. It’s already hard to complete a game when its main mechanics are flawed, but adding a story that doesn’t seem to go anywhere definitely doesn’t help. The main characters are endearing and reliving all those Disney classics definitely filled me with nostalgia, but I believe it’s hard to make it work alongside the series’ original story, which is almost non-existent in this first installment. Things just happened out of nowhere and the dialogue often read as childish. It was hard to take it seriously and it felt as if the creators struggled to find the right tone for it.
Of course, there were some aspects of the game that I did enjoy, such as its beautiful soundtrack and the satisfaction of beating a certain boss that took more than 25 attempts. Overall, my impression is that Kingdom Hearts is one of those games that haven’t aged that well, and its remake was a missed opportunity to improve on many of its failures. Having experienced some of the series before, I am aware that it gets better as we learn more about the original characters and their story, which is one of the reasons I was able to finish the first entry and I’m still excited to move on to Kingdom Hearts Re:Chain of Memories.