The Kingdom Hearts franchise holds near and dear to a great deal of gamers’ hearts. Even if you haven’t played any of the games in the series ranging from the PS2 to the DS, you are bound to have heard of it. But with all the prequels and fillers out there it can be hard to follow the story of the game unless you are a die hard fan of the series. Can Re:coded stand out on its own, or does its ties to the original games prevent newcomers of the series from enjoying the overall experience?
To kick it off, Re:coded once again puts you into the shoes of Sora, the hero from the first two Kingdom Hearts games. Taking place after the second title, Jiminy Cricket has found that his journal contains a mysterious message stating “Their hurting will be mended when you return to end it.” Mickey and friends then decide to digitize the journal in order to find out the meaning behind this message. They then discover mysterious bugs in the journal and create a digital second Sora to clean up the mess.
Keyblade Combat Satisfies
Wielding the Keyblade and decimating the Heartless feels as smooth as ever thanks to the auto-targeting system that makes sure your swings don’t fly wide. It’s still crucial to keep your guard up at all times as well as the occasional evade, but once you find that opening, laying on them and watching the goodies explode out afterwards is extremely satisfying. You can equip extra strikes into a sub menu that you can access with the press of a button that makes the combat seem even more fluid. An interesting feature added into the combat is the ability to give you a temporary boost with each combat level. The more you strike your enemies, the more your combat level climbs. The last level being a devastating finisher that wipers out anything standing in your way.
There is also an upgrade system that allows you to put processing chips on a circuit board called the matrix. It allows you to customize different things such as health, magic, and strength. You can even upgrade your special attacks to make them even more devastating. It allows players to customize the way they want to play the game.
Gameplay Modes Offer Variety
The standard gameplay in this Kingdom Hearts entry has you debugging the various parts of Jiminy’s journal by defeating Heartless and destroying bug blocks that are strewn throughout the levels. At various points you will enter debugging levels where you enter a level with a coded design and have to defeat all the enemies in order to progress. At the end of each stage, there is also a boss battle that puts players to the test with their skills.
Throughout the story of the game, there are different gameplay types that offer a break from the standard hack and slash combat. They put a fresh coat of paint on the game and are placed to where they offer a welcomed break from the normal. In total there are three other game types thrown into the mix: a side-scrolling platformer, an on-rails shooter, and a turn based battling section. They all change up the controls but thankfully they are accompanied by a tutorial to show you the ropes.
The downside of these breaks in the gameplay is that they detract from the story and overall experience with the barrage of tutorials. They can also be pretty confusing at first with the complete change up in controls. In all though, they provide a fun and entertaining break from the standard game once you get the hang of them.
In-Engine Cinematics Look And Sound Good
The opening Cinematic and the ones sprinkled throughout the game are well animated and the voice acting sounds good. Although most of the time it’s centered around Mickey and friends it’s a nice break from the bland and uninteresting environments. The voice actors also did a good job of sounding almost exactly like Mickey, Goofy, Donald, and the rest of the Disney cast. It’s nice to see good cinematics and voice acting in a DS game from time to time.
Story Is Shallow
The game manages to take as long as possible to tell a story that is short an shallow. Even with the satisfying combat and breaks in the standard action all that manages to do is stretch an already short story paper thin. It manages to stay shallow until they deliver the punch at the very end. It seems like a cheap trick to justify a $34.99 price tag. Not a very fair move if you ask me. Who was thinking “lets give them a good combat mechanic but make the story short and simplistic and draw it out over a ridiculous amount of time.”? The other problem with it is that you will spend most of the time reading speech bubbles to further the story. Which is often. I get that its hard to put cutscenes to further the story in a DS game but they could have at least put some voice work in to keep you entertained while you read.
Probably the most annoying aspect of this game is how they mapped the camera. You control how it turns yourself by either using R plus a direction or sacrificing your button hand to use the stylus to control it. This makes for some difficult platforming and frustrating combat scenarios. It would have been much easier to put the camera behind the player and turn it when they turn. It can be extremely frustrating at times when you are moving quick to change the camera around in order to match it up with the direction you are traveling.
The environments in the game are bland and poorly rendered. not to mention that the levels are just bits and pieces of what the original games levels were. On top of that they decided to reduce your interaction with loved Disney characters to barely any and only use fractions of classic realms such as Olympus and Agrabah that are filled with the bug blocks you have to destroy and the debugging levels that further detract from the experience.
In the end, Kingdom Hearts: Re:coded is a decent game if you can look past the flaws it has. The combat is entertaining and the different gameplay modes offer a variety that gives you a break from the regular at the cost of story telling. The camera can be a problem but if you can look past that it is an overall enjoyable Kingdom Hearts experience that will leave the die hard fans wanting even more. As for the newcomers out there, I would recommend playing the first two or reading up on the series before diving in.Kingdom Hearts Re:coded Review,