on December 22, 2014
Before I start, I'll just say I absolutely HATE the drop system of this game. When I first started playing and came to the first boss on Riku's end of the dream world, I was just about to stun it when the drop system sent Riku into sleep and I was then ported over to Sora's part of the dream world where, after awhile, I was then ported back to Riku's end and I had to start the boss all over again. Hence, I had the level on hard mode. I'd advise you stock up on Drop Items in place of potions as that can be very useful when you go against hard bosses. Just a thought.
The plot picks up from the end of Kingdom Hearts II and Kingdom Hearts Re:Coded. It begins with Sora and Riku embarking on a quest to complete the Mark of Mastery exam to become Keyblade Masters, which fans of the series might recognise from Kingdom Hearts: Birth by Sleep. Sora and Riku must then journey to the Realm of Sleep, and awake the sleeping worlds: Traverse Town, La Cite des Cloches, Prankster’s Paradise, The Grid and Country of the Musketeers. If all of this makes little sense to you at the moment, don't worry too much; you don’t need to be able to understand the complex plot behind the series in order to enjoy the individual games, but it still helps!
In Kingdom Hearts 3D the usual enemies, the Heartless and even the Unverse, have been replaced by Dream Eaters, who look--SO ADORABLE JESUS STOP IT I NEED TO PUNCH A WALL TO GET MY MANLINESS BACK UGN. While lacking the scare factor, there is a plus side to these colourful characters, as you can recruit friendly Dream Eaters (known as Sprites) to your party to help in battle. Sprites are customisable, with lots of different paint gun colours to collect and spray to your heart's content. There is also a new ‘petting’ feature, similar to that in Pokémon X and Y, where you tap the lower screen with your stylus to give your Sprite a stroke, earning you ‘Link’ power-ups to make your compadre stronger in battle. You can also feed your Sprite cakes to boost its abilities and also take 3D photos of your Sprite, but only if you really want to. Personally, I never took pictures with it but I did feed my Meowow a lot (If you're first using Sora, your Sprite is named Meowow unless you want to change it's name).
As usual Square Enix has done a great job with the visuals; Kingdom Hearts 3D looks absolutely stunning. The facial detail on Sora is particularly impressive, and all of the environments and movie flashbacks look fantastic. While the 3D effect is not pivotal, it does add a sparkle to the beautifully detailed cut scenes, most noticeably when flames rise in the Cite des Cloches stage — make sure you have the 3D slider set to the max for that scene because hot damn, in this particular game, that is always my favourite world to visit. Like all Kingdom Hearts games the voice acting is also spot-on; even where the original voice actors from the movies are missing, an impeccable replacement has been found, making the change barely noticeable.
Even though Kingdom Hearts 3D may look incredible, the gameplay is rather tedious. You must play as both Sora and Riku, undergoing each world twice and therefore defeating the same bosses twice too. This is where the new ‘Drop’ element features, as you're only given a certain amount of time playing as one character before you're dropped out and wake up again as the other. Having a time limit is essential, as it stops you from leveling up and progressing too far as one character. However, the drop counter continues to tick down even during boss fights, meaning you could be grinding down a big Dream Eater for ages only to be suddenly dropped out, forced to replay the whole fight over again when you next wake up. As I mentioned in the beginning, I HATE that with a burning passion.
The combat has been improved with the addition of free-flow, an acrobatic feature which adds speed to the many street brawls you encounter and becomes a very powerful tool once you get the hang of it. There is also a new Reality Shift system which allows you to perform a special command or attack depending on the world you are in. For example, in Traverse Town, when you use Reality Shift mode you execute a Slingshot attack.
Once you're fully immersed and battling it out against never-ending streams of Dream Eaters, you'll soon notice that potions aren't very easily accessible. You can't retrieve them from the main menu — which would force the battle to pause — or even select them on the touch screen; instead you have to flick through the X button menu using the D-pad while the fight still continues. For those who've played Birth by Sleep, you know exactly what I'm talking about. The battle system is exactly like it is in Birth by Sleep. So if you were good with that, you'll be fine with the battle system in Dream Drop Distance.
Overall, I love the game. There are not many KH games that I don't like, except for Coded/RE:Coded but that's for another review. If you are new to the series and want to know what it’s all about, then try Kingdom Hearts I or II before diving into this one. However, if you are a series veteran then step this way, as there is still a lot of fun to be had if you can overlook the small gameplay problems.