If you’ve tried to play Kingdom Hearts III in the last couple of weeks, you may have noticed a pretty sizeable update to the game in the form of 1.09. It’s filled with some of the biggest updates the game has seen since its release in 2019. And it also paves the way for the series’ first ever (!) DLC in the form of Re:Mind.
Released almost a year to the day that the game finally hit our consoles, the add on to Square Enix’s latest entry into the series features a new story thread, designed to fill in some gaps in the story line, much as Left Behind did for The Last of Us. It’s not information we necessarily needed, as we know what happens at the end, but its an enjoyable three or four hours as you get to play something of an alternate series of events, often with different characters and with different play set ups.
From a character point of view, the only notable difference is that Master Xehanort is now being played by Christopher Lloyd – which you may have seen briefly trend on Twitter, having replaced the late Rutger Hauer, who replaced the late Leonard Nimoy (I’m not liking this trend…) – but otherwise this is main storyline is without any new characters, or Disney worlds to explore.
Mickey, Donald and Goofy make brief appearances, but most were scenes which I believe was in the original game. That’s one immediate downside to the length of time between the game’s release and the DLC – it’s been over a year since most of us played the game, so it was hard to remember what was new and what was not. Thankfully they do they best to remind you of where in the story it all fits. Oh and there’s one new sequence with Mickey which is pretty epic though I won’t spoil it here.
The storyline – and here come the spoilers – is all about how Sora saved Kairi, and how that meant he had to sacrifice himself. But really that’s all the DLC is, filling in a few dots. Frustratingly, much as in past installments of the game, like Chain of Memories on the GBA – the first offshoot – it has you replay scenarios you’ve already played. Which is a bit disappointing, but also not a surprise given the history of the universe.
Once you beat it though, and read a thousand articles to try and wrap your head around what just happened (again, because it had been almost a year since you beat the game originally), that’s where things get a bit more interesting. You unlock the “Limitcut Episode”, which takes place a year after the events of KH3. However, while the cutscenes are great, what the gameplay amounts to are 13 of the hardest boss battles you’ve faced. My characters are levelled in the mid-60s and I’ve got a maxed out the new “Oathkeeper” Keyblade (see more on this later), but I still haven’t been able to beat any of them yet. I was hoping to provide some insight for this review, but it’s just Sora getting his arse beaten every time. So I’ve had to go back into the main game to level up the characters.
Once you do beat all 13, you open up a final boss battle with Yozora (from the Verum Rex game found in the Toy Story world), inspired by the game’s original secret ending, which was unlockable once you collected a certain amount of Mickey Mouse ears from around the universe. And then you get a new secret ending!
What this game forces you to do for a tiny extra video has always been pretty nuts. But the variety of the expectations has gotten better with each game. Here, between gathering honey, sledding down mountains, fighting flan and visiting some ridiculously difficult enemies, this is a game that can give you hundreds and hundreds of hours of entertainment if you truly want to explore every nook and cranny of the world and all the different mini-games and side quests on offer. Talk about value for money.
Luckily, they’ve given you plenty of reasons to go back into the main game, and that’s to get the two new Keyblades which will help make the “Limitcut Episode” achievable. As part of the 1.09 update, which everyone gets for free, which also enhances some of the cinematics, you get two new Keyblades, Oathkeeper and Oblivion (as well as formchanges), which you can get by getting all the lucky emblems, and beating the game in Critical Mode (respectively). Just go to a Moogle to pick them up.
And here in lies the best part about the update: the value it adds to the original game. You want to max out your characters. You want to replay the game in critical mode. You want to get the Ultima weapon.
It’s all the things that a Final Mix used to do, but with an expansion (albeit brief) like Chain of Memories to go along with it.
And the story is so rich and confusing and diverse and enthralling and ridiculous, you just can’t help but want to get lost in these worlds and play through any repetitiveness or difficulty. Such as flying those damn Gummi Ships which I managed to get away with not upgrading at all in my original play through… now I’m blasting asteroids and gems left right and centre with a new ship.
At the end of it all, you will need the Ultima weapon to beat Yozora, so you need to basically complete every aspect of the game to truly fill the satisfaction of beating the DLC. So one of the biggest benefits for many casual players is that it’ll take you into the deeper crevices of the game to collect everything, explore every corner and find mini-games and experiences you didn’t even know this game had.
But at A$44.95 on the Australian Playstation 4 Store (or A$59.95 with a Live Concert Video), it’s a pricey addition to regain that love – and it’s something you may be able to enjoy with the 1.09 Update, while you wait for the DLC price to drop. It’s been made for hardcore fans, the ones who might enjoy one of the other additions from the DLC, the “Data Greeting”, where you can position characters freely for a customised photo, or “Slideshow”, where you can make a movie of the photos you took during playing the game.
And want to prove your fandom even more? You can also pay a bit extra for a video playlist of the Kingdom Hearts orchestral concert, which takes you through the music of the entire Kingdom Hearts anthology and cuts between the orchestra and the clips playing on the screen. Only missing feature is the ability to fast forward or rewind, but the clips are cut into segments, starting with the main music from the newest game, and then moving into a medley from the first game, and so on. The 19 tracks were recorded November 30th, 2019 in front of a live audience, and it highlights just how strong the game’s soundtrack is.
So is it worth it? At the current price point, probably not. Diehard Kingdom Hearts fans will not be disappointed, and will love the challenges put forth for them. If they already have Sora at Level 99 with the Ultima Weapon it will be a great reward. But for most casual fans, take your time getting back in the game following the 1.09 update and wait for the DLC to drop in price. You won’t regret it, but based on what you get out of it, it’s definitely worth waiting a little longer. And if you’re on the Xbox you’ll have to anyway.
Now please excuse me while I try to get this damn Ultima weapon…
Kingdom Hearts III: Re:Mind is out now on Playstation 4 and is released on February 25th on Xbox One.