Once Upon A Time
Dream Drop Distance, the latest Kingdom Hearts game, is everything fans of the Japanese action role-playing series could hope for and a little bit more. The seventh instalment in the franchise sees players taking on the roles of dual protagonists, Sora and Riku, the two most popular characters in the Kingdom Hearts universe, as they prepare to battle foes old and new.
The story focuses on Sora and Riku's bid to master their Keyblades, mythical weapons that play a crucial role in an ongoing battle between Darkness and Light. Yen Sid, the powerful sorcerer from Disney's Fantasia, puts the young pair through a Mark of Mastery exam they must pass to become Keyblade Masters and counter the impending return of Master Xehanort, the game's main antagonist, who believes that darkness need not be rejected if it can be controlled.
Those new to the series, which is a collaboration between Disney and Square Enix, can get caught up to speed using Memoirs, a series of optional cutscenes that fill in key points in Kingdom Hearts' rich back-story. The game also includes a handy database that expands as the player advances, with entries providing important bits of information about characters and locations.
A Whole New World
As in previous series entries, players spend the majority of their time bouncing around different Disney-inspired worlds chatting to various characters from Final Fantasy games. Players will visit locations including The Country of the Musketeers, Tron: Legacy's The Grid, Pinocchio's Prankster's Paradise, the ancient Paris of The Hunchback of Notre-Dame and many more beautifully realised Disney locations.
As part of their trial, Sora and Riku are separated from each other and sent to different areas where they're required to defeat malevolent Dream Eaters, creatures born from darkness which eat dreams and plant nightmares. At the same time, benevolent Dream Eaters can be recruited as computer controlled partners to provide combat support and provide Sora and Riku with new abilities.
Battles generally revolve around tapping the A button for standard attacks and the X button for special ones, while the Y button can be used to perform new free-flowing moves that use the surrounding environment. If you're in open ground, pressing the Y button will perform a simple dodge roll, but rolling into a wall, a column or an enemy sees you cling to the object or foe in question before giving you the opportunity to choose a follow-up action, be it attacking or evasive.
Utilising Dream Eaters successfully is the best way to get the upper hand in tough battles, as they can be used to execute link attacks in which both of you team up to deal out major damage. Each Dream Eater has its own link attack, which is generally an over-the-top special move that not only keeps your character out of the firing line but also makes short work of enemies.
Boasting gorgeous graphics, a fantastic soundtrack, hours of full voice acting and a cool battle system, we think Dream Drop Distance is the best Kingdom Hearts game in years. Colourful, imaginative and above all good fun, it's a dreamy debut for the franchise on 3DS, and the Kingdom Hearts sequel fans of Square Enix, Disney and the series have been eagerly anticipating for years.
- Satisfying combat
- An engaging story
- Unique worlds to explore
- Story can initially be a little overwhelming
- Lots of reading required to stay on top of events
- No multiplayer