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Kingdom Hearts Unchained X Review

On 05/07/2016 at 07:12 PM by ThatKidOverThere

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Disclaimer: Some of my earliest memories are of playing the original Kingdom Hearts. Needless to say, the series is incredibly important to me and I have a strong opinion on it. Despite this, I will attempt to remain as objective as possible during this review.

On first thought, the prospect of a Kingdom Hearts game on mobile may seem like a cheap cash-in, with the cuter, 2D design of this game certainly not contributing to the alleviation of these fears. Square-Enix's recent slew of awful mobile titles is similarly disheartening, so will this title live up to the dissapointing standard?

The gameplay of this game deviates from the typical Kingom Hearts hack-and-slash conventions and presents a easy-to-learn-yet-hard-to-master turn based system. The game feels analogous to a slower paced Kingdom Hearts Chain of Memories wherein the player selects from a variety of character medals and uses them in battle to either a) hit all enemies, b) hit one enemy for greater damage, or c) use a medal's special ability, which generally hits for greater damage. Equiping different keyblades will give unique bonus damage multipliers for separate medal types. Medals have a simple rock-paper-scissors type weakness balance, but the challenge lies in creating the strongest medal team possible to work with all situations, balancing special moves and weaknesses. The medals can level up and evolve, presenting good incentive to stick with weaker ones. As of now, the game feels a bit more biased towards the power type, with medals of that class being generally stronger than the rest, but the MMO like update system allows Square-Enix to provide the game with healthy balance updates and new challenges. Power creep may eventually start to become a problem, but as of now, the game is balanced well.

The audio-visual aspect of the game, like most Square-Enix games worth their salt, is fantastic. The game recycles a majority of the character designs from previous titles in the series, but now, translated to 2D, they take on a more cartoonish direction which fits the lighter storybook nature of the game's plot, and looks adorable. The player character designs differ from those of other games in the series, but they complement the game world well. Similarly, the sound design and score for almost all of the worlds remains frighteningly faithful to the original games, but the few new pieces, composed for the game by the ever-talented Yoko Shimomura, prove to be some of her most memorable and instantly iconic. The battle and field themes for the new Daybreak Town, as well as the new arrangement of Dearly Beloved are standouts, with Shimomura's iconic orchestral style shining through. However, the shortcoming is that this game presents almost no new tracks other than the ones I have already mentioned. Because I have been playing Kingdom Hearts games for longer than I can remember in my life, the older tracks have been beaten and pounded into my head through inumerable replays, and as such I muted the game when they were on, and only turned on the soundtrack when I was in Daybreak Town. Players looking for a new tracks or new interpretations of tracks will seldom find what they seek, but will greatly appreciate what they do.

The fantastic Daybreak Town Field Theme

The level of customization available to player characters is lackluster, yet intruiging. Players can purchase clothing items and stat boosts through costume medals, which are obtained through normal gameplay. The garbs provided are a variety of iconic costumes from the series, such as the Organization XIII coats and Sora's clothes, as well as a smattering of goofy suits like bunny and snowman costumes. They fit the art direction of the game well, but lack true depth and choice, and the options remain few. 

The complex web of relationships between the different collectables and point systems may seem daunting at first, but once the player gets the hang of them, the game eventually blossoms into being wonderfully logically complex and having a deep and engaging system, with great challenge. The method of obtaining new medals involves the use of jewels which can be found through regular play, but can also be purchased with real money. Despite this, the actual attinment of the medals has a level of randomness to it, meaning that players not willing to spend money on the game will not be inhibited from succeeding in the game. The AP system of determining play time can also be easily overcome by F2P players with smart investment into the costume boards. The game is also not too in-your-face with its monetization, only very occasionally having a pop up. There are no external advertisements in the game, which is a welcome change for the mobile scene and contributes to player immersion.

The Equipment menu

The game also takes cues from the MMO genre with a unique party system. At the beginning of the game players can choose a unique one of 5 Unions to join, and can join or start a party with others from around the world within their respective Union. In the party, players can chat and collaborate on raid bosses. Raid bosses randomly spawn after completing quests, starting out relatively harmless, but gradually evolving into tougher challenges that requre teamwork. The game is definitely possible without a party, but raid bosses, especially when you start getting around 200 quests in, will necessitate one.

The adorable Chirithy

I'm about 275 quests into the game, and the story has barely begun. I get that this game is a mobile spin off with much more content in Japan as of now, but for a game that is being touted as integral to the story leading to Kingdom Hearts 3 and is even being featured in the next batch of Kingdom Hearts Remasters, the plot points, which are few and far between, take too long to reach. This leads to my major (but only!) gripe with this game: the annoyance endemic to this game is it's pace, with a quest explaining a ephemeral plot point, and then countless quests before the next one. For example, SPOILERS: the Heartless Havoc arc begins on quest 231, ending at quest 250, with no real explanation as to why you are doing what you are doing or  how any of the new characters showed up. The acually intruiging plot involving your little guide Chirithy, and the Foretellers, the mystical leaders of each Union, is only very briefly hinted at, and very rarely mentioned or alluded to. This means that players looking for the story will have to suit up for the long haul. With newly translated quests being added every few weeks, the plot will unfold itself overtime, but I doubt its glacial pace will change. 

Outside of that gripe, the game well exceeded my expectations for a mobile title. It is fun, challenging, immersive, and most of all deep experience that rewards both casual and hardcore players. I will definitely be hooked on this game for a long time.



Cary Woodham

05/07/2016 at 10:40 PM

Since the game releases are slow right now, I may download this since it's free and review it at the site I write for.  I can't stand the convoluted KH story, but I do like tromping around Disney worlds beating up bad guys. 


05/08/2016 at 03:54 PM

This game is a prequel and is pretty light on story when it even presents one, so you can jump right in, especially since it's free.

Matt Snee Staff Writer

05/08/2016 at 11:33 AM

I like Disney worlds too.  I should check this out.  I'd like to play the first two Kingdom HEarts but my PS2 isn't connected anymore.  Been meaning to get that re-release but my ps3 doesn't work anymore.  Grrr.  


05/09/2016 at 12:56 AM

I'd play this if it was on 3DS. Is it?


05/09/2016 at 08:27 PM

Nope, Android/Ios as of now.

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