Kingdom Hearts 2.8 is a glimpse at the future of the series. Here’s how Square Enix’s newest title previews both the story and the gameplay in Kingdom Hearts 3.
Kingdom Hearts HD 2.8 Final Chapter Prologue contains a story that, for some, will be as obtuse as the game’s title. Even those who have followed the Kingdom Hearts series since it first debuted often have trouble remembering all of the rules and narratives that span the game’s universe, and the latest collection does little to make that world easier to understand. Kingdom Hearts 2.8 succeeds at a lot of what it sets out to do, but it can still fall into periods of needless complexity when a simple explanation would serve its narrative better.
While some people remain unconvinced of the importance of Kingdom Hearts 3, it will nevertheless be one of the biggest gaming releases of the year – whenever it finally has a release date, that is, something that Square Enix has been reluctant to provide. For that reason, those planning on continuing the adventures of Sora, Riku, Mickey, and the rest of the gang will likely want to brush up on Kingdom Hearts lore, especially the new information revealed in Kingdom Hearts 0.2: Birth By Sleep – A Fragmentary Passage.
Aqua’s journey in Kingdom Hearts 0.2, which is the new PS4 game released as part of Kingdom Hearts 2.8, is one that director Tetsuya Nomura has already suggested will play a major role in the upcoming Kingdom Hearts 3. In order to understand just what that role will be, however, it is important to analyze what happens over the course of Kingdom Hearts 0.2, which provides a ton of information that should indicate what gamers can expect from Kingdom Hearts 3. Warning: spoilers ahead.
A Secret Matter
While much of A Fragmentary Passage follows a seemingly amnesiac Aqua struggling to remember – or perhaps understand – what happened to her and her friends, Terra and Ventus, the beginning and ending of the game are crucial to Kingdom Hearts 3. A Fragmentary Passage begins immediately after Dream Drop Distance‘s end, where King Mickey reveals that he has kept a few secrets from Riku and Sora in regards to Aqua and her time spent in the Realm of Darkness.
The story of A Fragmentary Passage begins with Mickey and Yen Sid explaining to Riku and Kairi – Sora is conspicuously absent in this scene, which is important later – that they must protect the Seven Pure Lights. The Seven Pure Lights, as established in previous Kingdom Hearts games, are a number of Disney princesses, and are crucial in the fight against the Darkness. Mickey and Yen Sid also reveal that they must assemble the Seven Guardians of Light, who are seven Keyblade wielders who will fulfill a prophecy and stop the Darkness from winning. Those Guardians are Sora, Riku, Kairi, Mickey, Axel, and two others who are, at this time, unknown.
Next, Mickey and Yen Sid determine that they must save Aqua, Terra, and Ven from the fate that befell them long ago, so the two elders decide to tell Riku and Kairi the story of Aqua and Mickey’s meeting in the Realm of Darkness three years prior. This kicks off the actual gameplay of A Fragmentary Passage, which exclusively follows Aqua from the player’s perspective.
Guided By An Unseen Hand
Aqua’s journey aligns closely with Sora’s and Riku’s, and they intersect when Sora and Riku attempt to close the doorway between Light and Dark and defeat the fake Ansem. Aqua’s perspective reveals that she was there on the dark side of that world, and that she and Mickey were responsible for helping Riku close the door – although, unfortunately, in the process Aqua is left behind in the Dark as the rest of the dark worlds are returned to Light.
After the player completes Aqua’s journey and returns to the present, Riku states that they have to save Aqua, and that it was wrong to leave her behind. Mickey and Yen Sid agree, and Mickey and Riku are sent to rescue Riku while Kairi and Axel, now Lea, are tasked with training under Merlin to become Keyblade masters. There is a strong indication given here that Riku, Mickey, and Aqua will form a secondary party in Kingdom Hearts 3 to compliment the adventures of Sora, Donald, and Goofy.
To further compliment that theory, Sora appears at the end of A Fragmentary Passage, just after Riku and Kairi have left the presence of Yen Sid. Yen Sid’s mission for Sora is much different, as during the events of Dream Drop Distance, Sora failed his test to become a Keyblade master and was stripped of all his powers. Yen Sid suggests that Sora go see someone who went through a similar tragic loss and overcame it, describing them as a “true hero”. Sora, Donald, and Goofy know exactly who Yen Sid means, and set off to rejoin an old ally in Hercules at the Olympus Coliseum.
The ending of A Fragmentary Passage seems to leave little doubt about where gamers will find Sora, Riku, Kairi and the others at the beginning of Kingdom Hearts 3. Beyond the story, however, A Fragmentary Passage also tells us a little bit of what to expect from Kingdom Hearts 3‘s combat system.
Will Kingdom Hearts 3‘s Combat Follow Suit?
Aqua’s movements are more fluid than Sora’s have been in previous games, for instance, while the ability to switch between battle forms could be taken even further by having Sora shift forms based on the world he is present in. The fact that there won’t be any Final Fantasy worlds in Kingdom Hearts 3 makes this even more likely, as there wouldn’t be much to vary about Sora’s appearance and abilities based on how Final Fantasy characters have been represented in the series thus far.
The fact that A Fragmentary Passage serves so effectively as a preview for Kingdom Hearts 3 shouldn’t come as too big a surprise, since Kingdom Hearts 3 will be shown in 2017 at some point and will probably be much closer to a completed build at that time. That being said, however, Kingdom Hearts 0.2: Birth By Sleep – A Fragmentary Passage is a valuable entry into the series that serves as one of the biggest steps toward an actual Kingdom Hearts 3 since Kingdom Hearts 2 over ten years ago. Fans should take notes and pay attention – it feels like Kingdom Hearts 3 will finally happen soon, and gamers should be ready to understand one of the most complex stories in video game history.
Kingdom Hearts HD 2.8 Final Chapter Prologue is available now for PS4.