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Kingdom Hearts 2.8 HD Shows Us That Kingdom Hearts 3 is Worth Getting Excited For

One of the three titles included in Kingdom Hearts 2.8 HD is 0.2 Birth By Sleep: A Fragmentary Passage, a short title that acts as an epilogue to 2010’s PSP title Birth By Sleep as well as a prologue to the upcoming Kingdom Hearts 3.

Essentially, at around two hours long, 0.2 Birth By Sleep feels very much like a demo of Kingdom Hearts 3. While I’m not usually a fan of demos – I don’t like a game to be spoiled for me before it’s even come out – this is one that’s got me very excited for the latest Disney/Final Fantasy crossover.

0.2 Birth By Sleep is definitely the star of an otherwise average HD collection, and it tells us a lot about what to expect from Kingdom Hearts 3. It looks like it won’t be releasing until at least 2018, but I’m already excited. And you should be too.

Warning: contains spoilers of 0.2: Birth By Sleep.

It looks bloody awesome

At the side of the main title in Kingdom Hearts 2.8 HD, a remaster of the 3DS title Dream Drop Distance, 0.2 Birth By Sleep looks amazing. In fact, at the side of most RPGs on PlayStation 4, new or old, it looks bloody good. Seeing those familiar blocky faces of Mickey, Sora and Riku in stunning, sharp 1080p quality visuals is a treat for the eyes, but it’s the locations that really stood out.

0.2 Birth By Sleep puts you in the shoes of Aqua as she explores The Dark World – the grim part of the world that’s slowly but surely stealing the light from the rest of the land. It’s dark, but it’s beautiful: cobbled streets crumble away into a gaping realm of stars; Cinderella’s castle stands proudly in the distance, intricately and painstakingly created that it looks even better than the real-life one you can see at Disney World.

Logic told us Kingdom Hearts 3 was going to look good, but 0.2 Birth By Sleep has showed us just how good. It runs and plays incredibly smoothly too – movement was incredibly responsive with a framerate that even the most anal of folks should be happy with.

Sora will likely be the main protagonist – and Donald and Goofy are back by his side

While 0.2 Birth By Sleep sees us play as Aqua, the protagonist from the PSP release Birth by Sleep, the end of the game treats us to a cutscene that shows Sora getting sent off on a mission with Donald and Goofy back by his side where they belong.

The cutscene also showed Axel, from Kingdom Hearts 2, as well as Riku amongst others, so whilst it seems likely that the majority of gameplay will put us in control of Sora, I wouldn’t be surprised if we’re also given control of some of the other keyblade wielders at intervals. After playing as Aqua in stunning high definition, it’d seem like something of a missed opportunity if we don’t get to play as her again.

The gummi ship is back!

Rejoice or groan – Donald and Goofy’s ridiculous little intergalactic vessel is back. The end of 0.2 Birth By Sleep shows us a cutscene of the pair along with Sora in the cockpit of the gummi ship. Whether we’ll be able to fully customise the ship as we have been able to previously remains to be seen.

Kingdom Hearts 3 may begin in the Colosseum

As Donald, Goofy and Sora set off in the gummi ship towards their next adventure – which we can safely assume is Kingdom Hearts 3 – they set their destination as the Colosseum, Hercules’ world featured in the original Kingdom Hearts.

While of course this doesn’t necessarily mean that the game will start here, it seems quite likely. We also know that Kingdom Hearts 3 is going to feature a host of new worlds from other Disney IPs we haven’t seen before, but a mixture of new and familiar locations seems the most likely option. 0.2 Birth By Sleep also gives us a glimpse back at Destiny Island, Sora, Riku and Kairi’s hometown where the franchise first began. It wouldn’t surprise me if we saw more of this in Kingdom Hearts 3 – and it looks rather glorious in full HD.

Read More: The Top 10 Worlds We’d Like to See in Kingdom Hearts 3

It’s got a stunning soundtrack

It’s no surprise that a game crossover of Disney and Final Fantasy would have a brilliant soundtrack, but if 0.2 Birth By Sleep is anything to go by, then Kingdom Hearts 3 may be the best of the series yet.

The Dark World of 0.2 Birth By Sleep lends itself perfectly to a dark, looming orchestral score which feels altogether more grown up than what we may expect from Kingdom Hearts. That said, there are a few familiar tunes in there too, but even those have been reworked to create something that feels fresh and new.

Combat is faster, more responsive and with new moves

Aqua can move. She dances through the air when she jumps; every flick of her keyblade is fast and light and combat feels much more responsive than it has ever done before. The clunky PS2-era camera is long gone, and it never feels like a struggle to attack the enemies you want to attack.

Battles are more full-on, with the added power of the PlayStation 4 allowing for more enemies to spawn at once, making combat more exhilarating and fun. Jumping between enemies is easy, and Aqua’s spryly moveset means that she floats through the air like a dancer even when she’s destroying evil Heartless.

Granted, Sora’s not quite as dainty and delicate as Aqua (have you seen the size of his feet?) but we can still expect that combat is going to be greatly improved, much faster and altogether more enjoyable.

Characters have changeable costumes

0.2 Birth By Sleep allows us to change up Aqua’s costume. You can fully customise the colour of her outfit, and as you progress through the levels you pick up various costume pieces that you can equip. My favourite was a set of Minnie Mouse ears, although you could also add shoulder protection and a set of wings, amongst others.

In Birth By Sleep these costume items were purely aesthetic, but I wouldn’t at all be surprised if this was simply watered down for this prologue. It would be fantastic if Kingdom Hearts 3 allowed for more customisation of characters and their skills through stat-boosting items and armour.

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