After it was first launched in 2002, the Kingdom Hearts franchise has seen ten unique instalments across multiple consoles, such as the PlayStation 2, the Nintendo DS and PlayStation Portable. Six of these earlier games were included in two high definition remaster collections for the PlayStation 3, both of which will be released for the PlayStation 4 at the end of next month. To prepare fans for the long awaited Kingdom Hearts III, the remaining games in the series, aside from the mobile exclusive Kingdom Hearts X, have been included in a third high definition remaster collection for the PlayStation 4 named Kingdom Hearts HD 2.8 Final Chapter Prologue.
In a similar manner to Kingdom Hearts 1.5 and 2.5, Kingdom Hearts 2.8 HD Final Chapter Prologue includes two playable games, and a high definition movie that is based on the story of one of the portable instalments. Upon completing each of these elements, you will unlock a theme for your PlayStation 4, which are certainly worth the investment if you are a fan of the sketch like artwork on the title screen of most Kingdom Hearts titles to date.
The first game to be included in the collection is a high definition remaster of Kingdom Hearts 3D: Dream Drop Distance, which was initially released for the Nintendo 3DS back in 2012. After being summoned by Master Yen Sid, Sora and Riku are tasked to revive the worlds which remain trapped in darkness following the closure of Kingdom Hearts in the first game. The graphics are now at 1080p and the combat runs at a fairly solid sixty frames per second outside of cutscenes, which is a genuine first for the Kingdom Hearts series. Some of the background textures do suffer as a result of the change in resolution, but the characters, enemies and special effects all look dazzling using the PlayStation 4’s horsepower.
Unlike the previous remasters excluding Birth by Sleep, the soundtrack of Dream Drop Distance remains exactly the same as its original release, except it is encoded at a higher quality to suit the high definition environment. The original English voice track also remains intact, and there appears to be no major omissions or changes to the script. It would have been nice to have the option to switch to the Japanese voice work, but this more of a minor annoyance rather than a game breaking exclusion.