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After various spin-offs and re-releases, the wait for Kingdom Hearts III could not be more agonizing. Kingdom Hearts II launched nearly a decade ago and there is still no sign of the final chapter coming out any time soon. Final Chapter Prologue should be the last remaster before Kingdom Hearts III. This collection brings the 3DS exclusive, Dream Drop Distance, for the first time on the big screen. Additionally, the collection also includes smaller new bits of content. An episode featuring Aqua traveling through the Dark Realm and a movie telling the story of the original Keyblade masters. The new content gives players a better understanding of what’s to come in Kingdom Hearts III. Final Chapter Prologue is a fun collection that gives PlayStation 4 owners a worthwhile experience.
The most appealing piece of content is A Fragmentary Passage, which follows the story of Aqua after Birth by Sleep. This episode takes a little under three hours and gives players plenty to do. A Fragmentary Passage takes Aqua through various levels seen in Birth by Sleep, but distorted by the Dark Realm. One level has the players running around a run-down town looking for ways to reverse time, another has players jumping through mirrors finding ways to solve puzzles.
These sequences control much like Birth by Sleep, using the various different styles and focuses. Anyone who has played Birth by Sleep will quickly adjust to gameplay. A Fragmentary Passage seems to give players a look at some of the tools to be used in Kingdom Hearts III. Vast environments give plenty of room for players to run around and explore. Getting around is easy with an air slide and double jump so it’s an awesome look at some of the upcoming controls. Combat is just as smooth as you remember it, with fast paced and fluid action taking center stage. The journey is a breeze, so fans should begin with Proud difficulty for a sense of challenge. An unlockable Critical difficulty after completing the episode, so players can really test their combat prowess.
Outside of gameplay, the graphics are absolutely gorgeous. This makes me all the more excited for Kingdom Hearts III. Seeing characters rendered in updated graphics that make their colors and expressions pop out makes it all the more striking.
Alongside huge bosses and nasty enemies, A Fragmentary Passage includes a list of different objectives and chests for players to collect. Completing objectives unlocks cosmetic items for Aqua to wear. My Aqua ended the episode wearing angelic wings, with a Tron-like shoulder pad and scaled sleeves. Completing these objectives adds to the value, but ends up feeling like busy work. As for chests, collecting each are far more rewarding. A Fragmentary Passage doesn’t have a shop system, so the only items Aqua can get are through chests. This values to these items and makes players all the more careful when both battling and exploring.
At the end of the episode, a lengthy scene shows the cast embarking on their next journey. Something fans have all been waiting for; some moving forward with the plot instead of back.
The collection also includes an HD movie, Kingdom Hearts X Back Cover following the story of the Foretellers. Back Cover is a good look at what sets the series in motion, taking place far before the first Kingdom Hearts game. It’s the best movie in all the HD collections so far, and sheds some light on how the prophecy of darkness affected the Foretellers and sparked the Keyblade War. It has some memorable action and betrayals, as everyone tries their best to save their world from the darkness.
Finally, Dream Drop Distance HD is the part of the collection players will be sinking the most time into. Square Enix has made plenty of enhancements and changes to bringing this 3DS game onto the big screen. The controls are far better on the PS4, feeling a lot more smooth and natural. Square Enix has also updated some features based on the lack of touchscreen, although it’s not a real improvement. For instance, petting your Dreameaters in-game doesn’t feel right without a stylus. Still, this version is a much better improvement from its 3DS counterpart. Those who haven’t played Dream Drop Distance, this is the best way to go.
A minor complaint I had with the collection is the lack of content. The collection includes plenty of content, but considering the last two collections both featured two full games, you feel stiffed. In addition, previous HD collections gave players free themes upon completing each game in the collection. This returns, but players are asked to pay for these themes. I don’t mind paying extra, but it just adds to that feeling of getting stiffed.
Final Chapter Prologue is a solid collection that I enjoyed playing, and got me more excited for Kingdom Hearts III than ever before. I wish I was playing the next entry, but it’s a fun detour on the way to the final chapter.