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Kingdom Hearts III Re:Mind (PlayStation 4) artwork

Kingdom Hearts III Re:Mind (PlayStation 4) review

"Man, it's been a while since I've rage-written a review!"

Even if I didn't think Kingdom Hearts III was all that it could have been, it still deserved a lot better than to have an amazingly cynical cash-grab attached to it as DLC.

And there is no better way to describe Re:Mind. I purchased it the day it was released digitally on my PS4 and the price tag attached to it was $29.99. I stand before you today to solemnly state that I cannot remember a time when I felt so completely ripped off by a gaming purchase in recent years, if not my entire life. Re:Mind doesn't offer enough original content to be worth that price…or $19.99…or probably even $9.99.

Basically, this DLC offers fans of the series two things: a group of battles so much more challenging than anything featured in the main game that one would likely have to completely adjust their style of play in order to even pretend they stand a chance and a quest best described as Square Enix re-doing the final hours of the game, but attaching a few new story elements in order to not completely self-plagiarize themselves.

The latter of those is where the Re:Mind name is derived. In the main game, after you finish the final battles, Sora will use his newfound "power of waking" to save perpetual damsel-in-distress Kairi, which is followed by the credits and post-credit cutscenes. Re:Mind is the story of his "power of waking" adventures.

In theory, this could be pretty cool. In reality, that couldn't be farther from the truth. Sora is initially told that in order to reach Kairi's heart to wake it, he'll have to find a path using the hearts of other heroes. After a pair of cutscenes -- one featuring Organization members Xigbar and Luxord trying to out-mysterious each other and the other featuring Xehonort's youthful incarnation meeting a mysterious Keyblade master who helps set him upon his path to darkness -- you'll start out with a fight against a weaker version of the main game's bonus boss, Dark Inferno. And then you'll battle the darkness-infused version of Birth By Sleep heroine Aqua. Essentially, this is a note-for-note rematch of a main game boss fight. This is something you better get used to, because as soon as that fight has concluded, you'll essentially be replaying those final hours of III, but with a bit more material thrown into the mix.

You'll get a few more cutscenes to flesh out some of those overly-rushed encounters with multiple organization members. When you reach the mystical city where the main game's final battles are held, things will be bigger and better. Instead of just being the background graphics for a few fights, you'll be able to explore the place, finding treasures and fragments of Kairi's heart. You'll even have some neat moments, such as being able to control all the other heroes of light in a big free-for-all against the forces of Xehonort -- an encounter that concludes dramatically with a beaten-down Mickey Mouse attempting to hold off all those foes by sheer force of will.

All of which is cool and all, but let's break this down. To me, it looks like Square Enix came to the conclusion the ending to this game was sub-par (TRUE!) and decided to improve things, but then decided to slap on the whole "power of waking" deal in order to pretend they were telling an original story in order to slap a hefty price tag on it. This is an improvement patch masquerading as an original adventure and that just infuriates me. Either improve the damn game as a public service or have us pay for an original adventure where we're not spending the vast majority of our time retracing well-trodden footsteps, just with improved story-telling that actually allows a couple big moments to stand out from the pack.

And even some of the improvements fall flat. I was overjoyed to see the stupid bit of filler where Sora has to collect 100 or so copies of his body in an afterlife setting in order to put his soul back together left on the cutting room floor. But to make up for that, we get an equally-annoying section where he has to connect the lights of all sorts of keys or hearts or whatever mumbo-jumbo was being yammered on about at this time by pointing a cursor and clicking at keyholes to join them with his light. Over and over again until you've filled what might be the slowest-moving progress meter in gaming history. I call that section of the game: "When a couple minutes feels like hours".

After you inevitably slog through Re:Mind, the fun isn't over; although you better be really good at this game to call any of the LIMITCUT episode fun. To avoid spoiling any of the plot attached to it, I'll just cut to the chase and say that you'll be controlling Sora in battles against remastered versions of Xehonort's Organization. Each one of these adversaries is super-charged and that "press X to attack; press triangle to call up special attacks" strategy will quickly be found to be horribly inadequate, regardless of how well it can carry a person through the main game, at least on normal difficulty.

To give a bit of perspective, in order to gain a bit of power to prepare for these challenges, I went back to the main game to take on the 14 Battlegate challenges that are unlocked upon finishing it. The final Battlegate is where the real Dark Inferno is located and, using that generic strategy, it pounded me into dust at L62. I used those Battlegates to grind to L99 -- don't worry, this doesn't take too much time -- and beat down that boss even more decisively than it did to me 37 levels ago. Feeling confident, I strolled into LIMITCUT and promptly got my ass handed to me by every single Organization member that I was able to challenge.

They all have varied means of attack, some of which can't be blocked, and are programmed to utterly destroy a lazy or complacent player. To beat just one of them will likely take a good bit of practice, as you find out when they're most vulnerable to attack and when you better be dodging and waiting for one of those openings. Many of them have their own gimmicks, making each battle feel different from the others. Luxord's fight will be loaded with one card game after another, while Marluxia can trigger the Doom status, forcing you to fight quickly before the countdown reaches zero and you die.

If you beat all of them, you'll access an insanely-difficult final boss who's been described as the toughest KH foe of all time, but let's be real. I'm not at that point yet and I doubt I'll ever feel the motivation to get there. You see, while I was getting my teeth kicked in by one Organization member after another, my repeated failures weren't what was on my mind. No, instead I was thinking that, if you dropped the difficulty of these fights down to manageable-for-everyone levels, this is what those late-game Organization battles should have been.

In the actual game, you'd fight two or three of them at once and while each had attacks that differed from the others, that was hard to appreciate because the battles were so fast-paced and chaotic with you all-out assaulting each one to whittle down the opposition and trying to ignore everything else going on around you. It was hard not to imagine a world where you fought these guys separately, even if that meant a few got disposed of before the game's final chapter, with them having the full set of skills they have on display in LIMITCUT. Just make those attacks less damaging and maybe tone down their aggression a bit and suddenly a handful of rushed, generic battles becomes something greater and more memorable.

I also was thinking how, in the HD remake of Kingdom Hearts II, you had super-charged rematches with all of the original Organization and all you had to do to access those was clear a really tough optional dungeon placed into the game for free, but I've already used the "why am I paying for this?" complaint enough times to make my feelings clear on that.

Then again, that is the crux of my hatred for Re:Mind. While there are some neat things in this DLC, it's hard to look at it as anything more than a colossal letdown. The first half is a game patch with its own story awkwardly slapped onto it in a flimsy attempt to pass it off as truly original content. Clear that and you'll have battles so much more difficult than anything in the game that there's no middle ground -- you'll either embrace the challenge of re-learning how to fight against foes designed to punish anything remotely resembling complacence or you'll pull the plug on this expansion very quickly. As a diversion, Re:Mind is flawed, but has its appeal. As an actual financial investment, though, I found this to be more insulting than anything else. If I'm dropping roughly $30 on something, I want a LOT more original content than this.


overdrive's avatar
Staff review by Rob Hamilton (April 09, 2020)

Rob Hamilton is the official drunken master of review writing for Honestgamers.

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