Kingdom Hearts III: ReMIND Review — Got It Memorized?
Kingdom Hearts 3: ReMIND is DLC made for fans, with an annual injection of heart and intrigue. But novice KH fans will want to keep away.
Kingdom Hearts III: Re:Mind
Xbox One, PS4
Review copy provided by the publisher
It’s been a year since the release of Kingdom Hearts 3 — a game that bitterly divided the hardcore fanbase thanks to both unmanageable expectations and constant setbacks. Given a year to mull over the various complaints and criticisms, Kingdom Hearts Director Tetsuya Nomura took his best swing at clearing up the confusion and getting the core fans excited about stories and worlds to come with the $30 DLC: Kingdom Hearts 3: ReMIND. While there is a lot of heart (and heartless) in the offerings, the DLC is pretty plainly made for hardcore fans and will be lost on those who haven’t thought about Kingdom Hearts 3 since last year.
As an important note, I want to start by saying I’m not one of those reviewers that never got or never liked Kingdom Hearts. When the latest game came out for PS4 and Xbox One, I was the dedicated reviewer and I stand by my score of 9.0 out of 10 — something I get constantly ribbed by from the rest of the DualShockers crew. Even still, the game ranked on one of my Top 10 games of 2019. I’ve frankly put way too much time into understanding the in’s and out’s of lore and mechanics, and don’t consider myself a novice to the series in any way.
The DLC is broken up into the ReMIND story DLC, a Limitcut episode featuring some exceptionally challenging boss battles, and a new secret ending that hints at the future game. Then there are the more ancillary bonuses — a photo capture mode with massive meme potential, a new bonus gameplay menu, and a recording of the (fantastic) Kingdom Hearts orchestra.
Tackling the most significant feature first, the ReMIND DLC story content really is an awkward fit in the story and aims to take a peek behind the curtain of some of the lingering mysteries from KH3. How does Sora manage to save Kairi? Where and why does he vanish? What exactly is happening at Scala Ad Calum? Frankly, these are all questions that the community never seemed to have — most passionate fans of the series have come to expect fairly abject nonsense when it comes to the Kingdom Hearts universe, especially when it comes to self-sacrifice and heart.
Even for Kingdom Hearts, a lot of these feel like weird creative decisions to rewrite the past.
In execution, the storytelling of all of this feels forced at best and clumsy at worse. Picking up towards the end of Kingdom Hearts 3, we take on the role of Sora towards the final battle of Heart. Almost immediately, Nomura is looking to clarify what exactly is happening through the scenes — we learn that Sora is participating as an out-of-body observer, able to (at a significant cost) enter other characters’ hearts and guide them to make decisions. In doing this, Nomura colors some of the stranger decisions and actions of the group, and you can hear a bit more of the inner monologues of the characters themselves.
There are times where the ReMIND DLC executes this exceptionally well. Explaining Sora’s disappearance and why Namine is… well… alive makes much more sense in this iteration. On the other hand, there are just some flat out strange directions that seemingly make no sense. For example, a scene where Lea, Ventus, and Xion explain that the whole reason they are fighting is to regain the artificial implanted friendship link that the Organization instilled them with… What? There are also more than a couple times that Kingdom Hearts 3: ReMIND insists on telepathy as a storytelling technique, for instance King Mickey talking over scenes to explain what is going to happen next.
Even for Kingdom Hearts, a lot of these feel like weird creative decisions to rewrite the past. And it ignores a more fundamental point — if people didn’t like the ending of Kingdom Hearts 3, it wasn’t because it was confusing. Many people just don’t like how the series wrapped up, and you can’t fix that by filling in or explaining the blanks.
Following the roughly five hours of story content in the ReMIND DLC, players can pick up from the end of the game in the search for Sora. The included Limitcut episodes are the difficult challenge that many fans of the series have been asking for. With 13 different boss fights awaiting you, I’m not afraid to admit I had to go back in Critical Mode to grind an extra few levels. This mode is mostly going to appeal to the more hardcore scene of the Kingdom Hearts community, and not too many others. It may not be Sephiroth level difficulty, but the challenge may be well above the abilities of even seasoned Kingdom Hearts 3 gamers — especially if you have gotten used to the more casual difficulty.
I’m not afraid to admit I had to go back in Critical Mode to grind an extra few levels.
Last but not least is the secret boss fight, which takes place within the secret ending of the original Kingdom Hearts 3 game. I’m not going to use any space here to spoil any of this for you, though there are more than a few YouTube channels actively analyzing it. All things considered, it’s a very interesting twist and really brings some entrigue into the direction of future Kingdom Hearts games.
And then there are the extras, which at best deserve a small paragraph. I have no doubt that the Kingdom Hearts 3 community will have a ton of fun with the photo feature — between the lewd, the lore-based images, or the meme recreations. And being able to watch the orchestrated taping of Kingdom Hearts’ excellent soundtrack is a joy. However, I imagine most will bypass both of these entirely once they realize there is simply no gameplay or story found within.
And that leaves us with the weird question — would we recommend Kingdom Hearts 3: ReMIND? It’s something I’ve been thinking about since I beat it that first day. On the one hand, the entire Kingdom Hearts 3 package is better for it. However, most of the best parts — the cutscenes — can simply be caught on YouTube without paying the ticket price. Though the Limitcut episodes are a ton of fun for those who like the challenge, I firmly think they are going to be above the skill set of most people who picked up the base game.
If you are someone who lives and breathes the Kingdom Hearts series, Kingdom Hearts 3: ReMIND will be the perfect package for you — giving you an annual injection of the heart and spirit we love from the series. But for everyone else, I’m not sure that the confusing offerings will be worth the $30 entry fee.