A Plague Tale: Innocence (2019) Review

A Plague Tale Innocence is the first game in a new video game series from developers Asobo Studios, It was published in 2019 by Focus Interactive for the PS4, Xbox One and PC with a PS5, Xbox Series X/S releases coming out in 2021 Cloud based releases also came out for the Nintendo Switch and Amazon Luna. I played the PS5 version of the game so my opinions are mostly based on that version of the game.

The game takes place between the years 1348 and 1349 in France during the Black Plague and the 100 year war. You play the game as Amicia De Rune who is trying to escape the French Inqusition who want to take away her sick 5 year old brother Hugo so they can run experiments on him due to something in his blood. Since the game also takes place during the plague outbreak avoiding infected rats is also a major key to survival.

The game has a very high focus on stealth, in fact I would argue that this is almost the entire game, I dont mind stealth but I have always struggled with it and normally die a whole bunch which was no different here. I was surprised with how much I actually really enjoyed the stealth gameplay though.

I like how the entire experience is like a puzzle, you can attack enemies with your slingshot to kill them but throughout your journey you do unlock new ways to use your sling with a crafting system, you can make fire, extinguish flames and do an attack that forces soldiers to remove their helmets.

You can even find other ways to get rid of enemies such as throwing rocks and pots to lure them away from your location or you can create a sleeping solution to knock them out, the goal of the game is not to avoid violence but to avoid being seen and it is really fun to figure out different ways to achieve this. Hugo makes this difficult because he is only a child and gets upset if you go too far away from him so for the majority of the game you are holding his hand and need to be sneaky while also making sure to keep him safe as well.

The way that rats work is they only attack in the dark and always come out in groups that will eat you alive. You need to stay in the light or find other ways to distract them, I don’t want to spoil too much but one way to distract the rats is to encourage them to eat the enemies, you can do this by extinguishing enemy fires or by throwing a smelly solution at the French Soldiers to over-empower your own scent. As for Hugo’s secret blood and abilities I wont discuss them in this review as that would be a major spoiler for the game but I will go into a lot more detail when we discuss the upcoming sequel.

Sometimes during the game you have allies that you need to command to help you take out enemies or finish puzzles, this doesn’t happen too often but whenever did happen the game was clear with its hints and I didn’t have too much trouble.

The game looks great visually it fits the theme of desolation, loss and fear that a lot of people had during the time period, the abandoned villages and mass hysteria of certain groups reminds me of the early days of something we all had to suffer through recently and I want to make it clear that in my spare time I am a massive history fanboy. The Black Plague is something I have researched a lot over the years and while of course this is a video game so it does over exaggerate certain things it is what I would expect from a game based during those troubling times. It even makes an effort to be somewhat historically accurate, above you can see white crosses on the doors and in the game Amecia explains that people in those houses have been locked in as they have caught the plague and this is actually true to historical evidence although the crosses were more commonly painted in either red or black.

The soundtrack for the game was composed by Olivier Deriviere a French videogame composer best known for the Alone in the Dark Series. The Music here is very eerie and gives off chilling vibes of loneliness and an odd sense of calm. There isn’t really a lot of big action in the game so the music tends to fit the slower pace with it’s composition and while I wouldn’t necessarily go out of my way to listen to it I do appreciate what we were given and I look forward to seeing if the composition changes much in the sequel.

A Plague Tale Innocence is best described as a great experience but not one you would really want to revisit straight away, the core gameplay is really good and it works to tell a fantastic and emotional story of two struggling siblings during one of the most horrific pandemics in History. The biggest issue with the game is that it is much too linear, there are collectables but for the most part you are on one path with very little room for exploration, I wish there was more too it perhaps some side quests or morale choices that effect the outcome of your journey, maybe the possibility to play the game in co-op would have been a good addition considering that out of the entire story only a handful of chapters focus on one character.

The game is one of the more affordable options for the PS5 and Xbox Series X/S, in fact I got this sealed for a measly £20 and for that price its a bargain, I just hope the next chapter in the adventures of Amecia and Hugo just offers a little bit extra and that big reveal at the end plays a much bigger role next time.

7/10

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Book Review: Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix by J.K Rowling

The Order of the Phoenix is the fifth book in the Harry Potter franchise, it was written by J.K Rowling and released in the summer of 2003. This will have spoilers so if you don’t want to see those you may want to skip this

In the book Harry is facing the ministry of magic in a wizarding court after he casts magic outside of school to save his cousin Dudley from the dementors kiss.

Before the hearing Harry is collected by a group of wizards and witches known as the Order of the Phoenix who take him to number 12 Grimmauld Place the childhood home of his god father Sirius Black. The Order of Phoenix is a secret organisation created by Headmaster Albus Dumbledore with the goal to fight against Lord Voldemort and his Army. The order has gained many members over the years but some of the most recognisable names are Sirius Black, Remus Lupin, Abefore Dumbledore, Mad Eye Moody, Lily and James Potter, Arthur and Molly Weasly and Nymphadora Tonks.

After the trial a new Defence Against the Dark Arts teacher called Delores Umbridge was hired at Hogwarts, as a member of the Ministry of Magic she believes herself to be of a much higher hierarchy and while she puts on a sweet natured appearance she is actually one of the most sadistic and evil characters in the franchise.

Of course Harry does eventually manage to get his name cleared when evidence that he was defending Dudley is brought to light but its quite clever how this trial plays into the beliefs and emotions of other characters. Some students start to believe that Harry may have killed Cedric Diggory during the Tri Wizard Cup and due to strange dreams he is having which all end up becoming true even Headmaster Albus Dumbledore keeps his distance for the majority of the school year even though it was for good reasons explained much later into the novel.

Delores takes a particular dislike to Harry Potter during detentions she make him write lines that would then cut into his arms and wrists leaving him bleeding and in pain, she even goes as far as to attempt the cruciatis curse but is quickly stopped. For those who don’t know the cruciatis curse is one of the most dangerous illegal spells due to its intense pain and eventually turning its receivers to insanity, the most famous case was how it was used to torture and destroy the minds of Alice and Frank Longbottom.

Another character worth mentioning here is Grawp the half brother of Hagrid, Grawp is a full blooded giant but is still considered short in stature for the species, in the book he lives in the forbidden forest and is being taken care of by Hagrid, Grawp has some serious communication difficulties and struggles with understanding his own strength and peoples personal boundaries.

Of course the book also very sadly gives us the murder of Sirius Black who was killed by Bellatrix la strange in the department of mysteries. This death always hits me quite hard since Sirius Black is easily one of my favourite characters in the franchise.

Some of the differences to the movie worth highlighting are that once again in the movies I think the fact that in the book both Ron and Hermione become prefects is worth mentioning, of course Sytherin gets Prefect Draco as well giving the bully even more power than hes ever deserved.

In the film Neville steals one of Dobby the House Elf’s biggest moments that being the discovery of the Room or Requirement where Harry eventually teaches students how to produce protronuses and other difficult spells as he build Dumbledores Army.

A change that really caught me of guard was that in the book Cho Chang is not the person who told Umbridge about Dumbledores army and infact it was actually another Ravenclaw student called Marietta Edgecombe.

Another detail left from the movie was the reveal that Umbridge sent the dementors after Harry Potter as the Ministry didn’t want the return of Voldemort to become public knowledge, just going to show how evil she really is and how messed up the Ministry can be as well.

Overall I did enjoy this book but so far it has been my least favourite and it just never grabbed my attention like previous titles in the series. Coming back to Harry Potter from the last book this was disappointing in the sense that it just kinda drags in places and is a little hard to follow, it just seems like so much is going on and its hard keep track at times. It does have some great action sequences and one of my favourite villains being Umbridge, also the scenes that show Snape’s past with Lily Potter are very well written and show the potions master in a much more sympathetic light. I also think its important that James Potter was shown to be a bully to Snape as it does really explain his hatred towards Harry since his birth practically brought on James death along with Lily leaving Snape heartbroken.

I would argue that this is a really good book but I just much preferred the Goblet of Fire and just hope that the 6th book in series manages to become a new favourite of mine.

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Kirby and the Forgotten Land (2022) Review

Kirby and the Forgotten Land is the first fully 3D platformer in the Kirby series, it was developed by Hal Laboratories and published by Nintendo for the Nintendo Switch videogame system in March 2022.

During his morning stroll across the Planet Popstar, Kirby and the the waddle dee’s are sucked into a mysterious dark vortex. Kirby awakens on a quiet beach and soon find himself in a land left to rot and succumb to neglect, the waddle dee’s have been stolen and its up to Kirby to fight his way across the various forgotten landscapes with the help of his new friend Elfillin and his brand new mouthful mode abilities in order to save his friends and defeat the cause of the vortex.

The gameplay while it is technically a 3D platformer it is quite linear apart from the occasional secret path which hides secrets. The game is split into 6 main worlds each with a different elemental theme and while fairly simple the levels do hide various collectables and each have missions to complete, this was a nice addition as it added additional challenge to the normal difficulty mode and added some replay value. The way the game feels is very similar to Super Mario 3D World with how it uses its camera angles and hides certain routes behind the need for various copy abilities.

Copy abilities are nothing new to the Kirby franchise becoming a staple after 1993’s Kirby’s Adventure for the NES, for those who don’t know Kirby can suck up enemies and consume their powers, gaining abilities such as bombs, drills, boomerang, sword, fire, ice and much more. In this game you can also pay coins and rare stones to upgrade these abilities once you discover blueprints hidden in certain stages.

Also new to the game is Mouthful Mode, Kirby is now able partially consume very large things which he can wrap his body around to control, here I have shown the cone that can body slam metal crates and break broken ground and the the car which can be used to travel fast and jump large gaps. I wont go over anymore of these as they really are one of the best things to discover in the game and with it still being fairly new at the time of writing this I don’t want to spoil the experience.

The boss fights are one of the biggest highlights of the game, they are all very memorable with the adorable but slightly threatening designs which capture the themes of the series perfectly, each fight is very unique and needs to be taken on with different approaches, also each boss has a weakness to specific copy abilities and it is up to the players to figure out which ones are best to use.

In between the main stages various challenge levels open up each is very short and is a great way to master the copy abilities and mouthful transformations. Each of the levels also has a time limit to beat for extra coins and these times can get very challenging, I did all of them but they don’t add towards your 100 percent completion so are not necessary and only really go as far as bragging rights.

After the main game there is still plenty of replay value in the package, you can continue to finish the level missions to get the waddle dee’s, you can also try and master the battle arenas which are boss rushes and once finished offer big cash prizes, you can also try to fill out your complete Gatcha collection, these can be purchased from machines in the main plaza but also can be earned by completing specific tasks, you can attempt to catch the biggest fish in the pond fishing game and finally there are five post game levels and a secret true final boss to beat so make sure you do those too. 100 percent completion of the game took me just under two weeks and I still want to go back to the game to do it all over again in the future.

The game is absolutely stunning, not only is this one of the best Nintendo Switch games in years it is also one of the best visually, the amount of detail that went into the games visuals is awe inspiring, this world looks like something out of an animated film and does hold some realism in its layout and overall designs, the game has no issues with lag and runs smoothly which is great considering every last detail was considered for the game including smaller things such as fish swimming beneath you in the water, fire flickering in the wind and releasing embers and even dust particles from disrupted mounds of dirt. We expect these details from more modern hardware’s such as the offerings from PlayStation and Xbox but for the Switch this really does go to show how a smaller graphics card can have a lot to offer as well.

The soundtrack is good but I would be somewhat lying if I said it held up when compared to past titles, the more modern spin we have here is fine and some of the more rock and roll versions of songs such as King Dedede’s theme is actually pretty sick, but I think most would agree that Kirby’s music just works much better in it’s original chip tune versions. When playing the game you wouldn’t really focus on the music as it does work but personally I just much prefer what we got before.

I don’t know what else there is to say,I was slightly worried about Kirby’s transition to 3D especially since the game was only announced six months or so before release and we didn’t know much about it, some additional video footage and a demo came out that I actively avoided so that I could go into this completely blind and I think I made the right choice because not only is this now officially the best Kirby game I have ever played but it is also one of the best games I have played in a long time and I really hope this is a sign that Nintendo are going to let the Switch go out with a bang before its next console is inevitably revealed but that is a discussion for another day.

Go and buy Kirby and Forgotten land it is a new start for the franchise and is easily up there with some of the best Nintendo Switch games 10/10

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Sonic Unleashed (2008) Review

Well it’s been a while since we talked about Sonic, in fact its been over a year since we reviewed Sonic 06 so I feel it is time to hop back into the series and I’m sure that this time we will have a much better experience ………….right?

Sonic unleashed was developed by Sonic Team and released in 2008 for the PS2, PS3, Wii and Xbox 360, It was the final main series title released for the PS2 and the first to get a Wii release. I played the PS3 version of the game so my opinion is based on that version.

Dr Eggman is back trying to destroy the planet this time by waking an evil entity known as Dark Gaia, he manages to trap Sonic in his super form using a power ray which strips away the power of the Chaos Emeralds. Eggman uses the power to then wake Dark Gaia who breaks the earth into seven pieces and also manages to put a curse on Sonic turning him into a Werehog. Sonic is blasted into space but luckily is rescued by a new friend called chip who helps guide Sonic across the globe while he tries to break his curse and return the earth and the Chaos Emeralds back to their original forms.

So whats weird with this one is that we went back to a single character campaign where we only play as Sonic, however due to the whole Werehog situation we do technically have two main variants of gameplay.

In the regular Sonic stages we run at high speeds across various continents while blasting robots and avoiding obstacles, whats new here is a super speed mechanic. Your rings do not only represent your life but also allow Sonic to run at hyper speed and completely annihilate anything that gets in his path, while in hyper speed you also attract rings towards you so its easier to collect tons of rings this way compared to the regular running mechanic.

At night you can play the Werehog stages these are much slower and focus more on combat, here you fight Dark Gaia’s minions and collect loads of experience points, when battles become too tough you can can use some of your collected energy to give your Werehog form some extra power in order to help tackle these trickier situations.

In between stages you will be exploring various hub worlds which each represent different countries, the hub worlds are not great and don’t really offer much apart from shops to buy food and souvenirs as well as hiding the occasional Sun/Moon coins and offering some extra side content.

I did manage to finish all of possession missions which involves players committing to small battle arenas and surviving onslaughts of bad guys. The other side missions are time/ring/no damage trials these are fine enough but a big issue I have with the game is that they keep repeating the same stages for these challenges for example in the time trials the game will ask you to finish the stage in 3 minutes then the challenge will be to do the same level in 2 minutes. I understand you don’t have to commit to these missions but I still think that some more creativity and implementing some of the optional stages would have worked a lot better.

The main levels work pretty well, I had very little issue due to gameplay problems and overall I found both types pretty satisfying, I really enjoyed the high speed action of the Sonic stages but also appreciated the more brawl based stages with the Werehog, I did find the final stage a little too long but I did die a lot and ended up clocking in at around 90 minutes.

The game for a PS3 title is very visually appealing I love the dark colours and glowing enemies at night and during the day time stages the details of the backgrounds are really quite impressive especially considering that even with the high speed action there is little to no issue rendering background details. I also really like that the game takes place in different countries not only because it represents various cultures but also makes each level feel very unique and special in their own ways. I do wish the hub worlds were a little bigger and hid more secrets for us to find, they are very small areas that are linear and quite limited in what they offer but I can appreciate that they were not the main focus of the game and this probably doesn’t bother many other players.

The soundtrack is really good! The main vocal track Endless Possibilities is great and singer Jared Reddick knocks it out of the park, various stages carry that rocking vibe we are used too with these games now but also there is a certain amount of diversity to represent the country you are currently playing in making sure to show appreciation for the various cultures explored throughout the adventure.

Sonic Unleashed is a massive improvement to the atrocity that was Sonic 06 the gameplay here while not perfect at least doesn’t feel broken and is enjoyable, if the game has any sins its biggest is how mediocre and somewhat forgettable it is. I loved the music and the day time stages but nothing else really stood out to me as being what I consider a great Sonic experience, visually those Werehog stages are stunning and while they are decent levels they can be a little long and dont really hold their satisfaction from a gameplay perspective. Personally I think they should have had the ability to turn into the Werehog implemented into all stages and allowed players to Switch between both forms quickly and freely.

The cultural representation of the hub worlds is obviously really important and I feel Sonic Team did an ok job but again these are quite empty and could have had a lot more secrets to find as well as offer better and more creative side content and missions.

As a final note I will say that this game was acceptable, in certain areas it works extremely well but struggled with everything else so what we were left with was a small amount of great content surrounded with a lot of uninspired and in someways lazy game design so I think a 6/10 is a very fair score and I can only hope that next time when we take a look at Sonic Colours we finally get back to the flawless gameplay I know this series can pull off.

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Sherlock Holmes: Chapter One (2021) Review

Based on the character created by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Sherlock Holmes: Chapter One is the latest Sherlock Holmes videogame, it was developed and published by Frogswares for the PC, PS5 and Xbox Series S/X with versions for last gen consoles coming soon.

This is an origin story for our favourite detective so you wont be seeing Dr Watson in the game. The Plot actually sees a younger Sherlock Holmes returning to the Island of Cordona to revisit his family home and try to find out why his mother died.

He is joined by his imaginary friend Jon who acts as his conscience but at times seems to have a mind of his own.

While figuring out the answers to one of his biggest family secrets word of his unique detective skills gets around and young sherlock finds himself solving various different mysteries before he can finally get some answers.

The game is an open world Action/Mystery videogame based in the early 1800’s. It differs from a lot of other open world games as their is very little action segments and those that do exist can be skipped with very little effect to the player.

The Main Quest is very short and in order to get the most out of the game you really need to be focussing on the side cases and collectables.

The Gameplay is all very similar throughout the experience, you are a detective putting clues together to solve crimes, there are various ways to do this but some of the most frequent ways to solve a case are by examining a crime scene, you can view certain objects to gather information and you can even check for much smaller details such as blood spots on the carpets or scratches in woodwork etc.

Some people wont speak to Sherlock in his expensive suit so putting on different disguises is absolutely necessary, these can be purchased from various street sellers, you can also purchase furniture for your home from sellers across the island.

There are three archives you can visit, Police (Crimes), Cordona Chronicle (News) and Cordona City Hall (Official/Legal Documents). Depending on your clue you need to decide which will be the most useful to visit, you first need to select your clue from your case file then you can choose three key words to try and match some further information. For example if I was looking for a news article about an escaped monkey in Scaladio 100 years ago I would visit Cordona Chronicle and would search 1700’s – Front Page – Scaladio and that would then match the correct information.

Once you have enough of an idea of how a crime was committed you will be able to enter Sherlocks imagination where he can individually choose positions and actions to determine the most likely possibility of a crime before making his final decision in his mind palace.

Some items you collect during investigations can be chemically analysed to find out what certain stains or substances are. This process requires players to complete a small math puzzle where they need to find clever ways to match the required outcome by either dividing, adding, subtracting or doubling numbers.

The mind palace is where sherlock is able to connect all of his clues and make his final judgement of who is the culprit and how they should be punished, this normally results in whether he lets them go or reports them to the authorities but in more serious cases he can even suggest the death sentence.

The cases are almost perfect from a gameplay perspective you really do feel like a detective but if there is one issue I would say that Jon should have been a developed a little differently, throughout the game he constantly complains when you make mistakes but the game isn’t very clear on what direction you should be heading in, the clues are very complex in areas and I think that Jon maybe should have been used more as a hint system or a way to help players with trickier clues. I used a walkthrough more than once and I am not ashamed to admit that because this game can be really hard at times due to its lack of direction.

While the detective and mystery elements of the game really shine I feel its combat is a little lackluster, thankfully as I have already stated you can skip these but in case you want to do them, the idea is to shoot off armour and use the environment to stun enemies so you can arrest them, you can kill people but you will be penalised for this.

The problem with the combat is that its really slow paced and because of the lack of ways to interact and stun enemies it gets repetitive very quickly, towards the end of the game I found myself really enjoying the fact that I didn’t have to do these parts.

While your running around the island, eves dropping on locals and solving side cases there are actually 24 hidden treasures you can find by using photographic clues given to you by the treasure master.

These are actually quite cryptic and really challenging to find, they are a great way to have a break from the rest of the game which all follows a very similar gameplay pattern and there are some trophies to unlock if you collect these.

The game is lacking in its visuals, graphically its not really up to scratch with the modern hardware its been released on however that is not to say that it isn’t impressive. This is not a triple A game and it had a much smaller budget than some other games on modern systems, It doesn’t even have a physical release which says a lot in how much money was able to be pumped into it, what is really impressive is how the developers managed to make the world so realistic and immersive. The 1800 style really works in the games favour for being pretty cool to explore especially for fans of history. The load times are really fast and there is no issue with background items loading in too late. The developers were really clever with how they managed to hide invisible barriers, by putting Sherlock on an Island they are able to allow him to explore almost anywhere that he can walk too, he cant jump so he is restricted to the ground and since he cant swim the only barrier is the ocean which drowns him when entered. Smart game design like this allows players to remain immersed in the gameplay without obvious blocks taking away from the experience.

The soundtrack isn’t too special but I don’t think it needed to be, the small music tracks it uses are very simple and mellow, I does pick up during combat for the most part you are so focused on solving cases you forget the music is even there, so unfortunately I don’t have much to say about the OST here apart from its neither good nor bad.

Sherlock Holmes Chapter One was a lot better than I expected, I really enjoyed the freedom that came with the open world, I spent a lot of time focussing on the side content and really going after all the trophies which I did manage to pull off, they are quite easy to get and a good chunk are rewarded for making certain moral decisions and doing Jon’s various challenges.

The main quest line is fine enough but its very short especially on a second playthrough so again you really will want to do everything to get your moneys worth with this one, especially since you will be paying a fair bit on money as the game is not cheap for digital only.

Overall I really enjoyed this game but even with all of impressive features its got some pretty serious issues in its gameplay, the combat is creative but badly pulled off, again you can skip these but that’s still no excuse, the main puzzle solving and the mystery parts are really cool but a little bit too cryptic at times which can effect peoples enjoyment as just little hints would have been useful to help get us in the right direction without having to use the internet.

However I did get excited to play this game whenever I got the chance, even though I did use a walkthrough a couple of times I was still really invested in the story and cases I was solving, I thought the world was really well animated, it felt how I would imagine the 1800’s to be and the characters were all really interesting. I think it was a great choice to do an origin story as well before Sherlock becomes famous, who knows maybe one day we will get another game in this style, perhaps with Dr Watson?

6/10

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Book Reviews: The Devils Whispers by Lucas Hault

I was very kindly sent this book by the publisher TCK Publishing.

Here is a link to their website and a link to purchase the book on Amazon

A famous Lawyer Gerard Woodward is requested to visit Lord Mathers to discuss his final affairs as he lays upon his deathbed.

This professional visit quickly becomes a nightmare when Gerard notices odd behaviours around the castle, he is locked in his room every night and is forbidden to explore without supervision.

After climbing across the castle walls from his window Gerard finds access into the castle and soon realises that he has been trapped amongst some of the most despicable and evil creatures he has ever come across.

These creatures are called Xana and originated from Asturian Mythology and often disguise themselves as a woman to lure in lonely young men.

This book is very heavily inspired by Dracula and has a lot of similarities it begins in a castle with the protagonist, a professional man trying to sort out legal affairs and in both books this protagonist soon realises the sinister activities that are at play.

In Dracula the vampire cannot stand garlic and in this book the Xana cannot stand onions, both stories also use diary entries to tell the story from the perspective of various people.

In light of the author this diary style is a lot harder to write than you would expect, it takes a lot more planning than a standard book due to the fact of having to focus on various writers you need to change styles in order to fit said person and their perspective of events. Also making sure that everything that is written makes sense while always ensuring that you can consistently switch narratives without getting mixed up or lost in your own explanations and story telling.

Lucas Hault actually writes these diary entries really well, it was actually quite nice to read another book in this style as I think a lot of authors are intimidated by it, personally I haven’t read a book like this since Dracula so I appreciated to go back to this style and to see it written so well.

The book has not had the best reviews, I did a bit of research and found that a lot of people were complaining that it was so similar to Dracula and while I do agree that it definitely needs to be looked at for a re-write in this aspect, I also think a lot people are not giving credit where it is due.

The book comes across like a fan re-write of the Bram Stoker classic but it is creative in a lot of areas, first of all the choice to use a folklore creature is a very unique idea and not what I expected, also when the story gets interesting it does get you hooked. The problem I have is that the beginning and ending of the book completely held my attention but the middle segment really seemed to drag and quickly became uninteresting, I found myself enjoying Gerard’s character and even though I enjoyed the writing when other character were telling their diary pages I just wanted to go back to Gerard’s again and see what he was doing.

So this leaves me at a bit of an awkward moment because I cant really say that I fully enjoyed this book, I read it twice just to make sure and my opinion still stands that Lucas Hault is a good writer, his writing style is fine he is a new author and will get a lot better over time. This book could have been something really unique if it had a little bit more originality the Xana being the creature is great but it definitely feels like Lucas Hault read Dracula and then decided to have a crack at it himself, he had a somewhat original story but its structure is too close to a much more better written and historically beloved book which The Devils Whisper does not in anyway come close to even competing with.

I will end this with a message to the Author, Lucas you have talent and clearly you are creative but if possible I recommend a re-write of this so that it can have a much clearer identity and wont be compared to what its inspired by. If you decide to write another horror I would recommend trying to do something different than is expected, try and write something which does compare to other stories and one day you very well could find yourself a very successful author.

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Alan Wake (2010) Review

Alan Wake is a game that I have avoided since it released almost 12 years ago, it just never appealed to me but ever since getting the PS5 and there not being many budget friendly games available Alan Wakes remastered version was offered at a price I just couldn’t refuse, but how does it hold up? is it worth picking up and was I wrong to avoid it for so long?

Alan Wake describes itself as a Phycological Action Thriller and is very unique with its episode based progression, inspired by TV dramas.

It was developed by Remedy Entertainment and published by Microsoft as an exclusive to its Xbox 360 videogame system and it remained an exclusive until 2021 when it was released on the PS4, Xbox One, PS5 and the Xbox Series X/S.

I played the remastered version of the game for the PS5 so my opinion is based upon my own experiences with this port.

The game is very story driven and that is its main hook, the plot of a writer being trapped in his own horror story and having to find a way to change its pages in order to save his missing wife is something I don’t think has ever been done before, it is very immersive and the commentary by Alan throughout the adventure really helps to make sense of what is going on.

You can also collect pages from the original manuscript to help explain the story in more detail although a good number of these can only be obtained on the Nightmare difficulty of the game, another collectable are the 100 coffee thermoses, these don’t do anything in the game but are available for trophy hunters.

Discussing the difficulty I feel is necessary as this is a very hard game, I played on Normal and still really struggled at first, the game is a survival horror and if not careful players can find themselves with no ammunition and very little light.

The dark is a huge theme here and is the most dangerous element of this adventure, while in the dark possessed spirits will bombard players and can take you out in only a few hits, the flash light will eventually stun them so they can be shot but this light is limited and you should try to use the back up batteries sparingly. Trying to kill every enemy is almost impossible as in most cases they keep re-appearing, so what you really need to do is try to avoid combat when you can and very strategically make your way to light sources so you can heal. Lights are also the only areas that are completely safe but of course they are few and far between so they cannot be completely relied on.

There are some “Boss fights” in the game but they are mostly just much more powerful and larger versions of the possessed, again light is your best weapon with these and I highly recommend trying to defeat them (even though some can be avoided) as certain ones will give you in game trophies.

The game is very dark in its colours and uses very little detail to help pull off its creepy and empty atmosphere, Alan is lost on his journey and is slowly figuring things out, the players see the world though his eyes and it works surprisingly well having less to focus on it gives off the effect that this is a very dark and secluded game and it helps to put more emphasis on the story, there are no side quests or open world areas as Alan Wake doesn’t need either of these to tell a very good story and it does that extremely well.

On another note the flashback segments are much more detailed and use a full colour palette, these are a nice change of pace, they don’t stay for long but are much appreciated when we do get them, they also help shine some light on Alans relationship with Alice and why they were having problems before she was taken by the darkness.

There are two DLC episodes which are included as part of the remastered package, these are titled the Signal and the Writer. I wont go into discussion about these as by doing that I will be spoiling the main games ending as these are both follow on stories which prepare players for the eventual plot of Alan Wake 2 releasing sometime next year.

The soundtrack was composed by Petri Alanko and is really good, I’ll be honest it is really rare that the game uses music and that does benefit it as it helps pull off that empty, realism and loneliness, but since the game is episode based, each episode ends with credits which all have their own song with a vocal performance and these change depending on the themes of said episode. The sound track also is used on the title screen and while the music here is very quiet and mostly matched with creepy sounds it helps to add to that atmosphere and I absolutely love it.

Alan Wake is a game I wish I played a very long time ago, I think the slower gameplay was off putting to me back then, but I am pleased to say I actually really enjoyed this one, I wasn’t hooked on it but I don’t feel like your meant to be, the game is slow and extremely difficult but tells this absolutely amazing story that is awarded to you for your survival. There isn’t really much to the game to make it addictive but I kept wanting to see where the plot was going to take me and of course the mystery of the island was really captivating and if there was any hook that was it for me, the ending definitely caught me by surprise and I am really looking forward to see where this goes in the sequel. 7.5/10

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Thank You for all of your support.

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DoughMuchDough (Edible Cookie Dough) Review

Big thankyou to the guys at DoughMuchDough for sending me a full set of their flavours.

I am genuinely so excited about working with these guys because I am big baker and I love making my own cookies and brownies. I have always found that the batter always tastes better than the final product so its really cool to see a company making my ideal treat.

https://doughmuchdough.co.uk/

There are currently six flavours available and there multiple ways to eat these. You can get them straight from the tub, warmed up in the microwave or added to other desserts and they can even be baked into actual cookies !

For now I want to try them in their most natural form and later on we will be baking them. I’m curious to see if my official ranking changes once they are baked.

Before we start lets go over some nutritional information.

It should be no surprise that edible cookie doughs are meant to be a treat so its not exactly a shock to find out that these are not very good for you. I was sent the Mini versions of the cookie doughs which each hold 2 servings.

I wont go over the nutrition for all of them but just for an example 75 grams of the most basic flavour Chip Daddy has

314 calories

11 grams of fat

50 grams of carbohydrates

3 grams of protein

0.27 grams of salt.

When you really look at whats in these little tubs its not as bad as some other brands but of course still shouldn’t be eaten too regularly.

With the boring bit of the way lets dive into these bad boys and get ranking.

Fudgy B

This is probably my least favourite but not because that its bad, Its a brownie batter and it is quite sickly, this is one that I could see myself grabbing a spoonful of every time I go into the fridge but compared to the other flavours I didn’t have many cravings for this after I tried it

Jimmies House Party

This flavour gave me some nostalgia because it has been a very long time since I have had a traditional birthday cake. This one has a vanilla batter, white chocolate chips and sprinkles. The flavour is very sweet but not too overpowering as I was eating this it reminded me of six years old, going to friends birthday party at the local Bowling club and eating that sweet and delicious cake that unfortunately had to be spilt between 30 kids.

I really enjoyed this, it was a tiny bit too sweet for me but unlike the Fudgy B I could quite happily get through half a tub in one sitting if I really wanted too, I also think this one will make really tasty cookies when bake it later on.

Sticky Noffee

This Banana flavour batter with toffee pieces tastes just like a banoffee pie. Its packed with flavour and is really nice to eat slowly because I didn’t find myself craving this one all too much I took my time with it and found myself appreciating it for it’s simplicity, I’m glad they didn’t add anything more to this one because it is really nice without being over complicated.

Chip Daddy

You know what for the most basic cookie flavour this one is pretty good, I tastes just like homemade cookie dough and the vanilla really makes a difference, I think the vanilla makes this standout its very strong but really tasty. I often make my own cookies and this tastes better than my cookie dough, I’m definitely going to start adding more vanilla to my recipe from now on.

Date Night

Valentines Day is coming up and if you want to get a unique gift for your loved one buy them a load of Date Night Cookie Dough because this is amazing! Its made of a raspberry dough which gives it a nice zing and the white chocolate chips taste really good if you heat this one up because they melt into that scrumptious fruity flavour. I cannot wait to make cookies with these !

Cherry Bomb

I might be a little bit biased here because I love cherry flavoured sweets. Cherry Bomb is outstanding this is one of the nicest things I have ever eaten in my life, its made with Cherry Bakewell cookie dough and glazed cherry pieces ! its not overly sweet and it has a really tasty and soft texture. It is just like eating spoonfuls of Bakewell’s and you just cant go wrong with this one. Also I want to point out Cherry Bakewell cookies ! seriously cannot wait to try those !!

Its the next day and its time to bake these bad boys!

On my tray I have taken on teaspoon of each mixture and rolled them into balls on my baking tray, I am going eat these in the same order as our raw cookie dough ranking you can see the flavours in the image above

Here you can see all 6 of our snack size cookies, I will eat half of each and saving he rest for another day but here is my official ranking of the baked cookies!

Jimmys House Party

This one was very subtle not overly flavourful but still very nice and I could see myself eating this cookie again, however I don’t think I would go out of my way to bake it as I much preferred its raw form because when its baked a lot of the flavours mellowed out and it was hard to appreciate it as much

Chip Daddy

This one is too no surprise just a regular cookie, it was nice but compared to the other flavours, these ones are not quite as exiting, again the vanilla is really strong and for me this time it took away from taste of the chocolate, it was good but where as its raw form I thought more vanilla really enhanced the taste in its baked form a little less would be beneficial

Sticky Noffee

This one is way better baked ! it maintains its flavours and when baked it really increases the toffee as it melts into the cookie, It tastes very similar to Sticky Toffee Pudding if only the banana flavour was level with the toffee as that may have pushed it higher in my rankings.

Cherry Bomb

These tasted just how I expected them too, I ,love Cherry Bakewells so its no surprise that cherry cookies are right down my alley, I really enjoyed the Cherry flavouring and the warm glazed Cherry pieces inside however I didn’t quite like these as much as the next two just due to preference but these are still some of the best cookies I have eaten in a long time !

Fudgy B

This was scrumptious and very tasty! It tasted very similar to a double chocolate chip cookie fresh from a bakery, this was really good and in my opinion much nicer than its original form.

Date Night

These are amazing just like its raw form that raspberry flavour is so unique in a cookie dough and when you bake these enjoy them while they are hot, those white chocolate chips melt in your mouth and they are phenomenal !

And that is just about all I can say about DoughMuchDough these guys went out of their way to send me some products and I’m not just saying this but out of all the foods I have reviewed these are by far the most unique and the coolest!.

I really appreciate them supporting me by sending me all of their flavours and I only ask that you go and pay them a visit on their website and if you would like to try these order some flavours 🙂

https://doughmuchdough.co.uk/

You can also follow them on social media at https://www.facebook.com/doughmuchdough/

https://www.instagram.com/doughmuchdough/?hl=en

twitter.com/doughmuchdough

Finally another huge thankyou to DoughMuchDough, it has been a real treat reviewing these 🙂

If you would like to help support the website please use the donation button at the top of the page, your donations will help to improve the website by allowing me to afford products to review and to be able to execute any costly updates and changes, any amount in donations are welcome.

Thank You for all of your support.

Want me to review a specific game/movie/product or do you have a general question you would like me to answer? if so please email me at ragglefragglereviews@gmail.com

Deathloop (2021) Review

Deathloop is a first person shooter/ puzzle game from Arkane studios, it was released in September of 2021 and has had very high review scores considering its low sales.

In the game you play as Colt an unfortunate man who has been trapped in a never ending time loop for 17 years, he is stuck on an island he cannot leave and is constantly hunted by a rival assassin called Julianna Blake. He has to repeat the same day over and over again and the only way he can break the loop is by killing all of the visionaries (Boss characters who have more skills than average AI characters) in one loop

The gameplay of Deathloop is it’s most unique feature, in the game you repeat the same things on repeat, every loop is the same and your goal never changes. This may not sound very good but its not about quick progression in an epic story, instead what Deathloop offers is very slow progression in a simple story with addictive gameplay and learning.

What I mean by learning is that it is actually impossible to kill all of the visionaries in one loop as they are never in the same area at the same time, every time you leave part of the map time progresses.

So if you have one visionary in area 1 in the morning and there is another visionary in area 3 in the morning you cannot kill both so breaking the loop is impossible. This is where the puzzle solving comes in, you need to find a way to get these guys in the same place at the same time. I dont want to go into many spoilers because the game is best enjoyed figuring stuff out for yourself but I will give one example to explain my point, I will put this in bold so you can see where to skip the spoiler if you want too.

In the game you can find an email rejecting an invitation to a party, the guest was Egon a scientist who doesn’t go as he has made a scientific breakthrough and wants to continue studying his creation.

So if you can figure how to make sure his experiment is not successful then he should attend the party which puts two people in the same place at the same time.

Puzzles like this are what make the game so addictive, I was very surprised with how much I loved playing the same thing over and over again and only making very small advances each time, and by the time that I had gathered all of the clues I needed to break the loop it only takes around 20-30 minutes to beat the game so the majority of the gameplay is getting to that point.

There are many ways to take out enemies in the game, you have your standard weapons such as guns, special guns and your knife which you can swap around to suit your playing style but the most important part of your arsenal would be your slabs

These vary and are dropped by visionaries as you kill them, Colt comes with a slab which allows him three lives before the game loops. Other slabs can give you teleportation, telekinesis or even temporary invincibility.

You can have three slabs at a time and can swap two of them as long as you they are infused to be kept during the next loop. I only really used the same two throughout the game those being the Aether and the Nexus slabs.

Aether allowed me temporary invisibility which made some stealth a lot easier and was useful for escaping tricky situations. The Nexus slab is great it allows you to connect multiple enemies at once meaning that if you connect seven enemies and assassinate one of them they would all die as you can imagine this was not only satisfying but also extremely useful for clearing entire rooms in a matter of seconds.

From a visionary perspective this game looks very impressive and don’t get me wrong these are not hyper realistic as it does use a slightly less realistic style, however the visuals are still very crisp and high quality. These don’t exactly blow you away to extent that Horizon Hidden West might when that releases but these are still top notch. I also want to mention how well the game handles distances, nothing needs to load and you can see almost entire areas ahead of you without anything loading in making the experience much more realistic and more importantly immersive.

I don’t normally talk about multiplayer in videogames but I feel I need to here. During the campaign your rival assassin Julianna can turn up to try and reset your loop, in order to survive you need to kill her and destroy her satelite so that you can unlock the escape doors. Julianna is almost always played by an online player and while I think this is extremely cool it poses an issue from a gameplay perspective and an issue which is already present.

Deathloop didnt sell very well so not many people are using the online, the times I did I was waiting nearly 20 minutes every time. Luckily in Deathloops defense you can turn the online elements off and Julianna will still appear randomly as an AI, this means that while there are not many players to play as her this does not affect the gameplay as she can still appear as an AI, so you can still kill her and reset your lives. It is a shame about the online severs not really being used but I wont let that affect the final score as this isn’t the developers fault.

The Soundtrack was composed by Tom Salta and Ross Tregenza, Tom Salta is known for composing Prince of Persia the Sand of Time and the Tom Clancy games, unfortunately I couldn’t find much information for Ross Tregenza.

This soundtrack is diverse , the music style and instruments change an awful lot depending on the current situation, time of day and area you are in. It all fits very well and does not disappoint, the music is very subtle as well so it doesn’t overwhelm the players and a lot of the time its fairly quiet and only makes as much noise as is necessary, almost as if this is also trying to sneak itself in similar to Colt during the gameplay. My Favourite song is Deja Vu, the end credits song of the “good ending”, this is to my knowledge the only vocal track in the game and it reminds me of a Bond Song due to its style and is just really something special.

Deathloop really surprised me because from its marketing I really didn’t think I would like it. The game is amazing for how it manages to pull off a really fun game that constantly repeats itself, it has a really innovative soundtrack and overall we might have one of the best games on PS5, it is a shame that the online isn’t being used much but I hope this review can encourage people the pick the game up so we can have more online Colt vs Julianna action.

It is very rare that a modern game can influence a perfect score from me but in this instance Deathloop has surprised me so much that I cannot feasibly think of awarding it anything but a very impressive 10/10. Buy the game now and Break the Loop!

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Thank You for all of your support.

Want me to review a specific game/movie/product or do you have a general question you would like me to answer? if so please email me at ragglefragglereviews@gmail.com

Kingdom Hearts: An ever expanding series

Well I figure that its finally time to start our journey with the Kingdom Hearts video game series. I figure tackling these games in chronological order makes the most sense as the plot gets fairly complicated. I am using the Kingdom hearts the Story so far disc for the PS4 and will cover each game in chronological order explaining the plots (so be aware, there will be spoilers!) and my brief thoughts on each game.

Kingdom Hearts X Back Cover (Movie)

For the Collection they comprised the plot of the Kingdom Hearts mobile games into a feature length CGI film called Kingdom Hearts Back Cover.

The film covers the orgin of the keyblades and the eye that you see throughout the series, the plot of the story is as follows

The Light of the World is guarded by seven warriors who reside in Day Break Town, they use weapons called Keyblades and they work for a leader known as the Master of Masters. He forsees a distant war that will drown the world in eternal darkness.

He gives his disciples unique roles and tells them to create unions with other Keyblade Wielders to help in the battle, not long after this he disappears and his apprentice Ira is left in Charge.

Ira discovers a small cat creature called a Chirithy which suggests that one of the disciples had given into the darkness, In the meantime the disciples are each trying to form alliances with each other, It is later revealed that Gula has a lost page from the book of prophecies written by the Master of Masters, this page confirms that there is a traitor among the disciples, because Gula had the page Aced strikes her down, thankfully Gula is saved from death by Ava, everyone wants to see the page and is turned away until it is later revealed that Gula intends to summon Kingdom Hearts so they can bring the Master back to Day Break Town

Ava tries to prevent this but Gula goes through with the summon and triggers Kingdom Hearts and triggers all of the events before Keyblade War, Ava decides to gather Keyblade warriors and go into hiding naming them the dandelions, Later on in the Keyblade graveyard Luxu is standing with the No Name and a mysterious black box engraved with the phrase “χ Super”, and intones his master’s mantra, “May my heart be my guiding key.

The entire movie has been uploaded to YouTube for your viewing pleasure and I have attached it here so enjoy

Kingdom Hearts: Birth by Sleep

Birth by Sleep is a prequel to the events of Kingdom Hearts, it follows three trainee Keyblade warriors who all dream of becoming masters.

Terra (Left) Ventus (Centre) Aqua (Right)

These friends each live in The Land of Departure where they are trained under the Keyblade master Eraqus for many years before Terra and Aqua are able to take the final test before the great master Xehanort to see if they have what it takes to become Keyblade masters. Ventus being too young to take the test instead stands by his friends encouraging them to pass.

The irony of this test is that while all three of these friends become closer while training to pass it, once the test is over it only manages to push them apart, Aqua passes the test but Terra who shows a slither of darkness fails. This darkness is what encourages Xehanort to take Terra on as his personal apprentice to embrace the Darkness. Ventus leaves the Land of Departure to find Terra after he leaves and Aqua now a Keyblade master is giving her first task to spy on Terra in case he turns evil and must return Ventus back to the Land of Departure for his own safety.

The game takes the approach of having five stories Terra, Ventus, Aqua, Final and Secret that all connect together instead of the traditional one singular story.

I have varying opinions on this gameplay style which I will go into after I quickly go over each characters journey

The Disney worlds each character visits are in no particular order

Enchanted Dominion – Sleeping Beauty

Dwarf Woodlands – Snow White

Castle of Dreams – Cinderella

Mysterious Tower – Home of Yen Sid (Wizard from Fantasia)

Radiant Garden (A city and home to Merlin the Wizard and other characters)

Disney Town (Town ruled by Queen Minnie and King Mickey) This is also the minigame world

Deep Space – Lilo and Stich (Before Experiment 626 lands on earth)

Olympus Coliseum – Hercules

Never Land – Peter Pan

Terra journeys with Xehanort with the intent of overcoming his darkness not realising that he is being manipulated to embrace it fully. I really liked his story because he works with the villains of the lands to help them with various schemes mostly playing into the plots of the films.

For example he helps maleficent steal the heart of Princess Aurora while she is sleeping but soon shows remorse, in fact he does end up turning against most of the villains in his story, but because of Xehanort’s influence he cannot escape his fate and ultimately in the end he loses and Xehanort takes over his body in fact this new form for Terra takes ends up being the final battle of the game if you dont count the secret episode.

One very important moment to Terra’s story is when he meets a young boy named Riku on Destiny Islands, he sees something within Riku and gives him his very own Keyblade.

Ventus’s story mainly focussed in him finding Terra and making friends, this is fine but I feel his gameplay is a lot better than his plot. He has some very unique gameplay compared to the other two because he is only character to learn glide (A power granted by Pan which allows you to fly) this makes getting his collectibles very easy but also allows him explore a little better.

He also has a very unique Castle of Dreams stage as he fully remains the size of a mouse and works with Jaq inside of Lady Tremains Manor.

The only really notible thing about his campaign is the reveal of Vantias a fully created embodiment of Ventus’s Darkness which was stripped from him by Xehanort before he was sent to live at the Land of Departure, Vanitas wants to take over Ventus and turn him dark and by the games finale he succeeds and his defeat leaves Ventus in an eternal sleep.

Aqua is the best character in the whole game for may reasons but for me its the fact that she is mage so focusses on magic it mixed up the gameplay for me as I usually just grind to high levels and beat the daylights out of enemies often overlooking the magic systems, I was surprised because I actually really enjoyed the magic system and after a little research I managed to use it to my advantage for powerful and satisfying attacks.

I like her because she has a sense of what’s right and believes in her friends even Terra after he turns Dark, she never gives up on her goals but also doesn’t stop Terra or Ventus when she gets the opportunity. She is technically the main character of the game in fact you play as her in the secret final episode where she wanders the Realm of Darkness seeking an exit back to her world.

Where Terra meets Riku it only makes sense for Aqua to meet her counterpart Kairi who gives her a flower in Radiant Gardens. She does also meet a younger Sora who is the spitting image of Ventus but she doesn’t realise his importance until the reveal in the secret finale.

In the true finale of the game Aqua meets a mysterious hooded man in the Realm of Darkness who tells her of a Hero who has travelled many worlds and slayed many foes. That person is Sora implying that she has been trapped in the Darkness for a very long time in fact I believe this conversation takes place after the events of KH2 and the Hooded man is Ansem the Wise a character we see in BBS briefly in flashbacks but his character and reason for being trapped in the Realm of Darkness is explained later on in the series.

In the world of light Xehanort has amnesia and has taken the form of Dark Terra but is recued by Ansem the Wise (before he is banshied to the Realm of Darkness) and Braig an apprentice of Ansem the Wise who fights Terra and Aqua during their stories.

At the end of the final chapter Aqua finds the Castle of Dreams in the Realm of Darkness and Stares at the castle in Horror before the game ends.

I only one real complaint with Birth Sleep and that is that it gets a little repetitive visiting the same handful of worlds over the three main campaigns but apart from that it was a lot of fun.

I also though the Collectible were great, I enjoyed finding Xehanorts reports which made a good read and the sticker albums were really cute and a nice little distraction from the main plot.

The majority of these games have at least one mini game world which is not fully necessary to complete, in this case its Disney Town, where you can race hovercrafts, play volley ball with fruit, access a giant pinball machine and play a cute ice cream themed music game. In each campaign one of these games has to be played but never all of them each time.

Disney Town also introduces players to Pete a regular villain in the series, at the end of this worlds story he is cast into another dimension by Queen Minnie but is contacted by Maleficent who offers to release him if he works with her. This plot plays into the future titles.

Kingdom Hearts: Birth by Sleep 0.2 a Fragmentary Passage

A Fragmentary Passage is often quoted as being a tech demo for Kingdom Hearts 3, it follows Aqua on a ten year journey through the Realm of Darkness as she is starting to let her inner darkness take over.

The game is very simple and extremely short as it is only there to fill in the gaps of Aqua’s story. After finding the Castle of Dreams in the Realm of Darkness Aqua soon discovers all of the other lands from Birth by Sleep, the gameplay has her committing to small tasks like fixing a bridge or defeating her mirror self but the story doesn’t really get interesting until she finds memories of Terra and Ventus.

These memories cause Aqua to see some hope that she has finally found them but also under fears that they too have fallen to the Darkness, after a few stages of chasing them she finally catches up and is able to communicate with Terra, Terra cannot see Ven, they have both partially been taken by Darkness but because Terra’s heart has ties to the darkness his memory can see and communicate with Aqua but for some reason he cannot see Ventus while Aqua can, I think this is because he is mostly Darkness while Aqua and Ventus as mostly made up of good energies, in fact we see that Terra is struggling when Master Xeanhort in his Dark Terra form tries to enter the Realm of Darkness through Terra, Terra only barely manages to fight him off.

After this encounter she meets King Mickey who came to the Realm of Darkness to rescue her, they both travel deeper into the Realm and eventually find the remains of Destiny Island, they find the door to Kingdom Hearts and intend to close it, we are unsure on whether he was successful as Aqua is sent further into the Realm of Darkness but this time feeling more hopeful.

Back in the Mysterious Tower Yen Sid tells Riku and Kairi that Riku is the cause of Aqua falling into the Darkness and didn’t tell Riku because he was concerned that either him or Sora would attempt a futile rescue.

Sora comes into the room later on and is told he failed his test of mastery as Xehanort nearly took over using Sora’s darkness. Because of this Sora, Donald and Goofy head into the Gummy Ship and head to the Olympus Coliseum to seek advice from Hercules who once lost his god like powers and earned them back, the game ends and this ties into Kingdom Hearts 3.

This was a fun little game, it was very short and dark but overall it was worth playing but I dont know if I would do it again, this wasn’t much compared to other games in the series but it was nice to see just how long Aqua has been lost for. from this point on we will be discussing Sora’s journey from the beginning to the end and its good to keep in mind that Aqua has been wandering the Realm of Darkness in search of her friends during the events of the rest of the series.

Kingdom Hearts

Kingdom Hearts is the first chapter in Sora’s journey, it takes place at the exact moment that Mickey meets Aqua in the realm of Darkness, in fact the plot of the game revolves around Donald and Goofy seeking out the Keyblade Master (According to the prophecy this is Sora).

At the same time that Goofy and Donald are sent to Traverse Town, Destiny Island the home to Sora, Riku, Kairi and some other kids is over taken by Darkness.

This is due to the games villain Ansem the Seeker of Darkness, He is the hooded figure that appears to Sora and also he sets up all of the events of the game including Maleficent stealing all seven hearts of the Disney Princesses, of course some of these she had already obtained in BBS so here she is only gathering those which remain.

Riku is taken away by this Dark Power created by Ansem thus leaving Sora to fight the Heartless, he try’s to find save Kairi before she falls through a mysterious door, Sora also falls through and wakes up in Traverse Town where he meets up with Donald and Goofy.

In Traverse Town Sora also meets with Leon (FF8), Yuffie (FF7) and Aeris (FF7) they have also lost their world to the darkness and after realising that Sora is the chosen one they choose to help him with basic uses of the Keyblade to help prepare him for fighting the darkness. Not long after this a small boss fight with a giant Heartless occurs and Sora, Donald and Goofy enter the gummi ship and begin exploring various worlds to find Sora’s friends and the king.

I feel this is a good time to quickly go over the Disney worlds represented in this game, in no particular order we have

Deep Jungle (Tarzan)

Wonderland (Alice and Wonderland)

Monstro (Pinocchio) Inside of the Whale

Olympus Colosseum (Hercules) An area specifically made up of Challenging boss fights and lots of enemies

Atlantica (Little Mermaid)

Halloween Town (Nightmare before Christmas)

Neverland (Peter Pan) On Hooks ship.

Hundred Acre Woods (Winnie the Pooh) The mini game world

Not a Disney world but worth mentioning that Radiant Garden returns with its original name Hollow Bastion.

All of these Disney worlds pretty much follow the story of the movie’s in which they are based on so there isn’t much to go over with them but some of them do stand out to me.

The first notably interesting world is Deep Jungle I really like that along side basic game play this world has some very unique ways of exploration, you can swing from vines and slide down tree trunks, once you beat the world a really fun sliding game is unlocked where you can collect fruits and slide throughout the world of Tarzan.

Monstro is unique because it takes a design that it very complicated and is practically a labyrinth, I can see why people would dislike this world but its one of my favourites because I love Pinocchio and its the first time we really see Riku has been manipulated to turn to the darkness and wants power this is very similar to Terra in BBS.

Atlantica and Halloween Town are worth bringing up because they both change up the design of the main trio, I always like this because it is a lot of fun to see different costumes, I almost wish there was a costume shop in the game so we could try out lots more.

I liked the mini game world here it was better than what BBS gave us but honestly the games were a little bit too simple and easy for my liking, at least it gave us a cute little side story and a very useful XP boosting prize for completing it.

In the game every world you finish closes a keyhole and what a lot of people do not realise is that this does include both Hundred Acre wood and Olympus Colosseum so make sure you do both of these to make the most out of the cutscenes.

There is a boss fight with Hades that is worth beating from a story telling narrative but the Hades Cup in the Colosseum is very challenging and will likely require some time grinding XP.

As you advance towards that final Keyhole in Hollow Bastion you have a handful of very challenging fights, the first against Riku is very memorable because he actually steals your Keyblade leaving you beat him a wooden sword, after this you get your weapon back but the fights continue to get tougher. There is another against Riku before you take on his new master Maleficent, she has two forms and the second is very tough I struggled to beat her at level 50 on standard mode so that should give you an idea on how tough this was.

It’s worth mentioning that the plot with Pete from BBS is not mentioned in this game but he does turn up in later titles.

After closing the final Keyhole its time for our three heroes to enter the End of World and get ready to fight Ansem the Seeker of Darkness.

I highly recommend level grinding XP as much as you can before this fight it has multiple rounds with no breaks in between and even on the standard difficulty it is brutal, I beat the game at level 78 and even then this fight was not a complete breeze.

After beating Ansem, Sora finds the Door to Kingdom Hearts and kills Ansem the Seeker of Darkness with the power of light. King Mickey appears along side Riku who now is back in control of his own body, they help close the door from the inside and lock it with their keyblades both knowing that they may never return and light is brought back to all of the kingdoms. Kairi finally appears at the end but is unfortunately taken back to Destiny Island once the worlds seperate and return to their regular states. but a determined Sora vows to reunite them again.

Sora, Donald and Goofy continue their journey to find the King once again before they are interrupted by Pluto carrying a letter from Mikey, they chase him down ready for their next adventure.

The Secret Ending takes place one year later, a mysterious keyblade wielder finds Riku who demands to know where Sora is. In the Finals Mix version of the game an additional secret ending shows the mysterious figure fighting the Oath Keeper in an epic battle, he finally spots Riku who asks of Sora’s where abouts.

Another Scene then shows this figure approaching Ansem the Wise in the Realm of Darkness in the same area where he met with Aqua previously.

I love this game so much but it isnt perfect, it does definitely feel like the first in the series which is too be expected but for the most part it is great. What I feel falls short here is actually the side content there are a lot of things to do in this game and some of these tasks are very repetetive and boring. Finding the Dalmatians is not too bad but when on top of that to get the best ending you also need to get all of the trinity marks, find and beat every mini game, interact with every character and collect ever single Ansem report it is a lot.

It wouldn’t be so bad if you didn’t have to go back to worlds to collect the majority of these, the game doesn’t really guide you very well in what areas you might have missed something, the worlds don’t have a checklist so without a walkthrough its hard to know where to look.

The other complaint I have is the gummy ship segments they are very boring and repetitive but luckily you do get the ability to fast travel to worlds you have already visited later in the game so its not so bad.

Let me reiterate how much I adore this game, I have a lot of Nostalgia for it but it is hard to look past the few problems I feel it does have. I truly believe this is a must play game for anyone and is the KH game I recommend playing first if you’ve never played the series. It has a great story and gives a good example of what type of commitment is expected to fully enjoy the series.

Kingdom Hearts : Chain of Memories

Originally a Gameboy advance title, Chain of Memories was remade into a 3D action RPG for the PS2 and that is the version I am talking about here.

So this going to be short because I didn’t manage to finish this one, I couldn’t get used to the battle system and even on beginner mode I really struggled with it which is embarrassing to admit but I do need to be honest.

I know a little bit about how the game works so I will show that but from a plot summary I think I’m going to get some help with this one.

In the game you have a card deck which you build using different types such as magic, summons, attacks etc, then in the usual Kingdom Hearts style you can endlessly defeat enemies to gain XP but difference here is you need to attack in the order of your deck so for example ATTACK, ATTACK, FIRE MAGIC, GENIE SUMMON, SIMBA SUMMON, ATTACK, HEAL might be in that order in the deck so you will have to use those cards in that exact order. This means that during boss fights you might need to change the deck order about a bit, this is what I couldn’t understand, this is likely because I have only just managed to wrap my head around turn based RPG’s so I’m not exactly a strategic gamer.

When you level up you have to pick either health increase, card point increase (allows more cards in your deck) or sleights (Combining cards to do heavy hitting attacks).

And thats about all I got from this game, I really did not like the battle system, for me it was frustrating, it made me genuinely quite depressed and I really didn’t have the motivation to keep playing it.

I have seen the remaining cutscenes on YouTube but I wont try to write a plot summary myself and I cant guarantee it will be right as I didn’t fully experience the game. I will say though that for the games in this collection that are only cutscenes, I will be writing the summaries for myself as there is no gameplay involved at all !

This is a plot summary from Wikipedia, it seems accurate that it lines up well with the cutscenes I have seen so I will let you read this and we can move onto Kingdom Hearts: 358/2 days which I promise will have as good of an effort put into as I did the first Kingdom Hearts game.

Chain of Memories Plot Summary

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kingdom_Hearts:_Chain_of_Memories#Plot

Sora, Donald, Goofy, and Jiminy Cricket walk down a winding path in search of Riku and King Mickey. A man dressed in a black, hooded coat appears and directs Sora towards a massive fortress called Castle Oblivion.[10] Upon entering, the travelers realize that they have forgotten all their abilities.[16] The hooded man explains that the deeper they go into the castle, the more memories they will lose, but they will also uncover new memories in the process.[20] He creates a deck of cards made from Sora’s and his friends’ memories, and tells them that everything they encounter in this castle will be based on their memories.[6]

Sora ascends the castle, facing off against other hooded figures who form a group called “the Organization” along the way. As Sora loses his memories, he gradually appears to remember a girl named Naminé as an old friend of his, and learns from Organization member Larxene that she is being held prisoner in the castle.[21] He also clashes with a replica of Riku created and controlled by another Organization member, Vexen, and believed by both Sora and the replica himself to be the real Riku. Axel, an Organization double agent, releases Naminé and allows her to meet Sora in person. Sora discovers Naminé to be the one manipulating his memories, having been forced to do so by Marluxia, the lord of Castle Oblivion and the figure who lured Sora there, as part of his plan to overthrow the rest of the Organization with Larxene.[22] Sora climbs to the highest floor and defeats Marluxia, after which Naminé puts Sora and his friends into pod-like machines to help them regain the memories they have lost, even though they will forget the events that transpired in the castle.[23] Before they are put to sleep, Sora and Naminé promise to meet again as real friends once he reawakens, Sora firmly believing that his memories of her and the castle will remain in his heart despite being forgotten.[24]

In Reverse/Rebirth, which occurs congruently with the game’s main story, Riku is transported from the realm of darkness to Castle Oblivion’s deepest basement, and he fights figments of previous enemies to combat his inner darkness as he climbs upwards. Vexen fights Riku to obtain his data and creates his replica to counter Marluxia’s plan. Ansem, still possessing Riku’s body, tries to regain control of Riku, but Mickey’s power keeps Ansem at bay.[25] On the way, Riku battles and defeats Lexaeus, a member of Vexen’s circle, only to be dragged into the realm of darkness. However, he is saved by Mickey when Ansem nearly succeeds in taking Riku’s body as his own. With Marluxia eliminated by this time, another of Vexen’s allies, Zexion, attempts to dispose of Riku by drowning him in light. Riku is saved by Naminé disguised as Kairi, who helps him to control his darkness, allowing him to defeat Zexion. Riku later meets DiZ, an enigmatic individual interested in Riku who sends him to find Naminé.[26] Riku’s replica, who has since learned of his altered memories, seeks to justify his existence by killing Riku, only to be destroyed by him. Riku chooses to face Ansem upon learning from Naminé that Ansem lives in his heart, and defeats him after DiZ summons him for Riku to fight. Riku then sets out on a journey to utilize both his darkness and his light with Mickey as his companion.[27]

Kingdom Hearts: 358/2 Days

Unfortunately the Story so Far disc I used only has the cutscenes for this game as well as some text to help fill the players in with the plot, from what I understand this is often considered one of the weaker games in the series so maybe having just the cutscenes wasn’t such a bad thing. I am going to go over the major plot points and briefly cover my thoughts on the new characters and their relationships.

This game takes place at the same time as Chain of Memories, I know this because the plot of that game is talked about in a present tense with characters disappearing because they are working to stop Sora on his journey.

This is Roxas, he was chosen by Xemas the organisations leader to become the 13th member, his job as a Keyblade wielder is to go to various worlds and defeat the heartless to collect hearts, once the members collect enough of these hearts they should be able to create Kingdom Hearts.

The worlds in the game are the same as in both Kingdom Hearts and Kingdom Hearts: Chain of Memories, obviously by not playing the game I cannot comment on what the gameplay was like but I must say revisiting these same Disney Worlds is feeling a little old now and I really hope the next game gives us something new !

Roxas is put under training by a Keyblade master called Axel, when Axel is later on sent to Castle oblivion for missions Roxas makes friends with the fourteenth organisation member a young girl named Xion and later on helps her recover her Keyblade after she loses the ability to summon it.

I really love the relationship these three have, the way the friendship was written comes across as very genuine and watching them can be heartwarming at times.

also I really want some of that Sea Salt Ice Cream it looks so good !

Roxas and Xion have a lot in common, they both do not remember their lives before becoming members of the organisation and both of them end up in comas during the game and have visions of Sora’s memories.

Xion keeps going into coma’s and seeing Sora’s memories, this triggers her to break into Castle Oblivion and find out more about herself, Axel tries to stop her but she soon discovers that she is an artificial replica of Roxas in case he ever becomes useless, Roxas was born when Sora sacrificed his heart to save Kairi meaning that he is Sora’s nobody a vessel of a person which is created when they fall to darkness. Xion was created to absorb those memories from Roxas and prevent Sora from ever getting them back.

Xion goes missing for a long time after she makes the discovery of her origins

Roxas and Axel finally discover Xion in Traverse Town where she refuses to go home with Roxas and puts her Keyblade to him, Axel comes out and fights Xion and defeats her they both disappear leaving Roxas alone.

The three friends remain distant after this awkward encounter and hardly speak to one another. Xion is restored and Axel does at one point try to be friends with Roxas but a distrust has grown between all three of them.

Sometime after these events Namine, Kairi’s nobody explains to Diz that Sora’s memories have stopped and if they are not returned he will never wake up from his slumber.

Roxas and Xion begin hanging out again but Axel is nowhere to be seen, Roxas begins having coma’s and becoming weaker when using the Keyblade a role reversal of what was happening to Xion previously, Xion also becomes stronger at the same time which confuses the two of them.

Axel later informs Xion that she is robbing Roxas of his powers making her the more useful vessel.

Xion is taken to Destiny Island by a much older Riku than we have seen previously, his eyes are covered for reasons unexplained and he tells Xion the harsh truth that Sora cannot wake up while she is alive and allows her time think about giving her self up to save Sora.

Meanwhile the organisation secretly sets up a fight to the death between Xion and Roxas but luckily Axel stops the fight and informs them of everything and the three become good friends again and all three consider leaving the organisation.

Xion ultimately decides to leave seeking more answers, Axel stood back and watched her leave the organisation which angers Roxas after being confronted Axel decides to tell Roxas of the truth behind Xion’s purpose and that she needs to be destroyed.

Axel is told that he has no choice but to bring Xion back otherwise he will be completely destroyed, Roxas asks that he atleast not hurt her.

In an unknown realm Riku meets up with King Mickey to inform the King of how the mission to wake Sora is going, Riku has been trying to overcome the influence of his darkness and is worried that one day the darkness might take over him again.

Roxas leaves the organisation in search of Xion, this hurts Axel who truly wants the two of them to remain the best of friends. Xion has gone to speak to Namine who informs her that she is an embodiment of Sora’s memories of Kairi, Xion accepts that these memories are not her own and decides to sacrifice herself to wake Sora.

Axel against his better judgement finds Xion and begs her not to sacrifice her self but she refuses causing the two of them to fight and again Axel winning. After he brings her body back and she wakes up again her heart is still set on her sacrifice so she goes to say goodbye to Roxas and there and then she fully accepts her fate and merges with Sora, her body dying so she can restore his memories of Kairi.

After Xion is gone Roxas goes to find Sora to get Xion back, he ends up fighting Riku who wants to protect Sora, this is an extended version of the fight we see in the secret ending of Kingdom Hearts.

Riku has to accept the darkness within him in order to defeat Roxas, unfortunately this also transforms Riku into Xehanort’s heartless form Ansem it seems a villainous thing to do but deep down we all know that Sora has to be awakened in the end no matter the cost.

Roxas is put into a virtual version of Twilight Town with no memories of his time with the organisation waiting for when he is ready to be merged with Sora, finally awakening him

A bitter sweet ending to say the least but it does make a lot more sense to the beginning of Kingdom Hearts 2 which really confused me when that game originally came out, That games next and I cannot wait !

Kingdom Hearts 2

Kingdom hearts 2 takes place one year after the events of Kingdom Hearts and actually begins with players taking control of Roxas (Sora’s nobody) in the Simulation of Twilight Town.

This part of the game has a very eerie vibe especially if you know the story before this game takes place, this whole section is very sweet in the sense that you get to see this small friendship group hang out and all have a great connection, it has a really good feel to it, I really enjoyed going on the train adventure, skateboarding around the town, doing chores to make money and just watching them bond over Sea Salt ice creams. It just makes it even sadder when you know that none of this is real and is a virtual reality.

After having visions of Sora in his sleep, Roxas seeks answers which leads him to the creepy abandoned mansion in Twilight Town, here he meets Namine (Kairi’s nobody) who informs him that he is a nobody, Roxas has no memories of anyone from 358/2 days so he doesn’t remember Namine, he even is confronted by Axel but he has forgotten him as well.

When the time finally comes to wake Sora, Roxas is confronted by a man names Diz who takes him to the sleeping pods of Sora, Donald and Goofy and its here that he forms with Sora and wakes him triggering the next chapter in Sora’s storyline.

After waking up Sora, Donald and Goofy continue the search for Riku and King Mickey, they meet the old friends of Roxas who don’t mention him or even make reference, its quite sad really because deep down I do wish Roxas was real but I understand why he existed and his purpose in the story as a whole.

After meeting Yen Sid, Sora and the gang are informed that they need to go on another mission, this time to try and stop the increase of nobodies and heartless and prevent the plans of Organisation 13. Here they also have their first run in with Pete who is now finally working for Maleficent after she freed him from the dimension he was banished too.

Pete’s role in this game is more of a henchman than a villain, he does Maleficents evil bidding and often turns up in the other words following Sora on his quest, he tends to work with the other villains in an attempt to prevent Sora from reaching his goal. It is cool to see Pete take different forms in certain worlds but apart from that I thought he was quite forgetful and it never felt like he needed to be in the game as I think it would have worked just as well without him.

Drive forms are new here and they are given to Sora by the three fairies of Sleeping Beauty, they allow him to temporarily gain new abilities while sacrificing some others, for example on form may increase strength while weakening magic, another might increase magic while weakening defence and so forth. There are six forms you can unlock in the game and all of these can be leveled up the more you use them. Honestly I hardly used these at all as I found this game to be the easiest so far, during my standard playthrough I only died once and I never really needed to grind for XP.

This is one of the first games where I didn’t really enjoy the side content, the coliseum was cool and I really liked that the missions had different rules, such as only Sora, or unlimited drives etc but the collectibles sucked here, the issue for me was with puzzle pieces a lot required glide and the only you can get that is to hope you unlock final form at the end of the game and to then get glide as an ability you needed to grind that final form to level 3. I understand that for some this is ok but personally I didn’t really see the benefit because even the “Secret ending” by finishing Jiminy’s journal is just a teaser and glorified trailer for Birth By Sleep, a game I have already and played through because I did these in Chronological order which was my choice but still for me this secret ending just wasn’t really worth working towards especially when the collectibles required so much effort to even collect.

Ok put your pitchforks down, I know I’m complaining about everyone’s favourite Kingdom Hearts game but this is is just my opinion and the rest of the game I really enjoyed so lets swiftly move onto the best part of this entry the worlds (which I only dislike a few of…sorry)

The Disney Worlds represented in Kingdom Hearts 2 are as follows

Land of Dragons (Mulan)

Beast’s Castle (Beauty and the Beast)

Olympus Coliseum (Hercules)

Disney Castle (The home of King Mickey)

Timeless River (Classic Disney Cartoons – Steamboat Willie era)

Halloween Town (Nightmare Before Christmas)

100 Acre Woods (Mini game world)

Atlantis (Music based world)

Agrabah (Aladdin)

Port Royal (Pirates of the Carribean)

Pride Rock (The Lion King)

Space Paranoids (Tron)

It is getting a little tiring revisiting areas we have seen over and over again but thankfully some major changes were made to the Olympus Coliseum, previously we could only slightly explore the outside with the main purpose of the world being the cups. In this game we get a full storyline taking place in the Underworld and as mentioned previously the Cups here are a lot more fun because they implement different rules.

I also really enjoyed that Halloween Town now adds Christmas Town, it really helps to mix up the scenery in what is a fairly dark area of the game, also the Christmas outfits are so cute !

Disney Castle was a part of the first game that I always wanted to explore so I was really happy when they added it here, it doesn’t really serve too many story purposes but it is a fun place to find secrets and later on in the game is a good area to gain some levels if you need them

Timeless River is amazing ! This world based on the old Disney shorts is incredible I love that they used the old original designs for Donald and Goofy and I also really like that while primarily based on Steamboat Willie there are levels inside of the world which are a homage to 1930’s style animation. My only complaint is Sora’s designs here I think they should have made him an animal because what they did to him is a bit too Playmobile for my liking.

The 100 Acre Woods is a much better designed in this game, Pooh has lost his memory and doesn’t remember any of his friends, Sora helps him by completing Mini games and here they are all really fun, my favourite was an on rails reaction based game where you had to race through various seasons and areas from the Winnie Pooh cartoons.

There are only two worlds in this game that I dislike, the Pirates of the Caribbean area isn’t very interesting, its good that they show many different areas but they all look very similar and it is quite boring, the voice acting here is also really bad I understand it may have been difficult to get the actual actors but someone who can imitate the voices would have been fine or they could have just used audio clips from the movies since Disney owns those properties.

I cant talk about Kingdom Hearts 2 without discussing the abysmal Atlantis segment, for whatever reason the developers wanted to add a music based world to the game where players have to press buttons in time to the music of the Little Mermaid and original songs. This is really bizarre compared to the rest of the game and its just nothing to get excited about, mini game worlds like the 100 acre wood are fun because they are a nice break from the action packed rest of the game but also follow the games narrative, there is always a serious problem to solve and you want to see it resolved.

The problem here is that there is no issue really apart from Ariel wants to be human but this area acts like the rest of the game isn’t happening, The heartless didn’t attack Atlantis this time and when King Triton asks Sora if there is still a threat he says no almost like this is trying to be a different game entirely, I don’t know a single person who likes this part of the game and now that I have played it I can see why.

After saving all the worlds, surviving an onslaught of nobodies only one member of Organisation 13 remains. Xemnas was surprisingly very easy for a final boss compared to the others we have faced so far. I beat him level 70 with very little issue. He has some pretty cool forms but compared to that Ansem fight in Kingdom Hearts this one just doesn’t compare. The part where you take over Riku while he is slowly killing Sora was different and really caught me off guard, trying to figure out how to save Sora nearly had me killed during the fight so I will give them props for that.

After finally killing Xemnas Sora and Riku unite closing Kingdom Hearts and are both returned to Destiny Islands where they meet Donald, Goofy and Kairi, Donald and Goofy return to the castle but Sora and crew take a well deserved break before receiving a letter from King Mickey which we don’t get to see ….yet

As I mentioned earlier the secret endings are both a teaser and a trailer for Birth By Sleep so we wont discuss those as they don’t hold any important plot details I haven’t already covered so far.

Kingdom Hearts 2 is a really great game and while I do prefer the original this is clearly a much better title, I didn’t like the collectibles in this one and Atlantis really sucks but apart from that this is a really good time and is a much better experience when you play this series in chronological order. I really appreciated that it added a lot of new worlds and revamped some of the older ones to mix it up a bit.

This is the best game in the series I have played so far so I really hope the next few games hold up just as well.

Kingdom Hearts Re-Coded

Another collection of cutscenes here, so I will try my best to explain the plot of the game

A mysterious message has appeared in one of Jiminy Crickets journals, the message reads “Their hurting will be mended when you return to end it”.

He takes the message to King Mickey who uses the journals to create a digital world and a digital version of Sora.

He guides this Sora on a journey to Destiny Islands to ask questions and find out who is hurting.

While on the islands he finds the secret place from the first KH, here he meets a mysterious figure in a black hood resembling Organisation 13. The figure seems to be giving Sora riddles as a means of guiding him towards something but he soon disappears

After a fight with a giant heartless Sora is blown away from Destiny Islands and ends up in Traverse town triggering the events with Pluto from the first game, however back on Destiny Islands a small scene with Riku and a hooded figure in gold garments is shown, which surprises everyone in the real world as this was never written in Jiminy’s journal as they never previously witnessed this moment.

After sealing the keyhole and helping Hewey, Dewey and Louie in Traverse Town, Sora continues to follow the hooded man to the next world, in the mean time back at the real world, Disney Castle is being over run with heartless.

After dealing with the heartless King Mickey and the gang continue to watch Sora in the digital world as he travels across the same kingdoms from KH1, in each world he helps solve the mystery of small problems and unlocks the keyholes. Each world he saves unlocks a new message in the journals.

Back in Disney Castle the digital version of Sora turns up shortly followed by the hooded figure who reveals themself to be the digital version of Riku, Riku explains that they are all now inside of the digital world and that his data body represents Jiminy’s journal.

After this revelation Sora is sent to continue his mission to clear all of the worlds and complete the journal .

After saving Cloud in Olympus Coliseum Pete from the real world turns up to cause trouble before quickly running off after declaring that he wants to take over the digital world.

After defeating Jafar in the cave of Wonders Maleficent finally shows up with Pete, she destroys Sora’s Key blade and kidnaps Riku taking him back to the Darkness, this leaves Sora no choice but to continue without a weapon until King Mickey can return to the real Disney Castle and program a new Key-blade into the digital world.

The final world that needs saving is Hollow Bastion and against King Mickeys orders Sora goes there to fight Pete with out use of the Keyblade, Donald and Goofy eventually turn up as well offering to help him in his battle.

Halfway through the fight Donald and Goofy are trapped by data bugs and through the power of heart and friendship he manages to summon the real Key-blade and with this new power Sora chases after to Pete and defeats him but unfortunately Pete has had an ace up his sleeve the whole time!

In a rather messed up turn of events Pete has managed to gain access to Riku’s data and has been mixing the Bugs into it. This has made Riku go back down his path of Darkness wanting to kill Sora, Sora of course defeats him for now and accesses Riku’s Datascape to deal with the problems from the inside.

After travelling through Riku’s memory’s and defeating the data bugs, Sora is faced against Data versions of Pete and Maleficent in Hollow Bastion, He defeats them and makes the brave decision to rescue the real Pete and Maleficent from the Datascape before completing the journal.

He finds them both about to be attacked by Sora’s Heartless, Sora encourages the evil duo to leave while he fights the monster himself, only Pete really wants to leave however they are both forced to disappear by the heartless anyway.

The real Pete and Maleficent were pulled out into the real world through a data rift, after they have been rescued King Mickey erases the journal and wiping the memories of everything in the datascape

.

A new door has opened in the Datascape, King Mickey goes back inside to help Data Sora get his memories back, he does this by leading him back to Castle Oblivion

He is taken to a room of memories by a member of Organisation 13, he is shown memories from the journal including places hes been and the people he has spoken too, Riku soon shows up and shows Sora a memory of Kairi to remind him of real world Sora’s journey in the first Kingdom Hearts game.

After this Sora encounters the hooded figure again who monologues about how nothing is real and that everything is packets of data and has no heart.

This is proven wrong when Sora feels sadness at not remembering the friends he meets, he begins to feel emotional which is a characteristic of the real world Sora.

Sora nearly gives up not wanting anymore pain due to forgetting everyone he meets but has his mind changed when King Mickey sends memories of Donald and Goofy to him reminding him of their close friendship.

Data Sora and King Mickey travel through one final door where they meet Data Namine, she reveals that it was her who put the bugs in the journal and added the mysterious messages, the bugs were a side effect of her trying to restore Sora’s memories.

She gives Data Sora all of real world Sora’s memories including those in which hides the deepest secrets within the recesses of his mind, memories he doesn’t want to remember and ones he is beginning to forget, this includes memories of people Sora never met but who are connected to him including Aqua, Ventus and Terra, she showed them this so that King Mickey could tell real world Sora who he needs to help.

This is also the meaning behind the “Thank Namine” message

After this revelation from Namine, King Mickey writes a letter to Sora explaining everything to him, preparing Sora, Riku and Kairi for the events that lie ahead and telling Sora about the adventures of Aqua, Ventus and Terra who he will need to save.

In the secret ending Yen Sid inform King Mickey of the return of Xehanort now that his two halves (Ansem and Xemnus) have been defeated, this gives him the idea of putting Riku and Sora through the Mark of Mastery exam to become true Keyblade masters.

Kingdom Hearts 3D: Dream Drop Distance

Due to revival of Xehanort, Sora and Riku are put through the Mark of Mastery exam to become full Keyblade Masters which would allow them to achieve complete power to prevent Xehanort’s return. The two are separated as part of the exam and sent to worlds previously affected by the heartless which need awakening from a Deep Sleep.

Surprisingly considering that these are worlds once affected by Heartless apart from two these are all new worlds that we haven’t seen in the franchise yet and one of these is even from a direct to video movie

In no particular order the worlds we can play in Dream Drop Distance are

Traverse town

Symphony of Sorcery (Fantasia)

La Cite de Cloches (Hunchback of Notre Dame)

The Grid (Tron)

Pranksters Paradise / Monstro (Pinocchio)

The Country of the Musketeers (The Three Musketeers)

For all of the new franchises this game uses the majority of the worlds feel very empty and they dont feel very alive, the only characters we see are the ones used for story telling, Tron makes sense as that worlds is meant to feel lonely but the Hunchback of Notre Dame could have really used some more NPC’s because between areas you are just running down empty streets and I think that by adding just a few background characters the worlds in the game would feel so much more alive.

The other Kingdom Hearts games don’t use lots of background characters but the ones they do use make those games feel more like you are in the movie than just running between scenes.

There are two worlds in the game that I really appreciate and enjoyed, the first was the Country of the Musketeers based on the direct to video movie “The Three Musketeers”.

I think it is a really great that they included this very underrated film to the Kingdom Hearts Franchise and this is actually a pretty fun level in the game, the use of Mickey, Donald and Goofy was nice as your usual two companions do not join you in your Mark of Mastery Exam, also the areas of this world are very cartoony as to fit in with the themes of movie and they are all very good, there is even a really unique boss fight with Captain Pete near the end.

Symphony of Sorcery based on the Fantasia shorts was a really surprising choice and I must say it is absolutely gorgeous and the areas change seasons and have different elemental obstacles such as the wind carrying you through autumn and sliding across the ice throughout winter. They even used the music from the Fantasia movie and it sounds really good in this game, its very relaxing and a nice change of pace to the action packed tracks we have gotten used too.

The gameplay has some major changes in this one and I really appreciated the new gameplay elements, first of all you get to play as both Sora and Riku who both play simultaneous campaigns throughout the same worlds, before each level you have to commit to a dive a short minigame where you are free falling and need to complete a goal such as collecting a set number of points, killing a number enemies or beating a mini boss before you can enter each world. These are genuinely really fun to keep replaying and trying to get better scores.

Dream creatures can be created from recipes or by combining spirit pieces and there is a nice collection that can be obtained, you can raise the creatures by petting them, playing some basic mini games and feeding them treats. Once you assign them to your party they will protect you and help with fighting the other Dream creature enemies that have bombarded the games worlds.

You can upgrade your dream buddies using ability link graphs by spending points you collect, I completed all of these for the spirits I did have and I didn’t really see too much difference in how they performed as I did most of the battle work myself.

There are no coliseum matches in this game but a new style of minigame was added where you can battle your various Dream creatures, this is a very similar system to Chain of memories where you can use a card deck to combine numbers for high damage or as good defense. I played a fair bit of this but I couldn’t get into too much as the gameplay style wasn’t all too enjoyable for me personally but considering I didn’t enjoy Chain of Memories this is not surprising.

After waking all of the sleeping worlds, Sora and Riku head to the The World that Never Was, Sora is greeted by a younger version of Xemnas who reveals that Sora has been lured into a trap.

Sora fights Xemnas and sucessfully defeats him however his heart is swallowed by Darkness and placed into Ventus’s armour from Birth by Sleep.

After these events it is revealed that Riku has been exploring Sora’s dreams as a Dream Eater and has actually been fighting the darkness that is within Sora’s heart.

At the end his story Riku fights Ansem and successfully defeats him only to be confronted by a younger Xehanort who is setting up Organisation 13 and wants Sora as the final member which would completely erase all of the events of KH 1 and the rest of the series.

Thankfully King Mickey freezes time to help Riku defeat young Xehanort, Riku is unsucessful in this but luckily Lea, Axels somebody recues Sora’s body and brings it to the Mysterious Tower.

Back here Riku decides to risk his own life by entering Sora’s Dreams again and fights Ventus Armour and wins releasing Sora’s Heart and finally waking him up.

Back at the tower both contenders are congratulated for their efforts but only Riku is crowned Keyblade master as Sora showed weakness towards the darkness, he is not too upset though and is happy for Riku and chooses to return to the sleeping worlds to see his Dream Companions again.

In the secret ending of the game Yen Sid is telling King Mickey of his plan to gather seven Keyblade warriors to help prevent Xehanort from using the Princesses of Heart to forge the X-blade.

He sends Riku to collect to someone and when he returns he is very confused as to why this person was chosen to be trained as a Keyblade warrior.

This person just so happens to be Kairi.

Dream Drop Distance really surprised me because I had never heard many good things said about it but I really enjoyed this one. Yes the worlds feel a little empty but apart from that the gameplay changes are a nice touch and the high focus on Riku was much appreciated.

Because I played these in chronological order I knew that Sora was going to fail his Mark of Mastery exam but I never expected him to show weakness to Darkness and have to Rescued by Riku which really goes to who how much Riku’s character has grown since his early debut’s in the series.

It was also really nice to see Kairi getting a more important role even if it was right at the end I am looking forward to seeing what they do with her in KH 3 as well as what they do with Sora’s journey now that he has shown connections with the darkness.

Kingdom Hearts 3

Not long after the events of Dream Drop Distance Master Xehanort is almost ready to start the second Key-blade war, Keyblade Masters Riku and King Mickey dive into the depths of Darkness to find and rescue Aqua, a challenge which is much harder than they anticipated even having a set of their own Key-blades destroyed in the process.

Kairi and Lea are training as Keyblade wielders hoping to gain enough skill and technique that they can defend their friends in the final battle.

Sora has perhaps been given the most important mission of all, he lost all of his strength and abilities when he succumb to darkness and now he needs to help save other worlds to regain his powers and re-obtain the power of awakening which he is to use on Venus finally releasing him from his eternal slumber.

The gummy ship segments from KH 1 and 2 return to this third main installment and I quite enjoyed them here, instead of the linear on rails segments which were quite boring before now we get full control of our ship and can explore space to our hearts desire, I will be honest there isn’t a whole lot to discover minus some treasure safes, warp locations and air shooting boss battles but it is a vast improvement to what he had before, I think with some secret areas, paths and more emphasis to explore this could have been great fun and I hope this idea is expanded upon in future entries.

The Disney World Represented in KH 3 are

Olympus (Hercules)

Toy Box (Toy Story)

Monstropolis (Monsters Inc)

The Kingdom of Corona (Tangled)

Arendelle (Frozen)

The Carribean

San Fransokyo (Big Hero 6)

100 Acre Wood (Mini Game World)

Most of the worlds are great and a few stand out to me as being my personal favourites, first of all Olympus is now a fully explorable world with a story and they got rid of the tournaments in exchange for this, it is way better than its ever been and genuinely a really cool place to explore as most of it is in clouds, the underworld doesn’t return but this is welcome as we did get to fully experience that in KH2 and we really did not need to see it a second time. It should also be noted that this is the first introduction to Maleficent and Pete’s quest to find a mysterious black box in the game, a mission that they try to complete in almost all of the worlds without much luck.

Toy Box is easily my favourite world in the entire game because it is really creative from start to finish, Andy’s Room while small is filled with Pixar Easter Eggs and imagery from the movies, you can then explore the outside neighbourhood before moving onto the best part a three story shopping mall with various shops to explore and mini bosses to defeat.

There is a even a massive boss fight which takes place in a vast toy set at the end mimicking those opening cinematics from the Toy Story Movies, this might just be the best world they have ever done and I think they are really going to struggle topping this.

The Caribbean has had some major improvements, they fixed the voice acting and now it sounds much better, it is still obvious that this is not the original voice cast but it is passable, we can now also drive a boat freely across the seas allowing us to discover multiple small islands each with secrets, some the islands are not even part of the story and if you want all of the collectables discovering them is a must.

There are only worlds that I wasn’t very fond of in the game, the first is Sanfransokyo I found this one way too short and not very interesting to explore, a lot of the buildings look the same which made the collectibles frustrating to track down, I will admit that the Day and Night cycles were unique but apart from that this one was just a little boring for me.

The worst part of the game has got to be the Hundred Acre Wood, they completely ruined it here by giving it a really short story with no threat whatsoever, they did the same mini game three times in a row with very little changes which is extremely lazy and pointless, they would have been better leaving this out, I get that they did add mini games to other worlds such as Toy Box, Corona and Arendelle but that is no excuse to do this area so dirty considering that it has much more importance in KH 1 + KH2

There are 90 Mickey shapes to find and photograph throughout the game, these are a reference to the Hidden Mickeys of the Disney Theme parks, another reference would be the special moves which represent certain rides including the tea cups, splash mountain, Buzz Lightyears Space Rangers Spin and so on

The best collectibles are the Classic Kingdom Games , there are 24 in the game to find and each one has a small mini game you can play in the style of an LCD game mirroring those from Tiger Electronics and other similar companies from back in the day, the games themselves are pretty forgettable and don’t offer too much replay value but they are pretty cool to collect and are harmless ways to pass time.

After Aqua is rescued Sora finally manages to wake up Ventus and after a quick battle with Venitus the seven guardians of Light (Sora, Riku, Kairi, Ventus, Lea, Mickey and Aqua) head to the Keyblade graveyard to take on the vessels of organisation 13 and Master Xehanort, at first they are unsuccessful and Darkness controlled by a possessed Terra takes over leaving all of our character without a heart, Sora is killed and sent to Limbo (referred to as the Final World in KH lore) where he is a given a second chance to rescue his friends and reverse time giving the heroes one last attempt to win.

Upon returning Sora makes sure that he doesnt let the Darkness takeover and the guardians manage to defeat 12 of the Organisation members leaving only Xehanort left.

Knowing that Light and Darkness need to clash to form the X blade and trigger Kingdom Hearts, Xehanort does the unspeakable to enrage Sora, he cold heartedly, murders Kairi, this enrages everyone but only Sora, Donald and Goofy go into the final battle, the fight has three stages and is genuinely very challenging which is a step up from KH 2.

After the lengthy Battle Xehanort is dying and once the guardians return to Sora it is revealed to Xehanort that Master Eraqus had merged hearts with Terra upon his death in Birth By Sleep, he shows Xehanort a memory of their childhood where he promised to always support Eraqus, this triggers Xehanort to give up the X-blade to Sora and he dies finally giving up his own Darkness.

With the Keyblade war finally over most of our heroes go home but Sora decides to return to Limbo and re-awaken Kairi after being warned that such use of his power by waking the dead, he himself could lose his heart. At the end of the game we see all of the guardians of light including Donald and Goofy on Destiny Island, they spot Sora and Kairi sat on the big tree before Kairi sheds a single tear and Sora’s body fades away.

This officially closes the Dark Seeker saga of Kingdom Hearts

In a post credits sequence we are shown a mysterious hooded figure guarding the Black box Maleficent and Pete were looking for throughout the game, this figure reveals himself to be Luxu and his new identity being non other than Xigbar a member of organisation 13 who survived the Keyblade war, we see Maleficent and Pete watching this from a distance before we cut to black.

The Secret ending of the game shows Sora waking up in the world from the game The World Ends with You, this perhaps this shows that he has been banished to another dimension or this is another way that KH is representing the Afterlife considering those games have a lot to do with Death?

Riku is next seen in the video game of Verum Rex (A minigame in the Toy Box world) we see that games protagonist watching Riku and a Mysterious hooded figure in Organisation garbs is spotted staring at the moon making a heart shape with his hands.

Kingdom Hearts 3 was pretty fantastic and easily one of my favourite games in the series, I love that we see more modern Disney films getting some love and Pixar too, I thought the collectibles were the best have ever had especially considering that some of them even give you fun little games to play and minus the the two worlds I didn’t like this was almost perfect.

With this being a conclusion of the Dark Seekers Saga which began with Birth By Sleep there was a lot of storylines to tie together and a big issue this has is a lot of cutscenes between the gameplay, it can be a lot to take in at times and upon a second or third playthrough I feel like it may be a bit much, the game is 30 hours long and over 10 hours of that is cinematics.

I have already talked about the two worlds I disliked so I wont do that again, my final complaint is that apart from the final boss the game is way too easy, I understand that this was made so that new players can start with this game but I really hope this simple gameplay is not going to be the standard with the series going forward otherwise I may just need to start playing on the proud difficulty setting.

Other than that I don’t understand why people dislike this game, I feel it has the same vibes as its predecessors and does a great job of concluding the storyline and introducing its new worlds and characters, I still prefer KH2 but this is definitely in my top 5 games in the series so far.

Kingdom Hearts 3: Remind DLC

For the first time ever we get KH DLC and Im going to completely honest here, I didn’t purchase or play this as its very expensive for what you actually get, however the plot points are important to the series, I have copied this plot sypnosis from the website https://kingdomhearts.fandom.com/wiki/Kingdom_Hearts_III_Re_Mind

It is very well written and easy to understand without actually playing it, I might actually play this one day and if I do I will update this but for now here is the plot to the KH3 Remind DLC

The titular scenario centers around Sora’s rescue effort of Kairi. Assuming an incorporeal form, Sora travels back in time to the battle between the guardians of light and the Organization, traveling through the guardians’ hearts to reach Kairi.

After passing through the hearts of Ventus, Aqua, Terra, and Roxas, Sora enters his past self’s heart and tries to avert Kairi’s fate, but fails. However, Mickey reveals to Sora that Xehanort has hidden the crystal fragments of Kairi’s heart as a last resort.

Sora finds five fragments in Scala ad Caelum before his past self’s final battle with Xehanort, and then traces the remaining two through Riku and Mickey’s hearts during the guardians’ battle against Xehanort’s replicas, restoring Kairi.

After defeating Xehanort’s merged replicas, Sora and Kairi travel to the Final World to meet Chirithy, whom Sora persuades to return to the realm of light. Sora and Kairi then visit their friends’ worlds—reuniting Chirithy with its owner, Ventus, and restoring Naminé’s heart—before returning to the Destiny Islands, where Sora vanishes.

The “Limitcut Episode” is set one year after Sora’s disappearance; his allies have since lead an ongoing search for him, while Kairi has entered stasis after volunteering as Ansem the Wise’s test subject to help Sora. During a visit to Radiant Garden, Riku analyzes digital copies of Sora and the Organization’s members programmed into Cid Highwind’s computer, hoping to uncover clues to Sora’s whereabouts through their battles.

After the Organization’s copies are defeated and the analysis proves inconclusive, Riku is approached by the Fairy Godmother to meet Yen Sid, who suspects that they may be able to find Sora through the dreams of Riku, Kairi, and a nameless girl Sora encountered in the Final World.

The “Secret Episode” focuses on Sora, who has become trapped in the Final World since his disappearance. There, Sora encounters Yozora, whom he recognizes as a character from the video game Verum Rex in Toy Box, and whom he learned about from the nameless girl.

Yozora claims that he has been requested to save Sora, but questions his identity and battles him in Shibuya. If Sora wins, Yozora fades away before Sora returns to the Final World; if Sora loses, Yozora crystallizes him and goes to the Final World instead. Afterward, regardless of who wins, Yozora awakens in a car while a closing narration ensues in his and Sora’s voices, with the battle’s victor saying, “None of this makes sense to me.”

Kingdom Hearts: Melody of Memory

The first game to be considered a true spin off is this musical rhythm based game where we get to re-experience all of the most popular musical tracks from throughout the series.

The game focuses on Ansem the Wise exploring Kairi’s memories to see if there are any clues to Sora’s whereabouts, The game shows hints at Kairi’s childhood and shows us all of the events from the previous games but from Kairi’s perspective as she is narrating the stories in between the tracks.

The gameplay is really quite simple you need to press the action button to the beat of the music, sometimes you need to press multiple buttons at once and other times you need to glide across areas or flick the thumb sticks, this can be very difficult at times and I realised while playing that I don’t really have much rhythm as I really struggled even on standard mode but thankfully the secret ending only requires you to beat the game on any difficulty so this wasn’t an issue for me.

There are boss fights in the game and while they are a little longer than the standard stages they follow the same gameplay format.

From a gameplay perspective there isn’t really much more to cover, you can change teams in the game although I wouldn’t recommend this as each team starts at Lvl 1 so you may as well just sick with the Sora, Donald and Goofy Combo, also in some stages you are joined by various characters from your adventures they don’t too much different but they are a nice touch and very much appreciated.

After recounting all of the events in the series thus far, we are shown a new vision, Kairi is a child running for her life from heartless, she is found by Terra in his Xehanort form who saves her and sends her to live on Destiny Island giving her the mission to find the chosen one.

We then see Kairi in Limbo where she battles the spirit of Master Xehanort she isnt strong enough but luckily Sora partially manifests to assist her, the spirit is defeated but allows Xehanort to learn of Sora’s whereabouts.

When she wakes up back at the lab Kairi informs Riku of what she has learnt and tells Riku a clue she learnt in her sleep “that Sora may be in a reality not made of light or dark”.

Fairy godmother appears and tells Kairi and Riku that they are both 2 of 3 keys that can help Sora, the third is a mysterious girl who has taken the form of a star in Limbo.

After hearing Riku describe the city in his dreams, the mysterious girl informs him that it could be the City of Quadratum, The girl opens a gate allowing Riku to travel to the city, he goes leaving Kairi behind to continue her training, Master Yen Sid sends Donald and Goofy to gather allies for the continued battle to bring Sora back and Kairi chooses to study under Master Aqua.

I quite enjoyed this game, It’s not quite as epic as the other KH games but for a fun little game this can be quite addictive at times and I look forward to trying to get all of the remaining mission stars, plus we got see a tiny bit more of the current story as well, also it was a good opportunity to really appreciate all of the excellent music from the franchises history.

On April 10 2022 a release trailer for KH 4 was made available for fans, here is a link to that very trailer 🙂

And that’s it we have officially gone through Kingdom Hearts in it’s entirety and lets face it what a journey this was, it took me one year to get through these and I have no regrets. I grew up with Disney and as I grew older I always wanted a darker take on these stories, Kingdom Hearts was the first time Disney was made for a mostly adult audience and the use of other Final Fantasy and Square franchises surprisingly mixes really well with the Disney universe.

I have no idea what direction this franchise will go from this point on, we have seen the Keyblade war and have explored the life of Sora inside and out. I think a new franchise main is needed now, either Riku or someone new entirely, perhaps after we eventually get Sora back we may even want to do a fresh take with new heroes and a new franchise, perhaps a certain other animated studio? Perhaps one that can give us Egyptian lore, lost cities, fairy tale kingdoms and dragons?

Who knows where this series will take us next but for now we must wait for more adventures

Until then thankyou for joining me for this ever expanding series!

Padawan

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