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Game Review: Kingdom Hearts 358/2 Days

Posted on the 12 June 2013 by Donnambr @_mrs_b
Review of: Kingdom Hearts 358/2 Days (2009)
Game:
Square Enix

Reviewed by: David M. Brown
Rating:
5
On June 12, 2013Last modified:June 12, 2013

Summary:

Kingdom Hearts 358/2 Days enhances an already great story, offering a refreshingly different angle from the viewpoint of Organisation XIII, and assures this great series continues to thrive.

More DetailsAbout Kingdom Hearts 358/2 Days (2009) KH358 In KINGDOM HEARTS, Sora turned the Keyblade on himself in order to release Kairi’s heart, but his heart was also released in the process. This brought about the creation of Roxas, Sora’s Nobody. Roxas has no recollection of his previous life, which is unusual for a Nobody. He joins Organization XIII and slowly begins to discover the truth behind his existence and the Organization itself. He meets and befriends the fourteenth member of the Organization, who also has no recollection of her past. What will Roxas see during his time in the Organization? What is the connection between him, Sora, and the fourteenth member? And what becomes of them? Dive into the heart of the KINGDOM HEARTS story lines biggest secrets. Amazon USAmazon UK

Review: Kingdom Hearts 358/2 Days (Nintendo DS)

When Sora first wielded the Keyblade in Kingdom Hearts back in 2002 it was hard to imagine just how far Square Enix could take this enduring story. With Kingdom Hearts 358/2 Days another layer of delightful complexity has been added to the saga. Taking a break from its usual home on the Playstation, Kingdom Hearts has faced the difficult transition to the DS and, thankfully, has passed with flying colours.

The biggest change in Kingdom Hearts 358/2 Days is that Sora, Donald and Goofy are not the main protagonists. In fact our familiar trio that graced the previous three games in the series only appear sporadically as brief recollections. Instead the focus is on Organisation XIII, a mysterious group donned in dark cloaks and hoods whose sole desire is to fill the empty void in their chests with a heart. Entering the ranks of the Organisation is the thirteenth member – Roxas – who, along with Organisation XIII, appeared in Kingdom Hearts II and forms the focal point here. The game begins on Day 7 of Roxas’ time in the Organisation and we follow his progress through to the pivotal Day 358. Along the way Roxas divides his time between completing a series of missions at the behest of his superiors and building tender relationships with his friends, Axel and, in particular, Xion, a new member of the Organisation – Number XIV. The trio’s daily meetings on the rooftop of a clock tower, eating ice cream and discussing their experiences keep the story flowing and become ever more poignant as the game reaches its inevitably tragic conclusion. As with Chain of Memories, 358/2 Days takes place between Kingdoms Hearts I and II, filling in many of the unanswered gaps that lingered in the narrative.

Roxas begins each day in the Grey Area, a lounge in Organisation XIII’s Headquarters, The Castle That Never Was. On each occasion Roxas is referred to Saix, the second in command of the Organisation, who dispatches the other members to different worlds to complete a variety of missions. Your tasks can range from general reconnaissance to collecting hearts from the interloping enemies – the heartless – or you may be sent to hunt down large bosses. On each mission Roxas will either be sent alone or with another member of the Organisation as useful support. Your objective is clearly displayed throughout the mission and your progress can be traced via a bar at the bottom of the screen that must be filled before you are deemed to have successfully completed  it. Dependent on your task there may be two parameters on this completion bar. A silver cross will indicate the point you need to reach just to complete the mission, while a gold cross reveals the point where you will achieve 100% completion and the prospect of earning better rewards and bonuses. A single mission covers one day in Roxas’s life but rather than having you play 358 consecutive days, Roxas may have a small chunk of days together for some missions whereas the completion of other objectives may propel you forward numerous weeks rather than a solitary day. There are 93 missions in total across the 358 days covering such worlds as Twilight Town, Wonderland, Agrabah and Halloween Town.

In previous Kingdom Hearts games, I found that aside from using curative magic – I could generally manage fine with limited use of other spells, much preferring the intensity of close quarter combat with the Keyblade. This isn’t so easy in Kingdom Hearts 358/2 Days. Whenever you select a mission you are briefed on the sort of enemies you will be facing and at times magic will ensure a smoother completion of your task rather than bashing away with the Keyblade. To prepare Roxas for each mission you will need to get to grips with the Panel Grid, a set of squares that are to be filled with slots like magic, levelling up, accessories and abilities such as jumping higher or being able to glide. The more missions you complete the more slots become available on the grid, but you always have the same difficulty of having less slots to fill than you would ideally prefer. The Panel Grid prompts you to plan each mission carefully, prioritising what is more integral to your chances of success. It may seem a daunting feature at first but it is easy to pick up. Your efforts are assisted by a resident moogle who has set up shop in the Castle That Never Was and not only sells you all the latest goods but can synthesise better equipment from the many items you obtain on your missions, either from treasure chests or from your fallen enemies.

Aside from the main story, Kingdom Hearts 358/2 Days also contains Mission Mode which allows you to replay the many missions Roxas has completed in Story Mode either in single or multiplayer but your options are extended with the choice of playing as any member of Organisation XIII with the added incentive of unlocking secret characters such as Sora, Donald and Goofy. Whatever items and equipment Roxas has acquired in Story Mode will be available to all characters in Mission Mode. Going back and completing missions in full can lead to better rewards in the game and give Roxas access to the best items so they’re always worth pursuing.

Kingdom Hearts 358/2 Days suffers only from minor issues. In the midst of battles the camera isn’t always your best friend as you try and keep track of your enemies but the lock on feature ensured this was kept to a minimum. The worlds Roxas visits are almost identical in layout to previous Kingdom Hearts games so those familiar with the series may lament the lack of variation in places. Though the game’s instructions provide background to the other Kingdom Hearts titles, having played them is likely to make for a more immersive experience than if this is your first taste of the series. Newcomers shouldn’t be put off Kingdom Hearts 358/2 Days but having some background knowledge will help the early stages of the game make more sense. Finally, though the story of Roxas and Organisation XIII is worth visiting, it couldn’t compensate for the absence of Sora, Donald and Goofy.

Transferring the Kingdom Hearts series to the DS has paid off well for Square Enix. The short missions are suitable for casual gaming that the DS can offer but there is equal scope for those that want longer more sustained sessions. Kingdom Hearts 358/2 Days enhances an already great story, offering a refreshingly different angle from the viewpoint of Organisation XIII, and assures this great series continues to thrive.

Verdict: 5/5

Game Review: Kingdom Hearts 358/2 Days

About the Author:

I was born in Barnsley, South Yorkshire, England and have always been a bookworm and enjoyed creative writing at school. In 1999 I created the Elencheran Chronicles and have been writing ever since. My first novel, Fezariu's Epiphany, was published in May 2011. When not writing I'm a lover of films, games, books and blogging. I now live in Huddersfield, West Yorkshire, with my wife, Donna, and our six cats - Kain, Razz, Buggles, Charlie, Bilbo and Frodo.

David M. Brown – who has written 708 posts on Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dave.


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