Kingdom Hearts -HD 1.5+2.5 ReMIX-

Posted:  Jun 13, 2024
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Review

The game was provided by Square Enix for review. Thank you!

After over three years of waiting, the time has finally come: Kingdom Hearts has made its way to Steam! As a huge Kingdom Hearts fan, I couldn't be more pleased to see the games make their way on over. And while yes the games have been available on the Epic Games Store for the last three years, their coming to Steam marks a very special occasion that will see more people on PC try the game out, and if you are on Steam Deck, you will be in for some very lovely surprises.

You can also check out our review for the next game in the series: Kingdom Hearts HD 2.8 Final Chapter Prologue to see how the future games run.

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The first collection that has made its way to Steam is Kingdom Hearts Kingdom Hearts -HD 1.5+2.5 ReMIX-, which includes six different titles: Kingdom Hearts 1, Re:Chain of Memories, Kingdom Hearts 2, Birth By Sleep, 358/2 Days, and Re:coded. The first four titles listed are fully playable, while the last two have remastered the cutscenes and made them into one giant movie to watch. Since gameplay between all the games in the Kingdom Hearts series is essentially the same, I will make blanket statements when discussing gameplay. I will note some key differences here and there, but overall, these are Action JRPGs with real-time combat and stories that weave in Disney worlds and some Square Enix characters from their franchises.

I will also note that I am a huge fan of the series, and my review will be a little biased because of that. I will be as impartial as possible and note the present issues that stand out to me, but in the end, these are PS2-era titles that still feel like PS2 games. They withstand the test of time and are still very enjoyable, but it is good to remember them when playing.

So, let's start with the story:

The Kingdom Hearts games revolve around people called Keyblade Wielders, individuals who can manifest a weapon in the shape of a key, which revolves around the power of their hearts. In Kingdom Hearts 1, we follow the beginnings of one such Keyblade Wielder named Sora. We journey across different worlds based on Disney movies and help the citizens there, all while looking for your friends, Riku and Kairi, who got separated from you. You fight the Heartless, which are beings that are born from someone who is consumed by the darkness in their heart. Evil forces are trying to control these beings and find their way to "Kingdom Hearts," a place of pure knowledge, power, and the source of all the hearts in existence.

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This is directly followed by Re:Chain of Memories, which leads into Kingdom Hearts 2. Both of these continue to follow Sora as the main protagonist, with the former being a direct sequel and the latter setting Sora up on a new adventure battling both Heartless and Nobodies, a shell that is left over if a strong-willed person loses their heart. Then, we have Birth By Sleep, which is a prequel to Kingdom Hearts 1. We follow three Keyblade Wielders in training to become masters, which sets them up on a path to self-destruction, introduces more backstory for Xehanort, the main villain of the series so far, and setting up Sora, Riku, and Kairi for their future journeys. 358/2 Days tells the story of Roxas during the events of Chain of Memories, while Re:coded happens after Kingdom Hearts 2 and leads into the next game in the series (which is part of the next collection).

If you read both those paragraphs and felt a little overwhelmed with all this information, you aren't alone. The story is extremely convoluted and constantly introduces new information and twists that feel like they were created specifically to confuse and add more layers to the 45-layer cake that has already been created. But this is just how it looks from the outside. Once you play the games and listen to the story, everything just ends up clicking. After my time with each title, I can explain all the twists of the story that would make no sense if you didn't play the past titles. Luckily, these collections include all the necessary information to be able to understand it, and if you invest your time to learn and play, you will be rewarded with a great story that will be hard to forget.

Gameplay-wise, the Kingdom Hearts series has a similar structure to it. You run around an open field and use a button to attack. You are able to wield magic and summon creatures to help, block, dodge, and use abilities for more damage. The basic implementation of this is in Kingdom Hearts 1 and was expanded upon in 2. These two games will also give you new, more powerful keyblades that you can equip, as well as armor and accessories to enhance you further. You also have segments in the "Gummi Ship," a spaceship you can build that you will fly from one world to another while battling Heartless or Nobodies in space.

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Birth By Sleep is also quite similar, but added a row of different abilities you can use at any given time, which can be chained together to unlock a more powerful ability that you assign and different forms to enhance your attacks. There is no equipment here, but you can get new keyblades.

Re:Chain of Memories changes all of this and attaches a card system. You still run around a map openly, but you must use specific cards from a Deck you build to attack. These cards can contain different keyblades, with different strengths and weaknesses, and magic. You can set combos of three cards aside at a time, which can be used to trigger different, more powerful abilities. There is no equipment or accessories in this title either, and you get new keyblades and magic in the form of cards, which you can get from shops or battles. In this entry, you will also use room cards to direct what kind of area you want to go to next, while advancing the story.

In the end, the gameplay of these games are very button-mashy, but because of how flashy they are and some strategy being required for some bosses (or if you are playing on a harder difficulty), it's still a lot of fun. I love finding ways to chain attacks together, dodging, using magic, and then coming back for the kill with a big ability. Kingdom Hearts 2's gameplay is my favorite and introduces "Drive Forms," which augment your abilities further. You also gain experience and level up in each of these games, but the RPG mechanics to make your character more powerful are basic compared to other games in the JRPG genre. You will gain either strength, magic, or defense stats on leveling up, and sometimes get new abilities you can turn on with AP (ability points). If you like not having to micromanage your characters and fine-tune their stats, this is the game for you.

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The worlds themselves did get a nice touchup for these re-releases, but the areas are still very basic compared to newer titles. They aren't terrible by any means, and I would say they have a certain charm to them that reminds me of PS2 games. There was also some background texture enhancements with this version of the release, which does make some more detailed features in doors, walls, and models look more sharp. It isn't extremely detailed, but it's still pleasing on the eyes. And if you are a fan of Disney tunes and some solid upbeat music to slay some Heartless to, this series has you covered!

And finally, we get to the Steam Deck performance, which is phenomenal.

Kingdom Hearts -HD 1.5+2.5 ReMIX- Steam Deck Performance

I am so pleased to say that playing Kingdom Hearts -HD 1.5+2.5 ReMIX- is a fantastic experience. All the issues that plagued the Epic Games release, which include cutscenes not working, not being able to select games from the main menu, and playing the game offline, have all been fixed. All cutscenes are running, you can go in and out of the main selector menu at ease, and you can open and play everything when in offline mode.

All of the games/movies in this run at around the same performance: 60 FPS with around 6W - 8W battery drain. This makes it a perfect portable title, and one I highly recommend playing on the Steam Deck.

I did notice that some cutscenes in the games did have some weird shadow issues, but these were minimal and didn't affect the gameplay at all. The games can also be configured to fit the entire screen of your Deck by swapping the resolution to 1280x720, which is weird, but it makes the game look stretched, and I would rather play with black bars than a stretched image.

Accessibility

As for the settings, you can change the overall sound bars and the button to confirm, but each individual game has their own options too. These include target and auto locking, camera controls, vibration, and inverted camera.

The games do support 16:10 resolutions, but the image can look stretched, so I don't recommend it. The game does have cloud saves and controller support, but no HDR settings.

Conclusion

Kingdom Hearts -HD 1.5+2.5 ReMIX- is the definitive collection of the first six games in the Kingdom Hearts series, and while two of them are just cutscenes, it's still amazing to have everything here. The games look amazing, they feel great to play, and it's as wonderful as I remember, for better or worse. The games on the Steam Deck are also flawless. Square Enix has fixed every issue that plagued the Epic versions, and I couldn't be happier. Do yourselves a favor and pick this one up if you like JRPGs or just good games!

Our review is based on the PC version of this game.

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SDHQ's Build Score Breakdown

Kingdom Hearts -HD 1.5+2.5 ReMIX- is the definitive package for the beginning of the series, and it fixes all issues on the Steam Deck too!

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Noah Kupetsky
A lover of gaming since 4, Noah has grown up with a love and passion for the industry. From there, he started to travel a lot and develop a joy for handheld and PC gaming. When the Steam Deck released, it just all clicked.
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