Kingdom Hearts is easily one of the weirdest big-budget franchises in video game history.
A mixture between Final Fantasy, anime tropes, and Disney properties, Kingdom Hearts still feels like it’s rooted firmly in the early to mid-2000s. The story is weirdly melodramatic when you get past the never-ending deluge of proper nouns. The typical action-RPG gameplay ranges from fun and engaging at its best to downright frustrating at worst. Combine those two elements with a truly amazing soundtrack, an utterly insane naming scheme, and an obsession with belts, zippers, and plaid that raises more than a few eyebrows, and you get Kingdom Hearts.
It’s strange, nonsensical, and I cannot help but be fond of it all.
The series predominantly made its home on Sony’s consoles, with the occasional side story released for mobile phones and Nintendo’s line of handhelds. Now, however, every major Kingdom Hearts game is available on PC. Players can now experience Kingdom Hearts HD 1.5 + 2.5 ReMix, Kingdom Hearts HD 2.8 Final Chapter Prologue, Kingdom Hearts 3 + Re Mind DLC, and Kingdom Hearts Melody of Memory for the first time on PC courtesy of the Epic Games Store.
For the low, combined price of $304.96 CAD.
Let’s talk about the cost for a brief moment. Aside from Kingdom Hearts HD 1.5 + 2.5 ReMix, which costs $64.99 CAD, each game costs $79.99 CAD. That price is, to put it frankly, absurd. Sales will inevitably chip that cost down, but it is a significant barrier that I’m hard pressed to defend. I am not, however, factoring that cost in this review; the price may change after all, and what’s in the games themselves is what truly matters.
In that regard, the PC ports of the Kingdom Hearts games are rock solid. There are a few hiccups, primarily in the form of audio/visual bugs, that crop up every now and again. But by and large, Kingdom Hearts runs well on my relatively modest PC. While the games do have controller support, which I would highly recommend using, playing with a keyboard is an acceptable alternative.
I spent some time playing each of the four Kingdom Hearts games available on PC, so let’s take a look at each one independently.
Kingdom Hearts HD 1.5 + 2.5 ReMix
Kingdom Hearts HD 1.5 + 2.5 ReMix is easily the weakest game of the four, even though it may be the most important for plot purposes. The original Kingdom Hearts was released in 2002, and it’s gameplay struggles to hold up today due to its slower paced combat and poor level design. Chain of Memories features card-based battles that I was never a fan of. And the story goes well and truly off the rails as Organization XIII becomes more prominent in Kingdom Hearts 2.
Yet that sequel also features enough improvement to the combat that makes it worth playing, particularly as the boss fights become better designed. Both Kingdom Hearts 2 and Kingdom Hearts Birth by Sleep are worth playing in that regard, and on PC, both hold up well. Kingdom Hearts HD 1.5 + 2.5 ReMix did, however, feature the most bugs out of the four games — there were several times where the audio cut out in cutscenes, and textures often took their time to load if they did at all — but they were never game breaking or truly pervasive.
Kingdom Hearts HD 2.8 Final Chapter Prologue
Containing the worst named games in the entire franchise, Kingdom Hearts HD 2.8 Final Chapter Prologue features Kingdom Hearts 3D: Dream Drop Distance, Kingdom Hearts 0.2: Birth by Sleep – A Fragmentary Passage, and a cinematic retelling of the game Kingdom Hearts χ. This is a game meant for Kingdom Hearts fans, filled with lore that relies on playing most of the other Kingdom Hearts games prior to Kingdom Hearts 3 in order to get the most out of it. It is fun on its own, and ran well while I played it, but I cannot recommend it unless you are devoted to playing each and every Kingdom Hearts game. It is, in many ways, a preview for its much better successor.
Kingdom Hearts 3 + Re Mind DLC
If there was ever a Kingdom Hearts game that truly deserved a PC release, it’s Kingdom Hearts 3 and it’s DLC. This release comes with a suite of options for discerning PC players who really want to see how gorgeous this game can look. And with the settings turned up, Kingdom Hearts 3 is beautiful to see in motion, and it’s easily the most worthwhile game to play of the four.
But more than being well-tuned for the PC, Kingdom Hearts 3 is a worthwhile game to play in its own right. Yes, the story is still bonkers and overly complicated. But it manages to play with your heartstrings despite that. It is also a blast to play; consistent 60 FPS on top of engaging action combat that expands in possibility as you grow more accustomed to it make it the best in the series from a gameplay perspective.
Kingdom Hearts Melody of Memory
Kingdom Hearts Melody of Memory is the newest game in the series to be released, being a rhythm game similar in vein to the Theatrthym Final Fantasy. And like any rhythm game, the star of the show is the music. Which is fortunate, because that is arguably Kingdom Hearts’ best asset. If you enjoy listening to Yoko Shimomura’s compositions, then this is a game designed for you. Melody of Memory is fun to play, even if it contains cutscenes that further develop the franchise’s story despite being completely bonkers in premise and execution.
That is honestly the best summary of Kingdom Hearts as a franchise: fun to play, with a confusing and overly complicated story. It’s that combination that has made the franchise so infamous over the years, and on the Epic Games Store that reputation arrives with very little to damage it. There are a handful of bugs here and there, but for those who want to experience Kingdom Hearts on a new platform, you can’t go wrong with playing them on PC.