Although I personally like the original Kingdom Hearts
the best, I think it's good that Square-Enix is trying different things with each game. The battle system has gone through slight changes from game to game, such as having magic refill upon depletion (KH2
), be treated as finite items (358/2 Days
), or use a World Of Warcraft
-esque cooldown system (Birth by Sleep
The level design has also changed from game to game. I still think the first game did it best, with levels that had a good amount of platforming, and a lot of hidden out-of-the-way items that have to be searched for, and sometimes can't be reached until you return later with new abilities such as jumping higher or gliding. KH2
tossed just about all of that.
After 358/2 Days
heavily emphasized the platforming and hidden items, even rearranging things with each mission, Birth by Sleep
is somewhere between the first two games in terms of level design. But it's handled a little unusually.
Which character you choose determines which part of each level you visit. Terra's levels are by far the most linear, and I was very disappointed with them, as well as his lower-than-expected level of interaction with the Disney characters who are a large part of what makes Kingdom Hearts
But Ven and Aqua visit totally different parts of the levels, which tend to be more platforming oriented, and they also end up performing more diverse tasks, and meeting more Disney characters. When Ven visits Cinderella's world, for example, he is tasked with finding 5 things needed to make a dress, which turns out to be a fun exploration and platforming challenge that added a nice change of pace. Terra has nothing of the sort occur in his quest.
Breaking up the levels so each character experiences it a different way means that the levels don't feel as big as in KH1
, even though they probably are. Rather, Terra visits the queen's castle in the Snow White world, but can't enter the dwarven mines, and vice versa for Ven. While this means that you get to see new areas with each character, it means the experience is divided. It also means each character's story feels short.
But I appreciate the experimentation Square-Enix is doing, and overall, I enjoy this game a lot.