Following its initial launch back in 2019, Kingdom Hearts III returns with a post-release DLC that is packed with visual updates, difficult boss battles and a bunch of new and altered cutscenes that adds roughly five hours or more of additional content to the original game.
While I had enjoyed Kingdom Hearts III and what it had offered in terms of gameplay, I felt that the story had fallen just short of expectations. However, Kingdom Hearts III: ReMind had just been announced by the time I had done my review, and I had hopes that the DLC would address some of the issues that I had with the original release. Now with ReMind finally in the hands of us PlayStation 4 players, it was finally time to see if those hopes for the story would be met.
As a disclaimer, this review will be incredibly spoiler heavy for the ReMind DLC and Kingdom Hearts III.
The Kingdom Hearts series is in a unique position in terms of in-game lore. Having introduced the concept of time travel in earlier titles, it not only opened the door to extremely complicated storytelling, but also left some wiggle room to have an in-lore story reset if needed. ReMind is, more or less, a little bit of a time-jumping story adjustment without actually changing anything about the original ending. Instead, newly added storybeats fill in a lot of blanks and plot holes that left fans like myself puzzled for weeks on end after beating the base game, and provides context, clarity and a chance for a lot of the main cast to shine in the spotlight.
Before Sora goes on his time-traveling and heart-diving adventure to save Kairi, several cutscenes play out from the bad guys perspective in earlier parts of the game. We’re finally given some context for the villains and their motives in Kingdom Hearts III while they are simultaneously prepared for future titles — such as the Black Box being discussed more at length and a scene with the Master of Masters talking to Young Xehanort about his worldly views.
Complicated Xehanort and True Organization 13 matters are explained in easier terms as well, allowing for gradual lore digestion instead of intense story whiplash during the final boss gauntlet at the end of the game. While it did not fix the lack of villainous meddling throughout the story, these small additions made the antagonists and their agendas a little bit easier to understand. I deeply appreciated the inclusions of these scenes and the time that was taken to give these characters the chance to have their own stories told.
Once the antagonist cutscenes are over, the actual DLC story begins. And it starts at the end of the game, after Xehanort is defeated. Determined to bring Kairi home, Sora returns to the ever-adorable Chirithy in The Final World, where Chirithy explains that if Sora uses his Power of Awakening to attempt to tamper with time again, he will be lost and unable to return. Sora agrees regardless of the consequences and is sent back in time again, just moments before his team encounters the Xehanort-possessed Terra. It’s here that the time traveling Sora is able to hop from heart-to-heart, experiencing all the emotions, thoughts and battles from the perspective of his friends.
This unique spin on the ending’s retelling helped fill in a lot of gaps and provide context to scenes that were left unexplained in the base game. Due to Sora being able to witness battles and interactions from the literal eyes of his friends, we as the players get to see the story told from other angles, letting us understand the story’s intentions a bit clearer. We get to learn about Aqua’s emotional turmoil, what happened to the Lingering Will, how Roxas was able to return, where Riku Replica’s body went and more.
We get to see conversations between the heroes and villains that provide proper story build-up, and even get the chance to play as different characters aside from Sora, giving multiple heroes their chance to shine in the spotlight and defeat the antagonists that had caused them so much grief in previous titles. It was extremely satisfying getting to play as literally everyone during the Replica Xehanort battle, and it felt really, really good to knock the stuffing out of Xehanort as Kairi.
The story of ReMind is also so shamelessly over-the-top and it works so well. Cutscenes are exciting to watch, with massive explosions of magic and glitter that reminded me so much of the first Kingdom Hearts. The Reaction Command is also utilized a lot, popping up to encourage players to participate in quite a few cutscene-esque spots, adding only more intensity to this epic ending. I couldn’t take my eyes off the game for even a second, so much was happening and all of it was so good and flowed so well together. ReMind is definitely the ending that Kingdom Hearts III needed to have.
ReMind also sees the return of the Replica Data battles from Kingdom Hearts II Final Mix. Under the Limit Cut Episode after beating the main scenario for the DLC, players will learn that the main cast of characters have been desperately searching for Sora for over a year. Riku’s own search has brought him to Radiant Garden to discuss the situation with Squall, Aerith, Yuffie and Cid; all of which have also been conducting their own way of searching. Cid then brings up the Replica Data battles, and it is suggested that perhaps fighting the data versions of New Organization XIII will turn up some clues for Sora’s whereabouts. This unlocks a series of intensely difficult boss battles based on the New Organization XIII members, and defeating them all will lead to the new Secret Ending. I was severely under-leveled and out-skilled when I attempted the fights, and I lost quite terribly. However I do greatly appreciate the addition of more difficult boss battles for the players that are looking for that extra spicy kick to their gameplay experience.
Finally, I could not get through this review without talking about the Data Greeting option, which is far more fun than I thought it would be. It’s a photo-designing minigame basically, and allows you to choose characters and settings, change poses and expressions and grants players the freedom to make their own custom screenshots. I found myself playing in this mode for two hours; laughing ridiculously at the nonsense I was able to create. I love this concept, I love the memes that have been recreated with it and it’s my hope that the Kingdom Hearts development team expands on this mini-game in either small patches or in future games by adding more characters, poses and expressions.
Although it isn’t an overall fix to the story-pacing issues I had in Kingdom Hearts III, it’s clear that the development team heard the constructive criticisms and took them to heart. The 5+ hours of additional content that ReMind brought filled in a lot of gaps and glaring plot holes, and added a very satisfying ending to many character arcs and to the Xehanort saga as a whole. It gave me that sense of excitement, joy and hype that I felt was missing from the original ending, and I could not be happier with what this DLC brought. Characters interacting with each other, fighting alongside one another, and getting to face down the villains that had tormented their lives was so delightful and rewarding.
Kingdom Hearts III ReMind brought back all the good nostalgia while providing a new twist on an ending we’re all too familiar with. This DLC reignited my love for Kingdom Hearts in full, bringing back all those happy feelings that I have come to associate with the Kingdom Hearts series, and I cannot recommend this DLC enough.
Kingdom Hearts III ReMind is available now on PlayStation 4 for $29.99 USD, with a special bundle containing the DLC and a Concert Video at $39.99 USD. ReMind is scheduled to release on Xbox One on February 25, 2020.
Disclaimer: A review copy of Kingdom Hearts III ReMind (PS4) was provided to Nova Crystallis by Square Enix, the publisher.