Kingdom Hearts Dark Road is out now for iOS, Android, and Amazon-powered devices. Available from the updated title screen of Kingdom Hearts Union χ app, Dark Road follows a young Xehanort along a path that will see him become the “Dark Seeker”. The game is free-to-play but includes optional in-app purchases with real money.
Dark Road begins by introducing us to Xehanort entering a portal of darkness created by a mysterious robed figure. On the other side, he finds himself in Scala ad Caelum, a world where keyblade wielders train to become keyblade masters. They do so to fight Heartless that threaten the many worlds outside its borders. Xehanort’s classmates: Eraqus, Hermod, Bragi, Urd, and Vor are tasked with a special mission when seven upperclassmen suddenly vanish during their Mark of Mastery exam. They are to venture out into the various worlds to find them and bring them home.
You’ll make a party of three, two of which will be Xehanort and Eraqus, while the third slot can be rotated between the four remaining students. In combat, five cards from a deck are drawn belonging to three different colors. Flicking or tapping three of them will trigger an action like attacking or casting a spell; use three of the same color and it’ll activate additional damage or affect. An ‘Auto’ function can also be used to draw cards quickly and automatically, based on the deck you’ve built. Enemies will attack on a regular timer, so drawing cards rapidly is important.
The story proceeds along a sequence of missions, some will have cut-scenes and others will just be battles. Between these missions, you can engage in free battles in any world you’ve unlocked, such as Agrabah or Wonderland, to level up Xehanort or earn rewards. Cards can be randomly drawn by purchasing them in a shop for gems and other currencies that can be replenished by playing more or purchasing with real money. Only Xehanort is customizable through collecting cards, with his classmates having different leanings towards, buffing, or damage dealing.
There’s several dozen cards to collect with different effects in battle, but in large part, it feels the game is intended to partially be played on auto-pilot. Missions will require you to kill a large amount of enemies to proceed, and the efficacy of the Auto function is pretty solid if you have to set your phone down for a moment. To meet the requirements of some missions, I merely set my phone down for several minutes until the required amount of enemies were defeated, then exited the battle. However, if you do want to go hands-on, you can do so quickly and easily by disabling the Auto function. Obviously, your mileage may vary with this type of “AFK gameplay” and it feels ideal for something you pick up every few minutes while working on another task. I’ve got it going as I’m writing up this piece right now.
To get a taste of what to expect, we’ve recorded the first hour of gameplay below: