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Do note that this is first impressions, so it is not a finalized review on the gameplay. However, it does include what I thought about the game while playing through it, especially in comparison to other KH games. These opinions can very well change, as I haven't spent enough time with the game to fully understand its battle system and all the enemies. The most obvious thing you notice is the awesome graphics. Unreal Engine 4 is very impressive, and the emphasis on specific lighting in certain areas is very aesthetically pleasing. Overall, the game is a beauty to look at. The layout works like this; there's four main areas, 3 of which are the first worlds that Terra, Aqua, and Ven goes through in BBS (Castle of Dreams, Dwarf Woodlands, Enchanted Dominion). The final area is the realm of darkness itself, that eventually leads to Destiny Islands. What I found really cool was the music in these areas. Yoko really outdid herself this time around; they give an amazing sense of atmosphere with the whole "Dark World" theme, but at the same time incorporates part of the respective world you're located in. Other features before we get onto the core combat; Customization is pretty interesting. While I'm not a big fan of the stuff you can put on Aqua, it is neat and I can see some people enjoying it. I'd still stick with plain old Aqua personally though. There are no Abilities you equip; rather, you just sort of...have them. The whole game is approximately 2-4 hours long, depending on how you play. I played on Proud Mode to start, so I do have a good idea of what the game is like at some of its hardest. As a result, I also started Critical (but haven't finished yet) so I can give some impressions on that as well. Anyways, gameplay: Aqua running super fast is the first thing you notice. I initially believed it to be a demo thing, but it turns out that's just how she runs in the game. While it does look a bit funny, it's actually really nice because you can move across vast worlds so much quicker. Cartwheeling was a big concern of mine, since in BBS you can chain Cartwheels for infinite invincibility. Luckily, they put a startup and an ending animation to the Cartwheel, thus making spamming it without any timing quite trivial. Which is a good thing obviously; it adds more skill required to play the game. I don't really have an opinion on the automovements Aqua makes; it just seems as a cheap way to capture someone's attention to this game, although in actuality, all you're doing is pushing forward on the Analog stick. I also feel like those might hurt you in battle at some point; while it hasn't happened to me, I have a faint feeling it may occur to someone. A common misconception I see people talking about is "floatiness" of BBS and DDD. It isn't the fact that the characters are "floaty"; that doesn't necessarily mean the combat is bad. It's the fact that their attacks are pathetically slow and weak, which makes attacking with the Keyblade not a viable option over other commands. So no, it's not the floatiness of the characters, but moreso how that floatiness largely hurts their use of normal attacks in battle. I'm glad to say that, while the game doesn't quite live up to KH2's standards of combos, it does feel miles better than the handhelds. The attacks are fast and crisp. Spellweaver attacks were heavily buffed as well; in BBS, they were slow and had a lot of lag to them. This time, it becomes a powerful option to use in combat since your attacks come out twice as fast. Magic is great; you can chain Magic so easily into your combos and while moving that it makes the entire process feel even more fluid than KH2. Aesthetically, the spells look beautiful, and I absolutely love the effects they have, not only on the enemies, but the environment around you. Activating spell finishers such as Thundagun, Firagun, and Blizzagun will create a ridiculously powerful version of the spell which has a lasting effect on the environment, and it looks beautiful. Cure takes away all your MP, which is obviously modeled after KH2's magic system. This is actually really great because it nerfs the power of Cure so you're forced to use other items and think of other methods of healing. However, this is only true for Proud Mode. From what I've seen, you get more MP on Standard and Beginner Mode, so these things I say may not apply. Nevertheless, Proud Mode offers a decent challenge. Style changes and Magic finishers are activated by attacking a lot, which will fill up three arrows on top of your command menu. Filling them up will lead to a Reaction Command to appear, which will then allow you to select whichever finisher you wish to use. All seem to be viable in battle so far, so balancing isn't too big of an issue. In addition, I never found myself spamming a single attack to win in all situations, which is great because that's a big problem many were worried about. It could be too soon to judge though; people may eventually find a single attack that works really well on all enemies and bosses. As for now though, it seems to be pretty well done in that aspect. The worlds themselves are pretty huge, but I found Enchanted Dominion and the Realm of Darkness to be rather linear. At first you don't even realize it because there's so much stuff everywhere, but then you realize that all split paths lead to dead ends, and it's basically just one linear path forward. Not saying it's a problem, considering the game is more or less open world, and I'm sure we'll be seeing more variety in KH3. Dwarf Woodlands was super cool to me; the mirrors and everything created some pretty interesting puzzles, which, while not that difficult, were still pretty interesting. Other than that, World design seems pretty typical. The bosses were...interesting to say the least. You fight several Mirage Aquas, several Darksides, and several Heartless Swarms(Devil's Wave?) throughout the game, with a final Devil's Wave to finish it off. The Darksides were very similar to KH1, with the exception of the final one which had an awesome looking Desperation Move. Devil's Waves gets gradually stronger and stronger, although I will admit by the third one, I was kind of sick of fighting them. The final Devil's Wave still needs more tinkering around with; I'm not sure if I fully understand that boss. It's patterns seem completely random, and the final phase seems to have some sort of Desperation Move that looks like it's literally undodgeable. I wanna talk about Mirage Aqua though. It seems as if she is programmed with some form of auto-retaliation, which hints at Revenge Value being a thing in this game. This is incredible because none of the handhelds had this mechanic, and it's also this mechanic what made KH2's boss battles so great. Obviously I can't confirm this, but the fact that Mirage Aqua retaliates exactly after two combos every time makes me believe that Revenge Value has returned, and it will very likely be a thing in KH3. Good stuff. Something else interesting to note is that the Fire Darkball enemies also seem to have Revenge Values programmed into them, as with the Water ones. Obviously I can't confirm this, but it would show an example of more advanced AI. In regards to overall gameplay and how it compares: Overall, it's excellent. It shows a lot of potential and I think it can really be made into a great system if done correctly. On the otherhand, this game itself doesn't stand anywhere near as close as KH2 in my opinion, just because of the lack of options you have for attacking. Shotlocks are here, Command Styles are here, but that's it. Of course, it's a 3 hour game so I won't expect anymore, but it goes to show that we'll need more than 3 hours to simply surpass the best game in the series. Things I hope in KH3 that they add onto this game? More actions, more movement tech, more options for attack, and most of all, more combo modifiers. Aqua's combo, while useful and cool, gets boring after 3 hours of playing as her. As such, I'm hoping for combo modifers similar to KH2 (Flash Step, Guard Break, Aerial Dive, Horizontal Slash etc.) to come back in KH3 as equippables, and will thus boost gameplay experience and variety so much more. I've heard and seen of the game crashing many times for other players, and I can atest to this because the game actually DID crash on me once; I died to the 2nd Devil's Wave and the loading screen just loaded when I hit Retry...forever. So yeah, that was obnoxious. There are also minor frame rate drops just scattered whenever there's a lot of stuff on screen, and that was pretty annoying too. It's really a shame; Square seems to have lost the capability of making a stable game. First the HD Ports, then FFXV, and now this. Really hoping KH3 isn't like this. Annnd that's basically all I have. First impressions are long and all, but hey it's a pretty complex game and there was lots to talk about. This one really shows potential, but also shows potential dangers at where KH3 can fail. Anyways though, here's the final veredict: it was fun and I enjoyed the experience, but it could've been improved all the same.