Update 3 – Time played: 24 hours, 40 minutes
It’s time, once again, for another Kingdom Hearts: Birth by Sleep update! This time, we’ve just completed Aqua’s story about missing her friends and then constantly berating them whenever she finds them. As Aqua is the third out of three characters, this is the last Progressive Looks update for Birth by Sleep before I write the full review. This time we’ll be talking about the game’s combat some more, a few things smaller things I might have missed, and Aqua herself of course.
Aqua is a different beast compared to Terra and Ventus, specializing in magic as opposed to brute force or a balance between the two. She still has some physical prowess of her own, but she is the de-facto mage character of the game and a lot of her exclusive commands are supercharged versions of high level magic like Firaga Burst or Triple Blizzaga. Aqua’s mobility is nothing to sneeze at either, being able to cartwheel around and eventually learning how to double jump. Aqua feels like the strongest character in Birth by Sleep with a lot of extremely powerful magic commands and the fact that her cartwheel is an extremely overpowered dodge maneuver. I was able to get out of pretty much any sticky situation that I was in with Aqua by just mashing the Square button to cartwheel. I mashed that Square button so much that I’m a little concerned about my Dualshock 4 controller now.
With me having finished the final character’s main story, I feel comfortable commenting on the story structure now. The three characters all have completely different stories, experiencing different events in each world and occasionally crossing paths with one another. I’ll use Castle of Dreams as an example. Ventus arrives in Cinderella’s house having been shrunken down to the size of a mouse, so he helps Jaq the mouse finish making Cinderella’s dress while fending off Lucifer the cat. The dress presumably gets destroyed by the evil stepmother and stepsisters and Cinderella runs away into the forest where she’s found by Terra. Terra then escorts her to the royal ball and fights some Unversed threatening the ball. As Terra finishes off the enemies the clock strikes midnight and Cinderella runs away, and Terra turns to leave the palace having concluded his business. He then runs into Aqua at the palace entrance, who goes on to help find Cinderella so that she can try on the glass slipper she left behind at the ball. It’s a lot of fun seeing each character’s stories intersect and play off one another. Each playthrough itself is structured roughly the same; go through the same three or four worlds before the midway point where all three characters meet, then go through three or four different worlds before the climax. Once you’ve played one story, you’ve seen pretty much every setting the game has to offer.
Before I end this Progressive Looks, I want to rant about commands. I said before that it was a lot of fun trying out different commands and creating and levelling up new ones, and that hasn’t changed. However, the more time I spent with this system, the more I realized that most commands are just awful. A lot of commands just take far too long to activate and far too much time to end, all while you’re left vulnerable to enemy attacks. That’s assuming that the enemy doesn’t decide to just ignore stagger and hit you out of your command anyways. It’s unfortunate because a lot of the coolest commands are so long that you can just outright die in the middle of the animation (Ars Arcanum, I’m looking at you). Over the course of this game I found most success with fast commands like Thunder spells or Fire spells, and commands like Seeker Mine that you can just activate and run away while it works its magic. There’s also the matter of the Command Board, which I haven’t yet mentioned until now. This monstrosity is essentially discount Monopoly, involving your character buying up spaces and placing your commands on those spaces like houses. It’s tedious and seems kind of pointless to have in there, but there are rewards for doing it. Each command you place onto the board gets experience, and you can also get bonus commands such as new Shotlocks. It was boring, but I got cool stuff from it, so I can’t complain too much.
I’m going to expand on a lot of this and give my final thoughts on this game in the full review once I’ve actually finished the final episode and have seen the ending. Thanks for reading this Al Unlocked Progressive Looks series on Kingdom Hearts: Birth by Sleep, and stay tuned!
Kingdom Hearts: Birth by Sleep