Sora and Riku under the supervision of Yen Sid undergo their Mark of Mastery Exams. However, due to various circumstances, their’s is a lot more complex than previous ones. It involves going into the realm of dreams to fight and tame dream eaters and using them to find the keyholes of 7 sleeping worlds, worlds that were taken over by darkness but did not return. While they start out together, they are quickly separated into their own separate dreams, however even across dreams they still work closely together towards completing their tasks. However, they’re not the only outsiders journeying through the realm of dreams, a young Xehanort and Ansem seem to be wandering through the sleeping worlds as well, with plans of their own.
Dream Drop Distance is closest in terms of game play to Birth By Sleep in that combat is through a command deck of commands with cool downs, and also similar in that it has a decent amount of verticality in combat as well as some platforming when exploring. However, it has two mechanics that are completely different from previous systems and make the game play out very differently. The first is the Dream Eater system. With items that you obtain, you can craft dream eaters. These dream eaters fight at your side as party members, allow you to link with them for special abilities and styles, and upon leveling up give you abilities and stat boosts. To be honest, I wasn’t a fan of the Dream Eater system at all. The linking aspects weren’t as nice as the command styles in BBS, but were passable. They were also fine as party members, though not as good as world based party members. What was quite annoying though was that they were incredibly bulky as a means of getting abilities and commands, taking very long amounts of time and feeling very scattershot. Furthermore, the mini games involving them while not necessary, weren’t as good as the mini games in other entries. The other mechanic that’s different is flow motion, which allows much more rapid and flashy movement both in and out of combat. It feels great when you get the hang of it, but at the end of the day it didn’t really feel like it added all that much. Rather, it felt like it made exploration and such redundant as you could just flow motion anywhere. Furthermore, while the areas at some level seemed bigger than the areas in previous entries, in part because of flow motion, they felt smaller, and even emptier. There were also some other combat and movement additions such as Reality Shifts, but they didn’t add much. The gummi ship system was replaced with the drop system, which was pretty similar to the gummi ship system in the first game, though not as annoying. Now as for the core combat, which is the most important part arguably, it was decent, though felt like a step back. It was a lot less flashy than BBS, and just didn’t feel as good to play through normal groups of enemies. Furthermore, the bosses for the most part weren’t all the great either. The exception to that was the last world, The World That Never Was, where the final set of bosses were all quite great, and a major departure from the rest of the bosses in the series, hence making the finale by far the most enjoyable portion of the game to play through.
As for the story, overall it felt lacking up until the ending. For the most part, the overarching story doesn’t really go anywhere from the introduction up until you reach The World That Never Was where the story actually takes off. This would be fine if the worlds stories were good, but for the most part, the Disney oriented stories felt weak as well. A major cause of this was that the Disney worlds involved playing through each world twice, once with each character, but with the stories of each being completely disconnected from each other, and hence feeling repetitive and rushed. The other non Disney world, Traverse Town, was also a major exception to that, feeling incredibly familiar but greatly expanded, which was great to see, and also having a great set of characters and an awesome story based around The World Ends With You. Like the Disney worlds, it was heavily disconnected from the main plot, but it was still quite enjoyable. Now, upon arriving at The World That Never Was, the plot becomes tremendously more interesting and involved, which in traditional Kingdom Hearts fashion means becoming far more convoluted to the point of ridiculousness, but to be quite frank this is something I quite enjoy about the series at this point. It’s quite the amazing finale, and hence I would consider the overall story pretty good, though it certainly takes time to get there.
In terms of the style, I really wasn’t much of a fan. There really didn’t seem to be any reason to use the faces and base designs of KH characters instead of KH2. The dream eater designs were also quite lacking, being far too colorful and only being far too colorful. The soundtrack had some good new tracks, such as young Xehanorts theme, but overall the new tracks weren’t as great as previous games either.
A game that isn’t all that great in terms of its additions, and is also lacking in terms of its core pillars for the majority of the game, but that has a return to form in a grand finale.
I’ve never played TWEWY but really want to now.