Operation Backlog Completion 2024
Dec 262016

Although I’d already watched the movie included in the Kingdom Hearts 1.5 Remix, I decided to play through the actual Kingdom Hearts 358/2 Days myself.

I’m glad I did. Although the movie covers all the major plot points, it skips some important scenes, as well as a lot of character interactions that helped me connect more to the plot.

In fact, although the movie got me a little teary-eyed, the emotional impact was much stronger when I played the game myself.

358/2 Days tells the story of Roxas’s time in Organization XIII and his friendship with Axel, and the fourteenth member, Xion.

Its gameplay is similar to that of Kingdom Hearts and Kingdom Hearts II, with one major difference. Your weapon, spells, items, skills, and even levels and inventory space all must be equipped through a panel system. As you progress, you unlock more panel slots.

Panels come in different shapes, and more powerful ones take up more room, which forces you to manage your panels carefully to take what you want into battle. It’s similar to the inventory system in Resident Evil 4 or the way you equip powers in Kid Icarus: Uprising.

I actually really liked the panel system! It’s the sort of inventory management I find fun, unlike what another certain game did.

The other major difference from the rest of the series is that the passage of time is measured through days, and you take on a new mission each day. Sometimes you only have one, while other days give you a list of missions to pick from. Some advance the story, but others are optional.

You can do all of them if you want, but you can skip the optional ones and continue the story if you prefer. All missions can be replayed at any time.

Unfortunately, the missions can get a little repetitive and tedious. A handful of gameplay quirks bugged me, as well:

  • Most missions let you choose whether to RTC (return to the castle) after you complete your objective, so you can continue to search for treasure chests and such. A few do not, and don’t warn you beforehand.
  • Some Heartless disappear once they get too far from their starting point. Very annoying if you almost defeated them, because they have full health when they reappear.
  • There are a few annoying stealth sections. (This might not count, since I just dislike stealth.)

But I mainly play these games for their stories and characters, and that’s where 358/2 Days won me over. Although I would have liked to see more of certain Organization members, the game is filled with entertaining character interactions and funny moments.

On second thought, is this funny or terrifying?

The plot itself is divisive. Some fans love it. Others hate it. I enjoyed it. It’s very different from other Kingdom Hearts plots, but I like its sense of mystery… and the foreboding atmosphere as the story draws closer to its inescapable conclusion.

One of the best parts is being able to talk to members of the Organization each day in the Grey Area before you get your missions. Not only does this provide opportunities for funny dialogue and help with characterization, it also builds up the atmosphere.

(On a side note, if 358/2 Days ever gets a remake, I want to be able to explore the castle as a full hub area.)

Talking to the other members in the Grey Area gives the castle a homey feeling… which makes it that much more uncomfortable when things go bad.

And that brings me to a common criticism I’d like to address.

Click for major 358/2 Days spoilers
I’ve seen a lot of people criticize the plot for having Roxas leave the Organization because of a girl. Is that really what he did?

Xemnas ordered Axel to bring Xion back in any condition, as long as she was still functional. The loudest objection came from Xaldin… who thought she should be destroyed instead.

Roxas realized the other members of the Organization would use or destroy Xion without a second thought. They didn’t view her as a person, and he had to remember the earlier incidents: everyone’s confusion over why he was upset when he thought Axel was dead, and Saix’s scorn over his concern for Xion when she was unconscious.

If they killed Xion, they’d wonder why he was upset. And most wouldn’t feel any worse if he was the one to be destroyed instead.

(He even has PROOF of how little he matters to them, since Saix set up a trap earlier intending for either him or Xion to kill the other.)

After the truth about Xion is revealed, Roxas becomes disillusioned with the Organization. On one mission, he questions why the Organization’s goals even matter to him. He wonders why he still returns to the castle when there’s no one there who cares about him.

Later, he starts questioning if he’s even human, or if he’s a Replica like Xion. If the Organization lied about her, they could have lied about anything.

When Axel refuses to tell him his origins, that just emphasizes to him that he can’t trust anyone, not even Axel. And it makes him feel even more that no one in the Organization cares about him.

Roxas didn’t leave Organization XIII “because of a girl.” He left because their treatment of that girl made him realize that they were cold, manipulative liars who would use him as a tool and discard him when he was no longer useful.

Thanks to the character interactions, I felt the transformation, and that made it much easier to empathize with Roxas’s motivations than from the movie alone.

The Disney worlds also contribute to the plot in thematic ways, particularly as Roxas learns more about friendship. And of course, there’s the conversation between him and Xion about how the Beast defends his own castle, but if someone attacked the Castle That Never Was, they’d be the ones to fight, not Xemnas.

(Also, it’s impressive that although DiZ only has a handful of lines in the entire game, he uses each of those lines to make himself as unlikable as possible.)

And although most fans say Birth By Sleep is the darkest Kingdom Hearts game, I think 358/2 Days is. Sure, the early parts are lighthearted… but it takes the disturbing themes from Roxas’s prologue in Kingdom Hearts 2 and makes them ten times stronger.

Now, I haven’t said much about Mission Mode, where you can play as any Organization member, and that’s because I played only a little of it. It was fun trying out the different characters, but I didn’t enjoy it enough to keep playing through missions as them.

Kingdom Hearts 358/2 Days isn’t a perfect game, but it was enjoyable. I had fun with it, and I’m glad I decided to play through it myself.

Buy Kingdom Hearts 358/2 Days from Amazon
Buy Kingdom Hearts 358/2 Days from Play-Asia

If you want posts like this delivered straight to your inbox, enter your email in the box below to subscribe!

 Leave a Reply

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>