After nearly 13 years of waiting (and about 5 years of actual development), Kingdom Hearts III finally released on PS4 and Xbox One on January 29th of last year. It was a major success both critically and commercially, with the more popular PS4 version having an 83 with critics on Metacritic, an 8.1 with fans, and over 5 million copies sold in just its first week. Some fans did voice their concerns though, such as with the easy difficulty, lacking presence of Final Fantasy characters, parts of the endgame that felt unexplained or rushed, the way the character Kairi was treated and a lack of postgame/superbosses.
Kingdom Hearts III’s ReMIND DLC provides all of these elements, with a roughly 4 hour story expansion leading into battles with 14 superbosses that truly test players’ dexterity with the gameplay mechanics, even on lower difficulties, though it doesn’t initially start out that way.
After a set of cutscenes that provide some helpful clarification for certain plot beats, the first third of the story expansion is spent rehashing several of the late game bosses from the base game to your Sora that isn’t level scaled. This means that if players go in with a Level 99 Sora, these battles will be a complete cakewalk. Playing as other characters when given the option can better balance the fights, (two of which are very much worth playing) but players will have to get used to preset quick command mapping.
On top of this, several of the early cutscenes are reused cutscenes already from the game, but with maybe an additional segment where Sora reflects a bit. Some might be tempted to skip the cutscenes that feel the exact same and seem to play out the same, but players should watch them all; since they may miss the new context added to scenes already shown, almost like a director’s cut of the original game.
Thankfully, once the story focuses on the 358 Days/2 trio (Axel, Roxas and Xion), the new plot really picks up, doing those characters much more justice, entering brand new story soon after, and having many more Team Limits. Kingdom Hearts has always been a series preaching about bonds and connections between people, but the ReMIND scenario puts that into practice more than ever with both the storyline and the cinematic gameplay. Nearly every character gets a new moment to shine, and it makes the heroes’ struggle fighting seem more like a grand team effort compared to Sora doing most of the work. It doesn’t change the original game’s ending, but it provides much greater context for the events and explores further around the endgame of the vanilla version in ways I believe would better satisfy series fans.
That’s only the shorter story though. Those who buy this DLC will likely spent most of their time in the “Limit Cut.” This is essentially an excuse for the game to have its own “Garden of Assemblage” exactly like the one added in Kingdom Hearts II’s Final Mix expansion. In here, players can fight 13 superbosses based on the members of the game’s Organization XIII. And while many players may have found the base game too easy on difficulties other than Critical, these bosses will all truly test players’ dexterity and mastery of the game mechanics. Each boss took me at least 2 hours if not more over the course of three days on Level 80 Proud Mode. They hit hard, move incredibly fast, and each have many attacks. But, they still have clear patterns to follow and openings to capitalize on, helped further by new abilities added in the latest patch allowing for faster combos and a new quick but powerful finisher. It’s incredible how all of these bosses have such high challenge in their own ways, and each specific battle is given its own new music remix. No two players would have the same favorites or decisions on which boss is the toughest. For me personally, Xemnas, Xion, Dark Riku and Marluxia were my favorites to fight, with Saix and Xemnas being the hardest, but that’ll change with every player.
Once all the bosses are defeated, players will have access to a “Secret Episode” where they get the opportunity to fight the strongest boss of them all. I won’t spoil it here, but the amount of attacks it has alongside their versatility and speed makes for a very intense fight, capitalized with the epic music. While Dark Inferno, the hardest boss of the base game, felt like a benchmark to design superbosses upwards from, this boss is truly the game’s hardest and most intense challenge.
Other than this, there are two new menus for replaying the main game. Fast Pass Mode allows for a multitude of buffs to be turned on to make the main journey incredibly easy for players to speed through, while Black Code Mode allows for a multitude of nerfs to make playthroughs much more challenging, including turning off all of the combat supplements and even causing your health and magic to constantly drain. These can provide more unique ways for replaying through the game again than just what New Game Plus could offer.
Lastly, there is an updated Photo Mode known as “Data Greeting,” which is surprisingly very extensive for a diorama mode. For every location in the game, players will have the ability to place any character or object in any position or pose that they want to, each character having many expressions. Already many fans are using this to recreate many classic Kingdom Hearts moments, or to create glorious meme material seen on Twitter or r/KingdomHearts. It lets players express their creative muscles with a surprisingly high amount of tools.
So is it worth the $30? That depends on players’ willingness to deal with what can be very difficult boss battles for the sake of experiencing slightly more story. Most of the playtime will be spent on superboss attempts, and more could be spent on challenge runs, but the other additions offer their own levels of fun to compliment it. If players purely want the DLC for the story/epilogue and the brief appearance of the Final Fantasy characters, it will not be worth the money for how short the initial scenario is and how limited their appearance really is. However, if players truly want the game’s challenge pushed to its limits against the very hard yet very fair boss fights, and are willing to indulge in everything else around those boss fights, ReMIND definitely delivers. Hesitation about the price is believable, and personally I would have rather paid about $5-10 less, but I was nonetheless satisfied with the fun additions, quality fixes and new challenges added to Kingdom Hearts III to make it a much grander game.