Mobile games are typically what I try to avoid. To me, they lack in-depth gameplay, story, and the touch interface gets in the way of any fun that I can have. However, Kingdom Hearts Unchained X may have changed my whole perspective on mobile gaming. Sure, it’s a game from one of my favorite series, but Square Enix have been able to replicate the formula of the series effectively while also bringing in a cool, almost Destiny-like social element.
Set before Sora’s adventures and the Keyblade War, you take on the role of a novice keyblade wielder chosen by the Lost Masters and try to solve the problems of the worlds. Not much of a story is provided. There are basic sub-plots in the various worlds, but nothing is really explained about your role in the world, The Lost Masters, or where you are. The plot has promise, however.
If you are a fan of the series, the world selection may be disappointing to you. Yet again, Square Enix and Disney have repeated the same worlds from the original game: Agrabah, Wonderland, and Olympus Coliseum. It’s kind of getting old. There is also the Dwarf Woodlands, which was previously in Birth By Sleep, and the only new world in the game, Daybreak Town. We’ve seen this happen with Chain of Memories, Re: Coded, and 358/2 Days so why, again, do we have to step on familiar ground? The magic of Kingdom Hearts is to explore new lands, battle each foe, and solve each world’s problems.
What might be cool is to give us a little teaser of Tangled’s world and San Fransokyo from Kingdom Hearts 3, but alas, we’re stuck with the same worlds we know like the back of our hands for over a decade. However, the one world I would forgive this for is a visit to Atlantica, so we can find out why King Triton mistrusts the keyblade wielders. A contradicting factor of the game is that you are saving and helping people from other worlds, but in the original Kingdom Hearts, King Triton told Sora, “As the key bearer, you must already know one must not meddle in the affairs of other worlds.” He also says, “The key bearer shatters peace and brings ruin.” It would be interesting if Square Enix explains why this is the case and what happened in Unchained X.
The gameplay is fairly simple. In a similar way to Chain of Memories, you have a deck of 3-5 cards, depending on how far your keyblade has leveled. Each card has a corresponding color: blue, green, and red. Blue is weak to green, green is weak to red, and red is weak to blue, in a similar way to Pokemon. In addition, they also have a special ability that is attached which costs AP. The ability could be healing, a combo of attacks on one enemy, or a widespread blast that hits everything. The combat isn’t as in-depth as the console games, but it is still more complex than most of the mobile games out there.
Something I have noticed in the mobile games that I have recently played (and Kingdom Hearts Unchained X follows this too) is that there is a friend system. This system allows people to help others by adding their favorite character to another’s team. When a skill is activated from one of the helpers’ cards, their specific avatar appears to help you in the fight. However, this aspect of the game breaks its challenge as you can get an overpowered card to help you 95% of the time with an instant wipe of the board. In addition, guilds are present in Kingdom Hearts Unchained X, and you can get help or assist another player in defeating a raid boss, which appears every so often. These raid bosses range from the Behemoth to the Darkside Heartless. This is a cool aspect, but once again, due to the overpowered assists, you can take on one of these raid bosses easily.
However, it is addicting to collect these cards when you level up and find them within packs. Square Enix is generous with its in-game currency, unlike many other mobile games. With every 5 levels completed, you get 150 jewels as well as a login bonus every day, of varying quantity. Square Enix also have daily events, in the form of levels, that allow you to get bonus cards (for using in battle, evolving your battle card, or selling for Munny) or possibly jewels, which occurred for the first time over the past week. However, after a month of playing the game, I have grown tired of the formula. This might be due to replaying the levels twice because of switching to a tablet while not knowing you can transfer your save through Facebook or the cloud, but it lacks the strategy that the original games have. It’s fun for small sittings, but not for hours upon hours. The same areas appear over and over again, and I must bring up again that this can be fixed with a larger variety of worlds that we are not familiar with.
Despite this being a mobile title, Kingdom Hearts Unchained X continues the high production values that the series is known for. When booting into the game, you are greeted by another orchestral version of Dearly Beloved to a stunning backdrop of Daybreak Town. With a hand-drawn style, the game is charming on a phone or tablet. The visual effects during the cutscenes are great and the raid bosses are animated well. What Square Enix has been successful at, especially with the Kingdom Hearts series, is that they make the best of the platform they decide to release their games on. The touch controls are fluid, the music is top notch, and the social media-esque system of having friends joining in battle, for example, is well implemented.
Kingdom Hearts Unchained X is a must-download free-to-play title. With a lot of promise from its mobile stand out battle system, wonderful visual art style, and consistent updates, the game is worth a try, especially if you are a fan of the series. It’s just a bit too easy and repetitive at this point, but hey, it’s a good option for those who are waiting for Kingdom Hearts HD II.8 Final Chapter Prologue and Kingdom Hearts III.
Kingdom Hearts Unchained X
- Well crafted visuals and presentation
- Use of orchestral music from the games
- Great touch screen controls
- More complex battle system than most mobile games
- Cards are fun to collect
- Repetitive in nature
- The game is too easy
- The same worlds that have been shown over and over again before.