I’ll be the first to tell you that Kingdom Hearts has some overly complicated lore, but that doesn’t stop me from wanting to soak up every bit of it. Still, I couldn’t really find anything fun about Kingdom Hearts Union Cross. Regardless of my feelings for that entry, I was still interested in Kingdom Hearts Dark Road, a mobile-only game developed by the same team. Sadly, I was naive in thinking this would be anything good.
Kingdom Hearts Dark Road is a new mobile entry in the ever-growing Kingdom Hearts series. Accessed within the actual Union Cross app, Dark Road stars Xehanort, the big baddy of at least ten Kingdom Hearts games. However, the game takes place during a time when Xehanort is an aspiring Keyblade master who wants to know more about the universe at large.
While we know he ultimately descends into darkness to become that villain, here we see that come to fruition. First on the agenda though is looking for some missing Keyblade wielders. Thus Xehanort and his compatriots will go off in search of them, killing a ton of heartless along the way.
However, as a mobile game, don’t expect to see any actual weight at launch, as once you’ve seen the opening cutscenes, the remaining content is extremely meager. At this point, if you were hoping to see and personality given to the new characters, you’d be sorely mistaken as they are simply empty vessels to fill your three-person battle team.
One look at the game’s battle system and it’s possible to be distracted by the use of cards and maybe think it is similar to something like Kingdom Hearts: Chain of Memories or even Fate/Grand Order. However, Dark Road has you play with decks full of cards that you spend in-game currency to pull for.
Each of these cards has a particular corresponding move, be it a magic spell, basic, or fancy attack. In battle though, you’ll need to choose three of six randomly selected cards to use the attack of the first card, if the latter two are of the same color, the attack will get a boost.
It seems that the development team took note of how large portions of the fanbase would only follow the story updates for Union Cross without actually playing the game, and instead of changing up the gameplay for Dark Road to make it not terrible, they just removed it altogether. For better or for worse, this is an idling game, through and through, there is nothing, very little for you to actually do while the game is running.
During gameplay, quests like “kill 500 enemies” will appear, which really means putting your phone on auto for an hour and picking it up later when the quest is done. Well, there is a chance you might get killed by a mob, which means pressing auto-battle again and doing something else. It is an extraordinarily brain dead system. Oh, don’t worry, when you’re finished killing that first set of 500 enemies, you’ll get to do it against, but this time, on a specific world.
Aside from spending in-game currency on cards, you can also spend it on keys, which will allow the player to earn BP quicker to speed up the ridiculous grind. But once you’ve cleared out the starting quests, you’ll find that there is an almost vertical leveling curve with lots and lots of grinding if you want to partake in any of the additional content. Still, this isn’t anything interesting and just more of the same fights you’ve already done thousands of times already.
Kingdom Hearts Dark Road is as it stands a total waste of time. There is so much lacking in terms of substantial gameplay, which relies heavily on idling systems and uninteresting characters. The game is in need of a complete overhaul, full of quality-of-life updates and balance. However, we might not see any of that for a while.
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