Is Birth by Sleep The Best Kingdom Hearts Game? – The Game Collection Review!

Is Birth by Sleep The Best Kingdom Hearts Game? – The Game Collection Review!

Welcome back to The Game Collection! Last time, I talked about Kingdom Hearts 2,
and next up in The Story So Far is a movie called 358 over 2 Days, it was originally
a DS game. But in the translation to HD for the remaster,
Square decided not to really bother with turning it into a HD game for some reason or other. If you want to know my thoughts on the movie
version, let me know. But for the time being we’re going to skip
ahead to the next game in the bundle: Birth by Sleep! Kingdom Hearts Birth by Sleep was originally
released for the PlayStation Portable. It’s a prequel to Kingdom Hearts 1, and follows
three different protagonists, in some of the most important events leading up to Kingdom
Hearts 1. The story follows Terra, the headstrong Keyblade
master as he struggles with his inner darkness. Ventus, the rambunctious youthful keyblade
wielder as he uncovers his mysterious past. And Aqua, the thoughtful and skillful keyblade
master as she tries to keep an eye on her friends and follow her master’s instruction. As per usual with the Kingdom Hearts series,
the protagonists end up visiting many Disney locations, bumping into Disney villains and
heroes along the way. Something interesting about this instance
though is the fact that our heroes end up going to some older Disney sites, such as
the lands of Snow White, Sleeping Beauty and Cinderella. These stories didn’t grab me to be completely
honest, as these stories were really before my time, and even as a kid these stories didn’t
really capture my imagination. Some of the locations were still pretty neat
to visit though, such as Deep Space, and Neverland. Even without a strong fandom for some of these
stories going into the game, they were still very easy to follow along with and enjoy. The overarching stories of Terra, Ventus and
Aqua though were the real draws here. Each individual story has a bit of intrigue
to them, and while each is only 10 to 15 hours long, and each story just sort of re-used
each world, the different scenarios that played out within each world for each of the 3 characters
felt pretty distinct! And getting to piece together the entire story
after the 3 playthroughs was actually very satisfying. While at first I thought the stories were
going to be lame due to the chosen IPs, I was actually impressed with the fact that
this is probably the best storytelling within a Kingdom Hearts game I’ve played up to this
point! The story did still have its weaker points,
mind you. It wouldn’t be a proper Kingdom Hearts game
without some really convoluted plot points buried deep into the core of the game. One of the biggest things this game accomplishes
is explaining who Xehanort is, why he’s bad, and how he came to be. He’s the main antagonist throughout the game,
and those familiar with Kingdom Hearts 2’s story will know why this is such a crucial
bit of information, since he’s pretty integral to the stories of Kingdom Hearts 1 and 2. So on the one hand it’s great that we get
some answers about that strange plot twist. On the other hand, the game also introduces
a McGuffin that I’m guessing may or may not come up later in the series, further complicating
the overarching plot. But this game finally answers more questions
than it asks, and for that I am eternally grateful! The 3 stories of Terra, Ventus and Aqua are
also particularly nice. They’re short and to the point, so not too
much really happens for any single character, but through these characters we’re able to
see the machinations, the intricacies of the mastermind behind the chaos. The gameplay within Birth by Sleep caught
me off guard. It has a character progression system that
I didn’t fully grasp until the end of my playthrough as Terra, and even then some things I didn’t
pick up on until the third campaign. Birth By Sleep doesn’t really hold your hand,
or even fully explain how character progression works in-game, which made my playthrough as
Terra particularly difficult, and honestly, not very fun. But by the time I figured out how the game
really works, it was an incredibly fun system, and I’ll go ahead and explain that here. As you defeat enemies, you gain some base
stats, attack, defense, and hit points. That’s pretty much it. You might be able to buy some new skill cards
from a moogle shop, but for the most part most of the character growth occurs from melding
commands together. Essentially, Birth by Sleep borrows some concepts
from card based games. You can buy and build up spell commands, or
certain kinds of attack commands, and then fuse them together to make different and possibly
stronger commands. When fusing, or melding these commands together,
you can also attach crystals, these things act like perks that might raise your max HP,
fire resistance, enemy drop-rates, or any number of things. Some of these are multipliers that have a
cumulative effect. And then once you level THAT command all the
way, those perks, or abilities, become permanently a part of your character. So during my playthrough as Terra, until the
end I struggled with low hit points, low damage output, weak defense, and lack of attack varieties. Eventually though I was able to transform
these characters into beings with godlike abilities. For instance, I combined a fire skill with
a glide skill, which enveloped Terra in a shroud of fire whenever he would glide around. I could also attach a crystal to that command
during melding that might have increase my fire damage output, or maybe decrease the
cooldown times of my spells. And that leads into another mechanic I wasn’t
sure about at first. Rather than having magic points, you have
command slots, and each command has a cooldown depending on your abilities and the strength
of the command you have equipped. At first I didn’t care for it. But eventually I recognized that this actually
worked perfectly for this game. The cooldown times could be mitigated, and
because they regenerate automatically, you could eventually spam high-level attacks without
consequence, helping you feel all-powerful… Until you don’t, that is. The game has this cycle of letting you feel
powerful, then pitting you up against someone or some thing way more difficult than before. Grind of a while, get OP, rinse and repeat. The difficulty walls requiring hours of grinding
were kind of annoying at times, but they were also opportunities to tune your characters
for higher efficiency, and being able to plan out characters and strategies, and seeing
those come together with ludicrous efficiency is something that I will never tire of. The worlds in Birth by Sleep were just okay,
I guess. Something about the lands of Sleeping Beauty,
Cinderella, and Snow White all felt extraordinarily bland and samey. But other worlds made up for them at least
a little bit. Musically, nothing really stood out either. But one thing that actually did stand out
was the fact that the game has near end-to-end voice-acting, throughout the game. I’d say something like 70 to 80 percent of
all dialog is voiced, and that is actually really impressive! I’m not sure if it was like that for the PSP
release, or if they voiced everything for the remaster, but either way, it was definitely
nice to have. And I think Phil even sounded a little more
like himself than before, which is a nice surprise! All in all, I had a really good time with
this game. It felt a tad short, but I still sank 45 hours
into it, so that’s just a testament to the fact that time flies when you’re having fun. And being able to use 2 analog sticks on this
game should be reason enough to pick it up on the remaster! Birth by Sleep was a surprisingly good entry
into the series that I honestly didn’t expect anything from going into it. And while I definitely had some frustrating
times before I got the hang of the progression system, I don’t think there’s anything that
would keep me from giving this game a solid recommendation. Birth by Sleep earned itself a spot in The
Game Collection! For alternate recommendations, check out my
reviews of Hexyz Force. It’s another PSP title that tells two concurrent
stories via two campaigns, and doesn’t seem to come up very often, but is a solid title,
in its own right.

40 thoughts on “Is Birth by Sleep The Best Kingdom Hearts Game? – The Game Collection Review!

  • Another great review from Derek. I'd like to have you opinion on the 358/2 days, but if you want to understand a few plot points for KH3, I would recommend watching at least the Back Cover and re:Coded, last of which is VERY optional, but might as well do it. You could lump it all in one video and call it a shot!

  • Great review! I think it would be cool if you did a review of the stories from 358 Days and Re:Coded to go along with your Kingdom Hearts series reviews.

  • Absolutely loved this game it was the reason why I picked up a PSP this is what got me into Sony. This was my number 1 game so far until KH3 came out but it is still in my top 5 though I still haven't played all the games yet.

  • Nice review Derek! Played it when it came out and I remember loving it, but I can't remember much about it now. Might have to give it another run 🙂

  • BBS definitely my favorite from entire KH games, I remember I struggle so much fighting Vanitas because I don't really know the mechanic back then X'D

  • I thought Phil sounded great before. You’d have to check the credits to see if Danny DeVito still did the voice. Also, yes I want your analysis of Days. If you can somehow fit them in, all the KH games deserve one of your signature premium reviews!

  • I wouldn't mind a video of 358/2 Days, Love the story surrounding the main trio, Made them some of my favorites in the series. The movie skips some vital character building cut scenes in the Disney worlds but the movie is well made enough to be worth a watch.

  • 358/2 Days is worth it. The gameplay is kinda basic and the design of the game is really bare bones, but the story is worth suffering through those weaker elements.

    If you don't have a ds, there's this program called retroarch. It plays much better on a gamepad or even keyboard than on the handheld it was made for, and if your PC is a savage beast it looks better fully upscaled on a big screen too. I'd say if you own the collection you're well within your rights to experience the game itself.

    The story is engaging, with amusing character banter, and quite emotional stakes as a result of the well written characters. The cutscenes in the collection really don't do the experience justice.

    For certain, playing KH3 without playing this game is really selling yourself short on some really big payoff. Of course you're free to skip it if you want, but KH3 will be a whole third less rewarding if you do.

  • You really summed up this game quite well. I felt you really sold the first game short, but this review was reassuringly fair. It's a fun game – with a bit of depth, and some decent story telling.

    I do get a bit irrate when someone uses the word "convoluted" to describe anything in this game, as feel that word, while not entirely inaccurate, has negative connotations. The nature of the KH plot is very much similar to it's gameplay. It's frustrating at first, but if you get immersed in its depths, it becomes a blast to piece together and reexamine how character motivations and the rules of the universe connect, and you can catch yourself spending hours just mentally sifting through the machinations of lore, if that makes sense. It's not for everybody, but it's still exhausting to see people dismissing these aspects as poorly crafted or weak.

  • I just got the Platinum for this 2 days ago… and man.. I don't know what's more exhausting.. this or the Level Master Riku for KHRECOM.

  • I really couldn't grasp this game but after listening to your review I think it is one that may deserve a 2nd chance!

  • Um… Can someone fix the captions? It's just a bunch of html code and I can't understand what's going on. .. Many thanks!

  • You should totally review 358 for DS. Pretty good for a DS game.

    Unpopular opinion: the DS KH games are pretty solid

  • I don’t even know where to start with this series.. I have the original KH on ps2.. And I have that little compilation that features KH2 & Birth by Sleep on PS3

  • I had difficulty with Aqua, who I played first. Only had issue with final boss with Ven. And Terra I heard was hardest so I grinded and was op for most of it. Was so fun! Agree on bland world's. But the combat is what kept me invested. Similar to Chain oh memories but more traditional and less card based. I love all 4 games so far. Hope the rest is great

  • Awesome that you played proud mode. Wouldn't have 2 or this any other way. Sucks it's considered hard when 1 was normal and just as hard

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