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July 2024

Kingdom Hearts Integrum Masterpiece

Platform(s): PC
Genre: RPG/Action
Publisher: Square Enix
Developer: Square Enix
Release Date: June 13, 2024


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PC Review - 'Kingdom Hearts Integrum Masterpiece'

by Chris "Atom" DeAngelus on June 25, 2024 @ 12:30 a.m. PDT

Join Sora, Donald Duck and Goofy for the first time to play through two Kingdom Hearts collections along with the critically acclaimed Kingdom Hearts III + Re Mind (DLC), altogether delivering hundreds of hours of content across 10 magical experiences that make up the "Dark Seeker Saga."

You could be forgiven for forgetting that Kingdom Hearts already had a PC release. We covered it in 2021 during its initial release, but its Steam storefront release has people very excited indeed. The new Steam release, with the mouthful of a name Kingdom Hearts Integrum Masterpiece, is comprised of three different games — which are also comprised of multiple games. In essence, you can get the entire Kingdom Hearts franchise, minus the recent rhythm game Melody of Memory, in one incredibly huge bundle. If you're anything like me, you probably wondered how it runs on the Steam Deck. It depends on the game, so it's best to cover all of them.

Kingdom Hearts HD 1.5+2.5 ReMiX

The first of the games in the collection and the best stand-alone choice is 1.5+2.5, which actually contains four complete games and two cut scene collections. In this collection are Kingdom Hearts 1 and 2 as well as the prequel Birth by Sleep and the midquel Re: Chain of Memories. That's four whole full-length RPGs in one package, which is a heck of a lot of Disney and absurd plot twists.

Kingdom Hearts is the game that started it all. As a game, it's still a fun stand-alone action-RPG, but enough time has passed and enough sequels have come out that it feels a bit rough compared to the other games in the collection. You need to have at least some tolerance for awkward platforming, and it's easily the most basic game in the entire collection.

On the other hand, Kingdom Hearts II has aged incredibly well. It's still notably a PS2 game, but it is the point in the franchise where the developer started to get comfortable with the combat. It's fast paced and engaging and contains some of the best boss fights until Kingdom Hearts III Re: Mind. The variety of difficult modes means it's great for casual gamers who want to hang out with Disney characters, but it's also good for those who want to be challenged. It's a fantastic game and worth the price of the collection all by itself.

Re: Chain of Memories is a remake of a GBA game Chain of Memories, and it's set between KH1 and KH2. Unlike the first two games, it uses a weird blend of card-based combat and action combat, which that was very distinct at the time but has become somewhat more common since then. It's probably the weakest game in the collection and easily the one that I feel has aged the worst, but it's still fun.

Kingdom Hearts: Birth by Sleep is the only game in the franchise that doesn't star some version of Sora, as it focuses on three different protagonists with their own stories and play styles. The combat is a lot flashier and more customizable than Kingdom Hearts 2, and it contains some of the most absurd and excessive moments in the entire series. It's worth playing based on its own merits.

The two movies cover the events of 358/2 Days and Re: Coded. The 358/2 movie fills in a lot of much-needed characterization for Organization XIII and is the source of a lot of the fandom's love for the becloaked characters, while Re: Coded is basically pointless and doesn't add anything meaningful to the franchise. They're both nice add-ons to have, however.

Thankfully, the games all run smoothly on the PC, and aside from a few odd textures from upscaling, they look great, too. They're still obviously relics of older games, but the bright, colorful art style assures they have aged well. Likewise, the music and voice acting are excellent through all the games and movies.

Probably the biggest question about the collection is how well it runs on the Steam Deck, and I'm glad to say it's basically perfect. The games largely run smoothly without any adjustments, and they're pretty perfect for the pick-up-and-play style of the Deck. It helps that Birth by Sleep was a handheld game to begin with, but even the console-exclusive ones almost feel like they were made for the Deck.

Kingdom Hearts HD 2.8 HD Final Chapter Prologue

The second collection included in Integrum Masterpiece, Kingdom Hearts 2.8 is probably the least worth purchasing on its own merits, especially since it is more costly than 1.5+2.5. A big part of that is that it has significantly less content. There are only two (or, to use their own measuring, 1.2) games included in this set: Kingdom Hearts Dream Drop Distance and Kingdom Hearts 0.2.

Dream Drop Distance is a solid game overall. It's an 3D-improved version of a 3DS game, and while it shows some of the limitations of the console, the overall port is solid. The game is genuinely fun, and it isn't quite on the level of the best of the best, but it still has a lot going for it, including a weirdly addictive collectible monster mechanic and the appearance of some rare Disney movies.

Kingdom Hearts 0.2 kind of doesn't have a purpose. The original intent was that it would be a light demo for Kingdom Hearts III that's self-contained in its own minigame. Now that Kingdom Hearts III is out, 0.2 offers relatively little value except in clarifying Aqua's current status and explaining why Mickey Mouse didn't have a shirt. (Yes, really.)

Beyond that, there's also a video overview of the Kingdom Hearts X Back Cover movie, which goes over the backstory and history of the universe as told in the mobile game. Unless you played the (now-defunct) mobile games, this is basically the only way to experience some of the backstory, which ends up being relevant in future games.

If you're not getting this collection as part of the whole Integrum Masterpiece set, it's the most skippable one. Dream Drop Distance is fun and 0.2 is enjoyable as a slice of gameplay, but nothing in this collection feels essential now that Kingdom Hearts III is out. There's so much more packed into the first collection that it's a difficult to not feel disappointed by the second, especially since it carries a higher stand-alone price tag.

Thankfully, the same high-quality Steam Deck play applies to both the games in this collection. Dream Drop Distance runs perfectly right out of the gate, and there should be no problem hopping right in. Although 0.2 requires a bit of tuning with the graphics to run smoothly, it works well enough afterward to not elicit complaints.

Kingdom Hearts III + ReMind

The third and final part of the collection is a bundled version of Kingdom Hearts III and its ReMind DLC. Unlike the other games, there is no collection, just a stand-alone version of the game, but Kingdom Hearts III is also a significantly more modern game and contains more than enough content to justify the cost on its own.

The combat system is fast and furious and sets a new high standard for the franchise. More importantly, the included ReMind DLC not only makes the game's ending more enjoyable, but it also includes a laundry list of the best fights in the entire franchise, topping off with genuinely one of my favorite fights in video games. While it costs the same as 2.8, I'd say it's far more worth the cost as a stand-alone title.

Being the most modern game also means it has the hardest time running on the Steam Deck. It still runs and can run well, but you need to make a number of adjustments to the frame rate and image quality to make it work; once you do, it runs incredibly well. The only complaint I have about it is that the Deck's small screen size can make some details tough to make out, which sucks when looking for hidden icons.

Overall, the Kingdom Hearts Integrum Masterpiece is a fantastic port of the games to Steam's ecosystem. Everything runs as well — if not better than — the Epic version, and the Steam Deck releases are some of the most fun I've had on the handheld. There's no reason to rush and purchase the Steam version if you already have the Epic Games Store version, since they're otherwise mostly identical, but otherwise, this is some of the biggest RPG bang for the buck on a PC. If you're unsure or hesitant, it's probably best to start with just the 1.5+2.5 collection to see if the franchise grabs you, but Kingdom Hearts remains one of the weirdest and most fun action-RPGs on the market.

Score: 9.0/10

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