Kingdom Hearts Re:coded is exactly as the title suggests, a revisit and remake of the earlier Kingdom Hearts Coded DS game. While the series has continuously been going strong, Re:coded doesn’t take any chances but prefers to stay on the safe side with tried and true elements of many of the staples found in the series. It pains me to say it but Re:coded is the weakest title in the series to date.
The story takes place after Kingdom Hearts II and begins with Jiminy Cricket as he reminisces and browses through the journal of his travels. He is taken by surprise at a message he did not write that reads, “Their hurting will be mended when you return to end it.” Troubled by this message, he takes the journal to King Mickey who summons Chip n’ Dale to decipher the meaning of this statement and to digitize the contents which is infested with bugs.
Much like the original Coded DS game and Kingdom Hearts: Birth By Sleep, the Command Deck is used to fight and dispose of enemies. Each area is infected with bug blox that you must kill and destroy to successfully “debug” the surrounding datascape area. Moogle Shops are available which gives you the ability to buy and reshuffle deck commands with save points never far away when you need them.
Sora has a clock gauge that gradually fills up when you destroy bugs, that grants you a variety of new abilities and Finish Commands. As you boost your clock gauge, the clock ability tree appears and shows the direction of your Keyblade abilities (e.g. medic, shell, protect). This allows you to easily see which abilities can be activated to unleash a devastating Finish command move. The gauge resets after a short time that makes you start from scratch again.
You gradually learn Sector Points (SP) that can later be redeemed for rewards when you’re debugging a sector and removing all blox bug threats. Be warned that you lose SP points anytime you’re attacked by the enemy in battle. Rewards are distributed in the form of yellow and blue boxes. Sora can use his SP to collect many blue boxes whereas yellow boxes are only collectible once on the reward menu. If your inventory is full and you’ve hoarded most of the items, the SP can be converted to gain “munny” or experience.
Sectors are filled with floor challenges that must be undertaken to advance in the game. You must wager a set amount of SP points and failure to complete it results in the loss of your SP wager. A progress bar indicates how close you are to completing the challenge in your sector while roaming the dark and gloomy grounds.
Levelling up is achieved through three different matrixes: the Stat, Command and Gear Matrix. Like the name suggests, the Stat matrix is used to boost Sora’s stats and abilities by installing different chips into various slots and branching out from the main CPU. There are 4 types of chips: Level Up, Stat, Trophy and Blank chips. Trophy chips are used to boost many stats at once while blank chips serve as placeholders for slots and other matrix areas.
The Command Matrix is used to shuffle the commands found in your Command Deck. Each matrix in the system has slot groups that consist of two blue slots and one red one. The blue slots are used to install commands and the combination of two separate ones form a more powerful command that is found in the red slot. It also opens up the path to conversions, which allow you to use new abilities that fall within the categories of test conversion and conversion (which is permanent).
Finally, the Gear Matrix is used to change equipment for which three types of chips are installed: Keyblade, Finish Command and Accessory chips. Keyblade chips verify which keyblade you use while the finish command chips are used to assign powerful attacks to be used at Sora’s disposal. The Accessory chips act as a protector and shield against negative status effects.
While the game has its moments, you can’t help but experience a déjà vu feeling. Re:coded uses a lot of the same mechanics found in earlier Kingdom Hearts titles that will undoubtedly leave many players with the “been there, done that” aftertaste. The plot remains mostly the same as Kingdom Hearts Coded and I can’t help but sense that the game feels like a rehashed game of earlier series’ instalments.
Visually, the game is polished with little to no hints of slowdown. The soundtrack is standard Kingdom Hearts fare with nothing that is really noticeable or unique on its own. Opening cutscenes are beautiful to watch but once the game starts, there isn’t much else on the visual front.
Kingdom Hearts Re:coded is a game that feels fragmented. It failed to live up to its potential when it comes to treading new ground, as it falls back into the same familiar territory that fans have already visited and seen. It is not a bad game by any means, but this latest Kingdom Hearts game just isn’t what it could have been in regards to giving the series a boost and the breath of fresh air that it needed.