Kingdom Hearts fans are dying for #KingdomHearts3 to come out, and while we sadly don't have that yet, we do have some fleeting new entries in the series. Kingdom Hearts 2.8 HD Final Chapter Prologue, which is not at all exhausting to type, just came out and brings with it a few different titles.
Well, two titles and a one-hour movie. But Kingdom Hearts being Kingdom Hearts, it's not exactly intuitive which one you'll want to play first. If you're looking for a little advice helping you choose which you should experience these in, you've come to the right place.
Playing In Chronological Order
If you are looking to play the games in the overall story's chronological order, then you technically want to watch the Back Cover movie, then move onto Birth By Sleep (A fragmentary passage), then finish with Dream Drop Distance. What's the advantage to doing this?
- The Back Cover movie looks gorgeous and is a nice, easy watch to start your experience.
- A fragmentary passage makes references to events that are shown in the movie — they're brief, but add an extra dimension to what might otherwise go unappreciated.
- Kingdom Hearts is confusing as hell. Whatever you can do to minimize that confusion will make your brain happy.
The caveat here is that I seriously recommend reading the background information that sums up the events of the original Birth By Sleep (not the fragmentary passage). It's a sizable read, but if you never played the original Birth By Sleep, you're going to be completely lost, as A fragmentary passage picks up right where it left off.
Although, it is worth noting that the epilogue of A fragmentary passage does feature one small cinematic that takes place after Dream Drop Distance. However, you're able to re-watch cinematics so you can skip it and watch after Dream Drop Distance if you prefer!
Playing Based on Gameplay
This one will change depending on your preferences when it comes to gaming. Dream Drop Distance is a straight remake of a title originally made for the 3DS. Because of this, it definitely feels like an older game than Birth By Sleep. Mechanically, Dream Drop Distance has more going on but it's also quite a bit less intuitive than Birth By Sleep's.
Graphically, Dream Drop Distance — while a very impressive HD remake — doesn't come close to looking as good as Birth By Sleep. For example, both games begin with a shot of the ocean from the shoreline of Destiny Island. One of these shots looked like a real ocean. The other looked like a video game ocean.
Again, this isn't to say Dream Drop Distance is a bad game (it's not), but more to say that Birth By Sleep's gameplay is going to feel a lot closer to what Kingdom Hearts 3's will presumably be.
Which means if you're playing based on gameplay, it entirely depends on what experience you want to have first, and which you want to have last.
Playing Based on How Long Each Takes
Of course, maybe you don't care about either of the above categories and just want to prioritize playtime. In that case, you should expect the titles to take the following times:
- Back Cover: Since this is more or less a movie, its ~1-hour running time won't change no matter what you do.
- Birth By Sleep: A straight play-through of this probably will take 3-4 hours max (even less if you plow through everything). However, if you're aiming to collect all the wardrobe items, you'll need to do at least two full play-throughs plus a lot of objective hunting.
- Dream Drop Distance: Being the only full game on this list, it's going to take about 20-30 hours to beat the main story. If you're a completionist and want to earn everything, expect double that time, if not more.
Personally, I ended up playing in chronological order mostly because I like feeling like I've completed 2/3 of the overall game, even if that's not the case in terms of time investment. Of course, everyone has their own preferences for these sorts of things — maybe you're going to hop back and forth! In the end, if you play 'em all, you play 'em all.