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KH and FF7 Rebirth are hard to compare



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Launchpad

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This might be an odd point of comparison, but I've been comparing Rebirth in my mind to the core KH experience a lot, and what I've concluded is this-- FF7 Rebirth has great extrinsic motivation, whereas Kingdom Hearts has great intrinsic motivation.

I don't find any one piece of gameplay in Rebirth to be profoundly interesting, deep, or fun. It's not mechanically fun to run around these environments, the ocean of minigames are shallow, and combat more often feels like a simple solution-based puzzle rather than a test of mechanical skill. What I'm enjoying, and what's threading me through the game is the sheer multitude of content, objectives, minigames, and atmosphere. There's a more 'adventurous' feeling in this game than any other, because of the several means of traversal and busywork along the way. It looks and feels fancy, so you want to see what's next at every turn.

Meanwhile, KH is a LOT simpler. The scenes aren't much. There aren't many side quests. Postgame is usually just going around and synthesizing items. Most of the motivation to play comes from within Sora himself, who, compared to Cloud, is a swiss-army knife of fun possibilities and polish. I play Kingdom Hearts to test all the abilities, skills, and just to move around the environments. It's intrinsically rewarding and fun. If anything, it's when I'm not in the core gameplay loop that I get bored. Things like sliding, riding carpets, controlling robots and pirate ships feel like they're getting in the way of the good part-- the basic gameplay.

The reason I made this thread is because I see people say that KH4 should take several pages out of Rebirth's book, and for the most part, I don't really agree. Rebirth has entirely different objectives than KH. KH is breezy, doesn't do much, and is replayable. FF7R is long, packed full of interesting stuff, and you'll think twice about starting a new game. KH usually has one playable character who is robust and polished. FF7R has 7 playable characters that wildly vary in polish and game-feel.

None of this is to say that one is better than the other. It's just an observation that they are aiming for completely different things.
 

Luminary

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Great write up, Launchpad! I love Rebirth’s combat, but there’s nothing that I really want to them to take to KH directly from that system. The system is really easy to exploit once you know how to set things up. I love that, but it’s not what KH is meant to be. KH requires learning patterns, openings, and being able to react quickly. If they were to add more party management, pressure/stagger, etc., it would slow combat down too much.

From a world design perspective, I think KH works best when it can change its approach from world to world like KH3 did. You can have worlds like Arendelle and Olympus that follow linear paths. Or Toy Box, the Caribbean, and San Fransokyo that are more open. Every major area in Rebirth has the same basic philosophy to be a big open area with variation mostly coming from the unique chobo traversal options. That works because it all exists in the same world. But KH has the unique ability to give us more variety which is hate to see them give up on. I hope they continue to take a variety of approaches depending on the world and what the film it’s based on calls for.

Things I would like to see them take from Rebirth are the higher quality cutscenes, better voice direction, and handling of the characters. I’d want these things regardless of Rebirth, but SE has proven they can do these things really well in a modern game now. So I don’t want KH4 to feel like a downgrade in these areas.

Regarding side content, I think people forget how much side stuff KH3 had. Lucky Emblems, Classic Kingdom, Photo Mode challenges, optional gummi missions including superbosses, synthesis, Battle Gates, Flantastic Seven, cooking, world-specific minigames like sledding, etc. I think the main difference is that the game doesn’t weave those things into traditional side quests like Rebirth does.
Some aren’t tied to the story at all.

I do hope that with us having a true hub world in KH4 that maybe some of these things could be tied to more formal side quests from NPCs. If nothing else, that would allow more opportunities for character interactions like we see in Rebirth. But as far as volume of content, I think KH3 worked just fine. More combat challenges would have been nice though.

I absolutely agree on your point that these are much different games going for different things. What worked in Rebirth will not automatically be good in KH. Or vice versa. Both can be amazing in different ways by focusing on their unique strengths. And to me, it’s more impressive if KH can stand out in its own rather than trying to be a clone of its big brother.
 

Launchpad

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Great write up, Launchpad! I love Rebirth’s combat, but there’s nothing that I really want to them to take to KH directly from that system.
Oh, I like the combat a lot too! My operative word was 'profoundly' regarding depth and fun. It's enjoyable but not mindblowing to me, on its own. To me, Rebirth is succeeding on the incredibly grand sum of its parts, where KH usually owes its success to the granular detail of its mechanics.
 

Phoenix

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Thanks for the write up. I struggled to identify why I like KH and not the FF7 remakes. They played like totally different games to me, but I couldn't verbalise why.
 
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