The Kingdom Hearts saga is now on Steam to recapture your heart all over again

Posted on June 23, 2024

After a period of Epic Games Store exclusivity on PC, the Kingdom Hearts Dark Seeker Saga (comprising of Kingdom Hearts I-III, the previously handheld-exclusive Birth By Sleep, Re: Chain of Memories and Dream Drop Distance spin-offs, as well as a HD cutscene compilation for the DS-exclusive 358/2 Days and Re: Coded games), is finally on Steam. This release comes with some minor texture upgrades (also coming to the Epic Games Store versions), achievement support and cloud saves, making it an excellent way of diving back into these classic titles (if you haven’t already bought one of the console versions, at least).

The Kingdom Hearts games’ grand overarching storyline was never the easiest to follow, even having all the games side-by-side to play through. The franchise started out as a relatively straightforward action-RPG featuring Final Fantasy characters and worlds based on classic Disney movies back in 2002. Since then, the games’ sprawling mythology has gradually expanded to the extent that you might need a flowchart and a free afternoon to go over all the optional in-game reports and journal entries in order to make sense of exactly what is going on by the third game. On the other hand, the series’ leads, particularly Haley Joel Osment as Sora, David Gallagher as Riku and Jesse McCartney as Roxas and Ventus, deliver their often nonsense lines with enough conviction that you generally get on board with the stakes even if you have no idea exactly what the bad guys’ plans are supposed to entail. If you prefer the original Japanese audio, that is also handily included as an option.

As experiences on PC, the ports hold up quite well. The games ran just fine on my laptop, and even the pre-Kingdom Hearts III games have a decent number of graphical options to choose from, such as different resolutions, V-sync and frame rate caps. While you’re encouraged to play with a controller, the keyboard and mouse controls aren’t too shabby. Scrolling through the Command menu with the mouse wheel, attacking with the left mouse button and dodging with the right mouse button all feel rather intuitive. Some of the default key bindings were a little weird, like M for pause or R for lock-on, but it overall feels pretty natural. Annoyingly, you can only change these options in the pause menu. This sounds pretty standard, except that you cannot access the pause menu during combat in these games. As such, if a particularly elaborate boss is tanking your performance, or you forgot which key you rebound the lock-on function to during a challenging fight, you can’t actually adjust your options to fix things until you are defeated and restart in a safe area.

While jumping between each game is relatively straightforward via an initial launcher, the way these games are distributed in this package may irk some. You can only purchase them in the same bundles that are present on console, which are Kingdom Hearts -HD 1.5+2.5 ReMIX, Kingdom Hearts HD 2.8 Final Chapter Prologue and Kingdom Hearts III + Re Mind (DLC). The inability to buy or at least install each individual game separately means that Kingdom Hearts -HD 1.5+2.5 ReMIX in particular takes up a whopping 60GB of space. For what amounts to four enhanced PS2 games and some cutscenes, this may seem excessive.

Considering how long these games have been out, the RRP for these games also seems a bit high considering on Steam, Kingdom Hearts -HD 1.5+2.5 ReMIX and Kingdom Hearts HD 2.8 Final Chapter Prologue are being sold for $5 AUD more than their pricing on the PlayStation Store. At least in the case of Kingdom Hearts III, it is both cheaper than it is on console AND it includes the post-release Re:Mind expansion, making the third game a good value proposition on Steam.

Fundamentally, the Kingdom Hearts franchise feels right at home on Steam. Cloud Saves make jumping between a PC, laptop and Steam Deck seamless, and whether you’re playing with a controller or a mouse and keyboard setup, both feel like comfortable ways to play. There isn’t any gameplay content aside from a version-exclusive Keyblade in the third game that you won’t find in previous versions of these games, meaning that unless the additional resolution and frame-rate options appeal to you, it may not necessarily be worth a re-purchase if you already own it on console. However, if you have yet to experience this truly unique saga, it’s now more accessible than ever on Steam, particularly with an introductory 31% off for all of them until the 12th of July 2024.