If there was ever a piece of media so utterly devoted to confusing its dedicated fan base and actively pushing away those who didn’t choose to invest their time in playing nine previous instalments, it's Kingdom Hearts III Re Mind. The base game's one and only piece of major DLC is probably the least accessible expansion of the PlayStation 4 generation -- arriving a year after the title's hotly-anticipated release and throwing you in at the deep end with new lore, story sequences, and a long, long list of characters to catch up on. It's not necessarily a bad piece of downloadable content, but it is wholly designed for the most hardcore of Kingdom Hearts fans.
Re Mind is a slice of DLC which ditches the Disney in its entirety, focusing instead on the events leading up to the original game's ending and telling the tale of what happens directly afterwards. It's something solely for the most devoted of followers, proven by the structure it takes.
While Kingdom Hearts III allowed you to explore extravagant Disney worlds full of classic characters and memorable locations, Re Mind is essentially a boss rush. A handful of short gameplay stretches do allow you to rummage through some of the base game's later areas, but they don't feel like anything more than a vehicle to the next boss fight. The vast majority of the four-hour playthrough will be spent in battle with some of Organisation XIII's deadliest members.
They're certainly no pushovers, either. Every encounter is going to test your combat abilities to the very limit, to the point where those who only just managed to scrape through the base campaign without too much grinding are going to have to level Sora up rather significantly. It's easy to see how these do or die fights could quickly give way to frustration and that's before you’ve even set foot in the Limit Cut chapter. A second episode unlocks following the conclusion of Kairi’s story -- one that contains some of the most ludicrously difficult boss fights we've ever come across.
Seriously, Square Enix made a choice here. One of the few criticisms leveraged at Kingdom Hearts III was that compared to the rest of the series, it's all too easy. A Critical Mode update somewhat fixed that post-launch, although the fights to be had here are on a different level entirely. Once again, these are designed for the most hardcore of players -- those that know their Sora's from their Roxas'. They do make for some seriously impressive set pieces, however. From the Keyblade Graveyard to Scala ad Caelum, Tetsuya Nomura and co cannot be faulted when it comes to scope and grandeur.
Even if you don't have the foggiest clue of what's going on, however, Re Mind still gives you another excuse to appreciate its slick, enjoyable combat mechanics. Alongside new moves and techniques, Sora is free to employ a full range of abilities to get one over Organisation XIII -- making for some of the most frantic and intense battles of the entire franchise.
And all of this can be yours for $30. It's a significant asking price for what amounts to roughly six hours of content across the two chapters, and that’s probably going to turn a lot of people off. Sure, some minor additions have been made to the original campaign alongside the addition of secret boss battles, but is this enough to justify half the cost of a normal AAA game? We're not so sure.
There are video games designed for the fans, and then there's Kingdom Hearts III Re Mind. The expansion is sure to satisfy die-hard fans as it explores what happens after the events of the game's ending in the most convoluted way possible, leaving its casual audience behind in the process. That appears to be intentional, making way for fanatics to enjoy tough, climactic boss battles they've been waiting years for. It's ridiculously difficult to fully understand, charming in all the right ways, and enjoyable to play in the moment -- there probably never will be anything like Kingdom Hearts.