How Story is Told in Dream Drop Distance



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Grono

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So, um, this is a very impromptu editorial that I had to squeeze out before I forgot about this topic entirely, but talking about the series in retrospect has been my thing lately, and I had to write something quick on this before I forgot about it entirely. Sorry if I'm not as attentive and analytical in this as I try to be, this is going to be a very casual talk about my feelings on DDD.

So, when Dream Drop Distance was announced and subsequently came out I was left out of the loop. I didn't have a 3DS until 2017, and by the time I had one I had already played the PS4 version and had no interest in buying the original. Of course, being the type of person that I am, I immediately spoiled the entire game's plot for myself, and initially enjoyed it. I eventually turned around on my opinion, now regarding it as my least favorite KH game plot-wise, but this review isn't about how good the story is. It's about whether or not it was told well.

Knowing the story from watching organized cutscenes that were chosen to make chronological sense, I never knew that this was something that was edited from the original story. In the actual game, cutscenes are told in non-chronological order, and crucial scenes are instead left as optional segments that you can choose to not engage in. This would be fine, if they were for the Disney worlds, but instead the beginning of the game is told like this! Yep, that's right, the beginning of the game can be potentially hidden away from you. Why, just WHY, doesn't the game start out in Yen Sid's tower?! There's no narrative reason for it at all! Maybe it could be for an exciting opening battle, except that the opening battle is extremely boring with nearly no narrative flare and a passing mention to a minor villain in the series.

What do you guys think of the way story is conveyed in Dream Drop Distance? Do you believe that the story is told appropriately, with good pacing, or do you feel that the pacing is broken up by the jagged storytelling with missing chunks?
 

Audo

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The reason the game is paced like it is is because they wanted to avoid having the opening of the game be bogged down with endless cutscenes of exposition. They wanted the game to be quick and fast and for people who start the game to immediately be able to actually PLAY the game. aka, the opposite of KH2 and BBS and KH1.

Honestly, DDD opens strong in my opinion and it was refreshing. There is a lot to criticize about DDD's story but it isn't really the faster pacing and making watching huge blocks of exposition optional/at your leisure imo.
 

Grono

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The reason the game is paced like it is is because they wanted to avoid having the opening of the game be bogged down with endless cutscenes of exposition. They wanted the game to be quick and fast and for people who start the game to immediately be able to actually PLAY the game. aka, the opposite of KH2 and BBS and KH1.

Honestly, DDD opens strong in my opinion and it was refreshing. There is a lot to criticize about DDD's story but it isn't really the faster pacing and making watching huge blocks of exposition optional/at your leisure imo.
I personally disagree, only because I find the combat in DDD to be floaty and unimaginative. If it was like KHII's combat, or even like BbS's, then I think it could have been exhilarating. But, in my humble opinion, the Ursula boss fight is not nearly engaging or well put together enough to make up for the fact that the story just sucks. Not only does the non-chronological order of the game not benefit itself in the beginning, but, for me anyways, that promise of action at the start doesn't mean much when that action has slow combos and quite frankly just isn't fun.

Again, you're free to disagree, and I didn't even think this article out very well at all. I'm just saying that, to my tastes, the storytelling does nothing to benefit this game from a narrative standpoint.

EDIT: Also, that's a weird point to bring up not forcing you to sit through exposition when some of that exposition is crucial to understanding the story at hand. Don't get me wrong, if I don't have to see how Pinocchio got trapped in a cage, I won't. But not knowing where I am in the game when I'm in a random dreamtime version of Destiny Islands, playing KH I Sora, when URSULA randomly shows up for no reason? I'm sorry, but that's too weird. Why did they think that the beginning of the game shouldn't have prefaced anything with that? I just find it unsatisfying.
 
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Chaser

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The fragmented storytelling in DDD worked against it in favour of a quicker opening intended to get the player into gameplay quicker than any other game. One of my hopes for 2.8 when I was reviewing it was that those cutscenes were integrated into the main game but alas they kept it as is.

I understand why they did it. If you're traveling on public transport and are playing DDD you don't want to spend the entire trip watching exposition cutscenes. You want to spend it playing the game, not spending 5-10 minutes listening to Yen Sid droll on and on.

Other cutscenes, Disney focused ones, take place before Sora and Riku journey to that world so they are used to the games advantage there but they should have either included them in the first place or just omitted them. If the game works without people seeing those Disney cutscenes then why include them in the first place?
 

Rodin

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After seeing the platinum demo for FFXV, I thought that would have been a better opening segment for DDD. That's the demo where Noct was a kid and fighting monsters with toy weapons.
 

ImVentus

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The pacing in DDD is probably one of my least liked of the bunch. The constant switching between KH2 Sora to DDD Sora, and in some parts the writing doesn't make much sense either. Like in KH2 it was stated that Maleficent couldn't enter Disney Castle cause of the cornerstone of light was too bright for her. In DDD she suddenly broke in without any trouble and simply held the queen hostage. The part in The Grid where Xemnas tells Sora that Grid was created by Ansem doesn't make any sense. The Grid was created by Flynn right? And how could The Grid be a woken world when Sora is in his DDD appearance? The same goes for The World That Never Was.
 

KeybladeLordSora

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The pacing in DDD is probably one of my least liked of the bunch. The constant switching between KH2 Sora to DDD Sora, and in some parts the writing doesn't make much sense either. Like in KH2 it was stated that Maleficent couldn't enter Disney Castle cause of the cornerstone of light was too bright for her. In DDD she suddenly broke in without any trouble and simply held the queen hostage. The part in The Grid where Xemnas tells Sora that Grid was created by Ansem doesn't make any sense. The Grid was created by Flynn right? And how could The Grid be a woken world when Sora is in his DDD appearance? The same goes for The World That Never Was.
Xemnas said that Ansem the Wise copied the original ENCOM data and customized it. He then said that The Grid is the original data.
 

Veevee

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I know what you mean and I also hated it. The way the game offered it, it seemed as if those cutscenes were re-telling stuff from older games or they wouldn't be important and I found myself to be lucky to have clicked on them anyway. I don't know who thought it would be a good idea to make the introduction to the game OPTIONAL because after the badly designed Ursula fight I had actually zero idea what that shit was about.
On a general note, I hate the pacing in that game but it has flaws that every KH game suffers from. I'm not too interested in the Disney worlds and more in the KH story and it felt like I had to drag my feet through some empty worlds to finally get to the juicy part at the end of the world where I got an interesting cutscene to see that lasted about a minute or two and then the game hopped back to the tedious part. Sometimes, the cutscenes didn't even feel rewarding after I realized I would get the 100th "I overcame my darkness" speech from Riku alternating with some Sora bromance or just some Xehanort version making cryptical fun of me. After having played 20+ hours without having seen much story progression I feared about the game's story and I was right when I realized they mashed everything into a half an hour mess. And with mess, I mean mess, that's the only explanation I can find for that swirly-whirly dream in a dream in a dream chopped and holey time travel explanation stuff. If they really had to include time travel, they should've put more emphasis on explaining / showing what exactly was going on and how it works instead of spending precious time with being cryptical and mysterious and making fun of me in like, every world. To me, it ultimately felt that Nomura wanted to be cryptical just for the sake of it and to giggle like a little girl about all the long-time fans who tried to make sense out of all this bullshit and made the explanations as vague as possible to keep options open for later, like he did with Ven's past. When I play and finish a game, I'd like to have SOME understanding of what just happened without having to read interviews and ultimanias that are not available in my country anyway, for example the thing why Xehanort could get around Mickey's Stopza spell that was said in an interview. Or with the whole Lea keyblade thing. Or or or.
Dream Drop Distance is probably the main reason people complain that the series is so hard to understand because up to this point, you had to pay close attention but you were able to understand the links. Dream Drop Distance ditches this while taking away even more characterisation from some characters (e.g. the Seekers of Darkness because well, they were all Xehanort anyway, so you can't even know which parts of what they said and did was themselves and which were Xehanort) and being overly complicated and vague is not to be confused with being deeper and more interesting. In the end, it turned out to be the exact opposite and I considered the game that was trying to be especially deep quite bland which is to blame on that finale which kinda pulled an absolute Aizen. And I don't even want to start on the terrible writing with sentences like "darkness within darkness" and "this fate is etched into my heart now" blah, blah, I mean, come on, Nomura, you can do better than that.

On the plus side, I liked that you didn't need to backtrack anymore, that every area was reachable from the start as long as you were good enough with the movement controls. I also liked the rail stuff and the gameplay in general.
 
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ImVentus

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I know what you mean and I also hated it. The way the game offered it, it seemed as if those cutscenes were re-telling stuff from older games or they wouldn't be important and I found myself to be lucky to have clicked on them anyway. I don't know who thought it would be a good idea to make the introduction to the game OPTIONAL because after the badly designed Ursula fight I had actually zero idea what that shit was about.
On a general note, I hate the pacing in that game but it has flaws that every KH game suffers from. I'm not too interested in the Disney worlds and more in the KH story and it felt like I had to drag my feet through some empty worlds to finally get to the juicy part at the end of the world where I got an interesting cutscene to see that lasted about a minute or two and then the game hopped back to the tedious part. Sometimes, the cutscenes didn't even feel rewarded after I realized I would get the 100th "I overcame my darkness" speech from Riku alternating with some Sora bromance or just some Xehanort version making cryptical fun of me. After having played 20+ hours without having seen much story progression I feared about the game's story and I was right when I realized they mashed everything into a half an hour mess. And with mess, I mean mess, that's the only explanation I can find for that swirly-whirly dream in a dream in a dream chopped and holey time travel explanation stuff. If they really had to include time travel, they should've put more emphasis on explaining / showing what actually instead of spending precious time with being cryptical and mysterious and making fun of me in like, every world.
You said it! You state very good points why DDD is a mess.
 
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