Kingdom Hearts World Immersion



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jahob000

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So I'm replaying all of the games getting prepped in having everything fresh in memory for Kingdom Hearts 3. I've given Kingdom Hearts II some grief but as I'm playing it again, I'm actually quite enjoying it like I did before. However When playing, I still can't help but compare the games to each other. So in this regard, I'd like to talk about how immersed we are in each world (Disney worlds). I can't speak for anything past KH2 at the moment because it's been so long since I've played them.

For me, I felt more immersed in the worlds from Kingdom Hearts I. I know a lot of complaints when the game first came out was the fact of getting lost or not exactly knowing what to do next. For me, that was all apart of the fun (frustrating at times). I always liked how they would put in little things where you can interact with objects in the worlds. All the worlds had tiny details to make sure you were able to familiarize yourself with the world whether you wanted to or not. Like how in Deep Jungle you have to look through the camp to find the pictures or that you could use the lab equipment to make potions and ethers. Or like how in Wonderland you turning on lamps or moving the bed and clock changed the scenery. While replaying KH1, I took a lot more time to play the game just to admire the designs of the worlds.

Worlds in KH2, seem far too linear and you can't really interact with the world around you. The worlds seem like they're a lot bigger but it's more like a giant lot with a few rooms. The best analogy I can give is that KH1 worlds feel like you're in a museum where you can take look at everything but also touch a few things. KH2 worlds feel more like you're in one of those slow train rides for kids where your just slowly going by some scenery that you can't interact with.

That factor partially that I believe is that in KH2 everything in the worlds, they goe by it's exact story line as in the movies. So much so that they quote things line for line in some parts. It's like your watching a less polished version of the movie with Sora in it on the sidelines and his presence doesn't matter so much. Of course not every world is like this in KH2. This mostly applies to when you're going through the worlds the first time.

In closing, I'm not saying which one is better but more so which ones I enjoyed most and why.

Anyone else have any opinions, comparisons, thoughts or comments? How do you feel about the other games world immersions? What factors come into play for you to feel immersed?

One other last thing I'd like to add even though this has to do with character and not story immersion. I like Sora A LOT better in Kingdom Hearts II. He's a lot more animated and childlike despite that he's a little older now. This made the game more enjoyable. If only they would have had him like that in KH1.
 

Neo_GFX

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Agree with everything you said; I have the unpopular opinion that KH1 is better than 2: the story wasn't complete hogwash, the world choices were better... there was a sense of innocence. KH2 is like this linear Hyrule Warriors thing, where KH1 immersed me like Mario 64; I hope KH3 finds a golden middle-ground at OoT.

I am a rare exception that I'm not here for the gameplay, but the immersion, and the fact I love Disney.
 
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I'd further argue that KH1 is more satisfying in a gameplay sense as well, not just writing and technical-wise.
I completely understand those that loathe KH1's platforming before your jump's upgraded, but with that aspect as well as the aforementioned Mario 64-esque exploration, KH1 simply offers more variety. I'm enjoying KH2 recently, as I always do when I run through it. But I always have to skip certain cutscenes and really explore options in order to keep the pacing up and not let the combat feel shallow, for all its beloved flashiness.

To try and put it another way, KH2 is a more polished package. But KH1 is a more complete, fulfilling package. It doesn't succeed at everything it aims for, but the fact that it tries in the first place is always of greater interest than KH2 fleshing out the combat and otherwise playing it safe.
I'm of course open to discussing KH1's qualms as I don't wish to come off as putting it on a pedestal. It's merely always been the fact that KH2's flaws bother me more than KH1's.
KH1's failures are often out of its ambitions. KH2's failures are often out of laziness.
 

Neo_GFX

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KH2 feels a little more soulless, and that's when they were beginning to stick their heads up their rectums to see what's inside.
 
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I'm not sure I'd go that far as to call it soulless. If anything, I appreciate KH2's more cheerful tone in comparison to KH1's melancholy. I resonate with KH1's tone more, but I appreciate KH2's tone being different anyhow....when it's consistent, anyway. Roxas' prologue and The World That Never Was do not feel like the same game with Atlantica or Agrabah and such.
 

jahob000

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I think when I posted this, I was in the Pridelands and I've now beaten the game. Sure enough, I still feel the same. However, Back when they made Final Mix +, it almost seemed like they were trying to recapture a few things or simply improve. Aside from Critical Mode and No Experience to make it more challenging, they added the crown puzzle pieces. I gotta say, I really enjoyed that addition. It almost felt like the Trinity's. However, I still find the Trinity's more fulfilling when you find them.

Also, the addition of The Cavern of Remembrance. Even though it wasn't something you could get lost in, the fact that it wasn't in a linear fashion made it very enjoyable. It somewhat required you to use certain moves you'd learned to advance. That is my favorite part of the game and you can access it during the middle of the game instead of at the end giving you a chance to test your skill (I have none cuz I was too scared to do it early XD).

I feel like if all of the other worlds had similar formats, the game would have been several times more enjoyable. Don't get me wrong, I like the game still but don't feel as engaged no matter how flashy it is.
 
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Eeeugh, I hate Drive Form. Not the very idea of the mechanic, but that you HAVE to use it if you want the high jump, glide, etc. Grinding them is so tedious. Once I get said abilities, I never bother with them again. I can't understand why it's set up like that, when KH1's structure made so much more sense! You gained those abilities through story progression!
 

Xelruna

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I totally agree with you, OP, I was literally just thinking about this yesterday! I enjoy both KH1 and KH2, but the first game undoubtedly had something more immersive to it -- whether it was interacting with objects or backtracking to a world because you could reach new ledges/access spaces/find hidden items. I definitely love KH1 more out of the two. KH2 had this thing where even though the maps could seem big sometimes, there wasn't much to interact with so it felt like big empty spaces where there was really only one path to run through. Not much to explore. I think that's one of the many reasons why I'm so excited for KH3; the worlds don't seem empty and they seem really interactive as well.

As for CoM, it was also linear gameplay as you could only really create rooms and go up another level in the castle. Not to mention the card battle system... Not an immersive game at all, in my opinion (though mind you, I've only ever played the PS2 one). It's been a hot minute since I last played 358/2 Days or Re:Coded, but I'm sure I dissociated through 80% of the latter, so that answers that. BBS was a little more interactive. I'm currently refreshing myself on 3D.

Anyway, high hopes for KH3's immersion based on what we've seen so far (prayer hands).
 
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Isn't it funny that KH2 is the one that gives you maps? I mean, good lord game, how stupid and unobservant do you think we are that we need a map for these flat linear places that almost never hide secrets?
 

Xelruna

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Yup, you know you're doing something wrong when you enter the next area and you just dash straight to get to the next one :/
 

Launchpad

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When I was younger I resented KH2 for it's objective based linearity, but now I see it as a nice companion piece to KH1. KH2 has much higher quality interactions with enemies than KH1, and a more robust set of combat tools to use, but world interactivity was sacrificed to make this possible with their time limit.

KH1 and KH2 both had to exist for KH3 to achieve what I believe it will achieve.
 

jahob000

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Isn't it funny that KH2 is the one that gives you maps? I mean, good lord game, how stupid and unobservant do you think we are that we need a map for these flat linear places that almost never hide secrets?
Hahahahahaha!!! I was just thinking about this yesterday! I always hated how they put the maps in these big treasure chests just to disappoint you. Not to mention, thirty percent of the maps were for a round room or a small area. I was like "really?". I don't think I'll get lost in this little circle. I think they might have put the maps in there because of all the complaints from Kingdom Hearts I.

Something else I find lacking in ALL of the games are world inhabitants to interact with. I understand why they didn't. Most likely to save on game space, time and resources. Still, it would have been nice. The Pridelands in KHII had the lionesses there only because it would seem too empty with just the main characters. Olympus Colosseum in KHII, you'd hear the cheers but see no crowds. Mulan, Even in the Emperor's court, it felt lifeless despite all of the cardboard cutouts that would cheer.

There's a few worlds that have some folks but not much. Take Traverse Town for example. Yes there were people but only in the main area. Remember the little hotel with the different rooms? I would go in there always hoping I would find people bu when I'd ring that little bell, it just seemed like somebody from the back would answer. Also the other shops in that area, it would have been nice to be able to go inside to look around and also find people. Some worlds would have people but just in one spot. They could have spread them out in multiple areas.

Having extras in a game can add a surprising amount of life to it. Had they have added a few random no name characters to interact with throughout all of the areas in the worlds, along with talking about the strange events going on from a world inhabitants perspective and wondering who the heck you are. Of course there has to be some incentive to talk to people too, like maybe some of them can give you items or even convoluted hints to a secret or two.

After saying that though, I think Hollow Bastion and The End of the World in KHI were fine. They didn't need anything like what I said above to make them enjoyable. I will say how they could have been even a little MORE immersive and mysterious. In Hollow Bastion for example, What if you found one or two creepy people wondering around? Maybe someone in a random room trying to keep away from Maleficent and the Heartless or maybe even some weird old creepy looking guy in the basements who's a secret Ansem supporter or something. They don't have to be relevant or expanded on, just throw away characters to add to the atmosphere and mystery.

What if in The End of the World you found maybe a few pages of some peoples journals from the worlds that were destroyed? That could make you imagine what their worlds were like. The World That Never Was, I like that world too but they have all of these building and hotels and what not, yet no one there. I mean I get it, they're not suppose to exist so it's empty. A few "inhabitants" could have helped a little. I don't mean humans but what if we could see mysterious shadows of people or something that lurks in some of these buildings? Just to make you wonder and think about Nobody's.

In closing, I don't mean that inhabitants need to be everywhere at all times, because then that can take away from world immersion as well and become a distraction. I suppose if I use a food analogy, it'll become clearer. It's like steak or barbecue. You don't want it to be too bland but you don't want to over-season it or have too much barbecue sauce because then you can't taste the meat. Seasonings should be a subtle addition to a meal to compliment the food not take away from the taste.
 
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I think a lot of it's more deliberate in KH1. That inhabitants are on the run from the Heartless onslaught, hence civilians keep safe in Traverse Town's first district, or how Agrabah's civilians emerge once you defeat Jafar but go back to hiding from the Heartless after you leave, or how the Queen of Hearts and her card soldiers surprisingly have a different attitude once you return to Wonderland later and talk to them! The last one especially I always thought was a nice touch.
KH2, on the other hand, is nowhere near as dire in tone as its predecessor. So there's no reason the worlds shouldn't be more populated by compelling NPC interaction. Heck, the Disney characters hardly acknowledge the Heartless as much of a threat half the time! They're treated more like a pesky insect infestation than a demonic onslaught. And even with the NPC's you do have, they're pretty inane, like how the kids in Twilight Town have nothing to say but "hey, go check out the synthesis shop!".
 

Neo_GFX

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I agree with Traverse Town, but by the same token it can be justified; though it probably wasn't their intention, the citizens are on the run from the Heartless. That world is also a little more ominous/spacey/eerie (struggling to find an adjective), so it's a little more justifiable that it isn't bustling with activity. Its inhabitants were torn away from their loved ones.
 
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One of my absolute favorite touches is that you can go up and talk to Kairi in Traverse Town at any time near the end. No matter where you go until you fight Ansem, she remains there in the Second District for you to chat with.
I don't know why I love that, there's just something sweet about her staying there.
KH2 could have easily done the same with Kairi staying in Twilight Town (since there's no compelling reason to have her kidnapped), and she could have gone with SDG and Mickey to World That Never Was to reunite with Riku! But, alas, I was not hired to write KH2. :p
 
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