Thoughts on DDD



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Audo

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I read an article about DDD and figured, hey, this section is pretty dead, why not share it and see what people think?

Saw this article promoted by Gamasutra and decided to give it a look. I don't think it really quite explains well what the writer wants or is thinking as strongly as it should, but it raised some interesting points. This paragraph in particular caught my eye:

So it would make sense that the game would begin this deconstruction with Sora, the central hero throughout the franchise. (Or maybe it’s Riku’s perception of (himself through) Sora. This is a dream world, after all.) In previous Kingdom Hearts games, we’d received faint hints that Sora was suffering some kind of severe identity crisis, whether it was Ven’s fragmented self, Xion’s unstable identity, or Roxas’ dual existence. The only reason Sora himself didn’t succumb to a similar fate was that he had his friends to ground him in a more certain reality. So what happens when you remove them from the equation entirely and create a world where only Sora exists? Does that reality remain certain? Apparently, no. It turns out Sora is no different from his counterparts. The game ends up characterizing him as a fundamentally empty person who uses these fantastic opportunities to distract from the cloying nothingness inside him. Bleak that stance may be, but in light of everything the game does, it’s hard to argue against
The game’s insistence on sticking to friendship as the ultimate ideal doesn’t hold as much water when it does so much to discredit the concept.
Here's the full article. It focuses a lot on how DDD uses (or doesn't use) the dream motif throughout the game and how it reflects back on the story/characters. So give it a read, and share what you think.
 
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BlackOsprey

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Oho.

This bit in particular reminded me of a conversation I had a few weeks ago:
The point is that the game’s insistence on explaining away details like these directly contradicts the ambiguity the game thrives on. What makes the dream motif work is that invites inquiry. You know that the game has to be saying something (since dreams, in spite of their random nature, still operate on some kind of logic), but in the absence of any clear answers, you’re not sure what it is. So you search for the answers yourself. You become an active participant in the narrative, conjuring up interpretations and testing them against the story as you play. Obviously, that process becomes more difficult to maintain when the game is eager to give you clear answers. While they might offer greater insight into the story, they still come at a steep price.
At the time, we were talking more about the interviews and our gripes with them, but it's the same idea: it's better to leave the story ambiguous because it leaves room for theorizing and creates a more thoughtful, analytical, and generally more involved audience. I'd say that this issue goes far beyond just DDD, but it's true that it clashes even harder when the game's main motif is dreams, a concept known for being unclear, weird, and not very straightforward or logical.

So it would make sense that the game would begin this deconstruction with Sora, the central hero throughout the franchise. (Or maybe it’s Riku’s perception of (himself through) Sora. This is a dream world, after all.) In previous Kingdom Hearts games, we’d received faint hints that Sora was suffering some kind of severe identity crisis, whether it was Ven’s fragmented self, Xion’s unstable identity, or Roxas’ dual existence. The only reason Sora himself didn’t succumb to a similar fate was that he had his friends to ground him in a more certain reality. So what happens when you remove them from the equation entirely and create a world where only Sora exists? Does that reality remain certain? Apparently, no. It turns out Sora is no different from his counterparts. The game ends up characterizing him as a fundamentally empty person who uses these fantastic opportunities to distract from the cloying nothingness inside him. Bleak that stance may be, but in light of everything the game does, it’s hard to argue against.
Heheh. When this sort of thing is spelled out this bluntly, you could pretty much summarize the whole situation as "ignoring an overwhelming existential crisis by going to Disney World(s)."

Lately, a certain monologue from Joshua in DDD has been sneaking into my thought process from time to time. It went something like this: "By ourselves, we're no one. It's when other people look at us and see someone, we start to exist." While Josh was just explaining the logic behind setting up a makeshift Reaper's Game in Traverse Town, that statement is far too true. In a way, it's not surprising that a character's sense of identity could be slowly broken down if they were isolated. Especially if this character is like Sora, defined by the strength he receives from others. Xigbar loudly heckled him for that.

So, I'd say that idea's perfectly valid, as depressing as it seems. And you know, I'm okay with it. This sort of thing doesn't discredit the "my friends are my power" ideal, but it also doesn't treat it like a foolproof solution and philosophy.
 

Audo

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It's interesting that, in many ways, DDD does show-off the dangers of connecting your hearts with others. After all, Sora is only able to be used by Xehanort because they are playing on his connection with others. His connection to Ventus. His connection to Roxas. Sora's desire to always help others and take on their pain is the biggest thing that causes darkness to overcome him. So in many ways, Sora's story in DDD can be read as completely antithetical to the series themes. Here Sora's desires to connect with everyone is explicitly his downfall.

But then at the same time, he is literally only saved from this destruction by his connection with others, too, lol. So does DDD really discredit the notion of "friendship as the ultimate ideal" or does it, for the first real time, paint that ideal in grey, showing that it is not as black and white as past games might suggest? HMM.
 

BlackOsprey

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It's interesting that, in many ways, DDD does show-off the dangers of connecting your hearts with others. After all, Sora is only able to be used by Xehanort because they are playing on his connection with others. His connection to Ventus. His connection to Roxas. Sora's desire to always help others and take on their pain is the biggest thing that causes darkness to overcome him. So in many ways, Sora's story in DDD can be read as completely antithetical to the series themes. Here Sora's desires to connect with everyone is explicitly his downfall.
To be honest, I don't think DDD undermines the prevailing theme of friendship, because...

But then at the same time, he is literally only saved from this destruction by his connection with others, too, lol.
Sheesh, ninja'd before I even started typing.

So does DDD really discredit the notion of "friendship as the ultimate ideal" or does it, for the first real time, paint that ideal in grey, showing that it is not as black and white as past games might suggest? HMM.
In a way, I think Sora's story kind of showed an inherent aspect of allowing yourself to care about anyone or anything: caring leaves you vulnerable. Of course, this being Kingdom Hearts, this sort of thing apparently manifests in a far more physical and exaggerated way than in the real world. Re:Coded's Castle Oblivion story played with this idea, and looking back on it, the entire end of Re:Coded was foreshadowing the events of DDD. Data Roxas questions why Data Sora would let the "hurt" fester in him, with full knowledge that doing so could cause him to sink into the darkness... Data Sora still holds on to what's eating at him because he's too damn sentimental. The way I see it, you gotta know how to love in order to know what it's like to truly be hurt.

I mean, never mind Kingdom Hearts, just think about the people YOU'RE connected with, in real life. People you like, love, trust. If you have those kinds of people in your life, those bonds can cause a lot of pain at times. I don't think I need to go into detail, because I'm pretty sure this is one thing that just about anyone has experienced in some form or another.

Obviously, Sora's a lot more susceptible to this kind of hurt than most people would be, mostly due to his tendency to care about EVERYONE, plus the fact that he's got the memory equivalents of nitroglycerine very close to his heart. However, despite being an Un-Chosen One with no real power of his own, something made him worth saving. (As you noted, heh.)

As far as I can tell, the friendship theme is pretty sound. All DDD did was make it a little more complex by acknowledging that it isn't 100% sunshine and rainbows at all times.
 
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Sephiroth0812

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In a way, I think Sora's story kind of showed an inherent aspect of allowing yourself to care about anyone or anything: caring leaves you vulnerable. Of course, this being Kingdom Hearts, this sort of thing apparently manifests in a far more physical and exaggerated way than in the real world. Re:Coded's Castle Oblivion story played with this idea, and looking back on it, the entire end of Re:Coded was foreshadowing the events of DDD. Data Roxas questions why Data Sora would let the "hurt" fester in him, with full knowledge that doing so could cause him to sink into the darkness... Data Sora still holds on to what's eating at him because he's too damn sentimental. The way I see it, you gotta know how to love in order to know what it's like to truly be hurt.

As far as I can tell, the friendship theme is pretty sound. All DDD did was make it a little more complex by acknowledging that it isn't 100% sunshine and rainbows at all times.
This is basically the crux of it.
All DDD shows is that while Sora's "ability" is implied to have very benefitting aspects (like what basically boils down to revival) it can still be misused by someone with ill intentions as well as needing to be handled with more care than just blindly jumping in as Sora does more often than not.
This is also heavily implied when Riku calls out to Sora and implores him to "not follow the dreams" as unlike Sora, Riku realizes that it is the wrong time and the wrong place to handle that immense hurt, especially with enemies obviously looming in the background.
It is not wrong for Sora to want to help, but he lacks a certain kind of foresight in regards to it and the circumstances surrounding the whole deal and that's what ultimatively makes Xehanort's trap work and allows him to use Sora's alleged main strength against him.
One could even go further and claim that this lack of foresight on Sora's part is what ultimatively leads to Riku getting the Master title as he took the circumstances into consideration as well and made a more cautious approach.

Now that also ties back to the friendship-theme a lot as it was the whole friendship-shtick that made Riku become Sora's Dream Eater and wanting to be his protector in the first place.
If anything DDD reinforces the whole friendship theme instead of undermining it. The main difference is that the roles are reversed this time and instead of Sora using the power of friendship to save others, this time the power of frienship is used to save him, showing that it is a two-way deal basically.
It is shown primarily with Riku, but Lea, Mickey as well as Donald and Goofy show it in the finale as well.
Heck, you can even count Ventus letting Sora borrow his Keyblade Armor to buy time and him, Roxas and Xion asking Riku the three questions that allow Sora to awaken too.

Sora has shown how much he cares and wants to end their pain that he disregarded his own safety, so all the others in some more or less obvious way in turn go and try to help saving Sora as well even if they are currently incapacitated, what is that if not the power of friendship?
Riku even states it word for word:
DDD said:
Riku: I'm doing it for me, too. Sora saved me once. And...I heard him call my name. He needs me.

Mickey: There's something real strong that binds us to each other. Even in the darkness, you can reach him. All you gotta do is follow that connection!

Goofy: Gee, we're all connected to Sora.

Donald: You said it!

Lea: And if the darkness gets ya, I promise I'll bail you out. "Dark Rescue" is my middle name.

Riku (standing up): Guys, thank you. Sora and I will be back soon.
Sora already did save Riku once, and now it's time for Riku to return that favor and since he's among the closest to Sora that isn't incapacitated in some way, he's the primary acting force in Sora's rescue, with Mickey, Donald, Goofy, Lea, Roxas, Xion, Ven and the others indirectly supporting him to different degrees.
The only thing that is somewhat souring the whole deal is the absolute shut-out of Kairi in it.
 

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This is basically the crux of it.
All DDD shows is that while Sora's "ability" is implied to have very benefitting aspects (like what basically boils down to revival) it can still be misused by someone with ill intentions as well as needing to be handled with more care than just blindly jumping in as Sora does more often than not.
This is also heavily implied when Riku calls out to Sora and implores him to "not follow the dreams" as unlike Sora, Riku realizes that it is the wrong time and the wrong place to handle that immense hurt, especially with enemies obviously looming in the background.
It is not wrong for Sora to want to help, but he lacks a certain kind of foresight in regards to it and the circumstances surrounding the whole deal and that's what ultimatively makes Xehanort's trap work and allows him to use Sora's alleged main strength against him.
One could even go further and claim that this lack of foresight on Sora's part is what ultimatively leads to Riku getting the Master title as he took the circumstances into consideration as well and made a more cautious approach.

Now that also ties back to the friendship-theme a lot as it was the whole friendship-shtick that made Riku become Sora's Dream Eater and wanting to be his protector in the first place.
If anything DDD reinforces the whole friendship theme instead of undermining it. The main difference is that the roles are reversed this time and instead of Sora using the power of friendship to save others, this time the power of frienship is used to save him, showing that it is a two-way deal basically.
It is shown primarily with Riku, but Lea, Mickey as well as Donald and Goofy show it in the finale as well.
Heck, you can even count Ventus letting Sora borrow his Keyblade Armor to buy time and him, Roxas and Xion asking Riku the three questions that allow Sora to awaken too.

Sora has shown how much he cares and wants to end their pain that he disregarded his own safety, so all the others in some more or less obvious way in turn go and try to help saving Sora as well even if they are currently incapacitated, what is that if not the power of friendship?
Riku even states it word for word:


Sora already did save Riku once, and now it's time for Riku to return that favor and since he's among the closest to Sora that isn't incapacitated in some way, he's the primary acting force in Sora's rescue, with Mickey, Donald, Goofy, Lea, Roxas, Xion, Ven and the others indirectly supporting him to different degrees.
The only thing that is somewhat souring the whole deal is the absolute shut-out of Kairi in it.
So basically, what you're saying is that, Sora's the George Bailey of the Kingdom Hearts series?;)
 
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