You know, I have been quite positive about mobile-games in the last couple of years. I have been pleasantly surprised by how phones today can have fantastic ports and unique titles on it, such as Broken Sword or Sorcery!. It feels like mobile-gaming is a possible market for the traditional gamer. However, free-to-play games are a different story. Some do showcase a fun way to play games without shelling out any money, some are money-sucking bastards, and others are in between. Kingdom Hearts: Union X is neither. In fact, this is a soul-sucking game that has barely anything in it.
Go watch the movies
After two more downloads despite the game being already installed on my device, you get a story about people being greedy for the light and everyone being thrown into the darkness as a result. Now the Children of Light will take it upon themselves to make the world bright again, and you are one of these children. This is the basic story and through this, you will visit worlds from Disney, fight heartless, and talk to familiar characters from the movies and some original characters as well.
I must say, it is impressive how they could make Disney boring. Every conversation becomes shallow as there are no big events to speak of and characters linger on and on with dialogues that could have been shortened to: “we must save someone”. Because of the shallow conversations, you won’t get any emotional connection with any character, which is bizarre as Disney is known for having a huge focus on this aspect. The overall plot is also hard to care for, as it does not expand the lore in any meaningful way and is just another prophecy-tale, where everybody is on edge because they don’t work together, which is strange when everybody wants to fight the darkness. When the new characters also lack personality and the worlds are as flat as paper, there is really nothing here to speak of.
Story score: 1/10
After customizing your character with the few options you start out with, you are presented with a mission-setup, where you choose one area to visit and kill enemies and maybe a boss at the end. There are some trinkets to find along the linear paths, but these are few and blatantly easy to find. The meat of the stages is the combat, which is a turn-based RPG.
Here, you will attack by using medals you can acquire and level them up by mixing with other medals. You can have 5 medals with you on the adventure and each represents one of three elemental attacks that work in a rock-paper-scissors fashion. Red-medals are stronger against blue, blue is stronger against green, and you can probably guess then that green is strong against red. You can attack with normal hits by touching enemies, swipe to attack multiple for less damage, or use a special-attack. Each medal has a picture of a character and a number that indicates how many charges from a meter you need in order to execute the special-attack. The meter representing this fills up as you attack or from support items.
After battles, you can level up your medals or keyblade if you have the right materials, and both require coins you can find in the missions. There are also side objectives you can tackle, but they are mundane tasks like finishing the stage within a time limit. The combat and leveling up might sound a tad complicated, but it is quite shallow and not fulfilling at all, making battles become incredibly repetitive.
The only positive thing I can say is that a gauge you can level up stops you from using overpowered weapons, to make the game at least a bit harder. Think of this as a meter for not being over-encumbered, except it is about the strength of a medal/weapon than the actual weight. Though with how straight-forward the game is, I really don’t understand the handholding tutorial either. You are forced to do the exact thing the game tells you to do and it drags for what feels like an eternity and then forgets to explain other mechanics such as why joining a guild was necessary or how I used characters others made for support. I can at least promise you, you won’t need to know, as the game is incredibly easy.
This is also a long game that can take plenty of hours to get through and is still being updated today. However, because of how lackluster and repetitive everything is, it becomes a chore to even get close to the end. To give you an idea of the repetitive and tedious adventure: there are 6 Disney-worlds in this game and the game takes over 30 hours to get through! There is a lot of elements put in it, but none of them are engaging and that is an accomplishment.
Gameplay Score: 1/10
Better make your own paper-figures
I will give Union X one thing in its visuals: the environments. They are somewhat nice and varied due to being based on locations by Disney, and it has lovely colors. That being said, there is no flow or depth in these areas, making traversal quite jarring and ugly, as your character and enemies are only glued to it. It might be to represent the world as sticker-books, but it comes off as lazy. Speaking of which, the characters aren’t much better as they have stiff animations and are more like paper cutouts with generic and shallow designs, that can barely represent the player.
The artstyle overall is terrible and wooden, and that includes the Disney-aspect of the game as well. Not even the flashy attacks are anything interesting, as they are used with low-budget explosions. At least the few voice actors in the game do a fine job and the soundtrack is as lovely as always, but that is to be expected as all the tracks are from previous games.
Presentation Score: 3/10
When the world simply isn’t worth saving
Does it sound fun to do the same missions over and over again after what I explained earlier? No? Well, there you go. Side objectives in the missions don’t add anything, and the titles and clothes for making your character a better representation of you are not worth it as it makes the game into a tiresome grind.
Extra Score: 1/10
I know this is completely free to play, but it is a waste of time. There is nothing engaging here, the combat is on a low level, the story is unimaginative, the worlds and characters are nothing to speak of, and the repetition is terrible. The only thing this game highlighted for me, is why I hated mobile-games in the first place. This is simply heartless.