Kingdom Hearts 3’s Re Mind DLC is oddly jumbled. It’s a pack of weirdly separated content that is simultaneously far less interesting than it could have been story-wise and frustratingly difficult at times combat-wise unless you’ve essentially maxed out Sora’s abilities. And even when you have, the Grand Canyon-sized valley between the challenge of its bosses and everything else that comes before them is so wide that they feel entirely out of place. As a result, this shoehorned side adventure, while offering some bright spots, lands as an odd and underwhelming coda to Sora’s latest adventure.
The Re Mind DLC is largely divided into two portions – the first being an underwhelming retread of Kingdom Hearts 3’s climax with miniscule bits of added lore, while the second is a brutal boss gauntlet presented with a disappointing set of Final Fantasy cameos paired with an incredibly in-depth photo mode. That first section, which must be completed before you can tackle the latter, is perhaps Re Mind’s biggest misfire.
Screenshots from Kingdom Hearts 3 Re Mind DLC
Lasting about four to five hours, most of it cutscenes, Re Mind revisits the end of Kingdom Hearts 3’s campaign, offering some further insight into character moments and motivations as it fills in the blanks of some of Sora’s journey. While the DLC starts on a far more interesting note, seemingly set to investigate the tantalizing and lingering mystery of the black box several characters are searching for all throughout KH3’s main story, it instead pivots to offering essentially a director’s cut of Kingdom Hearts 3’s final hours.
And it feels… superfluous. Without spoiling any of the original story (which I quite enjoyed as I mentioned in my original Kingdom Hearts 3 review) or how this new version shifts it, a few new fan service-y moments are introduced into a stretch that already felt like fan service personified. While I liked that originally, these new portions add very little to my enjoyment of sequences I’d essentially seen before. I kept waiting for something big to happen that would deepen my understanding of them, but it ultimately lead nowhere revelatory – even worse, sometimes actually raising more questions than it answers.
Mechanically, this first half frustratingly reuses boss fights as well – and while they now offer the option to play as characters other than Sora, those characters are one-offs that are just not as fun to play as. They’re not nearly as powerful as my leveled-up Sora at that point in the adventure, and their move sets aren’t varied enough to substantively change combat in an interesting way. I played as these alternate characters because I felt obligated to, not because they were fun.
Re Mind does add one small quest that let me fully explore one of Kingdom Hearts 3’s coolest original areas, a late-game sprawling citadel that I was left wanting more of in the base game. But the quest here is over and done in about 20 to 30 minutes, and while the level is definitely pretty, its emptiness feels like a missed opportunity to imbue something intriguing and unexpected into this world.
By the time Re Mind’s more story focused endeavors ended, I was left questioning why I needed to see that retread at all. Hoping the second portion, the “Limit Cut” episode as it’s labeled, would offer some concrete and fresh character and story moments to satisfy a hunger the year-long wait for this DLC had caused, I was initially thrilled by the inclusion of forgotten Final Fantasy characters. Leon, Yuffie, and Aerith have been important parts of past Kingdom Hearts adventures but were absent in 3, so seeing them felt like a sign of great things to come.
Unfortunately, they’re relegated to a single cutscene and some additional dialogue options that set up the true meat of this DLC: 13 boss battles based on digitized information of characters Sora has already fought in his quest to acquire information I won’t spoil here. Don’t even try these battles if you’re not at or near the upper limit of Sora’s strength. These are some of if not the hardest boss battles in the entire franchise, very clearly intentionally so, and I didn’t even have a hope of fighting them on normal difficulty below level 90. I did (at level 75), and found the battles so unrelentingly oppressive that I leveled Sora up to the max of 99 in order to feel like I had a fighting chance.
Even still, I’ve only managed to best four of those bosses so far and gotten my butt kicked by each of the others multiple times over. They are, quite simply, abnormally tough, and it’s felt pretty rewarding to knock out the ones I have. But they are not for the faint of heart – short of having the Ultima Weapon and/or maxing out Sora’s level, it’s not even worth entertaining the idea of these battles, which is never properly communicated in the lead up to them.
While I’ve enjoyed the fights now that grinding levels has made them somewhat achievable, they also feel very out of place. Every Kingdom Hearts has included a tough optional boss or two, and that’s totally fine, but including over a dozen new battles that are orders of magnitude more difficult than anything else in the relatively easy Kingdom Hearts 3 makes them a disorienting challenge to tackle. It’s a bit of a monkey’s paw wish being granted – I’m glad there’s something truly challenging in this game now, but I’d rather it felt like a more natural part of the story.
They can’t be trained for other than losing to them over and over again either, and I’ve wrestled with whether the ultimate satisfaction of beating them is worth the asking price – especially given the fairly lackluster reward for doing so, a brief tease of a starkly different future for Kingdom Hearts than what’s come before. And while its revelations definitely shocked me at first, the more I think about it, the less it means to me as a fan of this franchise.
Re Mind does, however, throw in a ridiculously deep photo mode that puts most others to shame – essentially allowing the player to pick a location and choose from a deep series of characters, poses, items, and effects to set whatever fan fiction scene you can imagine. Want Sora to strike down Donald for all those times he yelled out about ingredients? This photo mode can grant that and many other wishes. It’s a treat to play around with, though its inclusion only adds to the scattershot compilation that is Re Mind.