Kingdom Hearts II Final Mix is an action-role playing game in which people can control Sora, the main character of this game. On the surface, it might look like an innocent-looking game, so it is natural to expect this series to have a simple enough gameplay, as the title is aimed to people of all ages, and assuming it is not as complex as titles like Devil May Cry is expected. But is that really true? To answer that question, let us take a look at the core gameplay of this game. It will be broken down in two categories.
(*) Offensive mechanics: This will cover ‘Melee’, ‘Reaction Commands’, ‘Magic’, ‘Summons’, ‘Limits’, and ‘Drives’.
– Melee: As the name implies, this allows the player to engage in close-range combat, which is mainly based on ‘combo strings’; a mechanic that normally allows Sora to hit his enemies with two basic attacks and a ‘finisher’, the most powerful strike in any given combo string, be it an aerial or ground-based combo. It is simple enough to use. All it requires is the use of mainly one button to perform combos and finishers, two if the player chooses to vary their combo string. By equipping certain abilities and weapons, the player can increase or decrease the amount of combos and finishers that Sora can use in a string, to the point of having four combos and two finishers, or if the player so desires, they can remove the existence of combos from their string and only use finishers instead. Each combo and finisher has different variations with different properties depending on the circumstances the player is in, such as being surrounded, or if the enemy is afar, or if the player presses a different button. Sora has access to a specific move called Flash Step, which can make him fully impervious to damage, but this does not last even a half-second, so the player needs to think carefully how and when to use that specific attack to break through the enemy’s defenses by analyzing its patterns to find an opening, without the need to block or dodge said enemy’s attack. But, as mentioned above, the invincibility period goes away too quickly, so this tactic shall only be used for short-lasting attacks. Melee alone allows various playstyles depending on how the player wants to go about with them.
– Reaction Commands: They are contextual attacks that can be used depending on the circumstances that the player is in. Most enemies and bosses can prompt the player to use one, and the great thing about them is that they are optional, so they are in no way intrusive. They also keep the game running normally, instead of freezing Sora’s surroundings.
– Magic: Sora has access to five offensive spells at any given time, each one of them having a unique use, and all of them have a direct upgrade that enhances certain aspects depending on the spell itself. It is necessary to have MP (Magic Points) in order to use spells, and every spell has a different cost. The great thing about magic, in general, is that it can be incorporated into a normal combo string, and every offensive spell has a finisher variant, which allows for even more variety in combat. Fire is a small Area of Effect attack (AoE for short), and it is highly useful to hit a small group of enemies surrounding Sora. Blizzard fires a piercing shot to enemies, and its finisher variant renders most humanoid bosses unable to fight back (the latter is not possible to do in the PS4 version). Thunder hits an enemy from above, and depending on the upgrade, it can hit nearby enemies as well. It also has the ability to launch enemies into the air. Magnet can gather enemies to one point in the air, leaving them helpless as long as the spell is in place. As such, this spell has excellent synergy with Thunder. Reflect generates a barrier that gives Sora full invincibility, and if an enemy attacks the barrier, it will explode and hurt nearby enemies. This spell has the highest damage potential and is also the most MP efficient spell, but it requires good timing to optimize its damage, and using it continuously will not make the barrier explode, as it will generate another barrier before that happens, reducing its damage potential and wasting MP in the process.
– Summons: They are basically a stronger ally that Sora can call to assist him, but he can only use one at a time. Chicken Little serves as an early Magnet that the player can use, but even then, it is cost-free. Moreover, each time the player hits the enemy when this Summon is in place, they will recover a small amount of health. Stitch can regenerate MP whenever the player is low of it, can automatically block certain attacks, and his special attack lets him freeze enemies in place, so the player can either hit them to squeeze extra damage or make enemies drop Health orbs. Genie has the ability to extend Sora’s combos indefinitely by using Genie’s form-change Command. He also has different Drives of his own, and they are specialized in one or multiple targets, depending on the Drive used. Finally, Peter Pan attacks whenever Sora does, making enemies drop MP orbs, and depending on the game’s version, he may stunlock enemies indefinitely (only possible in the PS4 version), and if Sora dies, Pan can revive him once per fight.
– Limits: This is the game’s take on super moves; invincible attacks that consume all of the player’s MP. In a way, they are the player’s way to deal some damage to a troublesome enemy or to deal as much damage as possible to a boss while gaining full invincibility. While this may sound sweet, it is far from being the fastest way to deal with every enemy or boss they are available against, not to mention that your ally (or allies) must be alive in order to use them.
– Drives: They require a certain number of allies to activate, as well as a certain number of Drive points, and they’re specialized in certain core aspects of the combat. Valor swaps Sora’s melee moveset and is decent for offense, but lacks any Magic, a specialized dodge, or a way to block attacks. It is by far the form with the least combat uses. Wisdom is fantastic for Magic, and like Valor, it is the most Drive efficient Form. It has a way to dodge attacks via Quick Run, and it can block attacks via Reflect. It grants base Sora its dedicated ability, Quick Run. Also, it swaps the way that Magic works, and replaces the ‘Attack’ command with the ‘Shoot’ command, which lets players fire weak pellets at enemies from afar, and they do not consume MP. Limit has a specialized dodge and guard mechanics, and it replaces any Magic with its own four limits, each one being capable of regenerating the player’s health, and with their own niche uses for combat. It grants base Sora its dedicated Dodge Roll ability. Master is mostly specialized for single target uses and is focused on aerial combat. It changes around how Magic works. It also swaps Sora’s melee moveset and has the ability to parry attacks in mid-air as its dedicated dodge ability (which base Sora gains access to as well). Final changes both Sora’s melee and Magic moveset, he is able to hover in place, at which moment he will parry most incoming attacks. It also grants Sora and his base form the ability to glide at high speed. Final’s finishers can be canceled if the player wants to, depending on the tactics they want to use.
(*) Defensive mechanics: The player has access to five core defenses. Each of these abilities has their own use. Guard can block frontal attacks, and it is great for long-lasting attacks. Quick Run lets the player traverse a good amount of terrain fast, and the player is invincible during the start of it. This is good to avoid attacks, while also getting away from the enemy in the process. Dodge Roll is similar to Quick Run, but it doesn’t cover as much distance as the latter and has a slightly longer invincibility period, ideal for dodging attacks without getting too far away from the enemy, allowing the player to attack it as soon as there’s an opening without having to get back to the enemy’s position. Aerial Dodge lets the player to parry attacks in mid-air, and lastly, Glide is a high-speed ability that lets the player avoid most attacks by getting as far away as the player desires.
In conclusion, Kingdom Hearts II Final Mix does have a deep combat system that is on par with the best of the Action genre, since there is a lot of useful options to use in different scenarios.
There is also a good Kingdom Hearts II video here: