Birth by Sleep > Overview
The Kingdom Hearts series as a whole has brought up many different questions over the years. Who wielded the Keyblade before Sora? Just what were the origins of Xehanort, Ansem’s foremost apprentice? What were the members of Organization XIII like before they became Nobodies? In an effort to answer many of the unanswered questions brought up by the series over the years, Square-Enix released Kingdom Hearts: Birth by Sleep for the PSP, a story that takes place approximately ten years before the events in the original Kingdom Hearts.
As a game, Birth by Sleep doesn’t stray too much from the already proven Kingdom Hearts formula. New to the table however, is the ability to play three different story modes, each focusing on one of the three main characters, Terra, Ventus, and Aqua. The stories take place simultaneously with each other and cross paths every now and then before branching off again. When all three stories are completed, a fourth story emerges that ties together the events in the three separate adventures.
Gameplay has been completely revamped from the classic Kingdom Hearts style. Players can collect Commands which they can add into a Command Deck, much like collecting cards in Chain of Memories. Using the Triangle Button, players can unleash a barrage of incredible attacks that totally mix up the flow of battle and make for a much more strategic experience than simply mashing the X Button to attack.
In addition to these new Commands, Command Styles occur when specific requirements are fulfilled over the course of a combo attack. For example, if Ventus is dealing regular damage and suddenly throws in a Fire spell for good measure, this will usually trigger the Fire Storm Command Style, boosting all of Ventus’ attacks and giving him a whole new set of basic attacks, each dealing incredible Fire damage to any enemies unfortunate enough to get in his way.
Shotlocks and Dimension Links are another new feature. Shotlocks can be performed by holding the L and R Buttons to stack target locks on top of each other. By pressing the X Button, you can unleash a devastating barrage of attacks on any and all enemies locked onto during the initial lock-on phase. Dimension Links on the other hand are forged when one of our three heroes meets a character from another world. Dimension Links replenish HP and give the player an entire new Deck of Commands to work with as well as a character-specific Combo Finisher that really packs a punch.
The plethora of content gives Birth by Sleep true replay value, and the inclusion of two insanely difficult hidden bosses and more minigames than the average player knows what to do with will have players racking up tons of gameplay hours.