What If Dark Road’s Soulless Grind Is Deliberate?

What If Dark Road’s Soulless Grind Is Deliberate?

Let’s face it, Kingdom Hearts Dark Road is a grind.

Every thing in Dark Road is based around a single idea: fight lots of Heartless. No exploration, nothing to do but fight. Whether it’s a story quest, a special event, or the World Battle feature, you’ll just have Heartless after Heartless to defeat, probably with auto-battle turned on.

All of the bonus rewards are built around this, too. Defeat 1,000 Heartless. Defeat 5,000 Heartless. Everything is designed around the basic idea of turning auto-battle on, setting your mobile device aside, and letting Xehanort slice through wave after wave of Heartless.

It’s not really what most of us expected from a Xehanort game, even a mobile one.

And with the slow story progression on top of that, it starts to feel soulless. A new update might bring two or three new cutscenes, but then it’s back to fighting. Defeat more enemies. Grind until you can level up. That’s all it has.

But what if that’s intentional?

Not just to appeal to fans of idle games, but as a deliberate story decision?

This is a prequel story about Xehanort. We know something happens to make him the antagonist we know and love. Something convinces him that he must find a way to reset the world and bring about balance. The first episode of Dark Road also hinted that things are going to end up very badly for his friends on their journey.

Maybe the soulless grind at the core of Dark Road is because that’s what Xehanort and the others are facing as they fight Heartless after Heartless, day after day, facing the darkness again and again as they search for the missing upperclassmen.

Maybe it’s meant to be repetitive to show how cutting down Heartless without even thinking about it can become routine for those working for the light.

Maybe sending out children to battle hordes of enemies alone is, in fact, a terrible idea.

It wouldn’t be the first time Kingdom Hearts played with its gameplay mechanics in a meta way as part of its story – that’s more or less what they did with the Power Bangle and “guilt” in KHUX. At any rate, it would be an interesting justification for why Dark Road plays the way it does.

Do you think there’s story significance to the Kingdom Hearts Dark Road gameplay structure? Share your own thoughts and theories in the comments!

Tags: xehanort, young xehanort
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