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Square Enix has revealed a new Kingdom Hearts game for mobile, and it's tentatively titled Project Xehanort. The reason for this placeholder name is so Square Enix can drum up press by asking everyone to join a Twitter campaign to guess the game's name.
Now, I would like to point out that Square Enix often holds its cards close to its chest, rarely sharing meaningful gameplay videos or screenshots for its free-to-play mobile games, so it's hardly a surprise to see the company lean into this attitude with the launch of today's "guess the name" campaign for Project Xehanort. Not only does this tactic allow the company to show nothing of the title during this public announcement, but it's also an easy way to get attention for what essentially boils down to an ad campaign. As you can guess, I'm not a fan of companies that announce games with nothing to show, especially when it's done on purpose.
Since Square Enix is so tight-lipped, we don't know much about Project Xehanort, but what is known is that the game will contain in-app purchases and that it will be available on Android, Amazon, and iOS this spring. Past that, there's little to go on. However, if you take a look at the only two tweets from the official Project Xehanort Twitter account, you'll notice that the word "experience" is used in both instances when describing the game, and when coupling this insight with the fact that IAPs will be available, it's probably a safe bet to assume the game will be free-to-play while pushing expensive IAPs.
If you'd like to participate in the Twitter campaign to guess the name of Project Xehanort, all you have to do is follow the new @ProjectXehanort account, and then add in a comment with your guess while including the #KHNameContest hashtag. Only one entry per Twitter account is allowed per day, and entrants may not submit entries through more than one account, or else they will be disqualified. This campaign will end on January 28th, at 6:59PM PT, and ten winners will be selected on that date.
Square Enix reveals Project Xehanort's official name
Two weeks ago, we learned that Square Enix has a new Kingdom Hearts experience planned for 2020, and at the time, the project was tentatively named Project Xehanort. Of course, Square Enix being Square Enix, the company made an event out of the unnamed project, allowing fans to guess the name of the game on Twitter as part of a contest. Well, that contest is now over, and the official name of the project has been revealed.
The official title for Project Xehanort is KINGDOM HEARTS DARK ROAD
Additional info will be released after mid-February.
— KINGDOM HEARTS DARK ROAD (@kh_dr_na) January 31, 2020
As you can see in the tweet above, Kingdom Hearts Dark Road is the official title of Project Xehanort, and more details about the game will be shared sometime after the middle of this month. So if you're keen to have Square Enix drip feed you news about Kingdom Hearts Dark Road, I suppose you'll want to keep an eye on the official Kingdom Hearts Dark Road Twitter account. Of course, once Square Enix actually bothers to reveal something substantial about the project, you can expect to find further coverage here as well. Until then, enjoy guessing what Square Enix has up its sleeve.
Oh boy, Square Enix is really on a tear with the upcoming release for Kingdom Hearts Dark Road. A month ago, the company chose to run a ridiculous campaign asking fans to guess the name of the title, and today the company has revealed that Dark Road will be released inside of the existing mobile game Kingdom Hearts Union χ. Clearly, Square Enix is looking to leverage the fanbase of Union χ by squeezing the entirety of Dark Road into the app. The good news is that Dark Road will still function as a stand-alone release since Square Enix will allow players to launch either of the two games from Union χ's title screen.
Beyond the newly-announced launch method for Dark Road, details are still light, most likely because Square Enix is set on drip-feeding details about this title to continually stir up interest, and so all we know right now is that the game will arrive sometime after mid-February inside of Kingdom Hearts Union χ.
- Kingdom Hearts
Square Enix delays the launch of Kingdom Hearts Dark Road
Due to current conditions, development for KINGDOM HEARTS DARK ROAD has been delayed.
We apologize for the late update, as we were trying to find some means of making a Spring release.
— KINGDOM HEARTS DARK ROAD (@kh_dr_na) May 19, 2020
It would appear that the coronavirus has thrown a wrench in Square Enix's plans to bring Kingdom Hearts Dark Road to Android this spring, and so the game has been delayed. The official Kingdom Hearts Dark Road Twitter account has stipulated that another announcement is expected in early June. So it would stand to reason that we'll learn more about when to expect the official release of Kingdom Hearts Dark Road in the coming month.
A new trailer reveals Kingdom Hearts Dark Road will be release on June 22
The above trailer for Kingdom Hearts Dark Road was recently published on YouTube, and while the entire video and description is in Japanese, the description clearly states the game will be released on June 22nd. As I've detailed in an update above, the game will launch inside of the title Kingdom Hearts Union χ. Luckily Kingdom Hearts Dark Road will still be playable as a stand-alone release, but the only way to access the game will be through Kingdom Hearts Union χ's start screen menu. I suppose this is an ingenious way to leverage the older title's existing fanbase, though it's hard to ignore the aggressive nature of such a move.
So far, we still don't know how the game will be monetized, though the trailer above makes it clear this is yet another bland card-based RPG that looks as though it plays exactly like the rest. This is why I assume the game will land as a free-to-play title chock full of in-app purchases. Of course, since Square is so slyly releasing Dark Road inside of an existing game, there's no way to know if any of the information on the Play Store details things like install numbers or IAPs for Union χ or for Dark Road. How convenient. This means when Kingdom Hearts Dark Road is officially launched on June 22nd, fans will have to dig into Dark Road just to figure out how it's monetized, which seems pretty shady to me. But if you don't mind such things, then you can grab the install for Kingdom Hearts Union χ at the bottom of the page, which should ideally be updated on June 22nd to finally allow access to Kingdom Hearts Dark Road.
Kingdom Hearts Dark Road has officially landed
As expected, Kingdom Hearts Dark Road has officially landed on the Play Store, but this isn't some regular release. Not at all. Square Enix has decided to leverage the install base of a previous title by stuffing Dark Road into Kingdom Hearts Union χ, which is now named Kingdom Hearts Uχ Dark Road. But don't worry, once you boot up the game, you'll be treated to a splash screen where you can choose which title you'd like to play, keeping things pretty simple.
Two games in one, pick your poison
We learned last week that Dark Road would land on Android today as a free-to-play card-based RPG, and after playing through the short tutorial, it's clear that auto-combat is included out of the box, and that gacha mechanics are also included. This means you won't have to play through the grindy bits of the game manually, but it also means you can expect numerous currencies, loot boxes (card draws), and tons of pointless events structured specifically to keep you coming back for more. I would imagine this is why the game is stuffed full of in-app purchases that just so happen to range up to $99.99 per item.
Those prices sure jump fast
As for gameplay, well, Dark Road plays just like every other casual card-based RPG on the Play Store. You'll form a team of three to take on enemies by tapping on movement/attack cards at the bottom of the screen. It's a genre that's been done to death, and Square has done little to differentiate itself from the crowd outside of slapping a popular brand on top. I suppose if you enjoy these sorts of games, then you won't find anything too surprising here. Keep in mind that Dark Road will take up ~257mb once fully installed (this is not counting the separate install for Union χ).
So if you'd like to check out Dark Road by installing Kingdom Hearts Uχ Dark Road, you can do so through the Play Store widget at the bottom of the page.
SQUARE ENIX AND DISNEY DEBUT NEW MOBILE EXPERIENCE KINGDOM HEARTS DARK ROAD
Discover the Untold Story of the KINGDOM HEARTS Series’ Greatest Villain
LOS ANGELES (June 22, 2020) – SQUARE ENIX® and Disney announced today that KINGDOM HEARTS Dark Road, a new original story and unique gameplay experience within the hit mobile game KINGDOM HEARTS Union χ Dark Road, is now available to all players as a free update. KINGDOM HEARTS Dark Road expands on the epic mobile adventure and brings players to an early chapter of the KINGDOM HEARTS series, following the mysterious teenaged Xehanort on his path to become the Seeker of Darkness.
KINGDOM HEARTS Dark Road features easy-to-learn, card-based gameplay, optimized for touch-based controls on mobile devices. Together with a teenage Xehanort, a young Master Eraqus, and a cast of newly introduced Keyblade Wielders, players will travel through familiar Disney worlds to defeat Heartless and uncover the mysteries surrounding Xehanort’s past.
SQUARE ENIX and Disney also recently announced that KINGDOM HEARTS fan looking for more adventures can look forward to KINGDOM HEARTS Melody of Memory, an immersive musical journey filled with memorable Disney and KINGDOM HEARTS songs, worlds and characters, that will be coming to the PlayStation®4 computer entertainment system, Xbox One family of devices and Nintendo Switch™ system later this year. Players will embark on musical escapades in a new KINGDOM HEARTS story, featuring more than 140 familiar songs and characters, including Sora, Goofy and Donald. For more information visit: https://www.kingdomhearts.com/
KINGDOM HEARTS Union χ Dark Road is available now as a free-to-play app (with in-app purchases) through the App Store® and on Google Play Store™ and the Amazon Appstore. For the latest assets, please visit the press site at http://sqex.to/Media.
Official KINGDOM HEARTS Website: www.kingdomhearts.com
Official KINGDOM HEARTS Twitter: @KingdomHearts
Official KINGDOM HEARTS Facebook: @KingdomHearts
Official KINGDOM HEARTS YouTube: www.youtube.com/KingdomHearts
Official KINGDOM HEARTS Instagram: @KingdomHearts
Official KINGDOM HEARTS Union χ[Cross] Website: https://www.kingdomhearts.com/
Official KINGDOM HEARTS Union χ[Cross] Twitter: @kh_ux_na
Official KINGDOM HEARTS Dark Road Website: https://www.kingdomhearts.com/
Official KINGDOM HEARTS Union χ Dark Road Twitter: @kh_dr_na
About the KINGDOM HEARTS Series
KINGDOM HEARTS is a series of role-playing games created through the collaboration of Disney and Square Enix. Since the first KINGDOM HEARTS was released in March 2002 for the PlayStation®2 computer entertainment system, the series has expanded with several additional entries. The series celebrated its 15th anniversary in March 2017 and has shipped over 32 million units worldwide. Most-recently, KINGDOM HEARTS III, in 2019, allowed players to join forces with Donald Duck and Goofy for the adventure of a lifetime traveling across worlds based on beloved films like Disney•Pixar’s Toy Story, and Monsters, Inc., and Walt Disney Studios’ Pirates of the Caribbean, Big Hero 6, Tangled, Frozen and more. Since launch, the critically-acclaimed RPG has shipped more than five million units globally, both physically and digitally, making it the fastest selling game in the history of the series.
About KINGDOM HEARTS Union χ Dark Road
With over ten million players worldwide, KINGDOM HEARTS Union χ Dark Road is a single app that contains two games, KINGDOM HEARTS Union χ[Cross] and KINGDOM HEARTS Dark Road, both of which players can select from the app’s title screen. KINGDOM HEARTS Union χ Dark Road lets players uncover story elements from the earliest parts of the series’ history, as well as from KINGDOM HEARTS III. Players can create their very own Keyblade wielder and adventure through Disney worlds with beautiful and stylized art while interacting with a rich cast of memorable Disney characters. The game also features both co-op and player vs player (PvP) modes for players to play with friends and compete on leaderboards to win rewards.
About Square Enix, Inc.
Square Enix, Inc. develops, publishes, distributes and licenses SQUARE ENIX®, EIDOS® and TAITO® branded entertainment content throughout the Americas as part of the Square Enix group of companies. Square Enix, Inc. is affiliated with a global network of leading development studios such as Crystal Dynamics® and Eidos Montréal™. The Square Enix group of companies boasts a valuable portfolio of intellectual property including: FINAL FANTASY®, which has sold over 151 million units worldwide; DRAGON QUEST®, which has sold over 81 million units worldwide; TOMB RAIDER®, which has sold over 77 million units worldwide; and the legendary SPACE INVADERS®. Square Enix, Inc. is a U.S.-based, wholly owned subsidiary of Square Enix Holdings Co., Ltd.
More information on Square Enix, Inc. can be found at https://square-enix-games.com.