As an unironic Kingdom Hearts enjoyer, I’m quite used to defending some of the more unsavory elements. Atlantica in Kingdom Hearts 2? Not too bad if you don’t take it seriously. Dream eaters? They’re fun for a side fight, come on. Attraction flow? A gift if you play in Critical Mode. Re: coded? I might need a minute.
Ask any Kingdom Hearts fan and we’ll all say the same – Re:Coded is the lowest point in the entire series, aside from the gacha crap of Union X and Dark Road. It’s too long, has little to no impact on the overall story except for one detail at the end, retreads the same paths we’ve already gone down a million times before, and doesn’t even star Sora, instead giving us a computer remake of him.
If you skip one Kingdom Hearts game, this is it, which is exactly what I tell people going through the series for the first time. It’s a real shame that 90 percent of Re:coded is skippable, as one scene at the end of the game is not only the highlight of the entire game, but one of my favorites in the entire timeline.
Towards the end of the game, Data-Sora sacrifices his memory to help restore Jiminy’s Journal, leaving the character who considers his friends and memories to be his power a blank slate. Mickey takes him to Castle Oblivion, the scene of the Chain of Memories, where Data-Sora meets Data-Roxas, who makes him visit the worlds again using the cards from the Chain of Memories to test him and see if he can handle the pain by losing everything that matters to him.
As Sora goes deeper into Castle Oblivion and into memories that are kind of his own but just as easily aren’t, Roxas continues to taunt him, suggesting that he fight whoever he sees because they’re just strangers. Sora fights this, showing how pure of heart he is even without the knowledge of the Keyblade and the friendships he once held so dear. While this isn’t the “real” Sora, it’s a great character moment that pushes one of Sora’s greatest strengths to the fore: his sense of right and wrong.
Although the lack of memory gets to Data-Sora the further he goes, he encounters remnants of Donald and Goofy, which set him on the right path and lead to one of the most profound moments of the series. As Sora uses the last card and comes face to face with Roxas again, Nobody warns him that the pain he feels from forgetting everyone will drag him down into the darkness if he lets it, encouraging him to let go and not feel everyone.
Sora tells Roxas that while it hurts to forget people, the fact that it hurts so much is a reminder that what happened is important, and that it’s enough for him to hold onto the hurt until he remembers the people closest him. He decides that he will bear the burden of remembering the pain, because forgetting it would mean forgetting the people and things he has experienced along the way.
The obvious comparison here, or at least the one my depressed 19-year-old self made, is about the importance of the people who support you, giving yourself time when you’re hurting, and holding on to the memories of the pain instead. of becoming numb and callous. Sora is willing to keep hurting until he remembers the people he loves because they mean so much to him and no matter how much he hurts, he knows he hurts because he cares and that enduring it is better than to shut down and become numb. .
This is then followed up with an amazing fight between Sora and Roxas that feels more emotional than their first duel in Kingdom Hearts 2. Although Roxas may be testing Sora here, he shouts that it’s time for Sora to “learn how to really hurt feels like ” is something Roxas will definitely say to his significant other.
Seeing Sora and Roxas clash with both their Keyblades and their morals here is a fantastic moment, but it’s all held up by Sora’s speech about holding on to the wound for the sake of his friends. It sounds like what he’s said in the series before, but hits that much harder considering the memory reset and the fact that he’s up against Roxas.
Re:coded might be the worst part of a Kingdom Hearts playthrough, but this one scene has stuck with me for life. This might be the worst game in the series, but it’s worth going through just for this moment.
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