Kingdom Hearts 0.2: Birth by Sleep – A Fragmentary Passage, picks up where the original Birth by Sleep left off, exploring the events in that game’s secret ending. It also connects to another Kingdom Hearts game, 3D: Dream Drop Distance, covering the events that Mickey witnessed in the Realm of Darkness.
Kingdom Hearts 0.2 is considered the eleventh installment in the series, and is the most up to date on the timeline, bringing the story right up to the very beginning of the upcoming Kingdom Hearts III. Naturally, this means that there are some important tidbits within the story to give fans something to chew on as well as look forward to.
We’re going to break down the relatively short story of Kingdom Hearts 0.2 to see what blanks it fills in and how it sets up the long-anticipated final chapter in the series. This post will contain several spoilers to not only this entry, but games that are directly connected to it as well. If you’d rather enjoy the game first, you should leave now and come back after you’ve spent time playing. If you just need to know what happens right away, though, continue reading.
FINAL WARNING! SPOILERS AHEAD!
Quick Recap of Birth by Sleep
Kingdom Hearts: Birth by Sleep is actually a prequel to the original Kingdom Hearts game and follows the journey of three Keyblade apprentices – Aqua, Ventus, and Terra – as they seek to become masters in order to help with the fight to maintain the light. Prequel is used a bit loosely, though, because Birth by Sleep starts well before the events of the first game, but the ending (particularly the secret ending) takes place after.
Aqua is first introduced in this entry as she trains alongside Ventus and Terra under Master Eraqus. While taking the Mark of the Mastery exam, Terra relies on the power of the Darkness in order to defeat Aqua, which leads to him failing and Aqua becoming the only master in the group. This piques the interest of Xehanort, a dark Keyblade master attending the exam. This isn’t Xehanort’s first dealings with the young group of Keyblade warriors, though, as he is the one who brought Ventus to Destiny Island after removing part of his heart in an experiment. That act led to a miracle which saw Ventus restore his heart and wield a Keyblade as a young boy, setting off Xehanort’s new plan to start a war.
Xehanort, now back among masters, witnesses Terra’s exam and seduces him with the dark side (like a Sith). At the same time, Xehanort has Vanitas, an Unversed he created from the experiment on Ventus all those years ago. He sought to use Terra as a new vessel while having Vanitas and Ventus clash to create the x-Blade, the ultimate Keyblade from which all other Keyblades are designed. It is the true key to Kingdom Hearts and would allow Xehanort to trigger another Keyblade War (which is something only crazy villains would want).
In order to stop Xehanort’s plans in their tracks, Aqua fights Vanitas after the x-Blade is successfully formed. This allows for the weapon to be shattered, and for Ventus to prevent a complete fusion between himself and Vanitas. Ventus is now in a deep slumber, unable to be awoken, so Aqua hides him within Castle Oblivion which she created from Land of Departure using Master Eraqus’ Keyblade.
Terra, who is now Terra-Xehanort thanks to the evil master taking over his body, must also be stopped. During a duel with this new form, Aqua and Terra are thrust into the Realm of Darkness. In order to save Terra, Aqua entrusts his heart to her armor and provides him with a Keyblade before getting him back into the the Realm of Light before the entryway closes.
This leaves her stuck in the darkness alone and afraid. As she fights through countless Heartless and other denizens of the dark, she obtains a new weapon which seems to be sent from the hearts of Ventus and Terra. As she comes across a familiar location, the Castle of Dreams, she must find her way out.
Aqua’s Journey in the Darkness
Kingdom Hearts 0.2 kicks off right where Birth by Sleep left off. With Aqua stuck in the Realm of Darkness looking for a way out. As players take control of her, they are introduced to the very ending of the original game: Aqua gazing at the Castle of Dreams, a dark version of Cinderella’s castle frozen in the middle of a cataclysm as a nearby ton appears to be torn into pieces.
Here she sees Terra, or at least she believes she sees him. He vanishes into thin air, leaving more questions to be answered. Aqua knows she freed him from this place, so seeing him is now driving her forward. The area must be restored first so that she may advance. She does so by finding time fragments which recreate the path to the castle while also restoring some of her memories of her friends and the events that got her here.
This leads her into an area identical to the Dwarf Woodlands where she finds a mysterious mirror that shows Ventus, who should be hidden away sleeping in a place that only she knows. When reaching out for the mirror, she is pulled in by a doppelganger of herself, a powerful phantom that seeks to defeat her from the inside. Entering the World Within shows a series of mirrors which lead to worlds Aqua recognizes while also presenting threats that try to break down her confidence and hope.
The darkness is eating away at this Keyblade master, and for good reason. It turns out that Aqua, along with Ventus and Terra, is one of the seven guardians of light, who is needed to protect the seven pure hearts (the Disney Princesses). Getting her out of the way will make the act of triggering another Keyblade War much easier, and making the control of Kingdom Hearts by the darkness even more possible.
Luckily, Aqua realizes that the darkness is actually eating away at her heart, which is why the mirrors were filled with her fears and doubts. So she steels her heart as she vows to break free, keep her promise to Ventus, and save Terra’s heart.
Advancing on brings her to the next Kingdom Hearts 0.2 area, the Forest of Thorns, which is actually the Enchanted Dominion from Birth by Sleep and a mix of both the light and dark castles of the Enchanted Forest (from Sleeping Beauty). Here, Aqua once again encounters Terra and Ventus, only this time she sees that they are images from their hearts. Terra, who is tied to the darkness thanks to him relying on its power in the past and having fused with Xehanort, is able to communicate with Aqua. He tells her that Ventus is still safe wherever she hid him, but Xehanort is looking for him.
During their conversation, Xehanort tries to take over to force Ventus’ location out of Aqua. A large hand, resembling that of the dwellers of darkness, pulls Aqua and Terra into a portal, leaving her floating in the darkness, slowly drifting away, until a familiar hand reaches in and pulls her out.
The End of Dream Drop Distance and Mickey’s Appearance
This is where Kingdom Hearts 0.2 meets Dream Drop Distance, the most recent entry on the timeline before the release of Kingdom Hearts 0.2. One of the secret endings to Dream Drop Distance is titled Another Guardian of Light and has Yen Sid recount the legend of the Keyblade War to his apprentice, King Mickey. He also teaches him about the Princess of Heart, the Thirteen Seekers of Darkness, and the Seven Guardians of Light. At this point, Mickey realizes that they are short one Guardian, which is when Kairi is revealed to be able to wield a Keyblade, making her a Princess of Heart and possibly a Guardian of Light.
Mickey decides to recount his adventures in the darkness. You may recall that Mickey was in the darkness and helped to save Riku back in Kingdom Hearts. Also, in Kingdom Hearts Re: Coded, there’s a secret ending titled Signs of What’s Next that alludes to Aqua already being found, meaning Mickey most likely encountered her prior to saving Riku. Now that Yen Sid feels that the Keyblade wielders are powerful enough, he allows Mickey to share his tale which leads to the final acts of Kingdom Hearts 0.2.
The familiar hand that pulls Aqua from floating in the darkness is that of Mickey himself. He ended up exploring the dark realm and recognized Aqua who he ran into during the events of Birth by Sleep when he was still just a budding apprentice. He now joins Aqua for the remainder of Kingdom Hearts 0.2 as they explore the Depths of Darkness.
As they fight through, they arrive at Destiny Islands, a location tied to the fate of many heroes. It was the home of all of them at one point, and it’s where she first met a young Sora and told him to watch over his friend Riku. The darkness is strong here and after fighting a powerful enemy, Mickey and Aqua discover a Keyblade, and Mickey quickly realizes what it’s for.
This is the moment where fans will remember Riku escaping from the Realm of Darkness as the door to Kingdom Hearts lay open, allowing darkness to seep into the worlds. Of course, the darkness was after Riku, and it turns out that he was only able to escape thanks to Aqua sacrificing herself for him. Her chance to escape was given to Riku so that Mickey and Sora could close the door.
The Ending – Reconnect. Kingdom Hearts
As the dust settles, Aqua realizes that it’s not yet her time to escape the darkness, but she knows that she is destined to do so some day. She settles on the Destiny Islands beach as she waits for the time when she must guide another hero out of the dark realm. She makes her way to the Dark Margin, an area lying on the edge of darkness and light, and has held significance at different points in the franchise.
It’s not clear who the dark figure is, as Aqua actually meets Ansem the Wise here during the Blank Points ending to Birth by Sleep. This new figure is seen with a case and a mysterious Keyblade. He’s the same person that helped the Master of Masters see the future in Kingdom Hearts x.
When all is said and done, a familiar message appears: “Reconnect. Kingdom Hearts.” There have been three other endings, all of them secret endings, that used these words in the series:
- Another Guardian of Light (Dream Drop Distance) – Where it is revealed that Kairi can wield a Keyblade.
- Blank Points (Birth by Sleep) – Which shows that Aqua is fighting through the darkness and meets Ansem the Wise, who was Xehanort’s master.
- Signs of What’s Next (Re: Coded) – Where Yen Sid reveals that the guardians must be gathered and that they know where Aqua and Ventus are, but need to find Terra.
Now that the message has appeared once more, with Kingdom Hearts III looming on the horizon. It seems as if the connection has been made. The last video that is part of Kingdom Hearts 0.2’s ending shows Sora returning, after having been missing since the events of Dream Drop Distance. The connections have been made and it’s time for his next adventure.
Kingdom Hearts III
After Mickey finishes his story, finally clearing up the events that took place between Birth by Sleep and Dream Drop Distance, they are sent on a quest by Yen Sid. Once they leave, Sora finally returns from exploring a place known as the Sleeping Worlds. He’s older, wiser, but he’s also lost quite a bit of his power during his Mark of Mastery exam where he almost became a vessel for the darkness.
However, Sora is the key to saving Kingdom Hearts and the Realm of Light, so he starts on a new adventure. One that will see him regain the abilities he lost as well as a new ability, the power to awaken the hearts of sleeping allies (yes, this means we should be seeing Ventus restored in Kingdom Hearts III). He is now on a quest to find the Key that Returns Hearts, as well as to reunite the seven guardians.
Aqua mentions having to lead another out of the realm later on, and there’s a strong possibility that will mean Sora himself as he comes for her. He’ll need her if he hopes to reach Ventus, while the others are busy seeking out Terra and another unnamed master.
One thing that will prove to be interesting in Kingdom Hearts III is Kairi’s presence as both a Princess of Heart and a possible guardian. Her fate and Sora’s have been intertwined from the beginning and now that all the threads of fate have united, it’s time to see what their destiny holds.
Reconnect. Kingdom Hearts.