Kingdom Hearts Integrum Masterpiece collection review on Steam — May your (Steam) Deck be your guiding key

The Kingdom Hearts series has been on PC for a few years now through the Epic Games Store. You can read that review here, but the gist is that they’re great ports. They look good, there’s full keyboard and mouse support for every game, and they run pretty well. The Epic Store does unfortunately come with a few caveats, however, so I was very excited when the games (sans Melody of Memory) were coming to Steam, the best part being the possibility of Steam Deck support. These aren’t just rereleases on a different storefront, however, with SquareEnix taking the time to update some of the textures in Kingdom Hearts 1, 2, and Birth by Sleep. While playing on Steam is far more good than bad, it does introduce a few new problems. So once again, let’s take a look at the Kingdom Hearts Integrum Masterpiece collection.

The Integrum Masterpiece collection on Steam offers three games, two of which are collections. We’ve got Kingdom Hearts -HD 1.5 + 2.5 ReMIX-, 2.8 Final Chapter Prologue, and III + ReMind (DLC). Only games in ReMIX received texture updates, while III gives Steam players a new Keyblade called Dead of Night. 2.8 is essentially the same as the EGS version we previously covered, so we’ll mostly skip over that. Just know that it includes Dream Drop Distance with a zoomed out camera (thank goodness), Aqua’s story in 0.2, and a movie called Kingdom Hearts X (pronounced Key, though some say Kai) Back Cover. KH3 is self explanatory, as it is just KH3 with its DLC included, while ReMIX included Kingdom Hearts Final Mix, Re:Chain of Memories, Kingdom Hearts II Final Mix, a movie version of 358/2 Days, Birth by Sleep, and finally a movie version of Re: Coded.

Kingdom Hearts II Final Mix gameplay on Steam - PC [GamingTrend]

The movies in ReMIX look exactly the same as their console counterparts, so I assume they are pre-rendered along with the theater mode scenes in KH1. Let’s move on to performance and those texture updates. ReMIX starts up with the same launcher the game has always used. Since these are PS2 and PSP games, you can run them pretty easily on most modern computers, with Kingdom Hearts 1 running at 1440p and getting about 320 frames per second on a RTX 4070. I can’t even see most of those frames given my monitor’s refresh rate is 170, but big numbers are fun. Despite being a few years on from the EGS releases, cutscenes in ReMIX are still locked at 30 fps. This was acceptable back then… before fans modded out that limitation very easily. In fact, the fan made Re:Fined mod includes a ton of fixes that SquareEnix themselves could and should have implemented in this Steam release.

One thing SE did improve is Steam Deck support. Previously, it was a pain to get any KH game running on Deck using the Epic version. For ReMIX, you needed to bypass the launcher by setting whatever game you wanted to play as the .exe target, and any pre-rendered cutscenes wouldn’t play. I could never even get KH3 to boot either. Now, though? They all work flawlessly. The launcher boots into whatever game you want, pre-rendered cutscenes play properly, and KH3 not only starts up but can run at a mostly stable 60, still looking pretty good at low settings and 75% screen resolution.

Kingdom Hearts III gameplay on Steam Deck - PC [GamingTrend]

That does come with a few asterisks, however, especially in ReMIX. Namely, the lack of Ultrawide support and some wonky frame pacing. You see, KH1, 2, and BBS all reach 60 fps (30 in cutscenes) easily and barely tax the Deck’s resources, but they’ll still look choppy at times. Looking at the frametime graph included in the Deck’s resource monitor reveals the problem, with some frames taking longer to render than others. Why this is I couldn’t tell you, but it’s very noticeable when it does occasionally crop up. I haven’t had it cause me to take damage in combat or anything, so it doesn’t really affect gameplay, but it’s something to keep in mind while playing on Deck. As for Ultrawide, Kingdom Hearts 1 used to have a bug that allowed it to display in 16:10, but this was fixed in this release. I can live with playing in 16:9, but a patch adding support for Ultrawide would be appreciated. You can get about 4 hours of battery life out of ReMIX on Deck, so I imagine I’ll be putting a lot of time into these regardless.

Now, onto the big thing, the texture updates. The EGS version also received these as an update, and they’re a bit of a mixed bag. Square used AI to upscale the textures, which doesn’t always have the best results as seen in games like Grand Theft Auto: The Trilogy – The Definitive Edition. Before we go on, since tech bros have ruined the world, I feel the need to explain that this is NOT generative AI that steals from the internet to regurgitate something resembling human creativity. AI upscaling has been used for quite a while, and is trained on only whatever it is you’re trying to upscale. Some textures look fantastic, like the streets and storefronts of Twilight Town, while others look awful, like the chalkboard in Merlin’s House or Namine’s drawings.

The rule of thumb for AI upscaling, in my opinion, is this: the simpler the pattern, the better AI can handle it. The more complex, the worse the result, and the more human touching up it needs. While it’s a bit uncanny to see NPCs like the Struggle Promoter look as good as more story important NPCs, many of the results are amazing. Birth by Sleep especially benefits from this given its origins as a PSP game, and these upscaled textures really breathe new life into that title. It’s mostly just a few instances that need a bit more care than the upscaler was able to give them.

One big issue with the new textures crops up in a very specific situation: playing on Steam Deck at 720p and displaying to an external monitor. This allows you to see seams both in the environment and on characters. In particular, I saw the seam on Roxas’ face in the cutscene of KH2 where he leaves the Organization, which was very jarring. I haven’t had this seam issue occur in any other circumstance thankfully, but Steam Deck does have one final issue. That being flickering shadows in KH1, mostly happening in Destiny Islands. It’s not the best first impression, but I didn’t notice it happening again once I reached Traverse Town. Hopefully all of these issues can be fixed in updates, and while you’re at it please let me zoom the camera out a bit in KH1 and BBS, those games can get pretty cramped.

Moving on to KH3, I’m genuinely shocked at how well the game runs on Steam Deck. On PC I can crank everything up to maximum and get 70 to 90 fps no problem, but the Deck can still get to 60 and look good. To do this, I set most of the settings to their lowest possible, save for Maximum quality textures, keeping some options on medium or low instead of off, add in some light Anti-Aliasing, and finally set the display resolution to 75% while enabling FSR in the Quick Menu. I played all the way up to Toy Box on Critical mode and it felt great. Using Steam Input, I was even able to add gyro controls to shotlocks which helps a bit in keeping the cursor on your targets. Make no mistake, these are still great ports, they just have few kinks to iron out.

David is the kind of person to wear his heart on his sleeve. He can find positives in anything, like this is a person who loved Star Fox Zero to death. You’ll see him playing all kinds of games: AAAs, Indies, game jam games, games of all genres, and writing about them! Here. On this website. When not writing or playing games, you can find David making music, games, or enjoying a good book.
David’s favorite games include NieR: Automata, Mother 3, and Gravity Rush.



Kingdom Hearts Integrum Masterpiece Collection

Review Guidelines

The Kingdom Hearts series is at its best on Steam. With Deck support and (mostly) improved textures, each game looks and plays amazingly. There are still a few hitches, namely in frame pacing on Deck, the 30fps cutscene cap in ReMIX, and some mistakes in upscaled textures, but it’s still a great way to experience the story up until Melody of Memory.

David Flynn

Unless otherwise stated, the product in this article was provided for review purposes.

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