Disclaimer: This review is of the PlayStation 4 version of Kingdom Hearts III.
Six years. For six years, I have been asking for this game for Christmas. And for six years, I have been disappointed. Kingdom Hearts III has probably been my most anticipated game ever. I was unsure if it would ever come out because those years were a little bleak. Even when the game shipped, I wasn’t expecting it to be real. I don’t think I even processed it actually existing until I held it in my hands. After waiting so long and just holding onto trailers and random snippets, I was eager to play through this game and continue on with a story that began so long ago in 2002.
From Past to Present
I have a love for the Kingdom Hearts series because I played this series as a kid, and it got me into gaming. I started off playing Kingdom Hearts 2, which is probably one of the best games I have ever played. A lot of my most memorable gaming moments come from playing KH2, like the time I was playing and my mom was sweeping and hit my Playstation 2, which corrupted my game file. I made it through a lot with this series. Kingdom Hearts is a long, confusing, expansive story, but it tells an incredibly beautiful and unique adventure dealing with friendship and right/wrong, if you understand it. My favorite games of this series are KH2 and 358/2, which made Axel my favorite character. I feel as if having a game so focused on friendship really shaped me as a person.
Before you delve into Kingdom Hearts III, I would recommend searching up a universe video on YouTube that explains the entire story. Even if you’ve played all the games, they are so incredibly confusing and it’s good to have a refresher before you start. KH3 does a good job connecting all the previous stories and mentioning them in the new game, but I would still recommend a refresher.
I love how the game sticks to the great elements of the previous games while also making it more modern and friendly for some younger/new players. KH3 holds onto its roots while creating a completely unique ending for the story. I felt giddy when I saw the loading screen and heard the same sound effects when you start the game. I was so happy they didn’t decide to change that kind of stuff.
I will say this game is incredibly cutscene heavy. After all, Kingdom Hearts is notoriously confusing, and they wanted to have everything make sense. This is fine, but at points I just wanted to play, not watch. The cutscenes were beautiful to watch, which did make up for it.
The combat of KH3 is almost the same compared to previous games with elements of each added in. Flowmotion from Dream Drop Distance was added to the menu, but it’s a little wonky and doesn’t work how I would want it to. I miss reaction commands from the previous games as well. In KH3, they changed to situation commands, and while they happen all the time, they get rid of the coolness factor and are mainly just attractions and keyblade powerups. An instance of reaction commands was fighting Ansem at the end of KH2. You could use your reaction commands to dodge his attacks (if you didn’t you’d die), you could get a reaction command that you didn’t control but was very powerful. You had to be quick with them because if you waited a fraction of a second too long, they’d be gone. Now, you have to control every move and don’t get to experience a super awesome attack with lots of flips and dodges.
The attraction rides are a cool concept, but after playing through the game, I still don’t know how I feel about them. I feel as if the game would be perfectly fine if they weren’t included because they don’t add much. Also, some of them are hard to use. The instructions aren’t always clear with them, and it’s confusing because some of them move around but some of them don’t without saying anything really. Also, the graphics for these look amazing but sometimes they don’t fit the area. For instance, when I’m fighting in the forest, I can’t see what I’m doing around the trees because they block my view. I noticed this a few times with different animations and attractions and different surrounding areas that would block what you’re supposed to be able to see. This was especially disappointing when I was trying out a new keyblade powerup move, and I couldn’t see what it was doing.
I talked to a few people about this, and we all thought the game was really easy no matter what mode we played it on with a few exceptions. It was like they didn’t make any of the previous enemies harder or even make new enemies harder. Instead, they just added a crap ton of health bars. Some of the easiest enemies would have large health bars, which I thought was weird. Some bosses in particular have a ridiculous amount of health bars. This didn’t make the combat difficult; it just made the fights take longer than necessary.
Bringing in Pixar Alongside Disney
KH3 is incredibly short. There are only nine worlds, and most of the time, they don’t last very long. The shortest one was 100 Acre Wood, which consisted of three minigames. My favorite world was Monstropolis because it was longer and had an interesting story. I’m a big Monster’s Inc. fan, so it was really cool being able to play in this world where they incorporated the door area and the factory. Also, the boss in this area was surprisingly hard compared to the rest of the enemies in the game.
The Caribbean was a returning world, but you weren’t exploring the same areas because the developers expanded on each returning world. It was really cool to see more areas, especially since the Caribbean was always one of the longer worlds. The underwater traveling was interesting, and the new ship combat is probably one of my favorite aspects of the game. It was fun to fight other ships, and you could gain a lot of experience doing it. The music in this area was among the best, especially the combat music. Normally, it gets too repetitive, but this music sounded pleasant and I found myself turning it up when I was in this area. They took an already great world and made it so much better by adding different elements.
I’d say my biggest disappoint was San Fransokyo. I LOVE Big Hero 6 and was so excited to play this world. The area ended up being incredibly confusing to navigate since almost everything looked the same. I guess that’s one of the flaws of doing a city because it’s harder to differentiate areas. I did love seeing Hiro, Baymax and the rest of the team, though.
The most pointless world was Arendelle from Frozen. I hated it. It was like they took the movie and dropped Sora in. They even decided to add the songs for some reason. I’m not a Frozen fan, so I really didn’t like having to basically play through the movie with so few connections to Kingdom Hearts. Also, everything in this world was repetitive. You had to climb up to Elsa’s ice castle a few different times because you kept getting knocked down. There was also an incredibly frustrating part where you had to find Olaf’s pieces. It took a ridiculously long time because you had to find the wrong pieces for humor or whatever until the right ones showed up. Needless to say, I hated it. There was really no point having Sora, Donald and Goofy travel here. The boss battle happened randomly and had nothing to do with any of the Frozen characters. However, it ended up being one of the cooler boss battles of the game.
The other worlds were Kingdom of Corona, Mount Olympus and Toy Box. It was fun seeing how they expanded onto Mount Olympus since it was a world from the first game. Also, with it being one of the shortest, I liked how they made it one of the larger areas to explore. Toy Box was neat to see given that most of it took place in the toy store. I liked the combat of this area and the types of enemies included. I thought they made this place so different from the rest of the worlds. Corona was another of my favorite worlds because they added Sora and his friends into the storyline.
The End of a Saga
Getting to the end game was rather easy since there were so few worlds, but that didn’t mean the game was anywhere close to being over. The ending sequence actually takes a lot of time to make your way through. The end game was not what I expected. It surprised me a lot what happens when you get to the final world. Curveballs were continuing to be thrown at you up to the last few seconds of the game, keeping you on the edge of your seat because the end was finally here.
I first started crying during some battles with other people. I loved how they spent time to focus on every enemy after you defeated them. This made me experience so many feelings, mostly sadness because everything was wrapping up and I wasn’t ready for the end. I loved some of the bits they added, especially the one with Axel. At that point, I had to take a breather to decide if I was ready.
The final boss battles were a little difficult but mainly tested your abilities to be able to dodge and continually attack. I think this was the point when I appreciated the attractions the most because they were so useful when fighting multiple powerful enemies to get them away from you. I loved getting to fight some enemies that I found extremely hard in the earlier games. Throughout the game, the creators kept reminding the player of previous games, which made me love it so much more.
I did tear up when heading to the big bad battle because Donald and Goofy started walking next to you. This is the moment I realized it’s going to end the same way the series started — with Sora, Donald and Goofy. My heart was pounding and hands sweating as I fought the final battle. It was difficult, but not too difficult. The weight of the moment sits on you while fighting. The transitions between each battle were interesting, and I loved how the game was still being unique to the very end. This fight felt like no other. Every moment in the series thus far was leading up to this moment, and it didn’t disappoint.
I bawled like a baby watching the ending. I’m still wanting to cry just thinking about it. It sits with you and is one of the most memorable endings of a game I have ever played. The soundtrack was perfect. The ending was absolutely beautiful. I probably couldn’t have asked for anything more. If you’re a fan of the series, you need to play this game through to the very end. Feel it. It hits your heart and gives you all the feels. This ending just raises the brilliance of Kingdom Hearts III and the series overall. You will cry. You will love it. You will hate it. But it is beautiful and shocking. I’m not going to spoil anything, but I highly recommend playing this game to completion just because of the ending. It makes up for all of the faults of this game.
Overall, I’m incredibly sad to see the end of this journey, but I’m so excited for what’s to come. I can’t believe they pulled it off. I’ll happily wait another 10+ years for another game if it means it is as great as Kingdom Hearts III. Every decision the creators made was designed to make you feel. Kingdom Hearts has always had one of the best soundtracks, but I don’t think I’ve ever cried as much from a song like ‘Don’t Think Twice’ by Utada. It was perfect for the moment. I absolutely love this series, and it’ll be one of my top games for a while. This game is so different from anything else. It’s beautiful.
Images: PlayStation Store
Featured Image: GameRant
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