The battle between light and darkness ensues. In Kingdom Hearts 3 you find friends, fight foes, and fly to new worlds with your favorite characters. Additional elements and improved game-play mechanics help the game to outshine its predecessors in a legitimately engaging, enjoyable experience. While there are certainly many positives to this game, there were also a few things that were quite frustrating.
If you have ever heard of Kingdom Hearts, you have probably heard the words “confusing” and/or “elaborate” associated with the plot. Due to this, this article will provide as spoiler-free a synopsis of the story as possible for the sake of our readers. Chronologically, Kingdom Hearts 3D: Dream Drop Distance is right before the events of KH3. At the end of KH 3D: DDD, Mickey and Yen Sid (a retired keyblade master) prepare to gather 7 Keyblade wielders to try and prevent Xehanort (the villain) from forging the χ- blade (pronounced key) with the Princesses of Heart.
KH3 picks up from that point with Sora, Donald, and Goofy traveling through the realms. The group is trying to regain Sora’s (the main protagonist) strength and help him gain the “power of waking.” Parallel to that, Riku (Sora’s best friend) and Mickey are in the Realm of Darkness trying to search for Aqua (a keyblade master) so they can recruit her to be part of the 7 Keyblade wielders. On top of that, Kairi (a Princess of Heart) and Lea (Axel’s human form) are training to be Keyblade wielders to help with the final battle. Throughout your story, you get stronger, learn about friendship, and meet all sorts of new characters. Nearing the end of the story, your team of 7 Keyblade wielders unites, and the fight is on.
With twelve years to improve since the last main series title (Kingdom Hearts 2), Square Enix really came through with KH3. The visuals are stunning: from oceans to forests, dreamscapes to frozen wastelands, and everything in-between. You can genuinely tell that Unreal Engine 4 is being utilized since all the characters and scenery look hyper-realistic. The sound is dynamic: it changes with the events. If you are in a battle, there will be deep fast-paced music. If you are in a cut-scene or an emotional part of the game, the music is well designed to pull you in and make you feel the emotions being portrayed.
When you first start up the game, you feel like a little person in a vast world. The world feels like you can explore the whole thing, with it being more open world than a lot of the other titles in the series. You are still guided where the game wants you to go, but you can usually get there a couple of different ways. KH3 continues the series’ genre of Hack and Slash. However, the improvements that Square Enix have implemented have made a big difference. The HUD is cleaner than previous titles, with Donald and Goofy’s health and mana bars placed right next to Sora’s. At a quick glance, you can check them all with ease.
KH3 has noticeable improvements from the other games in the series making the game fun and fresh to play. The ability to tweak your shortcut lists is a great perk that was added. In a mere second, you can have all the abilities/ potions you want at the press of a button. In contrast to previous games, this allows you to focus a lot more on the fights instead of fiddling around with your spell lists.
Attraction flow is a new special series of attacks that are themed after Disney Park attractions: blaster blaze, splash run, pirate ship, etc. The attacks charge up as you attack an enemy and Donald and Goofy come to your aid for some of the special attacks. It’s a blast to see a bad guy get hit by a brightly colored carousel. Another addition is that after unlocking keyblades, you are now able to level them up using materials collected in the world. These materials can be gathered from chests or the smash-able items in the world.
One more addition to KH3 which is fun and modern is the introduction of the Gummi Phone. Sora is given a smart-phone to stay in contact with Chip, Dale, and the rest of the team. However, the phone also has features like being able to take selfies, read Jiminy’s journal, and check the character files. Memory Archives (on the title screen) are a great feature where you can watch what has happened in the previous games up to KH3. With such a confusing timeline, it feels like a nice breather to stop the game once in a while and refresh on what has happened.
Another worthwhile addition to KH3 are the mini-games. In the 100 Acre Wood, you can join Rabbit and play bubble-pop style mini-games to help Pooh and collect some ingredients. Ingredients from the 100 Acre Wood are used for a cooking mini-game featuring Remy from Ratatouille. This cooking mini-game felt like a nice break from the constant world saving. It has minor involvement from the player, but you have to execute precision timing with button presses to excel at the recipe you are making. The addition of Classic Kingdom, a collection of old-timey Disney games that you find and collect throughout the world and play on the Gummi Phone, gives a cool throwback to retro Disney. For an avid collector, they will undoubtedly make them scour the world for all the games.
Free-running and Flowmotion are also huge highlights of the game. The ability to run up things like walls and mountains contributes heavily to the game having a more open feel. Combat takes on a new tone when you ware able to run up a wall and free-fall onto an enemy, attacking at the last moment. Flowmotion has been in a few of the other games, and it continues to add fluid movement to combat. Enemies are granted health bars, allowing combat to have a more finite and predictable conclusion instead of promoting endless button mashing until victory is achieved.
All of the worlds were stunning and very fun to play through. However, one world, in particular, was extremely concentrated on combat which was a detriment. I wasn’t able to explore the world until I was ready to take off to the next adventure. At that point, frustration took over and the urge to leave hit. Considering this game is the most open-world of the series, it was irritating to be corralled into endless combat. In another part of the game, there is a song being sung as well as a character talking over it. Very bothersome to say the least.
Maps of the areas are still only available through chests which seems unnecessary. On the plus side, there are loads more breakables in the world than in KH2. The ability to gain money, materials and ingredients is a huge incentive to explore the mostly open-world. Flying the Gummi ship is now a believable looking outer space experience. The controls, however, feel rather hard to master, so travel felt frustrating at times.
With the improvements made to the graphics, HUD and extra game-play, KH3 is a wonderful all-around experience. This game was extremely fun to play despite the few frustration inducing parts. I highly recommend that you pick it up if you were a fan of the previous games or are a Disney fan.