Kingdom Hearts III spoiler-free review

Walmart describes it:

A mature Sora sets out on a new adventure. The title will make full use of next-generation console technologies to deliver more exhilarating, action-packed gameplay and various fun features. As a culmination of the series so far, Kingdom Hearts III is shaping up to be an entertainment experience with a grand story of unparalleled scale. Having learned that all the conflicts surrounding “Kingdom Hearts” were a part of Master Xehanort’s master plan to cause a Keyblade War, Sora and his friends search for the seven guardians of light to combat the darkness. While King Mickey and Riku set off in search of previous Keyblade wielders, Sora, Donald and Goofy visit various Disney worlds in search of the “Key to Return Hearts.”

*I am not going to spoil the game’s story, but I might mention minor parts such as past Kingdom Hearts games.

14 Years of Waiting

Like other hardcore fans saying, it feels weird to hold the case of Kingdom Hearts III in your hand or even saying “I am playing Kingdom Hearts III.” It’s been fourteen years since the release of Kingdom Hearts II in 2005 for the PS2. After many people finished KH2, we all anticipated a third installment but we ended up getting spinoffs and Remixes collections. We had spinoffs like Birth by Sleep, 358/2 Days and we had remixes collections like HD 1.5 and 2.5. After years of silence, in 2013, E3 revealed a trailer of Kingdom Hearts III where Sora is fighting a wave of Heartless in Twilight Town and this made fans cry out for more. In years passed, we had exciting news such as new Disney worlds and even bringing in Pixar worlds like Toy Story and Monsters Inc. Hikaru Utada returned to this game and she got to work with Dubstep composer Skrillex to make the intro song. Kingdom Hearts III was going to be the game that would end what fans call it the Darkseeker Saga or also known as the Xehanort Saga. The Darkseeker Saga is a story that has been happening ever since Kingdom Hearts has begun and it was composed by the main villain Master Xehanort. Now I completed the game, I am here to tell you my thoughts the overall game without spoiling the story. Again, I will not spoil the Kingdom Hearts III story but I will most likely mention story moments from the past games. So without a further ado, let’s begin!

Story: 

Taking place right after Dream Drop Distance and A Fragmentary Passage (also known as Kingdom Hearts 0.2 Birth by Sleep: Birth by Sleep – A Fragmentary Passage in KH 2.8 Remix), Sora and his friends set out to prepare themselves for the upcoming battle with Xehanort and the newly revived Real Organization XIII. Previously, in Dream Drop Distance, it’s been revealed that Master Xehanort has returned and he brought back some of the members from Organization III with the help of his younger version. His younger self even brought incarnations of Xehanort like Ansem from KH1 and Xemnas from KH2. It turns out that the purpose of the Organization XIII is to allow Xehanort to create thirteen vessels of himself. With thirteen vessels, he wants to start a keyblade war with the Seven Guardian of Lights (7 keyblade wielders whose heart is filled with light) so that the seven lights and thirteen darkness could clash and form the ultimate keyblade “χ-blade (pronounced chi or key)” and open Kingdom Hearts. Xehanort was going to turn Sora into a vessel but thanks to Riku, King Mickey, Donald, Goofy and Lea (who was known as Axel), they foiled his plans. With DDD ending, Riku becomes a Keyblade master but Sora failed his Mark of Mastery exam after almost giving his heart into darkness. Because of this, Sora lost all of his strength and abilities from everything he learned from his past adventure. To prepare themselves for the upcoming final battle, Sora travels with Donald and Goofy in hopes of trying to regain his lost abilities and learn how to use the “Power of Waking”; The Power of Waking is an ability where a keyblade wielder can jump into someone’s heart and save them from the darkness or wake them up (this is how Riku saved Sora from DDD). Mickey’s master Yen Sid sends Sora and Riku’s friend Kairi and Lea to go train how to fight with a keyblade with Merlin the Wizard. Riku and King Mickey goes to the Realm of Darkness to find Aqua who was left there after the events of Birth by Sleep. In the quest of trying to get strong, Sora and his friends travel to Disney worlds and even Twilight Town in order to get strong and also figure out how to bring out Roxas from his heart.

Gameplay

Combat

Kingdom Hearts III has been improved and updated from the past games. Take everything from the past games and put them together in one whole combat system. Players can now equip up to three keyblades and switch them out for better combat. Flowmation returns from DDD and it allows players to interact with environment for fast mobility and environment combat. Like KH 1 and 2, players can gain experience and AP and equip many abilities in order to do new attacks and combos. D-Link returns in the form of summons where players can summon Disney characters like Simba or Ariel for combat. First it was introduced in A Fragmentary Passage, but now coming back, players can use special attacks after using certain magic like using an updated magic or depending on what kind of keyblade you use, you can transform your keyblade into powerful weapons like guns, a lance or mallet. Brand new to the game is attraction mode where if players hit an enemy with a green triangle, players can summon Disney World rides and fight. Sora and his friends can use rides such as the carousel, thunder mountain roller coaster or the teacups to wipe out enemies. Players can also use up to 3 shortcuts and switch them out while fighting if you want to quickly use a magic without going through the trouble of finding that specific magic. Kingdom Hearts III also increases the party formation where players can have up to five members! Before, you could only have two where you either had to switch Donald or Goofy for a Disney character. Overall, Kingdom Hearts III gives players everything they need to fight.

Disney World’s story

It can’t be Kingdom Hearts without Disney worlds and characters. In Kingdom Hearts III with old and new worlds to explore. The new worlds we have are, Toy Story, Monsters Inc, Tangles, Frozen and Big Hero 6 and the old worlds is Pirates of the Caribean, Hercules and 100 Acre Woods where you can visit Winnie the Pooh in Twilight Town.

The Game’s World

The worlds in Kingdom Hearts III has vastly expanded in all the Disney Worlds. Not only the worlds are huge in this game, but some of the worlds has NPC (non-playable characters)! For the first time in Kingdom Hearts, we get to play a game where there is people. You’ll them in places like Twilight Town and even in Pirates of the Caribbean. Besides everything being big, the worlds added to this game is quite very minimal compared to games like KH 1 and 2.

Gummi Ship

Returning, is the Gummi Ship! Players can ride the Gummi Ship and explore around space and shooting at enemies and discovering treasures. When you first start off the game, this is how you will travel to worlds. This kind of game style is open world so you have the option to explore. You can also create your own ship and use it to travel and fight.

Fun Extras

Besides fighting, players can take a break and do some fun activities in order to take a breather or even improve themselves for fighting. Later in the game, you will be given a Gummi Phone so you can keep track on your progress, take pictures or even play classic games inspired by Game and Watch. The game does have a Secret Ending in which in order to see it, players will need to take pictures of all Lucky Emblems. Lucky Emblems are special hidden Mickey Mouse emblems that are hidden in every where and if you take a picture of it, you will get rewarded by getting items. It’s almost like trying to find those Hidden Mickeys in Disneyland. Each Disney world also has fun gimmicks such as destroying ships in Pirates of the Caribbean, fighting mechs in a video game in Toy Story or even dancing in Tangled. Speaking of games, players will also be able to play these Game and Watch games called Classic Kingdom where depending on what game you play, players can obviously play micro games. Just like Final Fantasy XV, you can cook your food with the help of Remy from Ratatouille with the ingredients you find from the environment or from someone’s leftovers.

Review: Was it worth the wait?

Was Kingdom Hearts III good or bad? Personally, Kingdom Hearts III was a great game but I will admit, it’s not perfect and it does share its flaws. For this review, I am going to talk about the negatives first before we get to the positives.

In gameplay, even in the most hardest difficult setting which is Proud Mode, I hardly ever died and I felt like I was too strong for my enemies. Remember I said Sora lost his strength and needed to get strong? Well, this kind of contradicts the combat system. Even though it’s been described that Sora is weak, he is still strong. There is no explanation on how he is able to do attraction mode or how transform his keyblades. In combat or exploration, the game can get repetitive. In combat, the game will try to remind you to use these commands more importantly, the attraction mode and if you do use it, you will see the opening animation all the time, but you can always skip it. Speaking of skipping, the game has a lot of cutscenes where it feels like watching a movie. These cutscenes appear a lot before you enter a world and after. I never skip the cutscenes but people with low attention spans will be tempted to skip them. Going through the story in the Disney Worlds can either be something original or just going through a movie plot. For example, you might have seen this online but when you go to worlds like Monsters Inc or Toy Story, Sora with the Disney characters go through an adventure you will not see in a movie and I think it’s cool how they interact with the bad guys. Seeing Woody talk back at Young Xehanort or seeing Sully attack Vanitas was a real treat. However worlds like Frozen or Tangled feels you just happened to be in the movie. For example, remember the song Let it Go in Frozen? When you get to Frozen, you get to relieve the entire Frozen song again but apparently Sora and his friends was there the whole time. Overall if you seen the movies like Frozen, you know what to expect.

For characters, there are some missed opportunities that could have been used. We see Pete and Maleficent again but they only appear early in the game and doesn’t come back at all for the story. I am not going to say much if I do, I will spoil the story but you get the idea. I was watching a video made by Antdude on his review on Kingdom Hearts III and he made an interesting point on the attraction mode. The game doesn’t explain how can Sora summon rides and use them on combat and this could have been an opportunity for the game to explore that or have Sora learn. Instead, he is just given the ability. The only spoiler I am going to give is that there is no Final Fantasy characters in this game! No Cloud, Squall or not even The World Ends With You characters. The only Final Fantasy character that appear is the Moogles where you can buy equipment and you take pictures of star constellations of monsters from Final Fantasy. There is a secret boss in this game but it’s not Sephiroth. As a substitute for Final Fantasy, there are these characters from a game called Verum Rex located in Toy Story which are heavily based on Final Fantasy Versus XIII. To be honest, I was expecting to see at least Noctis from Final Fantasy XV to appear in this game or even the group from Radient Gardens or even Zack from Birth by Sleep.

However here is the positives! Even with missed opportunities, this game is pretty fun no doubt about that.  Not to spoil the story, Kingdom Hearts III does conclude the Darkseeker Saga and it does leave opportunities for another Kingdom Hearts game. The game does a great job on concluding a story that been going on for years. The combat system on this game is so fun. it’s fun to defeat your opponents with new and improved magic and keyblade attacks. The music in this game gives you the Disney aesthetic feel and the cutscenes in the Disney worlds feel like you are in a movie. The game does a good job on combat and doesn’t pressure you on giving you really hard enemies. I never died in this game but I did have two moments where I thought I was going to die. The new music made by Utada and Skrillex ” Face Your Fears” is great and the ending song made by Utada “Don’t Think Twice” really hits you in the feels after you complete the game. I love the characters in this game. I really like the interactions with Sora and his friends as they fight together and joke around. Playing Kingdom Hearts III really gave me happy memories of myself playing the old games and relieving the moments where I got to meet these amazing characters. The whole light vs darkness theme story is really interesting and the themes of friendship and teamwork is still there.

Conclusion

Was Kingdom Hearts III was worth getting? In my opinion, yes it was. I might be a Kingdom Hearts fan and it does sound biased, but I never regretted being a fan. Sure, it did take a long time for this game to come out, but it was worth it. The story telling felt like it was a Disney-Pixar movie with a hint of Square Enix. I was disappointed that we didn’t get any Final Fantasy characters in this game. The gameplay combat is fun and it fighting with your favorite characters still gives you a great feeling as if you were playing the past games. This game got a lot of improvements and it does its best not to be too difficult. However, even in hard mode, the game sometimes fail at being challenge. The fight system can be repetitive and collecting items can be nuisance. The game has a lot long cutscenes where it feels like you are watching a movie. The music and animation on the game is an improvement. I really like the NPC in the game as it gets rid of the barren world of the worlds. In story and character wise, there are some missed opportunities that could have been in this game. If I was give this game a rating, I would probably give it a 9/10 or very minimum 8.5/10. Kingdom Hearts III has small mistakes, but if you ignore them, it’s a magical experience for any KH fan. However, I would recommend this game for the fans. There are videos in this game where the game tells you the story of the Kingdom Hearts series just in case you need a recap or you are new. If you a player and want to experience Kingdom Hearts III, I recommend watching these videos first or play the HD Remix games so you can play the past games but those are only for PS4 systems. It sucks that Kingdom Hearts III is the only game where it’s on the Xbox One and PS4 while the collection games is on PS4. Still, I would recommend this game if you are eager to play it. This game will assume you played the the past games and a bit of the mobile games. Overall, I can’t wait for  more Kingdom Hearts.

What did you think about this game?

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2 thoughts on “Kingdom Hearts III spoiler-free review

  1. Yeah, the “Sora, you’re so weak!!” vs Attraction Flow, transformations, Grand Magic, running up whole cliffs, etc. just made no sense. Plus the game itself needs a Critical Mode and probably KHIIFM-style Data fights.

    …Although at the same time, I want the team to just get started on the next game that we all know is coming.

    • Yeah I noticed that while the playing the game and people reviewing this game. Even though you are supposed to start over from scratch, the game you strong still. I did hear the team was going to include critical mode later. I would love to fight the Organization XIII in a high difficult setting.

      If we get Kingdom Hearts 4, I don’t want to wait another decade lol.

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