Kingdom Hearts III Review – Written by Jose Vega
Copy purchased for review.
It began in 2002 when Squaresoft and Disney would collaborate to bring Kingdom Hearts. Combining the role-playing adventure of Final Fantasy with the cute and memorable side of Disney, the first game would give way to a franchise that tells a tale about light against darkness. Fans waited years for a sequel after Kingdom Hearts II but what they got is Square churning out more games that would help shape the lore of the series. But come 2013, Square-Enix announced that Kingdom Hearts III would be in development. After six years of anticipation, it has arrived. Being the final entry of the supposed Xehanort Saga, is it worth the wait? Is Kingdom Hearts III worth a chance?
Let’s begin with the game’s story and yes, Kingdom Hearts’ plot is a bit convoluted at times. Sora, along with Donald and Goofy are back yet again as they travel on a new journey, heading to different worlds and taking the fight against Xehanort and his true Organization XIII. While that occurs, Riku along with Mickey head to the realm of darkness to find Aqua, a keyblade master. Both of these plots eventually coincide, leading to two factions battling one another to determine the fate of every world. It’s a battle between the forces of light against the forces of darkness.
From my experience, I did enjoy the story. It has enough to get me invested but also enough to literally hit you where it hurts, emotionally. Every world has its own story to tell, characters to meet and things to do. But the plot itself connects since the bad guys are invading each world and it’s up to the good guys to save the day. However there is some criticism. People who haven’t played every game and going into this one will feel lost, not knowing certain things such as characters and plots. Thankfully the game has a Memory Archive where players can catch up in preparation for this one.
If you have played any of the Kingdom Hearts games, then this will feel really familiar to you. Kingdom Hearts III is an action RPG game that borrows elements from many of the entries and incorporates them into this one. You have access to your Keyblade, as well as Magic but this game also has some new stuff. One instance is the Formchange. Depending on what Keyblade Sora has, he gains access to a different form that can add a bit of flair to his offense. Some keyblades have more than one form with devastating finish attacks. Not only that but Sora can also hold more than one Keyblade. In fact he can hold onto three. This gives Sora the chance to mix it up and he can save a formchange for later if needed. Shotlocks make a return, from Birth By Sleep where you lock onto multiple enemies and deliver a powerful attack. This time, depending on the keyblade, you get access to a different shotlock and plus, some blades will have more than one. It’s a sense of variety that feels rewarding for players. New to the series is Attractions, giant amusement park rides that can do a variety of attacks. They all offer something new but some instances will give Sora rides that will deal heavy damage to foes. Another new feature is the Link command. Link Commands allow Sora to summon a special ally to the battlefield. They range from Meow Wow to even Stitch and can turn the tide of the battle. Only drawback is that it costs all your MP but your health does recover so it also serves as a lifesaver if things go bad. You also have access to team-up attacks with your allies and this time, Donald and Goofy don’t have to leave. In fact you can have up to 2 guest allies in your group, raising the party up to 5. It’s awesome and some of the support cast even comes with their respective team up attacks too.
In terms of content, Kingdom Hearts III offers plenty to do. You have the Gummi Ship but this time, Square-Enix decides to make it a free flight mode where you can travel around to wherever you want to go. Like in Kingdom Hearts 1 & 2, you can customize your Gummi ship however you want. Each of the three systems have plenty of quests and challenges to do. There’s also Little Chef aka Remy from Ratatouille and his restaurant, the Bistro. As you travel on your journey, you will find ingredients. They’re for Remy’s mini game. Most of it is simple but it’s trial and error cause if you screw up, you lose the ingredients. But when you succeed, you acquire meals and combining different meals together can boost stats for you and your party. It’s a nice temporary benefit if you feel the game is a bit challenging. There are mini games in each world, there’s the Classic Kingdom where you play handheld mini games to get a high score, there’s a lot to do. I kid you not.
Beating the game alone will take you around 20 hours but if you want to 100% the game, it’s double the length. Not to mention there are three difficulty settings: Beginner, Standard and Proud. If you want a real challenge, the Proud difficulty is your best option. There is no Critical mode sadly but I hope that Square-Enix will consider adding it in a future update. Kingdom Hearts III is amazing. It’s truly awesome to look at. Running at a rock solid 60 fps, the game runs great but is flawless too. Not only that but load times are minimal especially when it transitions from cutscene to gameplay. I love it. It’s seamless. As for the voice acting, it’s still top notch with many familiar voices along with new ones, especially from the more recent Disney films. It’s pretty good. The music is enjoyable. Yoko Shimomura is truly a goddess when it comes to music. I’m not kidding. She delivers on some amazing tunes, not to mention remixes of familiar tunes. Every world you travel always offer something enjoyable, even when you are at the end of the game as well. It’s just awesome.
But for all the good things that this game has, there are some flaws. One example’s the Attractions. They can be really overpowered and they come too frequent. Even when you turn off Attraction Extender, they still have a tendency to come in and can turn most fights into a joke. I wish Square-Enix could either tone them down or have them show up less. The game is also a bit easy, even at Proud difficulty. By the time you reach the end, Sora will probably have a lot of abilities that can help turn the tide of any battle, even the final boss. There is an ability that disables experience and it can make the game challenging but it isn’t enough. Sure this game is also meant to attract new audiences but it should offer something for players that want a tough challenge. The lack of Critical Mode doesn’t help matters. Last but not least, unless you’ve played every other game in the series, the plot will make your head scratch and wonder who some of the characters are. The Memory Archive does help for those that want to be up to speed but for anyone that has no idea, they may be in for a really confusing ride.
So in conclusion, Kingdom Hearts III is a game that fans waited years for. Is it worth your time? Absolutely. Does it have flaws? Definitely. For all it’s negatives, this game has a lot going for it. It looks amazing, it’s easy to get into and play and it has enough that’ll keep you going for a long while. A 13-year wait reaches its end and surprisingly, it’s also on Xbox One so that’s a first. This game serves as an end to the Xehanort Saga and the end of a journey that spans 17 years. Let’s hope that Square-Enix doesn’t take too long for the next entry… hopefully. Seriously get Kingdom Hearts III. It’s worth your time.
I give Kingdom Hearts III an 8.5 out of 10. It’s worth your money and your time.