Kingdom Hearts 3 finally has come to us but how does it hold up from the constant time that we waited? Was it fully worth it? And what of the game and gameplay itself? Let’s dive right into the heart and find out with my Kingdom Heart 2 Review.
Kingdom Hearts 3 Story.
Kingdom Hearts 3 leaves off right after the encounter with the New Organisation XIII forming its roots. Sora now heads out to new worlds to unlock his hidden potential in a form called the Awakening. Master Yen Sid thus takes him out to unlock this power by sending him out. However, the new Organisation has plans to interfere with the worlds and send cryptic clues to the true purpose of reclaiming the 20 pieces of the x-Blade to reopen Kingdom Hearts.
The story is pretty much episodic in how the worlds are followed but the overall plot will be lost to newcomers though the games marketing was targeted to bring a new generation and world to Kingdom Hearts. Luckily, there is a small 5 video prelude to those who wish to watch it and one of the most critiqued aspects, even amongst Kingdom Hearts fans, is the convoluted plot line where barely anything makes sense and to just wing it and go with it
However, the game does the best to try to catch newbies into the series though sometimes it will be confusing and not make any sense to fully comprehend the complex nature of Kingdom Heart’s plot and abstract philosophy and terminology. Although it does try to do it, it’s much suggested to still play through the games prior to fully understand the game despite taking about 100+ hours to complete even if watching the full plot of the game can get confusing the more new fans know.
Kingdom Hearts 3 Cast, Setting, and Design
Our Main Players are Back with Sora Donald and Goofy taking on the worlds from many new Kingdom Hearts places like San Franskoyo (Big Hero 6), Arendelle (Frozen), the Kingdom of Corona (Tangled), Monstropolis (Monster’s Inc.) etc. These worlds have never looked more amazing and detailed in this situation. The details are very specific in giving each world their original style and look which is very fitting and welcoming with each world having a unique environment to explore from The Carribeans Oceans to the Big City environment of San Fransokyo.
Also, you are available to go throughout the different galaxies of the game and also look through each galaxies environment. From asteroids, constellations, world specific elements to indicate which vicinity you’re closest too, the galaxies in KH3 feel very alive and immersive and the graphical elements helps that as well.
Finally, the worlds now have more NCP’s making the worlds feel lively and vibrant compared to the empty worlds of previous KH games where NCPs would only be in one room and would amount to no more than 7 people in a room. This is a much needed breath of fresh air that many fans have criticised for the KH worlds and it’s wonderful seeing regular citizens interacting with Sora and hearing them have voices for the first time.
Kingdom Hearts 3 Gameplay
The gameplay is taken from the other Kingdom Hearts games where fast paced action/and reaction have popularly came through in the game. At the very beginning of KH3 you get the chance to choose to have more health, magic, or to be balanced which reflects the gameplay the player prefers overall at the Dive to the Heart. And then after, the critical choice of Warrior, Mystic, or Defender will affect the abilities and stats you start with in the game.
When it comes to the combat, it’s the most unique of the games so far. Combining the reaction commands of KH2 but giving it a deck to where special abilities are unlocked through successful combos. However, every keyblade has a different transformation unique to showcase where it came from. And whenever the player casts magic, the magic is adapted to whichever keyblade it’s cast from after the first and second transformations of each keyblade adding to the unique gameplay to the fighting. Also, attacking certain enemies while a lock on is on them, you can summon rides to fight enemies with based on classic and modern Disney attractions.
The Links are the summons of the game and 5, featuring old friends predominantly and one new one, are featured with Stitch, Wreck-it Ralph, Ariel, Simba, and Meow Wow having various attack styles and finishers to obliterate the enemies. KH2 made these link summons not as valuable as both offensive powers and last minute savers. Luckily, KH3 has made them stronger offensively though players can still be attacked, the enemies get a good bashing too.
Finally, the shotlock commands. Each Keyblade has their own unique shotlock command and that players can either use them before they lock on to the max amount for a lesser shotlock or max it out for a full on attack. I do like how there is a slight difference between the attacks given whether one can max out the attack or not though it is annoying to make sure all the shotlocks, both the maxed and non-maxed variants, are all to be used to complete the Gummiphone Journal.
Another important thing to note is that every world has a specific theme in order to be different between one another making each one’s experiences unique when visiting by either environment or introducing a unique world mechanic with Toy Box featuring Sora being able to control robot mecha toys and with The Carribean having Sora control his own Pirate Ship for example. Thus it gives the world’s a bit more revisiting power while also giving each world the aspects unique to their style other than world level increases and synthesis item collections.
Kingdom Hearts 3 Bonus/Side Content
One of the important aspects of the Kingdom Hearts mainline franchise (as well as BBS and DDD) has been the sidequests and minigames that have been featured throughout from collectables, synthesis, minigames and more.
One such element is the Le Chef Bistro in Twilight Town, but you can also visit from the Save Points from any world. All the worlds have different areas and foods to collect. Even collecting fish from local lakes and the sea to vending machines and the wild herbs can be collected, especially since Donald and Goofy will constantly remind you of finding ingredients. Making and eating your recipes will temporarily increase your attack, magic, defence, health, and magic in various ways. Honestly, I didn’t find much use to eat anything even though a special bonus for eating a full meal allows one special temporary ability. Even on Proud mode, I’ll go further into my critiques of the game more on this issue, I didn’t find it that necessary to eat meals.
The second is the Gummiphone. The Gummiphone takes over as Jiminy Cricket’s Journal but also is pretty much our modern phones which can take pictures and the player can take multiple pictures with allowing the player to snap pics of enemies, allies who will react to the phone when you take pictures Even the loading screens of the game have an Instagram style aesthetic which is both zeitgeisty but adorable at the same time with now new memes joking and in tribute of this game. People today have used their KH3 pics on Instagram thanks to the Gummiphone.
Also I can’t mention the Gummiphone without mentioning the lucky emblems. These hidden Mickey’s are plastered all over the worlds and finding them can lead the player to receive wonderful prizes and items necessary for their quest. Some will be instantly recognisable but others require Sora moving around or manipulating the perspective to see the lucky emblems. Luckily, Sora, Donald, and Goofy will mention any lucky emblems nearby so a good eye and learning where the party mentions the emblem’s general location will help hunt down the many emblems scattered.
Finally the Gummiphone has special picture missions asked for by the Moogles where completing them will grant new recipies from the Moogle Shop.
Gummi Missions and Galaxy Space
The Biggest of the side content is the Gummi Missions and Gummi Ship Bonuses. For the first time, he Gummi ship levels up and does so in multiple ways by fighting enemies in each of the galaxies, opening the treasure spheres located in each area and collecting their experience awards or flying all around and finding exp spheres in the galaxy. The higher levels allow more customisation with more weapons and blocks to be used. And certain levels allow usage of the teeny ships though players can use the costs of the teenys to add to the main ship.
Also, this is the first time where the space between the worlds is utilized more in the main gameplay. In as such that you can find synthesis items in meteors and asteroids when you attack them with the gummi ship. And now, Munny can be found in these galaxies for the first time so space exploration should be pursued at all avenues. This gives the Gummi ship more playability as well which makes it a fun time exploring the space between the worlds.
With Battles, the battles themselves are more a shoot em up style in the vein of a sideways space invaders but instead of also being able to kill us, we can miss attacking them and lose points.
Though I think it would be better choice to have the enemies be all around compared to finding them and fighting them in a closed battle area in order to really make the immersion feel much more realistic when fighting against obstacles and the enemies.
But the biggest highlight of these galaxies are the boss battles. The bosses are just as unique as the heartless that steer these ships. Players will be controlled by camera perspective while fighting against the bosses and this perspective works a lot better compared to the normal battles.
Kingdom Hearts 3 Mini-Games
What Kingdom Hearts game could there be without minigames to enjoy and take a break from time to time? Kingdom Hearts offers a lot of quantity with the games though their categories are simple and one will find their favorite type or game among them all.
There are 4 Categories of Mini Games you can find in Kingdom Hearts: Classic Kingdom, a Game and Watch LED inspired set of simplistic minigames meant to challenge old school and lovers of classical LED games. The main point of the games is to beat your highest score. And it does it’s job well and are a loving Easter Egg and tribute to LED games and Mickey Mouse shorts of the past. Perfect for retro and simple mini game players.
World Specific games: these mostly cater to having something fresh to give to each new world you visit and have relation to that world’s aesthetic. Minigames include a point rush minigame for San Fransokyo, A Dancing Minigame at Corona’s Lantern Festival, Elsa’s Snow Run where you can capture ice shards for points, and Verum Rex, a minigame in Toy Box utilising the Mecha Mecanics of that world. Though I enjoyed each, I have to critique Elsa’s Snow Run/Curling because it’s required to play multiple times to get the coveted Orichalcum + and players will tire quite quickly of it compared to other minigames due to over invested time into finding the 10 treasures to get their prize.
Next are The Flantastic Seven: Seven Minigames serving a similar feature to the Mushroom minigames of previous games where good scores net you fruit for a special menu at the bistro. Each game utilizes a unique gameplay aspect from the game or a theme from the world to take advantage of. Some of the mini games have familiarity due to their similarities from being based on the Mushroom XIII games but are an alternative variant with new rules or are original. Personally, I much enjoyed trying for higher scores in the Watermelon Flan Minigame.
Finally, The Hundred Acre Wood Minigames: Puzzle Inspired mini games that require fast reflexes and faster thinking to get the highest score. Also the reward are more bundles of fruits, vegetables, and Honey for the player depending on how high the score is. I would say these were my personal favourite due to the fast pace puzzle action.
It may be no Tetris but that doesn’t mean there isn’t motivation to go farther on with a higher score every time. My main critique though is that it’s the same minigame but with different rules depending with The Vegetable minigame being the basic game to practice, the Fruit minigame making sure the fruit doesn’t reach the river, and the Honey minigame requires dropping the honey at the bottom to feed Pooh with an increase in each level.
Kingdom Hearts 3 Critiques
Predominantly, though Kingdom Hearts games are shorter, this final game in the Dark Seeker Saga feels shorter despite being a few hours shorter than previous Kingdom Hearts main titles. And a major disappointment for myself and no doubt, many fans was the lacking difficulty of Proud mode. It was a since to get by and usually even if someone tries through the Defense route, enemies still do major damage as had in previous KH games where strategy was necessary to not be too overconfident as well as tactful uses of offensive, magic, and defensive maneuvers. Also, the Coliseum fights are absent in this game as Olympus is it’s own world and the game makers predominantly wanted to emphasise the possibilities of the new Unreal Engine when playing Kingdom Hearts 3.
Also, there is a lack of Secret Bosses with only one final one who is worthy of a great challenge to those willing to fight as well as the lack of post game content. And upon this too, there is a lack of final fantasy characters other than Moogles and easter egg cameos from the summons.
With the inclusion on NCP characters who now can talk, I was and many others were hoping for talks for objectives/quests during and after the game for missions which will reward players with maybe synthesis items or consumables or ingredients but this was a missed opportunity for something like this happened in Olympus but never went farther than that.
Also, the post-game content is lacking from what other KH games had with the previous critiques mentioned above. And though the voice acting is spot on, the choice of Rutger Hauer’s acting chops as Master Xehanort. Though he’s a very talented actor given his long history in film and entering video games as well, this performance felt weak in comparison to Leonard Nimoy’s portrayal of Xehanort and I know Hauer can do better given he is the antagonist of the original Blade Runner film. And finally, as I mentioned earlier, the game can be difficult to follow if you aren’t a fan and can understand the full scope of the game despite the Glossary and the Story so Far cutscenes before you play.
Conclusion of Kingdom Hearts 3
While letting some aspects of previous Kingdom Hearts titles go and not giving as much more than could be given from time and properties, Kingdom Hearts 3 still holds itself well to being a fitting ending while also bringing some good overall game play for the Fans and Newcomers to the series.
Written By: Marcos Pisanis