Let’s take a moment and just breathe… We finally have Kingdom Hearts 3! The fandom revolving around Kingdom Hearts has been anticipating this launch for 13 years. It was rumored that Kingdom Hearts 3 may have taken some extra time to be released due to exclusivity and other legal agreements that Sony had with Square-Enix. Sony sold their shares in Square-Enix back in 2014, and we’re now seeing games shared between consoles.
Whatever the reason may be, we’re glad they got their stuff together. Now both Xbox and PS4 owners get to enjoy the company of Sora, Donald, and Goofy on their gaming adventures. We’ve heard so much mixed feedback when it comes to the play-style of Kingdom Hearts 3. We’re here to get to the bottom of the commotion. Take a look at whether Kingdom Hearts 3 is really worth your time and money.
Catching Up With Kingdom Hearts
If you’re new to the franchise, playing catch-up with the story is definitely a good idea. Even long-time fans and enthusiasts may need a summary of what’s going on after 13 years. Looking back at all the games and spin-offs that were a part of that story is very daunting. With that in mind, Kingdom Hearts posted a video on their YouTube page to get you up-to-date on the story so you don’t feel lost going in. (It’s the least they can do, making us wait 13 years!)
Hearing the voice actress Lara Jill Miller narrate the story was very heartwarming and made this recap that much more enjoyable! You can also access these videos in the Memory Archive in-game. But even with this recap we still felt a bit lost. They’ve made so many games just for the sake of making games, that the plot has gotten extremely twisted up. You may still feel lost while playing KH3. They put every bit of those plots in this game, and it’s a cluster of information that’s difficult to decipher.
The Story Is The Heart
The story is at the heart of the game; that’s what makes or breaks this franchise. We won’t go into too much detail because we don’t want to spoil anything for you. However, the story itself can get very confusing at times, with many plot-holes and overly complicated story lines. Going into this game, you have to be prepared for a focus on the story. It will be thrown in your face at any chance — whether you understand it or not, whether it’s warranted or not.
It’s better if you walk into Kingdom Hearts 3 with the eyes of a child. If you take it for the kids’ game it was always meant to be, it’s whimsical and adorable. It’s refreshing as much as it can be without completely changing the mechanics of the game we know and love.
A Bit Too Complicated
Getting over the mashed up story is hard. There are just too many twists and turns within it. Keeping up is just impossible. The fact that one of the main antagonists, Xehanort, has copies, clones, reincarnations, old him, young him, whatever you want to call them – it’s just too much to keep track of. It needed to be simplified just a bit more to get to the main idea, and to help express the emotion of the story better.
Good guys are bad guys, and bad guys are good guys — who were heartless versions of other guys, oh my! When first seeing a new character on screen, this vague explanation is what it felt like you were hearing as they talked. Like trying to grasp at straws to explain so much in very little detail. It has its downfalls in plot, but that can happen when you continue to make side games that have to have something to do with the main game without being a formal sequel. Kudos to them for trying to make it all fit together and work as best as possible.
The game, of course, follows the stories of our favorite Disney movies and characters. Like Rapunzel and Eugene from Tangled, or Anna and Elsa from Frozen, even Hiro and Baymax from Big Hero 6! You also get to hang with the gangs from Toy Story and Monster’s Inc. We get to see some old faces we’ve known from previous games too, like our ol‘ pal Herc from Hercules, and Captain Jack Sparrow from The Pirates of the Caribbean, just to name a few.
Sora gets to live his version of these beloved Disneymovies, and the details that went into these worlds are absolutely astonishing. The colors are vibrant and make Kingdom Hearts 3 enjoyable and lighthearted. You really feel like you’ve been dropped into these lands with an opportunity to explore them at your will. This was always something that was unique to Kingdom Hearts.
It gives you so many great chances to save a Disney Princess, or live the life of your favorite heroes. Even to just befriend some of your favorite characters.
The game starts off much like the others before it: a lot of cut scenes. The first cut scene you get is a short recap of the nitty-gritty from past stories. Then it continues into a music video for the new theme song, before it takes you into a tutorial. Once the game actually starts you’ll get, you guessed it, more cut scenes, with little gameplay in between. This is understandable for a newer audience to get used to the mechanics.
But it does get old fast, especially for seasoned players of Kingdom Hearts. The gameplay is smooth and the mechanics are easy to get used to. They are almost identical to the original, with little updates to add to the new special attack moves. If you’re an avid player of the originals, it will be very familiar, and those muscle memories will come back quickly!
Eventually, you get some great boss battles. Each are different in their own way, especially with special attacks like theDisneyland Park attraction attacks! They were a wonderful touch to the game and fit in well. However, after using them multiple times it does get exhausting and dragged out. As a game of this generation, it lacks a bit of creativity in its skill and difficulty overall. The strategy of battle is very much lacking.
Yes, you get these wonderful new special attacks which combo with your team, and even summon characters into battle. But these effects become so showy that it makes you feel like you’re watching yet another mini cut-scene in the midst of a crazy battle. Your only other choice to battle is to mash the X key and slash away with not much of a strategy behind your movements.
You also get a few alternate sub-games to play in between gameplay too. Cooking food with Remy from Ratatouille, for example, helps you not only gain some meals for your journeys, but also a temporary rise in your stats. Or, you can play Classic Kingdom games. These are 2D, black-and-white games you play on the Gummiphone, kind of like you’d play back in the day on an old flip/brick phone. You can find these games throughout your travels by finding the QR codes in-game. There’s dancing with Rapunzel, and many more that you will come across in your adventures through different lands. They’re side-tracking in a way, but still way better than side quests.
And, of course, there’s the Gummiship! You still get to whiz through space on that ol’ blocky, colorful ship to get from kingdom to kingdom, while shooting Heartless and gaining treasure! They add more detail to this process, and little puzzles to decode while you buzz around space.
Selfies With Sora
Something also encouraged is Selfies with Sora! You’ll find Mickey emblems hidden everywhere inside every map of each world you visit. Taking pictures with these emblems gives you special items that can help you on your journeys. And taking selfies with your buddies isn’t so bad either! This in-game action has even turned into a meme of Sora photoshopped into many crazy selfie moments.
Besides the special items that drop from doing Selfies with Sora, you get access to the “Secret Ending” by completing the mode and finding all the emblems. So keep your eyes peeled and ears open because Sora, Goofy, and Donald will surely let you know when one is close by! Kingdom Hearts 3 really does provide a plethora of diversity which anyone can easily find enjoyable, if not addicting.
Utada Hikaru Returns
Everyone who knows this franchise knows that music has always been a key component to the series. Composer Yoko Shimomura has worked on every one of these games. But the most notable compositions are the games’ main theme songs, written and recorded by Japanese pop singer Utada Hikaru. The game’s director, Tetsuya Nomura, called Hikaru back to create the next theme song for this third installment.
This time, she brought along the legendary electronic producer, Skrillex, aka Sonny Moore! Moore met Hikaru back in 2013 when he was playing in a German heavy metal festival. After that meeting, they kept in touch for over two years. Hikaru called him up one day with hopes that he might remix a song she was writing for the new Kingdom Hearts game. She sent over “Don’t Think Twice.”
Sonny Moore, of course, loved the raw song as it was. He felt it would be a crime to alter it in any way. We’re glad he didn’t. They went on to use ‘Don’t Think Twice‘ in the opening sequence of the game, though they only used the instrumental version of it. It fit in magnificently. The song immediately pulls on your heart strings and brings you into a great frame of mind for the game itself.
Creating “Face My Fears”
Things stalled a bit after that until last summer, when Moore was working in London with his friend and collaborator, American record producer Poo Bear, aka Jason Boyd. Utada also happened to be in town. Jason suggested that they just write a whole new song between the two of them. Moore immediately jumped on the idea. He even started sound-tracking the music over old game trailers from the first two Kingdom Hearts games.
Skrillex went on to say, “It sounds kind of crazy, but I always said ‘I want to do the theme for Kingdom Hearts one day,’ I told myself that as a kid. I was just such an absolute fan of Utada Hikaru and the games, but that was like a dream of mine.”
This is the Official Music Video for that song, and it gives us chills! Beautifully done. It keeps up with music from this generation, while still holding that wonderful sound we know and love from Kingdom Hearts.
So Is Kingdom Hearts 3 Worth The Purchase?
Should you make the Kingdom Hearts 3 purchase plunge? It has its highs and its low-lows. But to say it isn’t worth buying would be lying. This is an excellent game and franchise that continues to captivate audiences young and old. The game is lively, brings back old memories, and it has many moments which could easily bring a tear to your eye. It will surely continue to rake in the bucks with merchandise, especially with a powerhouse like Disney behind Square-Enix’s back.
But it may strain on your patience as an older gamer. Try not to think too hard on the many plot directions that are thrown at you simultaneously. Look past the small, tedious battles, and the game will hold up and have its fun moments. If, after this, Kingdom Hearts 3 doesn’t float your boat, you can always check out this list of other games that are sure to be big hits this winter!
But all in all, we recommend Kingdom Hearts 3 to anyone who is a lover of Disney or enjoyed the old Kingdom Hearts games. Lower your expectations a bit, and don’t hope for a big conclusion. Keep that in mind, and enjoy the wondrous Disney lands, and the cute story which brought Mickey and his friends together with Sora and his.