A Simple and Clean Wrap-up
Many of us thought this day would never come. Many of us gave up trying to figure out how deep the rabbit hole goes with all the theories out there. Many of us didn’t care and just wanted to play a game with Final Fantasy mashed up with Disney. Whatever boat you’re in, the day has come, and Kingdom Hearts 3 is finally released.
Yes, you read that right. Tetsuya Nomura has finally decided how this crazy story related to hearts is going to conclude. And I’m here to tell you, that if you only played Kingdom Hearts(KH) 1 and 2, you will have no clue what is going on. But I’m sure you have heard that already, countless times by many fans. Well, as someone who has played all the games(around nine before KH3), even I had to refresh myself over all the characters, plots, and time traveling mystery to get up to speed again. Between the Heartless, the Nobodies, Replicas, and the ever so convoluted Organization XIII(among many others), it is quite the task. But spoilers aren’t my thing, so there won’t be any here. I have had friends ask if this was worth playing if they never played a KH game? I have also had friends ask if only playing KH 1 and 2 would be okay? I have a pretty good answer for everyone here.
Kingdom Hearts 3 is hands down the easiest game to pick up. That is a plus and minus here. It has the best graphics by far, great voice acting, and the best combat system out of the entire series(more on that later). So you will be fine to pick up and play, even missing a ton of the story. The reason for this is that the other KH games jump all over in the timeline, and introduce tons of new characters and plot points that help weave the tangled mess it is in now. So if you enjoyed romping through the various Disney worlds here, then you will mainly get more of the same with the other games. Which leads to a big minus. Some of these games are really starting to show their age, and some of you will have a hard time with that. Even with the entire series remastered for the Playstation 4, if you start with KH3, you might not want to finish the older games. So my question is this. How much does a story mean to you? If you are like me, then go back and play the other games. If not, look for a solid KH series summary video. There was one that was around three hours, and had no commentary. That is the one I have been recommending, and some friends said it was a big help. And while you might think three hours is long, it really isn’t compared to the hundred plus hours of time it would take to rush through the other games.
So I mentioned the graphics. This is one of the places where the KH games have shined. The series has you going to various worlds, with a lot of them being Disney worlds. Such as an Aladdin world, filled with the characters and locations, The Little Mermaid, Hercules, and so on. Each world is meant to look like its movie counterpart, so Monsters Inc. will look like the Monsters Inc. movie, and The Nightmare Before Christmas will look like, well, you guessed it. So you not only get an assortment of colors to keep it fresh, you get completely different set pieces that change the graphics of the game as well. Almost all of the original voice actors reprise their roles here, with a few exceptions, so that is always a nice plus. And to complete the package you get themes from each world, or sometimes actual songs from the movies themselves! If you are a Disney fan this is a no brainer here. If not, you will still appreciate going to so many unique worlds, and you will likely know most of them anyway. I mean, come on, who doesn’t know most of the Disney movies by now?
Which leads me to one of the few complaints I have about KH3. Yes, there are a decent number of worlds, and they all look amazing. But some of them feel like you go there, fight a few minutes, and move on down the line, with little exploration or interaction to that world. Even KH 1 had Sora, who is the character you use the most in the series, really interact more with the characters and villains. Or even just random side quests had more to do. Like I said, small complaint, but it is there. Traveling between worlds takes place in your Gummi Ship. A ship you build with different blocks, that help the speed or health, boost power or even to have different weapons. This used to be an on rails shooter that you would either love or hate, but that’s changed in Kingdom Hearts 3. In KH3, you have different zones that will have two or more worlds, with other places to explore in a sort of free roam setting with your Gummi Ship. I really enjoyed this for a while, but became very bored with the exact same layout and enemy placements. With certain fast travel options being unlocked, it did make this less of a chore later on. But the Gummi Ship isn’t where the majority of your battles will take place. Time to break out that Keyblade and fight!
Ah yes, the trusty Keyblade. Well, you can’t go unlocking hearts without a key, right? The battle system is pretty much the same as most of the KH games that use it, but refined for a much faster, and way more fluid range of combat. Anyone who has played Final Fantasy XV and wondered how Square Enix came up with that battle system look no further. Except it’s not a wonky as Final Fantasy XV’s battle system. Between hacking and slashing, most Keyblades have second, or even third forms. Get so many hits and transform your Keyblade into dual pistols, or a giant hammer, or an extremely overpowered spear. There are also combo moves that you can do with Donald Duck or Goofy, or whichever character is in your party that pertains to the world you are in. But every now and then(more now than then), you get to do a move that is related to a ride in Disney World itself. Hop on a roller coaster and shoot foes. Jump in the huge pirate ship that rocks back and forth for some good damage. Jump in the Splash Mountain and create your own waterway, only to go back and traverse it near the end! All of those are great additions that make the combat almost never get old. I will say the game was really easy on Standard(Normal) difficulty, but it still was blast to play. Side quests, mini games and collectibles are all here in some form or another, so there will always be plenty to do.
So that leaves the story, right? But I did say no spoilers. But I also said many would have no clue what was going on, and then went on to say you could still play it. So which is it? I will stick to my comment of at least watching a video that will help you understand what is going on. But as far as what KH3 brings to that table story wise? I would say almost all of the questions I had get answered in some way here, which made me happy that we didn’t yet get another tale with almost zero answers or conclusions. And while I had some new questions arise at the end, I wasn’t left with more questions than answers. This part has finally come to a close, and I believe we might see the future of the series go in a different direction.
So for a game that started as an ambitious mashup between Final Fantasy- wait a minute…. That brings me to my biggest complaint in the entire game! All these Final Fantasy(FF) characters are nowhere to be seen. At all! In the entire game! Store moogles aside, I guess they were forgotten. I get that this story is wrapping up an entire arc, but that arc and series always had some sort of FF characters that were there with you, moving the plot along, or at least some better fan service for FF fans. That truly was a big letdown for me. So if you decide to start with KH3 as your first entry, but always heard there was FF, you will have to play other games to bring that smile across your face. And I did smile. Every time. It was great to see them out of their element and bringing some FF characters to life in a way you wouldn’t have thought of. After putting hours into the game, I started to have my doubts, but I didn’t expect nobody to show up for the finale! There are so many throwaway characters introduced in the side games that didn’t really deserve their time in the light, especially in the ending, but that is just my opinion. Rant over.
To finish this up, I am glad to see KH3 released on the Xbox One as well. I am always happy when any game gets to reach more people, although I do wish the compilation that the PS4 has would make its way over as well, but it doesn’t look hopeful. You can’t go wrong with either system here, and both have bonuses for their more powerful counterparts, the Playstation 4 Pro and Xbox One X. With all these comparison videos out there, I say play it on the system you enjoy, and be happy you have options!