Overall - 80%
Newcomers to the series will be baffled by the complexity and bizarre nature of Kingdom Hearts III's story. Despite this, if you like good combat and want to visit Disney World, you can do far worse than this title.
It has been over 13 years since the last numbered Kingdom Hearts game was released. Was the long wait for Kingdom Hearts III worth it, or should you forget about this series? Check out our review and find out what we thought.
Kingdom Hearts III Review
To provide full disclosure, this review is given from the perspective of someone who has not played the other Kingdom Hearts games.
After the intro movie, you are given two main choices that will determine how your character levels up. Here you can decide if you would prefer to use magic in combat, be more physical, or have a balance of both playstyles. You are then given a minor boss fight to test your choices before moving on to the main game. At this point, I wasn’t too confused as to what was going on. It’s your basic concept of light versus dark, and you fight for the light side. However, things quickly escalate and get confusing for anyone who is new to the series.
You will play mainly as the Keyblade wielder Sora, who has lost most of his power of Awakening. To regain your strength and search for your missing friends, players will have to go through various Disney worlds. That part was simple enough to understand, but when they toss in the Organization, the Warriors of Light, the Keyblade Wars, parallel universes, time travel, and other people living in hearts, it is easy to lose track of what is actually going on. There are videos you can watch in game that explain the basics of the other games, but they aren’t enough. If you don’t have prior experience in the franchise, expect to be lost from time to time.
While the story is a mess to newcomers, the gameplay is fantastic. I don’t know if combat was like this in the previous games, but it boils down to one word: fun. It’s flashy, easy to understand, makes you feel powerful, and most importantly, works well. Early on, you might move too fast for your own good with all the air combos, but when you get used to it, everything just clicks. It’s kind of funny how complicated the story is when combat effectively revolves around only one button. As they say, there is genius in simplicity.
To add to all the flash and pizzazz, there are attraction attacks that let you use various Disney rides for assaults. These are potent attacks that add bright lights and pretty animations. Honestly, these might be a little too strong for the game, because you can activate them pretty consistently. The ship from Pirates of the Caribbean, Splash Mountain, a carousel, and Mad Tea Cups are just a few examples of the attack you can get. Yes, they essentially make up one giant Disney World ad, but they are still fun to use and powerful to boot.
The primary weapon of Sora is his Keyblade. After you beat each world, you will be rewarded with a new Blade that will either improve your offense or magic abilities. If you build up your combo while using your Keyblade, you can also transform them into a new form that adds different attacks and finishers. For instance, the Shooting Star can turn into double bowguns, which allow you to strafe and shoot until it runs out of energy. If you can build up the next meter, however, you can turn it into a cannon and finish with a massive mortar attack. All the blades have different forms and different attacks, encouraging players to try them all out.
While you are in the each of these Disney-themed worlds, you will team up with a number of different characters. Hercules is in Olympus, Woody and Buzz are in the Toy Box, and Rapunzel and Flynn are in the Kingdom of Corona. Some of these worlds did not resonate with my older self, but they did well to balance the classic Disney worlds with the new ones. It is in these worlds where the game truly shines. Though it provides an experience you cannot get anywhere else, it throws you off when yet another guy in a black robe pops up that doesn’t like me. Their constant appearances prove to be a little much – give me more Ham and Rex instead.
The level design is somewhat of an oddity in this day and age. The worlds are open, but they have a lot of invisible walls. You can run up walls but then can’t get on a lot of the roofs. You are encouraged to explore to find extra treasure, but ultimately the game is pretty linear. There are photo missions, Mickey Emblems to find, and other side quests here and there for people interested in revisiting worlds. Overall, you will get about 30-40 hours of gameplay on the standard difficulty.
I was playing on the PlayStation 4 Pro and did not come across any significant frame drops, bugs, or crashes. Outside of the confusing story, my biggest complaint is that the Colosseum is missing and the Final Fantasy representation is nearly non-existent. Though I have yet to play the other entries, gamers around the world know of the infamous Sephiroth fights in Kingdom Hearts. Removing this in the third game makes zero sense, and was a terrible call.
Newcomers to the series will be baffled by the complexity and bizarre nature of Kingdom Hearts III’s story. Despite this, if you like good combat and want to visit Disney World, you can do far worse than this title.
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