[Game Review] Kingdom Hearts III

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You're planning to get this game? The WORST and WEAKEST game in the series? Alright, but before you do, make sure you check out this unbiased review!

The WORST game in the series!

Video Review

Started as a simple story of light versus darkness crossover game of Final Fantasy and Disney and went ahead to implement a very convoluted story by design and look at where it is now. The game has come a long way to reach this point. Fans have been waiting for this game to come out ever since Kingdom Hearts II was released – That’s 13 years of waiting! I personally belong to that community, the fans that played through each and every game, thinking that nothing may come out of it because of the very long wait – everything was worth it. Up to the point when Kingdom Hearts III was still not present, I was lost and looking for answers, but now that Kingdom Hearts III is here… Well, that is for you to find out and I am here to help you with that. I will introduce you to the story that made me be an overly-hyped fan to someone who cried manly tears.

This is JJ-kun of The Gamers Camp, bringing you my totally unbiased review of a super confusing story as-a-super-fan-of-the-series-called-Kingdom Hearts of Kingdom Hearts III.

Kingdom Hearts III

Ansem and Xemnas
Ansem, Seeker of Darkness, and Xemnas asking Sora to embrace the darkness

Kingdom Hearts III is the latest iteration in the series called Kingdom Hearts. It’s an Action RPG developed by Square Enix while the IP is owned by Disney. The long-running series started in 2002 and is still ongoing. Ever since Kingdom Hearts II came out in 2005, people have been longing for the next numbered game, Kingdom Hearts III. However, the director and creator Tetsuya Nomura had different plans. He released several unnumbered Kingdom Hearts games that the fans, before, deemed as “spin-offs”. Soon thereafter, fans realized that they need to play these so-called “spin-offs” as they are not actually spin-off games but have stories crucial to the story of the series. That being said, Kingdom Hearts III is released to serve as the ending and resolution to the story that the series unfolded to us, at least for the Xehanort Saga.

Story

KH3 Sora Donald and Goofy
Goofy, Sora, and Donald waiting for Master Yen Sid to say "May your hearts be your guiding key."

Before we proceed in reviewing the story, I would like to say that this segment would be divided into two parts: The lore and Disney. However, in rating the game, I will only count the lore and exclude Disney-stories.

Story – The Lore

Xigbar
Xigbar confronting Sora

Picking up right after the events of Dream Drop Distance, the sole purpose of Kingdom Hearts III’s story is to give resolution to the conflicts that arise in the previous games, namely the following: Kingdom Hearts, Kingdom Hearts: Chain of Memories, Kingdom Hearts II, Kingdom Hearts 358/2 Days, Kingdom Hearts Birth by Sleep, Kingdom Hearts Re: Coded, Kingdom Hearts Dream Drop Distance, Kingdom Hearts Union Cross, Kingdom Hearts X Back Cover, and Kingdom Hearts 0.2 Birth by Sleep – A fragmentary passage – all in that order respectively.

Kingdom Hearts III tells you of a story of Sora and his final showdown against the darkness with the help of his friends. This time, however, I had problems with how the story was delivered in the early and middle part of the game. The story is good, except I feel like it was kind of rushed for the early and middle part. Let me explain.

Throughout the game, Sora needs to do a lot; From restoring his lost powers to saving Aqua, to getting the Power of Waking, to battling The 13 Darknesses and doing that for just 30 hours of gameplay, how do you suppose you can do it without rushing the story pacing? In addition to this, before the end-game part, there were few plot-related cutscenes which I think would be better if it was longer to have the characters develop even further, not just showing what happened, the result, then proceeded to the next. There was not much transition between events that could have properly end the last, let alone between arcs. While the cutscenes before the end-game were short, however, I also felt it was concise showing what needs to be shown but feels lacking. Even Sora had a dialogue taking a jab to how the plot events are going, saying “This is the part where you spout some mumbo jumbo and disappear, right?” since that’s what’s actually happening throughout the cutscenes prior to that one. The main villains don’t feel like threats throughout the game and just “guides” Sora in the game.

On the other hand, some cutscenes are emotionally touching even without dialogue in it so I think they did a very good job with it. I also love the character development the characters in this series have in this game – no one got left out! That’s a very big positive point for me as a fan. Another positive point I am giving a point on is for the plot twists that it has. You literally won’t expect those! I won’t discuss it further as it would be spoiling you.

I would also like to point out that the game has frequent flashbacks from the previous games giving answers to the questions left behind, which could also point as fan service.

After waiting for years for this game to come out, I would say that this game’s story is everything we have waited for. It has served its purpose as the “resolution” to the conflicts, questions, and windows that were left open before. It did not disappoint as the resolution, not even a little. I loved most of it but while I think the story is good and satisfied its role and purpose, I think it still fell short as to how there were very little plot-changing events throughout the early and middle parts of the game – it’s either very short or does not do much. You will only get the “juice” at the end where everything was built up for. It would have been better if there were more plot-related events in the game than what it has now.

Ironically, a lot of people have reviewed this game and gave the game low ratings because apparently, those reviewers “didn’t understand the story at all.” I would agree with some, however, that this game is the first game that shouldn’t and cannot be reviewed, at least of the story. Why? You may only review this game if you have played and understood what happened in the previous iterations. Though I have to say, this game should at least be able to stand on its own, yes? While my answer is yes, the story of Kingdom Hearts III is somewhere between the last few pages of a book that you are reading, so skipping through the entire book just to see the final pages and give it a negative review, that is something I am not approving of. This game cannot be enjoyed to the fullest if you have not got a single clue about the previous games that came before this one. It might just make you disappointed with the game, especially that the game starts with Sora trying to recover his powers because he lost his powers during the events of the previous games. You will be asking yourself a lot of questions, more than what you should be if you haven’t played the previous games.

Story – Disney: Introduction

Chip and Dale
Chip and Dale happily sees Sora with the Gummiphone

“Ah, Disney. The core of the game.” It sucks. But let me explain first. The Disney worlds’ stories in Kingdom Hearts III assumes you already watched the original film, unlike the previous games that you need no schema of the movies as it helps you with it. In Kingdom Hearts III, it is second to zero percent guaranteed that you’ll understand a single bit about it if you have not watched the original films. The returning worlds have an exception with this, of course, but it also requires you to have knowledge about the worlds’ stories from the previous iterations.

That being said, I will be dividing this into three parts, those that have original stories, those that have Kingdom Hearts’ story integrated to the actual movie’s stories, and those that are returning. Let us start off with those that have original stories.

Story – Disney: Original Stories

Big Hero 9
Sora, Donald, Goofy, and the Big Hero 6; Big Hero 9

All the Disney movie worlds that have original stories that appeared in Kingdom Hearts III are as follows: San Fransokyo from Big Hero 6, Toy Box from Toy Story, and Monstropolis from Monsters Inc.. The story within these worlds are absolutely amazing and when I say that I really mean it! I would even go as far as to praise the games’ stories as canon sequels to the films’ stories! By sequels, San Fransokyo’s story is set after the original film so does with Monstropolis. However, Toy Box’ story is set after Toy Story 2 but before Toy Story 3.

As much as I want to discuss those, I would just be spoiling it for you and you wouldn’t want that to happen, would you?

Story – Disney: Original Movie Stories

Olaf
Sora, Olaf, Donald, and Goofy

I got two words for you, it just sucks. Oh, you were wondering why I said three words when I said I only got two words for it? You didn’t get the reference, did you? That’s a reference from Phil from Hercules. In Greek, it’s Απλώς χάλια, just two words. That basically sums all the story of all Disney worlds that appeared in Kingdom Hearts III that got the original film’s story integrated within the game. Like I said earlier, it assumes you have already watched the original films. The Disney movie worlds that have their original movie stories integrated into Kingdom Hearts III are as follows: Kingdom of Corona from Tangled and Arendelle from Frozen.

Sure, the films were great on its own but in Kingdom Hearts III? I beg to differ. From the original film, there were too many cuts that were made and since there were too many cuts, a lot of it did not make any sense. In addition to this, a lot of new elements were shown without introductions – it just pops up out of nowhere!

How it went was like this: Movie cutscene, cut, gameplay, cut, movie cutscene but now on a different time frame from the movie, gameplay, cut again movie cutscene… until you can’t make sense out of it anymore.

If I, someone who has watched the films before playing the game, got confused and can’t make sense with the story of these worlds, how much more if there would be people playing without schema of the movies that appeared, right?

Story – Disney: Returning

Jack Sparrow
Jack Sparrow looking into the horizon

Olympus from Hercules, 100 Acre Wood from Winnie the Pooh, and The Caribbean from Pirates of the Caribbean are back! I was so excited that these worlds are back. However, in this segment, I’ll have to provide my insight about the story in these worlds.

For The Caribbean, just as how the Disney worlds that used its original movie story, it followed At World’s End’s story. However, unlike the other Disney worlds that used its original movie story, The Caribbean followed up from Port Royal world in Kingdom Hearts II which was based from The Curse of the Black Pearl though there was a bit of time skipping that happened since The Caribbean, as I said, was based on At World’s End, skipping the story of Dead Man’s Chest. Nonetheless, even with the big skip, it did not feel like it skipped at all so I guess that’s a big positive point for this world.

Olympus’s story just picks up from where it ended in Kingdom Hearts II, again with a skip. Not much to say since it has its original story. I have to say, Hades is still as funny as ever.

Lastly, 100 Acre Wood, I was kind of disappointed that it did not have a side story of its own in this game unlike in the previous iterations. This world is just full of mini-games and no actual or big development between Sora and the other guys in this world in this game.

In conclusion, I would say that these worlds, in general, aren’t that good yet aren’t that bad either. It was just okay.

Graphical Delivery

Sora Selfie
Sora taking a selfie with Woody, Buzz, and Rex

I have been waiting for this segment to talk about how gracious, aesthetic, beautiful, appealing, alluring, charming, dazzling, fascinating, gorgeous, wonderful this game is!

Alright, let’s start before I get biased, Haha!

So why the extravagant descriptive words for Kingdom Hearts III’s graphics? Well, 2 words; It’s perfect! It’s everything. Each world has its own distinct graphical style and Kingdom Hearts III nailed all of it. The realistic look of The Caribbean world like no other, the comic book-ish style that the 100 Acre Wood has and the rest of the Disney worlds… I’m telling you, it’s like Sora and the gang put in on the movies as if they were actually part of the movies!

Actually, wait. Now that I think about it, it’s low praise. Let me restate that by saying, the graphics of Kingdom Hearts III tops even the movies! The cutscenes, the game world graphics, everything. It tops the movies. Try looking for comparison videos from the game and the movie, you’ll see how better looking Kingdom Hearts III is!

Now, that was just me talking about the general stuff. Let’s move in on the more technical side.

While I think everything about the graphical aspect of Kingdom Hearts III is good, there’s just one thing that I am bothered about; Cutscenes. Cutscenes only play at 30FPS. I mean, I don’t mind it but I just hoped everything plays consistently. If it’s 60FPS then everything should be 60FPS, but I guess many games also do this. Other than that, the game’s perfect.

I might as well say that this game should be the basis of what “graphical diversity” should be.

Oh, did I forget to say The Caribbean world was everything? It was like watching the movie Final Fantasy XV Kingsglaive except you’re playing it.

Music

Yoyo Shotlock
Sora in Valor form using Warp Trick Shotlock Command

Alongside the graphical aspect of the game, to make this game truly a killer game, there needs not only 1 aspect but two – a combo, making a killer game; in this case, graphics and musical score.

There was some returning music but it wasn’t just copy pasted, it had new arrangements and remixes which could make you have the “stop and just appreciate the music” moments. I personally had this moment while playing the game!

Of course, let us not forget about the new music that is present, most notably the Scala ad Caelum music. Man, I’m telling you, the moment you hear it play for its first 2 seconds, you’ll pop up!

I can say that it is one of the most crucial aspects of the game because, I think, without it, the game would feel bland. Like really bland.

Gameplay

CounterShield
Sora using the CounterShield Keyblade Transformation

You all have been waiting for this, the gameplay aspect of the game – how is it?

Let us talk about it in a comparative way. I love and hate the game’s gameplay aspect both at the same time. I know. I can’t explain it either but I guess, for you to understand, I’ll just provide the positive and negative aspects of the gameplay and you decide whether you’ll get the game or not.

Like in any other Kingdom Hearts game, with the exception of Chain of Memories and Re:Coded, you run up to opponents and battle them. Simple. It has been the formula Kingdom Hearts have been using ever since the start of the series. However, though it is still the same, there were some notable differences battle-wise and environment-wise.

The Drive Forms we used to have in Kingdom Hearts II is of no longer, at least as a manually-activated feature. I personally did not like this. I still want the manual activation of Drive Forms at will just like in Kingdom Hearts II. Don’t get me wrong, the Drive Forms are still within the game but got integrated within Keyblade Transformations. The only Drive Form that did not get integrated within a Keyblade Transformation is Anti-form, now called Rage Form, and I’m telling you, Rage Form in this game is better than in Kingdom Hearts II’s by 9000%!

While we’re at it, since I’ve already mentioned Keyblade Transformations, let us talk about how to activate Keyblade Transformations. To activate Keyblade Transformations, you need to press the triangle button to activate a Reaction Command, now called Situation Command. They removed the Reaction Command feature for this Situation Command feature and you might be wondering, what does this Situation Command do? Well, just like Reaction Command, you use skill set not normally available when mashing the attack button. Situation Commands are used for Keyblade Transformation, Attraction Flow, Grand Magic attacks such as Firaga stock, and the Rage Form transformation that I mentioned earlier.

What I didn’t like about Situation Command is that, when attacking and mashing attacks, you can stack them up, but that also means you either have to wait or use it in order to release it. It became too apparent that it got too repetitive. Instead of having it just help the players, the game became a “just ram the Situation Command on your way throughout the game”. It sucks, a lot. There are also instances where you just want to talk to an NPC, a moogle for example, but since the Situation Commands are stacked up, you end up not talking to the NPCs but activation of Situation Commands – may it be Keyblade Transformation, Finisher, or Attraction Flow. But hey, I’m not saying that it sucks per se, but it was just too apparent that it became bad.

In addition to this, I also didn’t like the fact that there were less Abilities and Keyblades. In fact, there were even Keyblades that are pre-order exclusive, PlayStation 4 exclusive, and Xbox One exclusive. Like, what gives? This really sucks for people who are completionist, knowing the fact that they won’t be able to truly 100% the game.

The minigames in this game, with exception for the post-game ones, feels too forced as you are mandated to play those to proceed on the story of the game in Disney worlds. There were several minigames in the previous games but those weren’t enforced to the players to proceed. They were introduced properly and we are given the option to just play it later on if we don’t want to at the present time. That being said, we also have the world dedicated for minigames which is 100 Acre Wood so having to play all these forced minigames… I just don’t dig it. Speaking of 100 Acre Wood, compared to how it was in the previous iterations, 100 Acre Wood in Kingdom Hearts III is too short.

Incidentally, the gameplay itself is short and easy. You can literally speedrun the game in just less than 5 hours, that only means one thing – If the game’s minimum time to finish the story is 30 hours, that means there’s at least 25 hours just for cutscenes and dialogues. The game doesn’t have Critical Mode, so the highest difficulty setting we have is Proud Mode. Even with the limited, floaty control, the game feels easy, way easier than of 0.2’s. One of the reasons why is the addition of Kupo Coin which can revive you the moment you die, except you can only buy it one at a time but then again, we had Tinkerbell back in Kingdom Hearts II. Additional reason is, the one we’ve discussed earlier, the addition of Situation Commands – it made the game very easy. I can go on forever saying how this game is easy but I would rather not to. What I also don’t like about the game, aside from it being easy, is that there are too many empty area. The spawn of enemies in this game isn’t as much as the previous games which lead to many different areas being empty.

The Links in this game didn’t have much impact. Compared to previous games where I constantly use links, or summon in the case of the numbered titles, I didn’t use much of the Links in Kingdom Hearts III.

One more thing that I didn’t like is how some of the animations of some enemies and NPCs are missing some frames and their animations aren’t “smooth”, so to say. I think it is so that they can cut resources? Not sure. Some nobodies and usually assists such as Rapunzel and Herc have this problem.

Let’s now look on to the bright side of things, the environment is now bigger than ever. I can definitely say that it’s about 300% bigger than the previous iterations. It actually feels like it’s an open-world game now. In addition to the environments massive expansion, you will notice the abundance NPCs just running in the surroundings. Not only that, those NPCs are lively, having their own dialogues and all. Even Donald and Goofy talks when you’re just running around.

As far as the actual gameplay is concerned, a lot of people were worried as to how “floaty” it is but personally, I have no problems with it. 0.2 was way floatier than of III’s so it was a big update and a big positive point. Although, I did say the game was easy, there are still points in the game where you’ll experience difficulty and I sure did experience that.

One more thing that I like here is the integration of Keyblade upgrades from Kingdom Hearts Union Cross. It compensated for the lack of Keyblades in the game. You may not have many Keyblades, but you can upgrade them though!

Lastly, I would like to address the problem that some people were stating that the gameplay feels too repetitive. That always has been the formula of Kingdom Hearts games. If you want to play a Kingdom Hearts game that has a variety of gameplay, go ahead and play Kingdom Hearts Re:Coded, or if you want a card-based battle system, go ahead and play Kingdom Hearts Chain of Memories; or Re:Chain of Memories for that matter.

Content Value

Content Value
Cutscene from Tangled remade for the game frame-by-frame

For the price of $79.99, or more if you paid for the Deluxe Edition and up just like me, can the game justify its contents to satisfy its price tag value? Short answer: Yes. Long answer: This is everything that we’ve longed for.

Kingdom Hearts III is the very definition of a classic ender as well as the best. As much as I don’t want to be bias, let me just say that this game is a Game of the Year contender and of course, I’m rooting for it to win the Game of the Year award but not just Game of the Year, I’m also rooting for it for Best Narrative, Best Art Direction, Best Game Direction, and Best Action Game.

The current post-game that it has very much satisfied me. Some people say that there isn’t much post-game content but they’re saying that when comparing it to Kingdom Hearts II Final Mix, take note, Final Mix. Even Kingdom Hearts II had flaws that Square Enix needed to fix hence the release of Kingdom Hearts II Final Mix. Kingdom Hearts III, in its current state, can go toe-on-toe with Kingdom Hearts II Final Mix, what more if it gets a Final Mix update, right?

I’d like to expand on these things that Kingdom Hearts III has to offer in its current state: Massive world upgrade, different worlds have unique things to offer, the length of each world are long, longing up to two to three hours each, and the story resolution.

Since there’s the massive world upgrade, the length for each world also got upgraded. In this game, you don’t have to go back anymore and you can finish the worlds’ stories in just one go, unlike in previous iterations. You can enjoy the expanded world to your heart’s content in this game!

The Caribbean is the very definition of “different worlds have unique things to offer”. How is that so? The Caribbean has everything you can think of. Best world graphics, underwater, aerial, ship, and ground battles. Man, I’m telling you. The Caribbean is the best world hands down.

The story, is it worth it? Yes, as long as you don’t have any expectations within the game. Remember, this game’s purpose is only to serve as the ending of the long-running Xehanort saga. Expecting more would only lead to disappointment.

Some people are also disappointed to the fact that no Final Fantasy characters appear in the game, aside from Moogle which is the game’s shop NPC. Let me tell you one thing, it does not need Final Fantasy characters anymore. Sure, before it did need Final Fantasy since it was originally a Final Fantasy-Disney crossover game but it has made its own identity. Final Fantasy was the scaffold of Kingdom Hearts, and now that it can stand on its own, it no longer needs the help of Final Fantasy. If Final Fantasy characters were to appear in Kingdom Hearts III, I think it will only stray the story and its path as the “resolution”. Maybe, through a game update, Final Fantasy characters, as well as additional post-story content, will be added later on. Nomura did say that there would be free updates.

Conclusion

Xehanort Smirk
Master Xehanort Smirking

Kingdom Hearts III was worth it, in any way you’ll look at it. It satisfied its purpose, gave resolution to the story and the content it has was worth it. Although it kind of felt like a movie than a game, which I don’t mind at all since we are playing this game for answers. This game made me cry like a crybaby, made me smile for hope and joy, made me ride a rollercoaster of emotions. 13 years of waiting just for this game to come out, it was worth the wait. I love everything about it.

However, the question still remains, “Is it worth buying?” If you are a big fan of the series, then it is an easy yes. If you want to play a story-rich game with very interactive and flashy gameplay, then it’s yes. If you like Final Fantasy-like story and Disney, then yes. 100% yes. Otherwise, I don’t think this is for you.

That being said, I can’t wait for the next one to come out.

Extras

Did you guys like my review of Kingdom Hearts III? Did you agree to my points or are there points that you disagree on? Comment it down so I’ll know your thoughts too, and make sure you like the video and subscribe for more! Don’t forget to also check out my Facebook page where constantly go live playing games and my YouTube channel where I upload my stream highlights.

Until then guys, see you soon!

Good

  • Served its purpose as the ending
  • Combat is an improved version of 0.2's
  • Has graphical diversity
  • More interactive NPCs
  • Can go toe-on-toe with Kingdom Hearts II Final Mix
  • Answers the questions left in the previous games
  • All of the characters developed
  • Feels like watching a movie rather than playing a game
  • Music is on point
  • Massive world expansion
  • Story of each world is long
  • No Final Fantasy Characters
  • Has satisfying post-game content
  • Has a lot of unique things to offer
  • Cutscenes are on point

Bad

  • Few heavy plot-changing events
  • Only the end part got the "juice"
  • Disney stories assumes you have watched the films
  • Many elements were shown without introduction in Disney worlds
  • No Critical Mode
  • Situation Commands too apparent
  • Some animations aren't "smooth"
  • Too many empty area for enemies
9.5

Amazing

Story - 9.5
Graphical Delivery - 9.8
Music - 10
Gameplay - 9
Content Value - 9.2
Full-time student; irregular, Online Teacher, Video Game Journalist, Student Leader, Game Reviewer, Tournament Organizer, Fighting Game Enthusiast, PKMN-ph: Pokemon Philippines' Head Administrator
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