Reviewing Kingdom Hearts 3 is a slightly impossible task as there is no other game which had been in my mind for as long nor one which I couldn’t wait to play as desperately as this.
The time factor really plays into it as sure I’m excited for other games maybe a year before release but I remember hearing rumblings of Kingdom Hearts 3 when I was in college, that was 12 years ago. So to say I was anticipating it would be an understatement, so I’m not going to pull it apart as I would in a normal review. I just want to talk about what I – overall – liked and disliked. Unfortunately there’s more that I disliked. I can’t avoid spoilers to talk about this, so please don’t read on unless you’ve finished the main story.
Ok so despite having played Kingdom Hearts 1 and 2 (For the second time) last year alongside Birth by Sleep, then spending some time watching catch up videos on the game I missed after, I would say I’m still not half as savvy as some people I know but have enough of an understanding to enjoy the games narrative. Now I’ll say this for starters, this game left me literally not giving a shit about the story and not really caring what happens in the future of the Keyblade sagas – I even sold it immediately after completion, not caring about the promised story DLC coming soon.
…So what do they do with the story? Essentially to make things as digestable as possible for anyone who plays the game, they say that they require 7 Guardians of Light to defeat the 13 Seekers of Darkness (Xehanort’s cronies), and that there will be a prophesised war at the end, bringing the 2 together in a battle to end all battles. The good guys don’t have enough people so they send Sora (Aided as always by Donald and Goofy) out to find Roxas, and Mickey and Riku to find Aqua, and hope that someone will bump into Terra at some point. This is essentially the whole of Kingdom Hearts 3, except for the individual stories in the Disney worlds, none of which really grabbed me – They simplify and condense all of the stories just enough to make the game work but I can’t help but feel that just makes the previous games over complicated; in the end it felt like “Oh hey remember this guys from that game, we’ll give him a couple lines to tie up his story” – My other issue with the ending is that it turns out Xehanort isn’t all that bad, and because he was buddies with Eraqus as a young boy they unite in some spiritual way and float off; NO – Just no, ok. If I spend 15 years chasing a bad guy I want to rip his guts out with my Keyblade, not see him have some sort of spiritual awakening – Perhaps that was what made me go ‘nah’?
In terms of the worlds they put in, there was yet more disappointment to come – They decided to primarily go for the PIxar properties and completely ditch anything 2D animated, and there’s also no whiff of a classic Final Fantasy character to be seen, which is definitely a dissapointment – Then the worlds themselves were pretty much a let a down, especially the 2 I was most looking forward to, Toy Story and Monsters Inc. These 2 in particular didn’t manage to capture the charm of the movies and created boring empty worlds that I didn’t care for, I’m unsure if it’s because it’s strayed too far away from what Kingdom Hearts used to be, or because they created a bespoke story within these worlds, but they did not make me happy. The only worlds I really had a good time in were Tangled, Big Hero 6 and the last section (This is more down to the gameplay and culmination of story); apart from this I felt the worlds were a bit of a chore, and didn’t have that excitement and wonder as when I first stepped inside Monstro the whale, or got shrunk down in Cinderella’s world. This isn’t a product of me being this age as I played them all through last year and still loved it, it’s a simple fact that the developers missed something that used to be there; that magic spark.
I must admit that the last quarter of the game is probably the best as you have to battle all of the 13 bosses one after the other in sections, taking on 2 or 3 at a time – This I really liked as I actually got to fight with companions and use the Keyblade skills I had learnt, not just spam Disney ride moves or specials endlessly… Although the build of special moves is quite fun, you never really feel like you HAVE to use dodges and block during the majority of the game; you can defeat everything by building your special (Whether that be a Goofy assist, magic ride or Form change – Often via Keyblade transformation) and spamming that. This is honestly how I defeated every bad guy, and it made it feel like a game I didn’t want to master, as there didn’t feel like there was this deep combat system that I wanted to fully get to grips with. It’s definitely fun to use, and it can feel and look very stylish when you stack specials and are floating around casting magic, but in my opinion it’s a step back from the previous combat systems.
In general it felt they put too much in to distract you from the combat; Kingdom Hearts has always been about mini games and cutscenes, but the biggest issue is that you had about 5 minutes of pure combat followed by a shit mini game and hours of cutscenes – There’s about 12 hours of cutscenes and it took me 28 hours to beat the game, and unfortunately the majority of the cutscenes didn’t really grab me. This time round when Sora was talking about friendship and hearts, I didn’t really buy into it – Couple this with the mostly unintersting mini games and get a lot of game that you don’t want to invest in! Not for me at least.
This game was never going to live up to the hype, but this isn’t a case of not living up to the hype; this is just a generally dissapointing game. It’s very undeserving of 10+ years of development, and it’s made me want to take a huge break from the series. If I had to score it, I’d honestly give a: