Release Date
January 29, 2019
Platforms
PlayStation 4, Xbox One
Publisher
Square Enix
Developer
Square Enix
Reviewed on
PlayStation 4

It has been a long journey to Kingdom Hearts III, both with the number of spin-off games that have released in the series and the sheer amount of time it has taken to release. It has been roughly 13 years since Kingdom Hearts II released and it has been a long 13 years waiting for the third and final installment in the Xehanort saga. Gameplay for the game has improved since it’s predecessors and while it’s easy to see that a lot of time went into this game and there are some truly great moments here, overall it does not feel as great as Kingdom Hearts II.

Gameplay

The gameplay has been improved from Kingdom Hearts II. While not as big as a leap with gameplay as it was from Kingdom Hearts to Kingdom Hearts II, the gameplay here feels polished and smooth. The battle system adds little elements from each of the spinoff games. You can shot lock like you can from Kingdom Hearts: Birth By Sleep and you are also able to use flow during battle which originated in Dream Drop Distance. Each world also has its own gameplay gimmick as well. In Monstropolis you can grind on rails at parts while in the Carribean you can navigate a pirate ship and battle with other ships that are being controlled by the heartless. Most of these gameplay gimmicks are fun. One that was not fun was airstepping which is introduced in Olympus. This requires players to lock on to a location, which then will allow Sora to dash towards it automatically, however in Olympus you have to lock onto moving rocks in order to climb a part of Mount Olympus, this was annoying and took way longer to complete then a part should that’s only an hour into the game.

Being able to summon Disney rides to aide you in battle and allow Sora, Donald, and Goofy to ride on is one of the coolest new battle mechanics both visually and gameplay wise. If you’re looking for minigames, Kingdom Hearts III has you covered as just about every Disney world has a minigame or two for you to partake in. While the minigame and gameplay variations in the game are great, if there is variation in anything that usually means that the different gameplay variation might not all be the same quality and that can be said for the different gimmicks of the game, because some just fall short like airstepping or feel bland like the FPS Gigas battling in the Toy Story level.

Visuals

The graphics of the Kingdom Hearts series has come a long way. The graphics during gameplay now look just about as good as the graphics from the cinematics and the cinematics graphics, especially the graphics in the opening movie are top notch and really make you just say “wow.” It’s also impressive that the graphics from worlds based on Toy Story or Monsters, look just like the graphics of the movies those worlds are based on.

About half of the worlds also have their own visual styles. The 100 Acre Wood’s has a cell-shaded visual look that almost looks like it comes from a children’s story book and The Caribbean’s visuals are more realistic and detailed. The sheer amount of visual diversity throughout the game’s worlds is very impressive. Overall the visuals that Kingdom Hearts III has is one of the game’s highlights.

Sound Design

The sound design of this game is one part where this game truly triumphs. Hearing tracks from all the previous Kingdom Hearts games remixed and remastered is a special feeling, that makes you realize just how long and good the Kingdom Hearts journey has been. The new tracks in the game sound just as classic and great as the old and remastered tracks. Kingdom Hearts also spared no expense on the voice acting as most of the Kingdom Hearts original characters and Disney Franchise characters are reprised by their respective voice actors. This includes the voice actors for characters from movies like Frozen, Tangled, and Big Hero 6.

The music combined with the visuals of the opening cinematic is amazing and one of the best parts of not only this game but the whole series, and if you’ve been playing the whole series this moment is especially magical and touching because as you’re watching it you’ll realize just how far the series has come and remember just where the series began.

Story

The Kingdom Hearts story started in 2002, with Kingdom Hearts I. The story started out relatively simple with a boy named Sora having to search for his missing friends after his world was consumed by darkness. 17 years later the story is confusing and too complex for its own good, you have to go into Kingdom Hearts III with not just knowledge of the Kingdom Hearts I and Kingdom Hearts II plot points, but also the plots Kingdom Hearts spinoff games to fully appreciate and understand the story. I myself have played all the spinoff games and I still do not fully understand the story.

If you’ve played past Kingdom Hearts games, you know what you’re in for, a story that is cheesy and badly written. Kingdom Hearts III, however also has the curse of being really confusing as no other game has been before it. It’s always possible that the writers chose to leave some information out for the sake of laying the groundwork for sequels but some of the confusing parts in Kingdom Hearts III seem to just be plot holes. It’s also weird the Traverse Town, Destiny Islands, and no Final Fantasy characters make an appearance as they have all been staples in the series at one point or another.

Replay Value

There is plenty to do in Kingdom Hearts III. Whether it’s finding lucky emblems or collecting ingredients for Ratatouille but there is nothing all that addicting or rewarding that will make you want to keep coming back after you’ve finished the game. It’s not like Kingdom Hearts II Final Mix where there is a a good amount of keyblades and secret bosses to defeat. Maybe if they have a Final Mix DLC sometime in the future it will add some extra content like secret bosses and more keyblades to collect.

Final Thoughts

Kingdom Hearts III is a celebration of where the Kingdom Hearts series has come from and where the series is going. The game’s gameplay quality and variety has improved from past games, although a few of the gameplay gimmicks do feel lacking. Two areas the game particularly shines in is it’s visuals and sound design. The visuals especially during the opening cutscene look astonishing and really make you appreciate the Kingdom Hearts series, while the sound design especially the soundtrack will really give you the feels especially if you played the past games in the series.

For a game that is supposed to be the final game in the Xehanort Saga, I was expecting it to feel more epic, but the story is often confusing and can actually make new players feel alienated by the games heavy reliance on the stories of the spinoff games and characters. The lack of some Disney Worlds and all Final Fantasy characters is a little disheartening as well. There is plenty to do though in the game whether it’s trying to find lucky emblems or exploring the seas of the Caribbean. While I do not think Kingdom Hearts III is the best game in the series, it is still a solid action RPG, although you do have to go into it with a lot of knowledge of the Kingdom Hearts in order to fully appreciate it.

Gameplay8
Visuals9.5
Sound9.5
Story7.5
Replay Value8
Pros
Great gameplay
Amazing Visuals
Great Soundtrack that will make you feel nostalgic if you've played any of the past Kingdom Hearts games.
Cons
Some of the gameplay gimmicks
A confusing story that is at often times written badly
Lack of some worlds and all Final Fantasy characters that previously made an appearance in the series
8.5
Final Thoughts
For a game that is supposed to be the final game in the Xehanort Saga, I was expecting it to feel more epic, but the story is often confusing and can actually make new players feel alienated by the games heavy reliance on the stories of the spinoff games and characters. The lack of some Disney Worlds and all Final Fantasy characters is a little disheartening as well. There is plenty to do though in the game whether it's trying to find lucky emblems or exploring the seas of the Caribbean. While I do not think Kingdom Hearts III is the best game in the series, it is still a solid action RPG, although you do have to go into it with a lot of knowledge of the Kingdom Hearts in order to fully appreciate it.

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