Kingdom Hearts 3 Review
It’s been over a decade since Kingdom Hearts 2 launched, and fans of the franchise have been patiently – and at times not so patiently – waiting for the third and final entry in the trilogy. With all the hype around the games release, could it possibly live up to the expectations of fans? Let’s dive in and take a closer look!
Unfamiliarity Isn’t Necessarily a Problem
If you aren’t up to date on the Kingdom Hearts franchise, you won’t necessarily be excluded from playing Kingdom Hearts 3, and definitely won’t have to slog through 1 and 2 either. Thanks to series of movies available, players can quickly get up to speed on where the Kingdom Hearts story currently lies as you begin your quest in Kingdom Hearts 3.
And even if you just jump into the experience without watching the films, you’ll have a decent understanding of the story within the first few hours. What are the essentials? Sora has been drained of his powers, and to find and get his friends back, he will have to journey and regain specific powers to save the world. The story is what drives you to the worlds, and to that end, it works well. The more you’ve played Kingdom Hearts, the more you are invested, and from what I’ve heard from others, this end is perfect for the franchise!
Beauty In the Worlds – Details Sometimes Lacking
The worlds in Kingdom Hearts are phenomenal, and all our colourfully presented. Olympus is fantastic, as is Pirates of the Caribbean and Toy Story. They all bring back a sense of nostalgia for these Disney films that I never thought I would get out of a Square Enix title, but they definitely delivered.
They aren’t all perfect, however. The seemingly never ending forests in the Kingdom of Corona and the snowy wastelands of Frozen become a bit…samey after a while, and can really pull you out of the experience. My least favourite moments in Kingdom Hearts 3 were running around the Frozen world, and travelling through the Forests with Rapunzel in tow. They are still beautiful, but the detail here is lacking. How Square Enix could have made them better, I’m not quite sure, but something had to be done to break up the monotony of the forest.
Detail is also lacking in some of the story telling, most importantly during the Tangled portion of the game. A strong understanding of the film is required to fully understand what happens during the game. Although the focus of the story is on Sora, Donald, and Goofy, there are story holes that never get explained in the Kingdom of Corona. It doesn’t ruin the overall story of Kingdom Hearts, mind you, but will make those unfamiliar with the friends scratch their heads, especially since the in-world story is almost a shot-for-shot rehashing of the film.
A few questions I would have been left with were, “What happens to Flynn when he’s unconscious sailing across the lake back to the castle, and how does he ultimately escape from jail?” Is it integral to Sora’s story? No, but it would have helped create a more complete experience overall.
*Potential Spoilers But Not Really* pic.twitter.com/Cpa2htW2pe
— Adam Roffel (@AdamRoffel) February 6, 2019
Satisfying Combat, New Attacks
If you’ve played any of the other Kingdom Hearts titles, combat in Kingdom Hearts 3 will feel fairly familiar to you. Cooperative attacks with Goofy and Donald are fantastic ways to deal extra damage, but making sure you are mashing the A button for generic attacks, and Y button for special attacks, will be the key to victory. Players can easily swap through equipped Keyblade Formchanges by using the directional pad, and hopping between physical attacks and magical attacks, while cumbersome at times, still works alright.
The new addition to Kingdom Hearts 3 are Attraction Attacks, which have Donald, Goofy, and Sora hop into popular Disney attractions and attack enemies in unique ways. My favourite two are the attacks themed after Magic Kingdom’s Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin and Animal Kingdom’s Kahli River Rapids. The others are fantastic as well, including a rocking pirate ship, a carousal, and more.
Voices A Plenty
We’ve already talked about how Square Enix beautifully recreated all these Disney worlds, even with the few flaws we found throughout, but the worlds are only as good as the characters that populate them, and once again no expense was spared in getting the most talented voices, and some familiar voice as well. OK…some expense was spared, as certain characters do not reprise their roles from the film in the video game, including Tim Allen as Buzz Lightyear, Tom Hanks as Woody, and many more.
However, the impressive cast of returnees from the films is long, and really adds to the entire experience. We all know what Rex and Hamm should sound like, and we all know who Donald and Goofy should sound like, and thankfully these talented voices return from the shows and movies to bring their characters back to life. Popular returning voices can be seen in every world, and it definitely adds to the overall presentation. You know what you should be hearing because you watched the films, and to hear those familiar voices in the game just puts things over the top, especially for longtime Disney fans!
Kingdom Hearts 3 is definitely attempting to appeal to a new and younger fan base, as evidenced by the use of popular, more recent Disney franchises like Frozen, Monsters Inc., Tangled, and Big Hero Six! While older franchises exist – Hercules from the 90s, and of course the 100 Acre Woods – there is a lack of really old locations to visit, which might be a bit of a let down for some hardcore Dinsey fans.
That being said, old villains like Maleficent make up for this a bit, and since ‘newer’ Disney films are fantastic as well, the lack of old school Disney can be forgiven. This is an easier experience compared to other Kingdom Hearts games, and this also plays into the desire to reach a younger audience. Still, this is an experience longtime fans, and new players, will not want to miss out on.