Review by: Night Ninja

Alcohol Reference
Fantasy Violence

PlayStation 4
Xbox One
Action JRPGSquare – EnixSquare – Enix

It was around the time of Kingdom Hearts II’s release when I first heard about the game via a trailer on Disney Channel at the time, and my childhood friend at the time Tyler having the first game on PS2 at his house the same day. Since then, I’ve been hooked on this series and I have been through thick and thin with it, keeping up with each release over time, and waiting for the day Kingdom Hearts III comes. I never expected it would take this long, but the games and the growing story kept me occupied in the meantime, some of the games leading up to this has still been plenty of fun, for III to finally be here NOW, what can I say about it? This has been a long time coming, and there is ALOT to talk about, but it must be made clear that this may be a review that can become in depth or one that touches barely on story and more on gameplay, this is a review tailored to be that way for the reader who may either be a total Kingdom Hearts veteran and has yet to play III, or someone just looking blindly. But I must make this clear now, this is the result of numerous games developing a story, if you are looking to start here, sorry to say, it is not the best idea. For the story, I’m splitting up the simple explanation for what starts off and transpires in the beginning, to a few details in the spoiler territory.


Picking up after Dream Drop Distance and FINALLY progressing forward in the story, Sora is sent off to try and reclaim his powers in time for Master Xehanort’s return and the new keyblade war beginning, all for the light of Kingdom Hearts itself. The story revolves around trying to make sure Sora is prepared for the finale while he travels to different worlds that Xehanort’s 13 vessels are wreaking havoc in, sometimes they are directly involved in what transpires, which leads to some great moments between the Disney heroes and the opposition. I really ended up liking those worlds the most as they created situations that can fit the world and characters well, while still keeping it on focus with the overarching plot, it made for a great pace! However, a good chunk of the worlds still redo their original story, which is usually what Kingdom Hearts does, but the only world that did it with not as much success, to even a degree of major overkill, to me it was Arendelle from Frozen.

Now… Frozen is not a movie I like at all, let this be known, I dislike the movie as a whole, the singing, the characters, the sentient snowman Olaf can also go and melt in the sun so he can keep away from the action JRPG goodness, but dear god… The one thing that I was never asking for, nor was needed, to begin with, was the game adding in the two most known songs from the movie “Let it go” and “Do you wanna build a snowman”… FUCK OFF!!!! There is a reason why the Atlantica world in KH II is despised so much, and this is why, it clashes with the game and what it is, to be railroaded into a musical!! I get it… Disney stuff tends to have it a lot, but that doesn’t mean it’s Disney LAW to sing everywhere, if it wasn’t for the fact I could at least skip it, I would have been done with the world then and there!!! I just need to point this out, as I am sure I am not the only one who has, even on YouTube it is a point in many reviews, however, if the team ever sees this, then please for future games, avoid this. It’s okay, we all know its Disney, it can be Disney without the musical aspect, Kingdom Hearts is at its best clearly when it doesn’t focus on recreating the original movies, and does its own thing with the influence of the movies, rather than trying to recapture what the movies did.

Past that though, I was very happy with the world selection and writing for each, and the Kingdom of Corona from Tangled was a bit more charming than I expected, on top of NOT singing, it was a nice time writing and all. See? That is how you handle a world from a movie known to be a musical at many points, at least don’t feel the need to recreate musical numbers, but do feel free to make your own stories up for each world! Toy Box was so much fun to go through, the Galaxy Toys Store was such a cool setting to put most of the game in, and the organization messed with the world to see about how the hearts of children bring the toys themselves to life. It makes sense in the context of both Toy Story, and Kingdom Hearts!! This is where the game’s story is at its best, taking elements each can overlap on, and creating a fitting story with great moments and characterization!!!!


So to really start on this side, I have to make it clear, I do really think a huge part of the story was made up as it was developed with the whole series, each game has certain details that contradict past games, what makes following the story easier is to just accept the new changes if they aren’t TOO far fetched, and most of the time they aren’t. Why I say this is, because of the fact that the ending at times got sloppy, Tetsuya Nomura did state that this wasn’t the end of the series, and he’s right, its not, as a matter of fact, it had built up for a future game that I can be interested in, but got damn is it frustrating he still has to play up the mystery box. Maleficent and Pete were shown off in trailer’s trying to go after the black box from the era of keyblade wielders, and yet they never directly interact with Sora, and they are barely seen at the ending, which I’ll get to soon.
My biggest story gripe is with Xehanort himself about at the end, beforehand his intentions of starting a new war would be to see what happens out of curiosity, not the best motivations but not the worst. WELL NOMURA CHANGED THAT! Now its the fact that he wanted to restart the world and tried to rule it to keep the balance of light and darkness in check… What a load of bullshit, he was played up as way worse, if not at least driven mad by power, so it was at least a bit underwhelming. Everything else leading up to then was really damn good, a big battle taking out each of the 13 one by one, sometimes facing up to 3 at a time and having to eliminate them one at a time. It was a fun endgame, characters finally got to come back like the Wayfinder and Sea Salt trio from BBS and 358/2 Days respectively. Its when Kairi gets kidnapped and sacrificed to goat Sora into making the X-Blade, when Kairi had done little to nothing in the game and its story, which was a shame…
But what saved this was the ending to ramp things up for the next game, fan favorite Xigbar from the original Organization XIII turned out to be a keyblade master from before the war, having survived and changed bodies over time, and some of the original masters all come back from the dead, for a “new game” as the game kinda calls it through a cleaver 4th wall break. What happens after could have never been seen, Sora tried to save Kairi at the end of the game, but in turn for abusing powers, he had gone missing, possibly seen as dead by everyone else at the end of the game. Instead he wakes up in a modern city landscape, representing Shibuya with callbacks to The World Ends With You, and even showing a character looking like Noctis from Final Fantasy XV(Versus XIII), a game Nomura originally directed, all that is known is that things will escalate to crazy heights in whatever comes next.

Gameplay & Presentation

So for as much as the story is done to a good degree, it is still a major climax to all the past games and what they had built upon, but so is the actual game itself as a whole. This game should just be called gorgeous, absolute eye candy at every corner, looking almost on par as the original films in many of the worlds, running in full on real time! I thought each world nailed its atmosphere and art style, on top of having a solid world line up, even though I dislike Arendelle from Frozen, you still have: Toy Box from Toy Story, Olympus from Hercules, Monstropolous from Monsters Inc, the aforementioned Kingdom of Corona from Tangled, San Fransokyo from Big Hero 6, The 100 Acre Woods from Winnie the Pooh, and The Caribbean from Pirates of the Caribbean. I think it’s a great solid line up at the end of the day, even if I heavily disagree with one of the worlds. The gameplay is what really sells this game, it may look great but not always will that be all a game has to do, so III backs it up by bringing back many of the elements the past games have introduced.

Rejoice fans of the PS2 originals, as the command menu, mp bar, equipment, accessories, and ability system have all returned in full force! The game feels very familiar to start up with, and I’m happy to report that it was almost second nature, the game also takes other aspects from the handheld games like the focus meter with shotlocks unique to each keyblade, flowmotion returns not as broken but a good addition none the less, links that act as the summons for the game(You have Wreck-It Wralph, Simba, Ariel, Dream Eaters, and Stitch), and now keyblades can transform to give a mix of command styles and drive forms. The only downside to this is the floatiness is still there, though definitely the game that has the least of it, it still isn’t all too ideal.

But all in all, you can tell there is PLENTY to put to use from older games, making this a great blend of past mechanics, something I do adore quite a bit! I don’t have to return to Dream Drop Distance for its maneuverability mechanics when III takes and even balances them, or even Birth By Sleep for its flow of combat when III takes it and incorporating it into a more traditional battle system with the recharging MP bar and instead situation commands giving extra attacks and the transformations when available, allowing you to stack up what is like the original reaction commands from II and having much more control and micromanaging with it. It feels like a true return to form with all the new elements mixed in with all the others that had been built on and now almost perfected!

The new additions, however, mix it up enough to help it feel more modernized, you have access to all available party members at the same time, run up walls, acrobatically traverse across spires and other landscape, and the attraction flow mechanic! Attraction flow is such a cool idea, you use theme park rides from Disneyland and weaponize them, what isn’t there to love? They look cool and everything! On top of that, there is a system that allows you to collect ingredients in the worlds thanks to Donald’s constant pestering on them, and you can bring them to Ratatouille’s Remy the rat and cook up meals to buff stats for a set time! These two aspects end up giving the game some new concepts to play around with for any battling at all, some may argue the keyblade transformations are new, but they aren’t really. They are still very much like drive forms and command styles, only with different attributes, or in certain cases taking the same exact transformation or form. I however am glad to report the game has a system to upgrade the strength and stats of your keyblades, so you can carry whatever keyblades you want until the end game if you do this right. Another addition is being able to carry 3 keyblades you switch between on the fly, so you can have 3 different tiers of transformations, and even store them for those really tricky enemies.

There is even a phone that wins the award of most bulky phone you’ve ever seen, jeez Steve Jobs, move aside for Nomura. The smartphone itself is used as the journal, but can also take pictures and even be used to find hidden Mickeys around the world, just like the park challenge in Disneyland and DisneyWorld! I just am not too much of a fan of the cringy kind of attempts at a social network post during loading screens, #NotRelatable? It’s nothing horrible, and getting to have access to the camera to get lost in the environments that were crafted so damn well! This Kingdom Hearts game has big level design, but for the better, as its used to make the worlds feel more lively, especially when NPCs are way more relevant here! Its a trip, but having this game nail the atmosphere of each world, just ended up making it so easy to fall in love with it. The best part is, I never got lost actually, the only nitpick I could have here is the lack of a full screen function for the map, you only have access to the minimap at all times, which makes me miss the full screen function Dream Drop Distance had.

When you combine that with the Gummi Ships returning in full having full control of the ship in a 3D explorable space, and fantastic customization options, you’d think this game would already be having the hand up from KH II! Gone are the shallow Star Fox clone routes you fly through, gone are also the more arcade-like approach in II, this is an open galaxy to look around as you wish! I mean sure, the control of the Gummi Ship in 3D spaces don’t feel too smooth nor easy to control, and battles are like encounters that put you on rails for it, but most of the improvement on the Gummi Ships are so appreciative that I am more into them now! I never thought I’d say I would enjoy the Gummi Ships, but I do, though many improvements can be made, and I hope they do that! I just wish that the battles were more seamless, with tighter controls and maneuverability, like the newer Star Fox titles do in a more free range mode.

Sad to say though, they were SO CLOSE to surpassing II, but just missed the mark in some ways. For starters, the game itself isn’t… very difficult, you have revenge value back, THANK FUCK, but you never feel super challenged on Proud Mode as you would in the other games for better or worse, I’ve only died about 2 times completing the main game. Part of that has to do with the Moogle coin system, being kinda like a revive you hold onto(could have done phoenix down’s if you asked me), but I still was doing really good through till the end, for those that prefer Critical Mode, sadly it’s not in the game as of now. Proud doesn’t really feel like Proud mode either, if anything its more so just slightly above beginner, which is saying something when the difficulty was the hardest in the original game, I feel like it needs to be renamed and a real Proud and Critical added back into the game! But what makes it a bit worse, is the lack of extra content, there is plenty exploration, and plenty of battle portals kinda like Dream Drop Distance, but no Coliseum returning with Olympus, no super bosses past 1 that I have yet to even try out, no Final Fantasy cameos even. If this game could do anything better, it would be the lack of extra content and the difficulty, it would have been the extra leg up needed to be better than II.

The music is definitely one area that it kicked into overdrive on, whether it’s remixes of older songs, and full new ones, it knew when and where to use music and just heightened the experience by doing so, if there is one thing that makes me love this game so damn much, is its charm above all else! You can tell the team behind the game wanted to make something great, the combat diversity is one of the best aspects, but even little character interactions are triggered and fun to watch, with the phone, even triggering the characters to react with its camera. The Caribbean itself has a full open world to it to sale through freely and discover treasure in, to even playing rock ’em sock ’em robots for a quick treasure chest back in Toy Box. It has so many tiny details that is just there to warm your heart or give you a good laugh, and I love it! But the biggest reason why I am willing to forgive its easy difficulty and the lack of content, is because of how Tetsuya Nomura and his team will continue to support the game over the year.

The director himself has stated a disdain for the business practice of season passes in past interviews, but has not ruled out the idea of DLC as a whole, the difference is, is that this is all meant to be actual supplemental content to the main game, and all free with the exception of one story heavy DLC that will be beefy in content to warrant putting money towards it. I am glad with this outcome, the free DLC over the year will build up the lack of what is there for content until the big DLC, and it avoids holding ransom any content that is supposed to be there. I have to give props to the director of the series for being more fair than Final Fantasy XV and its bullshit of the real ending being behind $15 for owners of the game prior to Royal Edition, too many games are like this these days, but I above all respect and see the passion put forth, I’m planning on doing a revisit to this game once I have a PS4 Pro and the DLC has been released, but until then it is still a great Kingdom Hearts game!

Graphics 10 – 10 This game is consistently gorgeous, not a second I didn’t go “woah” in awe at the game’s looks, even with my disdain for Arendelle!
Music 9.5 – 10 The only thing this soundtrack could have done, was taken more opportunities to play certain tracks, one end game track only gets to play for a few minutes and it’s a crime it didn’t get more!
Gameplay 8.5 – 10 All it was missing was that little bit more it had to go for perfect fluidity like II had, and the challenge of II, it is still very fun to master and satisfying to take out the enemies!
Story 9 – 10 This game just hit all the high notes it needed for this important of an occasion, it only needed just a bit more thought to have been completely polished!
Content 7 – 10 This is the only major downside, compared to II, this game has very little extra content, but through free DLC this should be fixed soon!
World Building 9.5 – 10 If it weren’t for a few places being tragically cut short or missing altogether to explore, this game would easily have the best lineup and design!
Gummi Ship 8.5 – 10 The biggest step in the right direction, customization in full force, and the exploration is very fun, if it just had more jet like flight and battles are seamless instead, this would be an aspect I’d even ask detractors of the aspect to try out!

9 – 10

Kingdom Hearts III is amazing, it offers everything it needed to, satisfies as a conclusion for the past build up, and is as fun as the best in the series! It just needs that leg up with content and challenge to be better than II!