Kingdom Hearts 3
Magic and adventure come together to create many worlds in which role players and gamers of all kinds can go to lose themselves in. While we have seen many arise over the years to grab our attention and pull us in each and every time, Kingdom Hearts definitely broke the usual rules. Most magical realms involve adult characters so that the players can relate more to the relationships and developments. So when we were introduced to a world (or worlds rather) where our hero was a kid, we may have been just a little unsure how well it would pull everything off. Add on top of the age of the character the fact that the worlds you visited were all Disney and you might really begin to back off. If you consider yourself ‘hardcore’. Don’t let the cover fool you- this game series definitely broke all pretenses.
The first game of the series introduced us to the three main characters who are seeking to put things right and reconnect to one another: Riku, Sora, and Kairi. At first, everything seems to be pretty straight forward. You play as Sora and the Heartless have taken your friends, so you set out to go and rescue them, but things aren’t that easy. You have a lot of puzzles, trials, and friendships to make to get to your destination. By the end of the first game, it was obvious things were not over. You found Kairi, but Riku was still missing and appeared to have switched sides. You have eight games and a movie to enjoy before hitting this latest. We don’t want to give you any spoilers here, so we will try not to give away too much of what you can expect, while still wetting your tongue.
If you are new to the series, we recommend looking up the order to play them- they did not come out in chronological order. Knowing the story is well worth your time before diving in. There are plenty of players who have put up video’s if you can’t afford all of the series or just would rather catch up by watching. Once you see one though, you may find yourself preferring to play them, we know it was a music video for the first game that made us go ‘nope! We want to do this ourselves!’ and we got our hands on them as quickly as we could to support the next one. We are already holding our breath to see where the story will go, and it hasn’t disappointed yet! So, without doing all of our reviews here in the intro, here are the key parts for you!
- Excellent story
- Great game play
- Easy to learn
- Beautiful soundtrack
- Memorable characters
- Available on multiple platforms
- New worlds introduced
- May seem repetitive to some
- Very few changes to battle system
Most of us are used to the traditional 2D or 2.5D renditions of animated Disney films when it comes to the older worlds, but none of them are presented this way in KH. Instead, the designers fully rendered each world in 3D and presented all new story to the characters with the add-in of Sora. While the same story is repeated in some (Beauty and the Beast, as well as The Little Mermaid, are kind of hard to remix), there are little changes that allow for the new characters and villains to be introduced as players. The animations also present perfect mood depending on what is happening. The lighting is beautiful and you can feel when things are getting darker than expected.
Your battles feel intense and you may find yourself tempted to just lose yourself to exploring just to see what you can find. The realism has deepened by this game as well. The textures are easily notable and you can imagine more easily how things feel for the characters.
Of course, audio is extremely important when it comes to mood setting. Some games that draw in younger audiences, like this one doe, may not always seem to catch the darker moods, but this one does so without any apologies for it. The atmosphere is extremely important to relay any story, but when your characters are young or are tied to cartoons, it becomes even more important to relay the fact that this isn’t your typical ‘happy ending every time’ game. The music definitively promotes this sense. Some characters are bad to start with but are tragic and over time regain a sense of morality. The opposite also occurs throughout the series and there is a need to let the player know that the hearty is changing, and beyond visuals, music is a great way to do so.
Another mistake seen throughout games targeted to a younger audience that games tend to make is to not pull in good voice actors. This series doesn’t fall short when it comes to making the characters easily viewable. The actors portray emotion and substance and do not detract from the deeper content when it comes to the way they interact. You can tell when they have lost their way when they are sure of themselves and even when they are excited. There is no break that comes from someone seeming to not know their lines, or who are just reading from a sheet. We get the full package here, from music to voice. The story will compel you to want to reach the end and see what awaits everyone.
Even older audiences will find themselves entranced and humming some of the music as they move through the game.
The controls aren’t difficult to learn and once you have everything down you likely won’t find yourself struggling. Yes, each world has certain unique controls to its particular spot, but then, you can’t expect to have the same gameplay you have as a two-legged person as you would with a fin or as a four-legged lion. Each Disney world has its own unique set of rules for how things can work. Even going from Aladdin’s world to the world of Tangled or Frozen will have to differ. Genies may not exist in each, and Agrabah has a different landscape then Arendelle. In the end, it is about adapting to each world and what magic is available there.
The Gummi Ships are also their own unique part of gameplay because you don’t just fly them- you have to build them too! There are challenges to meet when flying between worlds as well, and some ships will prove better than others in completing those missions. One may require a bigger more powerful ship, while another will recall as little as you can imagine and to build for speed and maneuverability. Each ship has its best build choices, and while you have blueprints you can follow, you don’t have to build things according to what you have on them. You can design your own, and for us, this was one of the most unique and enjoyable parts of the game outside of the story itself.
For 3 we are introduced to the story of what happened to create the ongoing villain. Instead of giving us some horrendous story, we find out that it was simply a differing of opinions on how the Universe could best be guided to prosper. Two friends sit playing a game of chess and discuss the first Key Blade war. Both feel that its start is shrouded by mystery, but that it began due to the first Key Blade wielders. The two openly discuss what they think the future holds, and then we are transported to our games present.
Sora and his friends were successfully awakened and they have even managed to aide a ‘Heartless’ proving that what most consider as irredeemable is not always so. The group is out to try and rescue the Universe, each in their own way, but Sora has not got everything he needs yet to be at his best. Instead of going with the others, he has to train more and learn how to do everything again. This may irritate those of us who hate redundancy in a series, but things quickly take to the twists and turns we both expect and don’t have a guess what is in store because of.
Sora begins to revisit some of the old worlds, discovering that things have been done to twist the people in them. Some of those he had befriended don’t even seem to truly recall him and are only reminded after a long series of freeing them from the curses they are under. We also learn that Maleficent is back, and she has her own dark agenda to fulfill. Of course, we are not entirely filled in as to what it is exactly she is after, but we know that any time we have to face here there are going to be a lot of twists and turns involved.
Of course, we end up having a friend who eventually becomes lost in the chaos, and we spend a lot of time trying to retrieve those who we have gained along the way. This only deepens the hardship. One of the best parts of this game though could not come into play without it. Many games get us loving on a character or two that we never really get to enjoy to the fullest. (Who hasn’t wanted to play an NPC somewhere along the line?) KH breaks the rules yet again in this regard. We get to not only play as Sora but as Riku as well. This only intensifies the need to see everyone reunited and able to be together again. Since we aren’t going to spoil things, however, we’ll leave our narrative here for now.
The courage to face one’s fears, admit your weaknesses and push on despite the fact it just doesn’t seem to be going your way creates an atmosphere that will have the player begging for that next part all the way to the end. Throughout the series, we have been faced with the fact that nothing is perfect, and even the best of us can often fall short trying to set things right. This third installment doesn’t deviate from this idea either. You won’t always find things going as they should or would if the world were perfect. No character is pure evil, nor are they purely good. All have both light and dark in them, and even when you learn to hate a villain, you’ll find yourself understanding them at one point or another.
This theme of not getting one without the other is a great example of what sets this game apart from others in its genre, and definitely deserves praise for not only how it pulled it off but for the wide audience it hit.
Taking us even further in is the promise of a possible online mode for the game as well, which will have many players simply wanting to keep up on their skills just in case. If there does end up being a co-op or a PVP, most of us are expecting extra levels and abilities.
-Good for all ages