I know this may be a bit late to the game (no pun intended) as it did release in January this year. However, I am only now getting to the end of the game and thought now is as good a time as ever to discuss my thoughts on this game.
Slight disclaimer: I have only ever played Kingdom Heart 1 and 2, so chances are the majority of the characters in Kingdom Hearts 3 and the majority of the story is also very much lost on me. So if I sound like I don’t know everything about the franchise, that is because I don’t.
Do not get me wrong, I LOVE Kingdom Hearts. I love Disney, so the chance to play an action packed RPG game that explores the various Disney worlds is my kind of game.
The worlds in Kingdom Hearts 3 are actually really well done and really immersive. The previous games made the worlds small, usually based around one route that you could take so that no matter what you were always heading in the right direction. The worlds in Kingdom Hearts 3 however are large and interactive: You can actually explore your surroundings and can actually spend quite a bit of time just wandering around the various worlds. It is the stuff dreams are made of!
You can even take selfies! Which can lead to some pretty pictures and funny interactions with the various characters
The combat is also super fun. Granted it is quite a bit of button smashing, but as a player who cannot aim a weapon to save her life, the fact that I can just dance around the arena and spam the buttons makes the game so much more enjoyable. Kingdom Hearts 3 also adds to this by adding new combined moves that allow you to bring classic Disneyland rides into combat: thunder Mountain, the Carousel, Buzz Lightyear’s Blazer Blast, the Mad Tea Cups and more. They may be super overpowered in combat, but they’re so bright and fun it doesn’t really matter. It’s also nice to have a little bit of a change after the usual button smashing we are used to.
You can also go to new worlds that haven’t been featured before, and a lot more focused on Pixar films. You also have new summons, including Ariel, Simba, Wreck it Ralph and Stitch to name a few. The summons also make game play and combat that bit more exciting, and while none of it is overly difficult anyway, it’s just…fun. It’s such a fun game that you almost don’t care about the bad….almost.
The issue I have always had with Kingdom Hearts is the incredibly complicated story. I was with it at first: Bad forces are stealing hearts to bring sadness and anger to the Disney worlds. You – or namely, Sora – is tasked with the job of travelling through the various Disney worlds to banish the evil in them, return everyone’s hearts to them and save the Disney Princess who is currently being held captive by the bad guys so that they can be the vessels of darkness (I have paraphrased slightly, but that is my understanding of the game). Sounds great! Travelling around all the Disney worlds, meeting all of my childhood characters and exploring their worlds to save the day!
The story gets so confusing that I cannot even begin to explain it. I understand that once a person loses their heart, they become a heartless. But their heartless body becomes a nobody. Right, I’m with you there. BUT OH NO. Nobodies can then become somebodies (who tend to become playable other characters as the stories go on), such as Roxas or Namine in KH2. But these nobodies can have their own hearts which…means they aren’t nobodies? But they are someone else’s nobody? That’s as far as I get before I get lost and sadly that is only the beginning.
So. Many. CUT SCENES. Game play seems to last about 30 seconds and then I have to sit through 30 minutes of cut scenes, which only add more and more depth to an already complicated story so much so that I am completed disconnected from it all. Which is also why it has made it so difficult to get through the game: I have watched at least 5 hours of cut scenes, none of which I fully understood due to the story line. Don’t get me wrong, it is very pretty to watch and the cut scenes are clearly well made, but GOOD LORD, GET ON WITH IT. I do not care enough about this story to sit and watch a feature length movie about it all, that usually just makes me even more confused than before. It is really hard to get through the game, when all you want to do is progress and discover new worlds, but for every hour spent on the game you spend 45 minutes of that hour just watching cut scenes.
Sometimes less really is more. Get rid of the majority of the cut scenes, simplify the story that little bit and you would have a winner. Yes there are some die hard fans who lose their mind delving into the intricate details of the story, but for most of us we are here for the fun Disney aspect of it all: The characters are adorable, the game play is great fun and the story (at least at first) is enough to keep you guessing and tells a pretty concrete story. But when your ‘game’ is 90% cut scene, it might be time to rethink whether you are making a game or a movie.