After 13 years of waiting, the world has finally been given the long awaited 3rd installment of the Kingdom Hearts series, not counting all the side games and re-releases. The franchise known for doing what Disney Infinity failed at, mixing together several of Disney’s famed movie catalog with fun and frantic gameplay and zippers on every part of the outfits. It is also known for it’s rich lore which you need a masters degree in just to coherently explain and understand. Yes it has been a long time coming, and I’m going to review the end of this long and convoluted journey.
I should also mention that I will be reviewing this in parts. I want to really digest every part of the game and enjoy all the moments in it. Rushing through I don’t think is the best way to play it, so consider this more of a journal on my experience. I should also say that I have only played 1 and 2 extensively and dabbled in the first hour of Birth By Sleep. So if I point out something that I think is new, but not really, consider this my apologies. Also, because I need to say this, SPOILERS AHEAD! Because this is more of an in depth review and analysis, major spoilers will be discussed and pointed out. This is one of many warnings I’ll give. So let’s jump into the first 10 hours of my game journey.
So let’s start at the beginning of the game, because that’s the only place it will let you. Before the game menu even pops up you’re greeted with a recap video mixed in with two people playing chess. It’s a nice way to put everything in chronological order since the game is known for having a story that most collegiate scholars have a hard time describing. Once we boot up the game we are greeted with ANOTHER video recapping the games but with less chess playing and more dubstep J-Pop. Once again, it’s good to know the story because it’s confusing. The video ends and you’re given your first mission from Yen Sid. Sora (our hero) has recently succumbed to darkness and has lost most of his powers he’s spent 4-5 games gaining (6 if you count playing as Roxas who is Sora’s Nobody[the empty husk of Sora who game his heart to save another person in the first game, but got it back, but still created this other person]). This is a problem since a group called Organization 13 is reaching their end game to open up Kingdom Hearts to take control of everything. So Yen Sid tasks him with seeing another hero who he has met who has also lost and regained his powers, Hercules. So it’s off to Olympus to start Kingdom Hearts 3 finally after more than a decade of waiting. Oh wait, I forgot to mention, the game’s first level and tutorial are NOT part of Kingdom Hearts 3. You start the game in KINGDOM HEARTS 2.9! I don’t normally rage during games, this moment made me rage.
But on to Olympus and the game’s open. First off, the controls and gameplay are the same as Kingdom Hearts 2, which I really like as that game still controls smoothly. There is one major change in this game from the others that I absolutely love. During fights, certain enemies will have a green circle above them and it will slowly decrease like a timer. If you hit that enemy before the circle disappears you can attack enemies with an Attraction Attack. These range from slamming into enemies in a teacup from the Mad Tea Party, shooting enemies on Buzz Lightyear’s Astro-Blasters and my personal favorite is taking out everyone in a vehicle from Kali River Rapids/Grizzly River Run creating a ride path with water and being able to go back and attack them a second time. All the attractions are covered in lights like they were in the Main Street Electrical Parade and the animations once you trigger them are always fun to watch. Story wise, this time Hades has released the Titans and is trying to take over Olympus. Essentially we are in the climax of the movie, only Hercules has his powers and doesn’t have to get Meg from the River Styx. This was a great level to start off on since every numbered Kingdom Hearts game has a Hercules level, it was a good choice to start on. The level teaches you all about how to play the game, how to defeat certain enemies, exploration and a new jumping mechanic which is okay, but not nearly as cool as attraction attacks. The boss fights have you taking on the Titans. You fight the Rock and Ice Titan at the same time, which is easier than it sounds, but the Tornado Titan is the coolest one to face because it has you flying around to attack him. These can be tough at times, but for the most part it’s more than doable.
After this world, you FINALLY get to start on Kingdom Hearts III. You get to start on either Kingdom of Corona (Tangled) or Toy Box (Toy Story). It’s recommended you do Toy Box first as Corona is a little harder. So I decided to do the recommended route, but took a wrong turn in the Gummi Ship (which is super fun to fly in) and ended up in Kingdom of Corona. This world keeps the aesthetics of Tangled and it translates very well in the Unreal Engine and the main trio don’t look out of place in it sans all the zippers on their clothes. But get used to looking at the color green, because this world is littered with greens and all shades of it. It’s so far the best looking world played in so far. There is also a fun dancing mini game you play when Rapunzel and Flynn make it to the kingdom and Rapunzel is exploring around the town. It’s a really nice world. The story is literally the story of “Tangled,” Flynn steals a crown, get captured by Rapunzel, he takes her to see the floating lights, they fall in love, the end. Except now it starts with Flynn being chased by the heartless and after watching Sora and company beat them, he voluntolls them to help escort Rapunzel and him to the kingdom as they are his sidekicks. It’s a neat set up to work Sora and them into the story in a semi-natural way. It’s also always good to hear Zachary Levi reprise his role as Flynn Rider. Now the bad part of this world is the final boss. After Mother Gothel gets tripped out of the tower and turns to dust, a member of Organization 13 uses her to create a massive heartless boss. And this boss spends most of it’s time running away from you. Of the three final world bosses I’ve play so far, this is one easily the worst of the three and one of my most frustrating bosses of all time. It’s not a hard boss, but the difficulty comes from trying to catch her. It does sour the experience a little for me, which is a shame because the rest of the world is amazing and it’s based on my favorite Disney movies of the last 20 years. But what did help in improving the experience was the keyblade you get for completing the level is really good and has a great final attack attached to it that can obliterate a screen full of enemies.
Now time for the world I originally was going to go to first, Toy Box. The first of two Pixar themed worlds, this has you shrinking down to the size of a toy and to fit into the world, the character models for Sora, Donal and Goofy are now based on toys. The story of this world is that all of the familiar toys and people have vanished with the exception of Woody, Buzz, Rex, Hamm and Sarge and some of his Green Army Men. So it’s a race to try to get everyone back. Unlike the last world, this story does involve Organization 13 more than the Tangled story. A member of the Organization appears throughout the world to taunt our heroes and eventually gets in the head of Buzz who eventually succumbs to the darkness in his heart. Sadly, you don’t fight Buzz Lightyear. But what you do get to fight are several giant toy robots, plush and dolls with varying attack patterns, a mini boss which is a giant creepy doll and a final boss which is a giant flying saucer mech who has different but easy to notice attack patterns in a fair but challenging boss fight. And you can pilot some of the toy robots to make your fights easier and more fun. So as you can probably tell, I liked the combat in this level a lot more than Kingdom of Corona. Enemies are more varied and the bosses in general are better. BUT…I do prefer Corona more for one big reason, the level design in Toy Box is okay and a bit boring at times. It is really cool being able to explore around Andy’s Room and a giant mall as the size and from the perspective of a toy. But it gets pretty repetitive and boring at times. While there are more colors, they’re mostly very muted and not that eye catching. It has a more realistic look than Corona. So while it is more fun, I didn’t find it as enjoyable.
And those are just the levels. I haven’t even started talking about the new keyblade leveling up system, the cooking mechanics to receiving meals to give you stat buffs or the complicated story involving more characters than I can remember the names of. But what I will say is that keyblade leveling up is a much needed feature especially since I like the designs and special attacks of some keyblades more than others and I like being able to use them more often. Cooking is also a lot of fun but I have yet to reach a point in the game where I felt I needed to use the buffs to proceed onward. The story as of now is still very confusing and I’m sure will make sense once I finish the game and have time to process it. But the best thing so far in this game is the Attraction Attacks and so far it has been a very enjoyable game. That’s gonna do it for part one of “I have no idea honestly.” I’ll have the next part up whenever I hit the 20 hour mark. Who knows when that’ll be? I can’t even put out articles theme park related consistently.