Kingdom Hearts isn’t just any video game franchise, it’s a series overflowing with lessons. It taught me that life is about balance, passion takes you further than you could ever dream, and distance between friends doesn’t mean distance between hearts.
For those anticipating Kingdom Hearts 3, it’s only natural to feel a little wary about how great the game is going to be, especially since it took more than a decade to come out. So for all those still on the fence, never fear.
The Game Mechanics Have Something For Everyone
After the basic physical attacks, we’re introduced to magic. One of the first two magic abilities we learn is the power of water. I wasn’t too impressed with it. It’s like you’re Katara when she first learned how to waterbend, but I’m sure it gets a lot more powerful. After all, you start off with first tier magic, and I’ve tasted a bit of the more powerful magic spells. With those, everything in your grasp transforms into ash, charged debris, drenched trash, or windswept heaps.
Not only is magic cool, the weapons are just as improved. If you thought Kingdom Hearts 2’s drive forms were epic, check out Kingdom Hearts 3’s keyblade transformations! Each keychain you acquire throughout the game gives Sora the ability to transform the keyblade into something new. There’s one that allows you to use KH2 abilities, one that transforms into a rapid-fire gun and eventual rocket launcher, one that transmutes the keyblade into a hammer, etc. These transformations are fluid, and you can even choose three keyblades to switch between mid-battle.
But wait, there’s more.
For all those Disney Park fanatics, KH3 has you covered, too. Attraction Flow allows Sora to summon Disney Park rides (you read that right) to combat the baddies. So, you could be fighting a titan from Hercules and take him down with a roller coaster ride! Though some rides are a bit disorienting, it’s imaginative and fun to call upon your favorite classic Disney amusement park ride in battle.
Flowmotion, which sounds similar to Attraction Flow but is far from it, is probably my least favorite ability. It’s where Sora can use certain areas to jump off from and land a powered attack. It takes some getting used to, and feels a lot different from when it’s used in Dream Drop Distance, but if you’re able to stick the landing, it creates devastating attacks.
Similar to abilities in Birth by Sleep, KH3 stacks whatever magic or keyblade attack you choose to use. So if you continuously hit an enemy with Blizzard, a prompt on the left hand side of your screen will pop up with the Blizzara (second level Blizzard spell) command, which unleashes a more powerful swell of ice and chaos. Magic, definitely more powerful magic, even affects the environment. With any Blizzard spell, you can glide along the ice streams just shot from your keyblade.
There’s so much more to KH3, including calling on aid from your friends (sort of like summons), the lockshot ability (basically you slow down time, aim, and shoot at enemies), and so much more. As the game developers have been hinting at, this game connects all previous games, so you may want to prepare yourself for the battle options.
The Story Will Give You All The Feels
For those worried about Kingdom Hearts’ tangled storyline, you have a legitimate right to be worried. Kingdom Hearts 3 connects not only gameplay across the entire series but also (you guessed it) story. And everything is important in this one. Things I didn’t think they’d bring up, they brought up.
Now saying that, it still shouldn’t deter you from picking up a copy. There are too many people out there saying you shouldn’t play KH3 if you haven’t played the others, but I say that’s balderdash. (I’ve always wanted to use that word.) Sure, you’ll have a difficult time deciphering exactly what’s going on, but there are YouTube videos explaining KH lore out there. Besides, though you’ll be perplexed for…a healthy chunk of the first part, they do an all right job of explaining as they go, and if you’re okay with not knowing everything and the initial crushing confusion, then you should be fine. That being said, if you’re able to play all the games, it’s definitely worth it.
What shines in KH3 is something that was best explored in KH1, the fact that Disney worlds matter! Indeed, while some worlds follow their Disney movie plots, others take place after or around the time of the movie. In this game as well, Disney characters matter to the plot and we see a focus on the (new!) Princesses of Heart again.
The dialogue is also improved from previous installments (or maybe that’s just my excitement talking), and characters are able to interact with you and the world.
What’s also interesting is that you’re able to take photos (and selfies) along the way. Characters tailor their stances when in front of the camera! Technology is much more prevalent, whether Sora is okay with that or not, and it immerses the player in the world. What’s also amazing is that between load screens you see one of the characters posting a picture of something on their social media and they include hashtags! HASHTAGS!!
Even though I haven’t finished the game, I can already tell that it’s much darker than previous titles. It focuses on the concept that light cannot exist without darkness and vice versa. This is something that’s strung throughout the entire series, it’s ramped up to full force in this one. What’s truly troubling though is that the antagonists prod Sora consistently, and several times the player can actually see the shadowy cracks this journey has created in the precious cinnamon roll. Not to mention that only a few hours in I cried, so you can imagine the impact this story is going to have. When you pick up your controller and fire up your console to play KH3, just remember your tissue boxes.
The Visuals Are Stunning
Imagine you’re wandering outside on a hiking trail and you get to the end of a shadowy tunnel only to emerge onto the most speculator sunlit expanse you’ve ever seen in your entire mortal life. The world’s beauty sings. It’s been reborn.
That’s what Kingdom Hearts 3 feels like. It’s a rush of vivid colors and impressive detail throughout. Heck, the opening for KH3 had me hyperventilating. Even the cutscenes are detailed and show characters’ pores and lip wrinkles!
Instead of taking the realistic approach to visuals, KH3 uses a much more cartoon-friendly filter. When Hades appears, he leaves a trail of what looks like hand drawn flames behind him, and the 3D Disney worlds look almost identical to the movies.
Not to mention that in-game visuals are just as stunning. Magic makes my eyes profusely bleed in the best way possible! The characters’ new outfits are also fashionable (plaid is in, guys) and the worlds are detailed down to the foamy Herc dolls you can literally kick around the floor.
There’s still so much to cover and I haven’t completed it yet, but Kingdom Hearts 3 is a spectacular game filled with Disney, magic, and a heaping dose of friendship. Should you be worried about how great of a game it is? No, you should be concerned with getting your hands on it.