Operation Backlog Completion 2024
Feb 112019
 

We’re here at last.

Kingdom Hearts III came out on January 29, and I dove into immediately. Yesterday, I reached the end.

I know there’s a lot of division among the fanbase right now because of it, but as far as I’m concerned, Kingdom Hearts III is (almost) everything I wanted.

It’s not a perfect game, but let’s step back and take this one piece at a time.

Like I mentioned when I first started playing, Kingdom Hearts finally has a solid sense of exploration again. Some worlds are more linear, but most are massive worlds with lots of places to explore. Several of the Disney worlds have new stories instead of rehashing the movie plots, and they were a joy to explore.

They felt so much better than the Disney worlds in any Kingdom Hearts game since the original, pretty much.

The only disappointments for me in terms of the worlds are that you can’t explore more of Twilight Town, and that Arendelle is… handled weirdly. I feel like the Frozen team must have put restrictions on them so they couldn’t influence the plot, because that whole world felt odd to me (though still enjoyable).

Click for Kingdom Hearts 3 world spoilers
I also wish worlds like Radiant Garden and the Realm of Darkness had been full worlds to explore. With all the Realm of Darkness that had been created for 0.2, I was surprised there wasn’t even a small exploration section. As for Radiant Garden, seeing it in cutscenes was great, but I wanted to actually go there.

Meanwhile, Scala Ad Caelum deserves to be an actual world to explore too. I need to see more of that place.

Speaking of exploration, the new gummi ship system is amazing and I hope they keep it for future games.

I always hated the gummi ship sections. I was actually disappointed to learn they were returning in Kingdom Hearts III. But this new system, where you actually get to fly around and travel to worlds and find puzzle spheres and only get into (most) battles if you seek out missions? This was fantastic!

I had fun with the gummi ship for the first time, and I actually looked forward to flying through new areas.

Now, when it comes to combat, I don’t care a whole lot. I’m in it for the story much more than the combat. But I did appreciate that while there’s a ton of stuff like attractions, Keyblade transformations, some Flowmotion, etc., it didn’t feel overwhelming like all the mechanics in Dream Drop Distance.

So it’s about time we talked about the story.

Wow.

I’ve seen people disappointed in the story, and I just don’t understand. The pacing is a little off, perhaps, and it would have felt smoother with a midpoint story event… but the cutscenes after each Disney world are fantastic, and the story progression did exactly what I’d hoped it would do.

Click for Kingdom Hearts 3 spoilers
First, I’d subscribed to the theory that they would use Replica bodies for characters like Roxas, so when I saw the game being steered in that direction, I was thrilled.

Next, I was also convinced they couldn’t let that “vessel” line from 358/2 Days go unused, so I nearly screamed in delight when I saw a small Keyblade wielder among the 13.

Finally, above all else, VEXEN. Okay, I’m a big Vexen fan. And I know he has more fans. But… he’s not a very popular character. I’d resigned myself to the disappointment that he’d probably be a background character, even as I secretly hoped he’d be a good guy only pretending to serve the Organization who would ultimately provide Replica bodies for Roxas & co…

…and Kingdom Hearts III went above and beyond to deliver. Part of me still can’t believe that Vexen got that much screentime and such a good role. The scene with him and Demyx had me laughing out loud.

Even as I was approaching the later parts of the game, I’d already decided that unless the story fell to pieces at the end, it was going to be one of my top Kingdom Hearts games for sure.

Then I reached the late-game/end-game stuff and it was just one amazing scene after another. Yes, most of the plot was saved for the end, but this time it lasted long enough to not feel like an avalanche of plot points. The only thing that really doesn’t sit well with me about the story is that they’ve seemingly retconned a certain character’s timeline.

Click for Kingdom Hearts 3 spoilers
Young Xehanort in Dream Drop Distance hadn’t started training as a Keyblade wielder yet, but the Xehanort in the chess scenes seems younger than him and has silver eyes, so… retcon? :/

In general, I loved everything that was happening. It went crazy places I didn’t expect, and then it came back to fulfill nearly everything I’d hoped for. There are some loose ends tied to the mobile game, but that just makes me more excited to see where the series is going from here with the Dark Seeker Saga concluded.

I also really loved the character portrayals. To my surprise, I found myself really enjoying Larxene as a character. I never cared for her too much, but she had some great lines that voiced a lot of my own questions and thoughts.

There were so many wonderful character moments in this game, along with a lot of little moments that made it all the more emotional.

Now, my most treasured theory did not come true… it really, cruelly did not come true, but what they did instead was so wild I’m completely on board with it.

Click for major Kingdom Hearts 3 spoilers
If you talked to me about my theories before Kingdom Hearts III, you’d know the one thing I had my heart set on was that KH3’s Young Xehanort would have time traveled from a point after he began training, would learn that his future self killed Eraqus, and then would change sides and be redeemed due to his friendship with Eraqus, only to ultimately return to his own timed doomed to grow up into Master Xehanort.

And instead, Young Xehanort managed to be the most irredeemable, unrepentant Xehanort of them all, wow.

…but all those pieces I saw lining up to redeem Young Xehanort were instead used for Master Xehanort at the very end. His friendship with Eraqus redeemed him and their spirits departed together.

That’s insane and I love it. I might even like it better than my version.

While we’re talking about characters, I wasn’t thrilled with Master Xehanort’s new voice. It didn’t do it for me at all. And certain characters not being voiced make their scenes rather awkward… but those are minor quibbles.

Finally, the epilogue dashed yet another one of my favored theories, but made it the next best thing. I knew something was going on there, and I’m excited to see where this goes.

Click for major Kingdom Hearts 3 spoilers
I thought Xigbar was the Master of Masters. I hoped he at least had a connection to him. Well, yes, quite a solid connection there…

And the secret ending… is also completely insane and I can’t wait to see what the next saga will be like.

Click for major Kingdom Hearts 3 spoilers
Shibuya?? And possibly TWEWY Shibuya, at that?! Is Sora dead and playing the Reaper’s Game?! What’s going on???

There’s probably a lot more I could talk about when it comes to Kingdom Hearts III, but this is already a long review, so it’s time to wrap things up.

I loved my time with Kingdom Hearts III. Despite a few missed opportunities, it did almost everything I hoped it would and in some spots went beyond my wildest dreams. It was a fantastic game and I can’t wait for the next saga to begin.

Now if only I could play KHUX without all the mobile game stuff…

And since I did not get my playable flashback… can we please have that prequel?

---
If you want posts like this delivered straight to your inbox, enter your email in the box below to subscribe!

  One Response to “Kingdom Hearts III is a Wild, Emotional, Exciting Ride”

  1. […] Hearts III was a wild ride and I loved it. I wrote a review over on my personal blog, but now it’s time to look back through our Kingdom Hearts theories […]

 Leave a Reply

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>