Kingdom Hearts has been a beloved RPG, Role Playing Game, series for over a decade. A collaboration between Disney and Square Enix it features worlds and characters from various Disney films and Final Fantasy games that you can interact with throughout the course of the story and even team up with some of them. While there have been numerous titles on both mainstream and handheld consoles it has been a few years before Kingdom Hearts 3 was released and the xehanort series conclusion could finally play out. But, was Kingdom Hearts 3 worth the long wait and day one purchase?
Throughout the Kingdom Hearts series there have been numerous features that allowed for customisation. You could equip your party with weapons, armour, accessories and items to aid in battle as well as your favourite spells, items and summons to the shortcut menu making battles easier and more streamlined. Unlocked abilities can also be equipped to provide a more unique experience. However abilities cost AP to equip so you would generally have to swap out old abilities to equip a new one if you don’t have enough AP.
These features made a comeback in Kingdom Hearts 3 as well as some brand new customisation features. The first new feature to take note of is that you can now equip up to three Keyblades which can be used for various battle situations. This gives the player more choice in Keyblades which they can utilise depending on their personal preferences.
Keyblades can also be upgraded through the use of collectable materials. Once this feature has been unlocked the player can visit any Moogle shop and upgrade their Keyblades to make them more powerful. This means that early game Keyblades can still be viable options rather than them just being discarded when the player receives a new Keyblade.
In previous Kingdom Hearts games more powerful spells replaced the weaker variant whenever the player obtained them. While this was useful as it gave players more powerful spells for later game battles the MP cost for these spells was usually pretty high limiting their use. In Kingdom Hearts 3 however the player retains the older variants of the spells even when they receive more powerful variants. This gives players more flexibility when it comes to spells. Weaker variants can still be used and even equipped in the shortcut menu for less MP consumption.
The shortcut menu which has been a staple to the Kingdom Hearts series now has multiple pages which means that more spells, items and summons can be added to it giving the player more quick options that they can utilise in battle. Spells, items and summons can be rearranged so that favourites are at the top and easier for the player to access.
The final new customisation features is that equipment such as accessories now have abilities that characters can utilise so long as they have these accessories equipped.
Combat in Kingdom Hearts 3
Like its predecessors Kingdom Hearts 3 uses active time combat with a scrollable menu that players use to attack, cast spells, use items and summon characters to aid in battle. The battles happen in real time where the player can jump, block and dodge as they are selecting their actions. There is also the new option to “wait” giving the game a more traditional turn based style of battle. While this feature does give players more time to plan out their actions they can’t attack or evade when this option is active. Players can however switch between these two options in the options menu.
Kingdom Hearts 3 allows for more than two teammates in the active fight. This means that rather than swapping out teammates in favour of preferred characters players can keep everyone in their party in active combat. With more teammates battles can become much easier.
There is a new type of transformation state within Kingdom Hearts 3. This is known as the Formchange which is the spiritual successor of the Drive Form from Kingdom Hearts 2. Formchange is linked to the currently equipped Keyblade, this means that the Formchange varies depending on the Keyblade in hand. Some are attack based, while others are more magic based. Formchange uses the Birth by Sleep system of using abilities to power up the form allowing them to use a unique attack or even change combat styles rather than the drive bar from Kingdom Hearts 2.
Another new feature is Grand Spells, these reward magic users by granting them the ability to cast powerful spells with no cost to their MP. The type of Grand Spell that can be cast depends on the type of spells used. If the player uses fire spells then the Grand Spell would be fire based.
The Shotlock attack from Birth by Sleep makes a return in Kingdom Hearts 3 giving players more ranged combat capabilities. It functions in pretty much the same way, players can target multiple enemies and at the cost of the focus bar can launch powerful ranged attacks that can hit multiple enemies at once. Like the Formchange the Shotlock is linked to the Keyblade and can vary.
Flowmotion also makes its return allowing players to grip columns and use them to attack or boost their jump. Flowmotion has been refined so that it isn’t so easy to abuse, like the Infinity Jump in Dream Drop Distance.
Abilities with Donald and Goofy is no longer linked to MP as it is in previous games. Instead they are automatically shuffled into combos. Commands will randomly appear from your teammates allowing you to do heavy hitting attacks with no cost to MP.
Links which are the summons in Kingdom Hearts 3 allow players to summon a character at the cost of all their MP. In exchange players are temporarily invincible and can do heavy amounts of damage.
Another new feature in Kingdom Hearts 3 is Attractions. Striking a marked enemy gives players the ability to summon a Disney ride to perform powerful attacks on enemies. Most of the time it’s random but sometimes certain rides are scripted to appear. When an attraction is summoned the player is either near invincible (takes reduced damage) or completely invincible depending on the ride. Attractions can be used to make otherwise difficult fights easier.
Story and Worlds
As were about to start going in to reviewing the story we must warn you that there will be slight spoilers ahead, if you don’t want to ruin things for yourself skip this segment.
Kingdom Hearts 3 is the final chapter of the Ansem saga clearing up the plotlines revolving around the battle of Sora and Xehenort. It is a satisfying conclusion to the series, however the storyline might be daunting to those who are new to the series. Kingdom Hearts 3 comes with a series of movies that recap the story so far. So new comers and even veterans of the series can get an idea of the story or refresh their memories of the story without having to play on all of the previous titles in the series.
The worlds in Kingdom Hearts have always been a mixed bag. Some are quite enjoyable and fun to explore, while others tended to be more tedious. This hasn’t changed in Kingdom Hearts 3.
The worlds in Kingdom Hearts 3 have a much bigger scope than in previous games. The graphical capabilities of more powerful consoles make passing through different zones within worlds more seamless with minimal loading screens in between.
A useful new feature that has been added is the ability to travel between save points whilst on world. When players access a new save point they have the option to travel to other known save points within the world. This feature enables players to quickly travel to where they need to get to without having to traverse through the world again or leave and come back via the world map.
The worlds come in two categories: Kingdom Hearts worlds and Disney worlds. Kingdom Hearts worlds are worlds created specifically for Kingdom Hearts and are used in the game’s main plot. These worlds are usually populated by characters created for the series with a few Disney characters.
Disney worlds are more based around the Disney films which incorporate the Kingdom Hearts characters into it. Some Disney worlds however will have their own plots which either take place before, after or parallel to the film plot.
While most worlds are fun and interesting there have been some that have stood out to us for good or bad reasons. So here is our favourite world and our least favourite world and our reasons as to why we chose them.
While the worlds had some interesting designs to them the world that stood out as our favourite was the Kingdom of Corona which is the world of the Disney film Tangled. The world’s design is beautiful with lush green forests, dark eerie caves and even the city of Corona itself. The overall aesthetic and plot are very faithful to the film where even some of the cutscenes look like they’ve been taken directly from the film itself.
Sora, Donald and Goofy fit into the plot seamlessly as Flynn’s “sidekicks” to guide Rapunzel to the city to see the lights. Flynn and Rapunzel are fun teammates with their team attack being both strong and comical. There is even a fun segment where you can traverse over chasms with Rapunzel using her hair. The main villain of the world is of course Mother Gothel who behaves like her film counterpart with the only difference being that she was given the power of darkness to complete her goal. The cutscenes are fun and comical to watch making you fall in love with the characters over again.
The only downside to this world is the dancing minigame. The premise behind it is you dance with as many people as possible and press the buttons corresponding to the colours of the circles to gain combos. You can even perform a big dance called the Sun dance for even more combos. While this minigame sounds fun in theory randomly changing camera angles and not so responsive button inputs make what’s supposed to be a fun minigame more of a chore.
However compared to everything else the world has to offer the minigame can easily be overlooked. The Kingdom of Corona is a beautiful and fun world to explore.
Least Favourite World
Like in all Kingdom Hearts games Kingdom Hearts 3 has worlds that for whatever reason don’t quite seem to hit the mark. In this case it is the Toybox world, a world based around Toy Story. While the world does have an interesting design and the idea of exploring it from a toy’s perspective is interesting there are so many drawbacks to this world which very easily override the good points.
Rather than being based around one of the three Toy Story films, the Toybox tries to incorporate the main plot into it with the premise that the world is actually a fake created as an experiment by one of the big bads to see if toys had hearts. This plot felt very forced and some of the key toy characters were missing like Mr Potato head, Slinky, Jesse and Bullseye.
The plot mainly consists of going backwards and forwards trying to rescue kidnapped toys. This made the plot something of a bore and a real drag to get through. Due to the nature of the world’s plot there is no big bad at the end but rather a random giant heartless, similar to wonderland from Kingdom Hearts 1.
This suggests that they didn’t have any ideas of a villain even though there were a couple of good choices like Emperor Zerg, Stinky Pete and even Lotso. It would’ve been possible for one or more of these villains to be incorporated into Toybox.
Kingdom Hearts prides itself on having an atmospheric soundtrack with each piece being specifically chosen to fit their perspective world. Most of these choice work well adding to the fun experience of the world. Toybox’s music is a remixed Randy Newman’s “you’ve got a friend in me” on repeat, which while in small doses is fun, turning the daunting 3 hour plus task of dragging yourself through the plot all the more dull.
Possibly the worst thing about this world is the Gigas gimmick. While at first riding around in a giant mech and defeating enemies seems like fun at first it becomes boring and tiresome very quickly as every other fight within the world involves these Gigas which due to it being an early world where characters are low levelled means that the only viable way to defeat them is to get hold of another Gigas. Another annoying thing about this gimmick is that it is necessary to complete puzzles to progress with the story. Such as using a mech to move cubes around.
This world might seem interesting at a first glance as you get further into it the cracks begin to show making this world a real chore to get through. A sad result as Toy Story is one of our favourite series of films.
Gummy Ships and Minigames
There are numerous minigames each with varying controls and requirements. Completing these minigames can net you extra rewards in the form of new abilities, materials, items and ingredients. Some minigames are fairly simplistic and fun such as cooking with Remy. Others are a little more complex and at times difficult like the dancing minigame.
However there are two in particular that stand out above the others: The Gummy Ship which is a staple of the Kingdom Hearts series, and the Ship combat in the Pirates of the Caribbean world.
In Kingdom Hearts 3 the Gummy Ship segments are free roaming as opposed to being on a rail. This allows players the opportunity to explore the vast space between worlds. Players can explore for materials, destroying asteroids and activating treasure spheres. Players can also engage in battles whilst avoiding others if they choose to. However engaging in battles gives the opportunity for players to win more Gummy Ship parts.
The familiar Gummy Ship customisation is back, you can add new weapon Gummy parts on to existing blueprints or build an entirely new Gummy Ship using Gummy Ship parts. There is also a new level up system which makes your ship more powerful and even unlocks certain things like side Gummy ships that aid you in battles.
The Gummy Ship segments are used to travel to new worlds that haven’t been visited yet. However once players have visited a world at least once they can just travel straight to that world. But players can visit any Gummy Ship areas at any time after they’ve accessed them.
In the Pirates of the Caribbean world you receive a ship that you can use to traverse the world and enter a unique combat situation with other ships that you come across. For those who have ever played Assassin’s Creed Black Flag they’ll be familiar with the ship’s combat system as it runs on very similar controls. You can engage enemy ships in ship to ship combat where you use your cannons to deal damage. Or you can board ships and defeat enemy crews yourself.
The ship can also be used for world exploration, it can be used to reach smaller islands in the world allowing you to search for treasure and is easily accessible to the player. On top of that the ship is also fully upgradable by collecting white crabs allowing you to upgrade the ship and its weapons. The ship is a fun and unique way to explore a world.
Kingdom Hearts 3 Review - Conclusion
Kingdom Hearts 3 is a combination of all the good parts that made up the Kingdom Hearts series with some refinements and a few new added features sprinkled on top. With the 150+ gameplay hours of the main story, exploration and completion players can get from it, it was worth the long wait and the day one purchase.