When you approach a new Kingdom Hearts instalment such as Kingdom Hearts III, you’re not just loading up a game, you’re entering into an experience that’s truly remarkable…
A rather monumental collision of Final Fantasy and the worlds of Disney-Pixar, each new encounter is as much a new story to get completely lost in as it is an action RPG. Kingdom Hearts III not only fulfils this brief, but goes beyond expectations.
That being said, if you’re unfamiliar with what’s gone before it, you may find the mountains of lore that have grown over the years via all manner of offshoots rather challenging to conquer in this latest entry in the series. But if the general gist of things appeals, then it’s well worth making the effort to catch up. The game actually proves rather helpful in this respect, as long as you’re prepared to sit and take it all in.
A simple plot summation isn’t a simple ask. More or less, as lead character, the powerful swor- erm, “keyblade” – wielding Sora, you and your trusty companions Donald Duck and Goofy set forth once again, traipsing through various Disney domains trying to eradicate the scourge that is bad dude Xehanort’s Organization XIII. Who now? They’re basically harnessing the good of the world to overtake it with darkness, mainly via annoying little creatures known as “Heartless” and “Nobodies”. Obviously they must be foiled. There’s also the matter of a failed exam that prevented Sora from becoming a master keyblade slinger to deal with.
As such you’ll encounter classic Disney baddies such as Maleficent and Pete, as well as world specific ones, along with all manner of bosses of sometimes dizzying scale that, let’s just say, do not wish to be friends with you. Mercifully you have an ever-increasing, ever more powerful arsenal of weapons at your disposal beyond your trusty blade. These include magical spells and combining with your pals for various full-on attacks. Some of these – the theme park-based ones in particular – are so astonishingly captivating that you can forget that you’re fighting and just want to take in the visuals. Take our advice, that’s not the best idea.
As for those worlds, you initially encounter those from Hercules, and variously work through realms based on Toy Story, Tangled, Ratatouille, Disney’s take on Winnie the Pooh, Frozen, Monsters Inc, Pirates of the Caribbean and Big Hero 6. That’s a lot of Disney-Pixar to take in, and the attention to detail is something to behold, from main characters to small, almost Easter egg-like touches.
While it starts out apparently rather simply, Kingdom Hearts III is actually a very deep game. The variables involved in battle, from simple weapon selection to mastering the ability to lock-on to various enemies – with several stations in-between – take some getting to grips with. Then there’s the crafting, and concocting of potions – those looking for an all-encompassing experience are going to love it here.
Those who don’t like story and megatonnes of it, however, may get frustrated at regular play interruptions. Then again, the myriad (often beautiful, if not melodramatic) cutscenes in Kingdom Hearts III are skippable. You may wonder just what is going on at times if you do take the hurried route, but you’ll definitely have a wild time while that big cartoon question mark hovers above your head.
As well as the main game there are several other diversions that unlock on your travels. We don’t wish to ruin any surprises, but rest assured that there’s a lot of value packed into this one gaming experience. Oh alright, we’ll give you one hint: “selfies”.
As you’ve likely gathered, we believe that the long wait for Kingdom Hearts III has been worth it. Like all the very best games, it offers worlds to get yourself completely immersed in – and when these are some of the best of what Disney-Pixar has to offer, well then gawrsh, how can you lose?
Kingdom Hearts III is available now for PS4 and Xbox One.