Kingdom Hearts 3 Review
It’s been almost 14 years since a main Kingdom Hearts game has been released. Fans have been clamoring for Square Enix to finally finish the first arc of the series, and after all the spin-offs with peculiar naming conventions, they finally released Kingdom Hearts 3 on January 29, 2019.
Does the newest game in the series live up to the hype? Let’s find out.
The graphics in Kingdom Hearts 3 are superbly done, with visuals so stunning that you might stop for a minute to look in awe at the gorgeous landscapes of each world. The character models are also given an upgrade. Their movements are more free-flowing and their faces more expressive than in previous installments.
Some of the worlds in Kingdom Hearts 3 are now full of civilians walking, standing, or interacting with each other in several places. This is a huge improvement over the previous worlds which were hollow or empty.
The visuals shown during combat are jaw-dropping. Magic attacks like Water make even forms of liquid look like they could cause major damage. Besides the stunning magic attacks, there are also vibrant attraction attacks which represent popular Disney theme park rides as special weapons or summons.
Speaking of combat, the gameplay in Kingdom Hearts 3 has been enhanced. Though, there are some gameplay elements from the previous games absent in KH3. The Keyblade formchange system replaces the forms found in Kingdom Hearts 2. This new system allows Keyblades to transform into different kinds of weapons, expanding Sora’s arsenal from its single sword-like weapon.
Besides the attraction attacks and formchanges, Sora also has access to Link Summons. These are more powerful than normal summons, as characters have been given different powerful elements to damage enemies. For example, Simba is imbued with the power of fire while Ariel has water to strengthen her in battle. Also, you can now control the summon’s movements and choice of attack with a press of a button. This makes combat less random than before.
The AI in the game has also been improved. Goofy is now more reactive to enemies while Donald’s healing abilities are more reliable than before.
The downside to the game’s combat mechanics is that you can’t choose which special attack you will use once they become available. You have the choice to change their order from “Newest First” to “Oldest First” in the Options menu, but you still can’t pick the middle one in the order. Although this is a small gripe in Kingdom Hearts 3’s impressive gameplay, we hope that this will be improved upon in future patches.
In terms of Kingdom Hearts 3’s story, it is by far the simplest plot in the series. Sora has to regain his powers, lost during the events of Kingdom Hearts 3D: Dream Drop Distance. Meanwhile, Riku sets on a quest to find the seven guardians of light. For newcomers, Square Enix has provided a glossary menu to read before venturing further in the story. However, we recommend that you play the other games first by buying Kingdom Hearts: The Story So Far, a collection of all games before Kingdom Hearts 3.
Despite being simple, the story itself leaves more questions at the end of the game, which implies that there will be more Kingdom Hearts games to come. We just hope that the next game won’t come out after another 10 years.
Kingdom Hearts 3 ‘s side content include the Gummi Ship and the mini games.
Gummi Ships are Sora, Donald and Goofy’s main mode of transportation as they travel across the various worlds in the game. Gummi Ships are also used to take on missions and battle Heartless inhabiting space. Players can customize and upgrade Gummi Ships using Gummi Blocks which are either obtained or purchased in the game. A new element added to Gummi Ships is a unique stat called “Rolling”. This allows the Gummi Ship to do a quick barrel roll or spin to dodge enemies or change its direction quickly.
Apart from allowing players to build their Gummi Ship from scratch, players now have the option to build them using blueprints. These can be acquired through missions such as the “Endymion” among others. The Gummi Ship built from this blueprint is actually a nod to Square Enix’s “Einhander”, a side-scroller shooter game released on the first PlayStation.
There are a variety of mini games in Kingdom Hearts 3. These games are integrated into the main story and can be played freely after they are unlocked in the story. These mini games include:
- Classic Kingdom – a set of mini games that feature a retro design and simple gameplay. They can be played on the Kingdom Hearts Union Cross (KHUx) mobile game as well. Achieving a high score in KHUx allows players to obtain the keyblade Starlight in Kingdom Hearts 3.
- Cuisine – Cuisine is a cooking mini game that lets players create various dishes that temporarily boost Sora’s stats. The mini game can be accessed upon arriving in Twilight Town and bringing certain ingredients to Little Chef.
- Frozen Slider – A snowboard mini-game that can be played in Arendelle.
- Flash Tracer – A mini-game accessed in San Fransokyo where players collect rings of Data in a time-attack style running game.
- Gummiphone Photo Missions – Kingdom Hearts 3 Photo Missions require the player to shoot pictures of various events and scenes to earn rewards.
- Flantastic Seven Mission – A series of seven unique mini games which can be initiated in the various worlds. These mini games can be played by talking to the unique Flan hiding in the specific world.
- Fruit Shot Mini Game – A fruit-themed mini game that strongly resembles classic arcade game Puzzle Bobble.
- Verum Rex: Beat of Lead – Verum Rex: Beat of Lead is a first-person shooter mini-game in the Toy Box where players fight hordes of mechanized enemies while piloting a robot.
- Festival Dance – Festival Dance is a mini-game in the Kingdom of Corona where Sora must dance by following and connecting specific moves to achieve a high score.
The Gummi Ship and mini Games in Kingdom Hearts 3 add variety to the game’s experience by keeping the players busy with other interesting activities found in each world. This side content rewards trophies and rare items to motivate players to spend time clearing them.
Despite being simple, the story itself leaves more questions than answers at the end of the game, which implies that there will be more titles in the series. We just hope that the next game won’t come out after another 10 years.
Kingdom Hearts 3 is gorgeous, exciting, and heart-warming. The gameplay provides a perfect balance in difficulty where it is neither unfair nor too easy. The visuals give the worlds and characters more life, and the story leaves you wanting more especially with a post-launch DLC currently in the works.