The decade long wait is over, but is it worth it? Is Kingdom Hearts III the sequel we were hoping for?
Well, it depends. The experience the game brings is very much like the one from past titles, the "cringey" dialogue is back in full force as well as everything else you'd expect from a Kingdom Hearts title but it is lacking in some areas that make it a hard sell overall if you aren't already a fan of the series.
Starting off, you can see why Square decided to go for the particular worlds they chose, the visuals in the game have come eerily close to replicating characters from more modern Disney movies. It looks simply amazing and to the point where sometimes I was wondering if a particular scene just wasn't ripped out of the actual movie itself. The actual worlds themselves are also of pretty high quality as well, despite the odd muddy looking textures here and there. Character models also look very nice both in-game and in cutscenes featuring some very nice animations and a multitude of particle effects that enhance moves and scenery.
The music is as great as you would expect featuring both some great new tracks for the new worlds and remixes of some classic themes from Disney movies and a lot of new remixed music from the older titles. The voice acting is a little hit or miss however, some scenes sound good but a few others sound a little on the plain side. Sora is still as oblivious as ever but handled in a much better way, and the banter between him and the Disney duo is as fun as ever, likewise, a lot of the Disney sound-a-likes are pretty decent and do a pretty good job of replicating the original actor and the emotion behind the character.
Kingdom Hearts III's combat is very similar to the previous title in many ways but does improve it in a number of ways. In KH3, the combat retains it's more aerial-based and fast combat tempo but adds a variety of mechanics from older titles, such as Birth By Sleep's Form Changes (with some alterations) and Shotlock - which is a move that lets you lock on to a wide number of enemies as the bar drains and unleashes a special move that now changes as your weapon does and it also has a slightly less "amazing" version of Dream Drop Distance's Flowmotion mechanic - a move designed to let you use special moves based on where Sora has contact with specific environments, like wall hopping will allow you to trigger a slam move against an enemy or using a pillar will allow you to use a quick spinning move.
There are also a number of Commands you can use as you use certain attacks, like for example, you can mix and match normal moves with Firaga and you may get a special command that lets you use Firaza completely free of MP cost. You also have other neat, but less useful moves like Links that let you summon Disney characters such as Ralph, Simba and a few others you unlock as the game progresses, these moves aren't as useful as just using other command moves from experience but still worth using if only for the flashiness. Another really great aspect of the game is how much you can vary your playstyles depending on which Keyblade you opt to use, unlike in past games where you quickly discard older Keyblades, in KH3, you have the option to buff them using materials in the Moogle Shops a great design choice that ensures you can always play the Keyblades you prefer to play.
All of this sounds great, right? Not quite all of it is, there's also one other special command you can utilize that almost break the game and slow the pace down to a halt at times if used - these are called the "Attractions". These are commands you obtain by identifying and attacking an enemy that has a green ring around them. The Attractions are super flashy but very low-risk moves that deal a ton of damage and almost creates a barrier of immunity for you (you still take damage, but at a drastically reduced rate if you are hit while in an Attraction) and can be used to completely cheese against the harder boss fights in the game which brings me to my next low point of the game's combat - the difficulty. Kingdom Hearts III is a very easy game from start to finish, even on Proud Mode. You can essentially clear the entire game without dying a single time pretty effortlessly. Yes, enemies can do some pretty good damage on you if you let them, and some of them can be pretty aggressive, but most of them go down pretty fast, you're going to have a high number of healing items and Cure magic (and some teammates can heal you as well) and you have moves that completely make you invulnerable like Shotlock and some nigh-invincible like the Attractions.
So how about the main attraction to the game? How are the Disney Worlds? Well to put it short, they are all wonderfully done, some better than others but never a dull moment between them... well maybe one of them is the exception, this one being 100 Acre Woods, which was relegated to being just a collection of repetitive minigames. The rest of the worlds, however, are all fantastically and intricately designed. Corona is a very lush and saturated forest with some of the best effects in the game, like for example, using fire magic will singe the grass where it traversed and using Aero in certain places can make water or grass follow the spell's pattern. The Toy Box is a HUGE, 3 story store with plenty to see, a cool gimmick where you can climb in defeated robot toys and pilot them ala mecha style that expands from Andy's house and parkway and just is a joy to play through. The Caribbean world feels like a game within a game as it features some pretty nifty Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag-like ship manoeuvring and combat as it also lets you sail through the whole map finding secrets and exploring islands and much more. While this game has fewer worlds than the previous title, they are of MUCH bigger scale and are better paced overall than KH2's worlds.
So what else is there to do in the worlds? KH3 brings back the usual Treasure Chest collect-a-thon but also has some very neat and new additions, like finding Lucky Emblems. Lucky Emblems are sorta like environment puzzles that you use the game's Camera Feature to register, speaking of which, you can also utilize said camera for extra missions that you can get in the Moogle Shop. These range from taking pictures of cool world landmarks or specific enemies.
So in conclusion, how does the game stack up? Pretty good for the most part with some reservations! The new visuals look gorgeous and so do the particle systems and very expressive characters, the music is as amazing as ever, combat still feels great, possibly the best in the series or dang near close to KH2's at the very least and the worlds featured in the game are a dream come true for longtime series fans. Always wanted to see Toy Story being featured in this series! Unfortunately, the voice acting is kinda hit or miss with a lot of characters coming across as a little flat if not robotic, the Attractions, for the most part, make the game trivial even on the hardest available difficulty (Proud) and the worlds could have used more fleshing out so the movie rehashes don't feel so incomplete. If you are a long time fan of the series like I am, you will undoubtedly love the experience. If this is your newest entry into the franchise, however, a LOT of scenes and events that occur in this game will have next to no impact and make the game that much worse - the story is understandable still as they did a good job explaining terminology and whatnot, but it'll have no impact.
Kingdom Hearts III Review
triffed-1999March 16, 2021
Good game poor soundreply