Kingdom Hearts 3 (2019)

The wait is finally over...was it worth it? Eh...Not really. In between the 13 years since Kingdom Hearts 2 there has been literally over 17 other games and re releases of the series before they finally got to the actual numerical sequel. In that time, Kingdom Hearts quadrupled down on their dumb original characters “Organization 13” and all the stupidly dumb convoluted story arcs. In this actual sequel, you at least play as the main trio of Sora, Donald and Goofy. There is a large swath of the game that focuses on them, and most of the time the story directly ties into them and trying to fight the Organization.

That being said, the 28 hour long venture really shouldn’t have taken this long. The story wasn’t compelling enough, and the things that drove me to the series  in the first place take back seat to the original characters and their bizarre multiple love hexagons. It’s crazy to see all the cool worlds and ideas that fans have cooked up over the years just go completely to waste.

The Disney part is a large section of this game, but the worlds and characters chosen seem weird and awkward. Using CGI disney movies for almost every single world and a couple repeats just left me confused. One of my favorite parts of the Kingdom Hearts series was that you basically get to experience and live in a disney movie. (Yes they weren’t that huge, but at the time it felt real). With the CG there is less of an artstyle to them and they just become basically generic versions of worlds you could see in any video game. Sure, the worlds are a bit less generic, but honestly, if you look at Frozen’s snow capped mountain, or Tangled's Forest, remove all characters and you wouldn’t be able to tell what game they came from. Even the Caribbean or “San Fransokyo” are cookie cutter islands and cities.

The game just feels very empty and barebones for a game that came out in 2019. If feels like this game was a early PS3 game and they just kept going and tweaking the graphics without actually adding anything since then. It’s a extremely jarring thing to go from any other game to this. Even with the boring story, it still kept me invested for the most part when it came to the cutscenes, they look amazing and the character models are some of the best looking in the business. But the voice acting and writing are sometimes atrocious. I honestly don’t know how it got put out the door. I guess you can chalk it up to “Japanese cultural differences” but man, some of this dialog seems like it was written by children before they learned how to properly converse with another person. The constant stating of names became a point of laughter and could be used as a drinking game.

This is a series that has been around for almost 2 decades, and the core audience has grown up, gotten married and have kids. The game and the writing should also grow up, but it hasn't. Sitting there hearing this characters who are at this point at least late teenagers spouting lines like “No, the heart will conquer evil” and “as long as they live in my heart, then they’ll always be with me” it's a cheesiness that should be a tongue and cheek line at the very least, but it is played as ernest as can be. It’s very odd, awkward, and eye roll inducing, that made me grab my phone anytime Donald, Goofy or Mickey wasn’t on screen.

The combat is something that I do feel needs to be talked about, since it’s been over a decade since I played the last game in the series, I don’t remember the combat very well, but I do remember enjoying it. I did however LOVE the combat in this game, the various keyblades, being able to use up the three in a loadout, the transformations, the 3 tiered loadout of magic shortcuts and the summons and standout  attractions made the game come alive in a way that I forgot the series could be taken. This is what I remember loving about the series. Good ol’ hack and slash RPG lite gameplay with some sprinkling of magic from the Final Fantasy series.

The Attractions are easily the greatest addition to the series, once enough damage has been dealt, and your combo has multiplied enough, you have the opportunity to pop your Attraction meter. Based on your surroundings, you unleash a huge Electrical Light Parade version of several rides from a theme park. The Attractions are: Roller Coaster, Tea Cups, PIrate Ship, River Rafting, Carousel and the Buzz Lightyear Blasters. They are insanely fun and give you so much damage to your enemies. In a roughly 20-30 second chunk they don’t wear out their welcome ever. In fact I wish I was able to use them more, the only gripe would be that I wish there was more variety. They do become old near the end of the game, wanting something different.

The summons were a big part of my memory, but this game only had 4. I used each one once and never again, they just didn’t seem all that fun, nor did they do THAT much damage, that would make me want to use all my mana. I mainly kept my mana saved for healing myself and my party members.

All in all Kingdom Hearts 3 would have been an amazing game back in 2014/15 when it should have been released. Holding out for whatever reason and releasing it now in 2019, it shows major age and time has not been very kind to the formula. I enjoyed going back to the universe, but I could have done without the original story and characters, we all know the reason the series is popular is because it was a blending of the Disney and Final Fantasy universes, having them at the rear and focusing on Organization XIII is not welcome by anyone. If you have been eagerly awaiting the resolution of 2 and hoping it just kinda picked up from there without paying attention to everything else, you will be disappointed. If you skipped everything else and just cared about the main 3 games, you will be lost at some story points, but honestly that’s the best way to play these games, come for the Disney and Final Fantasy, leave everything else in the graveyard where it belongs.