Kingdom Hearts is confusing. I know this isn’t a hot take but my lord, there is nothing quite like this. Having played Kingdom Hearts 1 and 2, then 1 again in the HD remaster, I thought I was well ready for the third main game in the series… I was so wrong.
This is where I normally pop a quick overview of the game to help potential players decide if it’s their jam. Despite trying to watch refreshers on YouTube, and the refresher videos in the game, it has turned out that the slew of side games across multiple handheld platforms has contain vast amounts of story. This has left me well in the dust, and yet I still enjoyed this game, though I still don’t understand the bulk of it.
If you are lost in the story, then early cutscenes especially will seem like confusing gibberish. If you are like me then the overarching story isn’t too important. What the game needs to nail is visiting the beautiful Disney worlds, and on that front Kingdom Hearts 3 absolutely delivers.
Whether you are a Tangled and Frozen fan like me, or a Toy Story fan like everybody, the short few hour stints in each world is an absolute blast. Each world individual plot is good enough to be engaging, which is what the game needs, because I want to hack and slash through bad guys with some of my favorite characters in tow. If you can care enough that the general gist is to help each of these worlds out, while a bigger confusing story happens too, then there is more than enough here to justify your time.
The gameplay has Sora slicing through enemies using his keyblade with Goofy and Donald by his side as well as heroes from the world. The gameplay and action are simple, with most of the time spent hitting X. There are some variables like magic and items, but I found I rarely used them because in the heat of battle, navigating the menu was a little too much faff. As your combo counters climb up you can become more powerful for moments, and use special attacks, which are a fun Disney twist.
Most of the special attacks are based around Disneyland events such as flying around in fluorescent spinning Tea Cups, riding a water ride, or flying on a firework into enemies before it explodes. These are outrageously silly. I dug the hell out of them, but some of these attacks showed the weakness in the game’s controls.
Controlling Sora isn’t quite right and feels out of place in 2019.
Early on I got a strong feeling like I was playing a remastered game in the responsiveness. This was at its peak when controlling the camera, which always felt shonky, but so much worse using the fireworks special attack. This one you need to have precise aiming as you travel fast, but I was always battling the camera to have half an idea where I was flying. This isn’t experience destroying, only not quite good enough.
The Jelly Ship is back in action as well. Being significantly more interesting than the previous entries, it’s unfortunately another aspect that feels a little old. You can fly the Jelly Ship around, collecting pickups and entering battles, which is a great idea, but its executions are average, again feeling like it belongs in an older, or low budget game.
What surprised me was how many voice actors were in the game reprising their roles, and how many replacements got scarily close to their originals. The Toy Story world had me most curious because Tim Alan and Tom Hanks have such iconic voices. I personally didn’t notice any issues with Buzz, and could have completely believed that it was Tim Alan, with Woody voiced by Tom’s brother, Jim Hanks. About half the time he does a perfect impression, but other times in heightened scenes, the voice changes too much. To be fair, I am nit picking, and that’s because the whole voice acting cast has been done excellently.
Kingdom Hearts 3 is a flawed game, but boy is it fun. Above average combat and a difficult to understand story for the casual fan, isn’t enough to hold back the joy that can be found here for Disney fans. With the party changing form to fit into the worlds, it’s a game that is a treat to look at, and a whole lot of fun to play.
Released: February 2019
Platforms: PlayStation 4
Developer: Square Enix