Kingdom Hearts III From the Perspective of Someone Who Only Finished ‘Birth by Sleep’

With Square Enix‘s recent reveal of the upcoming Kingdom Hearts III ‘ReMind’ DLC, my mixed thoughts for the game came flooding back, and so, I’ve decided to share them with you all.

Now, before we get started, I would consider myself a casual fan of Kingdom Hearts. “Why’s that”, you might ask? Well, I’ve played the first Kingdom Hearts, then Dream Drop Distance, and actually finished Birth by Sleep. Needless to say, I’m not exactly a Keyblade Master like Sora or Mickey.

However, here’s the thing: The mystifying lore of the entire series is what always kept me at least occasionally looking at the series through YouTube videos. Sure, the plot doesn’t make any darn sense, but yet millions of fans who complain about it come back entry after entry. But why? More importantly, what’s with both die-hard and casual fans being “disappointed” in Kingdom Hearts III? With all that said, I do understand where fans are coming from, I mean, heck, even I had a few gripes with the game, and I’m a filthy casual fan.

What I’d like to do here is dissect what a good percentage of you probably thought about the game, and then I’ll share my thoughts on all of it. Obviously, there are major spoilers below…but really, most of you should know what’s happened by now. Without further ado, here we go.

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“Ugh, this story makes no sense!”

To be real, Kingdom Hearts has never made a lick of sense, to begin with, and I’m not going to run through the arching plot. The game simply and cleanly covers some of the major plot points of the series so far. (See what I did there?) Yeah, there are a slew of smaller side plots that are referenced throughout the game that won’t make sense if you haven’t played past entries. But, the great thing about that is there are Kingdom Hearts collection titles that package a ton of the games onto one disc at a relatively inexpensive price! Plus, I was so invested during my time in KH3 that I’ll more than likely pick up the other games to get the full experience.

Now, here’s where I agree with some fans. I know there was a major struggle between Cloud and Sephiroth in Kingdom Hearts 2 that left fans with more questions than answers. They pretty much disappeared, and Sora just sort of walks off without questioning it. I would have liked to see some sort of conclusion to that plot in this game, but the ending did somewhat alleviate my issue (more on that later). While KH3 is no narrative masterpiece, it’s still one of the more intriguing plots of an RPG I’ve personally seen in some time.

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“The combat was SO easy, even on Proud Mode.”

I’ve seen this argument in some of the newer Pokémon entries and this one baffles me. People were quick to judge the overpowered team attacks, attractions, and keyblade changes.

My thing is, no one is forcing you to press triangle. It’s only maybe mandatory to press triangle a few times in the entire game. You can also activate a zero experience ability where you don’t level up, almost making a pseudo-critical mode. Just recently, though, Critical Mode was added so if you really want a challenge, play in that mode instead.

“Where are the Final Fantasy characters?!”

I mostly agree with this. Like I mentioned, we didn’t get any sort of conclusion with the Cloud and Sephiroth clash. Tetsuya Nomura mentioned there isn’t exactly a need for Final Fantasy characters like there used to be. So many of the main characters had to work out their own issues in the game. But he did mention that’s not to say he’s done with Final Fantasy in the world of Kingdom Hearts.

If you’ve watched the secret ending, it’s clear we’re not done with other Square Enix IPs. Sora appears to have ended up in what I believe to be the world of The World Ends with You. Riku somehow also ended up in the realm of Verum Rex, the video game Rex from Toy Story was playing. There weren’t any Final Fantasy connections, but this secret ending alone leads me to believe we’re nowhere close to being done with the Final Fantasy series. Hopefully, we can finally see the conclusion, or continuation, of Cloud and Sephiroth’s struggle. It even opens up the possibility of more characters joining Sora and friends. I personally would love to see a revisiting of Final Fantasy VIII’s world, as it was so heavily involved with time travel. Maybe they’ll even include the world of Bravely Default. At this point, it’s wide open for Nomura to play with and keep us in suspense for future entries.

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“Okay, but some of the main plot points were so unsatisfying and nonsensical. What about Kairi?”

Yup, I’ll give it to you there. Kairi is more or less a useless plot driver and is as useful as a replica dummy. She’s literally worst girl. They had her train to be one of the lights to wield the power of the keyblade. Yet she literally does nothing to help and is obliterated without even trying to fight back.

But really, plot-wise she was the only issue I had with the entire game. Stories involve plots that characters work toward accomplishing whatever the plot point is. In this case, Sora had to defeat the 13 darknesses, which he did, and save Ventus, Roxas, Terra, and Aqua, which he did. Xion coming back was a great bonus too. The story did complete itself, but people are harping over the cliffhangers being unsatisfying. “Like what did Maleficent and Pete need the Black Box for? We don’t know!” Well, cliffhangers are unsatisfying by default. They’re supposed to lead up to new events in a new story. They’re obviously going to be a bigger part of Kingdom Hearts titles involving the Black Box. To think there were people who believed Kingdom Hearts III was the absolute final game is astounding.

“But they had 13 years to perfect all of this!”

Wait, who from Square Enix said that? This game was in development for about five years not 13.

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“Okay, Brock then what’s your personal take on KH3?”

It’s not a perfect game but it is the magical experience I expected. I could go on about all the other complaints people have but those are the ones I wanted to touch on.

I’m a casual Kingdom Hearts fan. That doesn’t mean I can’t appreciate what a game does right especially since I’m not blinded by nostalgia glasses. The fighting was fluid. I wish I saw Cloud. I wish I got to explore different Disney worlds. But, I finally got to really experience what this series is about and now I have the opportunity to dive into it further. I loved seeing Aqua, Ventus, and Terra reunite after watching them be slowly torn apart in Birth by Sleep. I loved seeing the group of Axel, Xion, and Roxas come back together even though I knew next to nothing of their background. This game did a great job of showing power through friendship, as cliche of a JRPG plot driver it was. We’re not close to being done with Sora and friends. And personally, I’m excited to explore this universe further and see what else Nomura has in store for us.

You can criticize games as fans. That means you’re passionate about the world brought before us in these games. However, don’t let elitist views of a franchise tear down your experience of Kingdom Hearts. Play the game without any of those restrictions and appreciate what’s brought before us while constructively showing the team at Square Enix what we’d like to see in the future. And for the record, the opening theme Face My Fears by Skrillex and Hikaru Utada is NOT dubstep, it’s future bass. Sorry had to get that one off my chest. See you guys when I’m 40 for Kingdom Hearts IV or whatever spin-off title we get first.

Kingdom Hearts III is out now on PlayStation 4 and Xbox One. 


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Brock Jensen

Saebyeolbe is the Tom Brady of Overwatch. MOBILE GAMERS ARE STILL GAMERS. Send me stuff [email protected]