Since 2002, Kingdom Hearts has been a pop culture icon. Directed by long-time Final Fantasy artist, director, and designer, Tetsuya Nomura, the series combines familiar themes with beloved Disney worlds. What is now a thirteen part story, just released its most awaited title—Kingdom Hearts 3. The numbers may seem a bit off, but this is only the third primary game installment—with the side stories, prequels, and mobile games sprinkled in between. Read about why you should care about these games here.
As a fan since the beginning, the handheld titles (Nintendo Gameboy Advance, DS, 3DS, and Sony PSP) did not satiate me. While it was exciting to learn more about the story, my heart was always with the main protagonist, Sora, and his friends. So after a thirteen year wait since the release of Kingdom Hearts 2, I was eager to jump into a new adventure with my favorite plucky hero. Just from the video leading to the start screen, my attention was grabbed and I admit I got goosebumps when choosing “New Game.” And from then on in, they hardly went away as I was entranced by every moment of the story.As both a Kingdom Hearts and Disney fan, each adventure left me grinning from ear to ear and my heart warm and fuzzy.
Utilizing the mechanics and play style the series is known for, KH3 introduces worlds that are new to the series while also bringing back three favorites: Hercules’ Olympus, Pirates of the Caribbean and The Hundred Acre Wood. This also marks the first time that Pixar films can be visited. New worlds include Toy Story, Monster’s Inc, Tangled, Frozen and, my personal all-time favorite, Big Hero 6. Each world is bright and vibrant, full of enemies to slay and collectibles to find. Some characters were even lucky enough to have their original voice actors. As both a Kingdom Hearts and Disney fan, each adventure left me grinning from ear to ear and my heart warm and fuzzy.
Aside from Disney, Kingdom Hearts 3 also offers plenty of its own worlds and characters. We revisit those we’ve dealt with in the past, our three friends in Twilight Town (Hayner, Pence, and Olette) to Organization XIII, and play as their tales come together for the final showdown in Sora’s story. While the plot can be a bit overreaching at times, it ultimately comes together in a way that I personally find very satisfying.
Spending just over one hundred hours in the game, I took my time to explore, found every treasure and lucky emblem, snapped photos, and simply enjoyed myself. It made the long wait worthwhile, as I didn’t feel the need to rush through to the end. Even now I am aching to pick my controller back up to complete the eleven achievements I am missing—and that isn’t something I normally care about. My one recommendation, however, is to at least find all of the lucky emblems required (based on difficulty level) to unlock the post-credits secret ending. It’s so worth it. But maybe I feel that way because I will never get enough of Kingdom Hearts.
So, how is it?
Overall, I found Kingdom Hearts 3 to be a satisfying adventure, and I am eager to see what comes next from Tetsuya Nomura. The breathtaking graphics, incredible music, and characters that I grew up with all made it an incredible experience. I am already planning yet another entire series play through soon—only, this time, I’ll have that missing piece.