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Kingdom Hearts III

Kingdom Hearts III

The time has finally come for the third main entry in the Kingdom Hearts series.

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Some games seem destined to never see the light of day. The clamouring for Half-Life 3, the cancellation of Star Wars 1313, and the mystery of Tekken X Street Fighter are just a few examples of games with huge potential that never actually got released. Now and then, however, a mythical game plagued by years of hype and public demand finally releases, but usually they land too late or they end up being disappointing. Kingdom Hearts III was one of these mythical games, yet instead of missing its mark it's instead the ultimate demonstration of a talented team working to fulfill its potential and craft something truly special. In short, after many years of waiting, Kingdom Hearts III is a landmark achievement in the diverse JRPG landscape. Now allow us to explain exactly why the third numbered game in the series goes above and beyond what was expected. Kingdom Hearts III is finally here.

The game hasn't even started before Square Enix decides to reward returning players. After some brief flashes of the compulsory Disney, Pixar, and Square Enix logos, a beautiful rendition of Hikaru Utada's theme song "Don't Think Twice" starts playing, followed by a string of cutscenes from all the previously released Kingdom Hearts games (besides the mobile one). Those who have been with the series since back in the early days - or those have recently powered through the re-releases - will definitely get the chills and the already gargantuan excitement for finally playing Kingdom Hearts III will only grow. Prior to even starting the journey and pressing "New Game", Square Enix makes a clear statement: Kingdom Hearts is back.

Kingdom Hearts III is the second "eternity" project reaching current-gen consoles after years and years of waiting, next to Final Fantasy XV. When FFXV was released in 2016 after a decade in development, it featured the sentence "A Final Fantasy for fans and first-timers", making the intentions of the developer clear; it aimed to recruit new fans to the series as well as preserve their existing fanbase. Kingdom Hearts III goes in another direction entirely. The third chapter opens during the end of Kingdom Hearts Dream Drop Distance and leaves both new players and those with limited knowledge of titles other than 1 and 2 in the dust. In fact, the first three or four hours of Kingdom Hearts III come off as specifically targeting a select number of people, instead of trying to find a broad appeal. Just as with the mixed opinions of Kingdom Hearts II's slow pace in the opening hours, its sequel will probably face a similar reception going forward. That being said, the narrative gets less confusing as the story progresses and Square Enix manages to simplify some of the insane ideas introduced in other games.

Kingdom Hearts III
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Briefly summarised, Kingdom Hearts III continues the magical adventures of Sora, Donald Duck, and Goofy as they journey from one iconic Disney World to the next. This time around they're tasked with gathering and tracking down the so-called guardians of light for help in the final confrontation with villain Xehanort and Organization XIII. The core premise of the narrative is easy to follow, not being nearly as convoluted as the series has become known for. Having played or being aware of the events in the prologue Kingdom Hearts: Birth by Sleep is still highly recommended. Despite a slow start and being the 11th chapter in the series, Kingdom Hearts III still tells an enthralling and fascinating tale across its 40-hour runtime. The player will go through a plethora of emotions before the credits finally roll, having cried, laughed, cringed, mourned, and witnessed one reveal and surprise after another. Kingdom Hearts III is a beautiful mix of a grand JRPG, Greek tragedy, and Walt Disney magic. It sounds insane and yet manages to work so well. In terms of content, the story is finished and not reliant on any future DLC.

A cornerstone of the Kingdom Hearts games are the characters Sora and his crew meet on their journeys. While the same can be said about the third game, this time around Square Enix has significantly improved the dynamic banter between Sora, Donald, and Goofy. The player really gets the feeling of a deep friendship and comradery. Sora and Donald are particularly funny to observe as the narrative progresses. Even more praise needs to go on the inclusion of all the other Disney characters. Woody and Buzz from Toy Story have identical personalities to their cinematic counterparts and feel almost as they have been ripped straight out of the movies. Flynn Rider from Tangled is likewise as quirky and a tiny bit arrogant when speaking to Donald and Goofy. The only real downside was the characters in Frozen who didn't really get as much screen time as one would have hoped, mainly just relying on scenes from the movie. Square Enix's work in getting many of the original actors to lend their voices only makes the characters feel more present and unique. Names like James Woods, Zachary Levi, and T.J. Miller all reprise their roles in the game. And speaking of iconic voices and sounds, Kingdom Hearts III delivers an absolutely magical score. It reflects on both the legacy of Kingdom Hearts I and II's greatest melodies, as well as delivering catchy new tunes; the game is a constant joy for the ears. Nostalgics in particular will enjoy all the classic tunes played during certain key events and activities. For us, it was difficult not to hum the iconic "You Got a Friend In Me" composition from Toy Story or just close our eyes and listen to the score from Big Hero 6.

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Kingdom Hearts III
Kingdom Hearts IIIKingdom Hearts IIIKingdom Hearts III
Kingdom Hearts III
Kingdom Hearts IIIKingdom Hearts IIIKingdom Hearts III