DEVELOPER: SQUARE ENIX BUSINESS DIVISION 3 | PUBLISHER: SQUARE ENIX | PLATFORM : XBOX, PLAYSTATION 4 | RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW
Originally a collaboration between Square Enix and Disney, the Kingdom Hearts series has grown into a behemoth since its debut in 2002, with many spin-off titles appearing on different consoles. It’s a series that’s synonymous for two things: Disney characters merging with the Final Fantasy universe, and confusing storylines.
In this final chapter of the ‘Dark Seeker’ saga, its returning protagonist, Sora, wakes up after a long slumber, only to find he is missing ‘The Power of Waking’. With the help of Donald and Goofy, he must travel between multiple worlds to not only find this power, but also defeat Organization 13 and their leader Xehanort, who wants to corrupt the world. The story is absolutely baffling and downright confusing to most players, even those who have kept up with the lore of the series. However, this is broken up by mini stories within each world you visit, and these range from excellent, to average, with the highlight being Monsters Inc and their spiritual sequel to the film. It makes the story very imbalanced and suffers as a result.
However, where this game shines is in three key areas: the gameplay, visuals and sounds. The look of the game is utterly incredible, really showing that Square-Enix spent a vast amount of time on polishing it. Whether you are exploring the beautiful woodland setting of the Kingdom of Corona (Tangled), or the stone-based, urban jungle that is the Colosseum (Hercules), it truly feels like you are a key part of these, and the Final Fantasy-like character design of Sora never feels out of play amongst the Disney cast of characters. Added on top a beautiful score by Yôko Shimomura, it makes you feel like you are living in these worlds.
The gameplay is very tight, with a lot of chance to explore these beautiful vistas at your own leisure. Sora fights mainly using a Keyblade, a weapon that is part sword, part key, with many different variations becoming available over the course of the game. Battles are incredibly fun, fast and furious, with the AI characters in Donald and Goofy being programmed well to react to changing situations.
Although an interesting concept with a stunning aesthetic and score, Kingdom Hearts III suffers from terrible decisions in terms of story and flow, the gameplay all too often broken up with uninspiring and ultimately frustrating sections.