After nearly 13 years, the wait is finally over. Fans of the “Kingdom Hearts” franchise around the world have been rejoicing ever since the latest installment, “Kingdom Hearts 3,” was released on Jan 29, 2019. Although the game has received mostly positive reviews, it has also left many wondering what took developers so long to produce it, as its story and worlds are subpar compared to the other installments in the series, despite the serious upgrade in graphics and gameplay.
The wait for “Kingdom Hearts 3” has been nothing if not painful. Being the twelfth installment of the series and one of the largest, most important additions alongside “Kingdom Hearts” and “Kingdom Hearts 2,” fans were anxious yet excited when the game was initially announced five years prior to its actual release. The game was originally given a 2018 release date at the 2017 D23 convention, but was pushed back due to bad timing.
The game follows a similar pattern to the others: the player controls Sora as he, Donald and Goofy navigate to different “worlds,” or popular movies that have been created by Disney and Pixar such as “Toy Story,” “Tangled,” and “Frozen.” The characters battle basic Disney villains, but also members of the evil Organization XIII of the “Final Fantasy” franchise and their heartless, who want to steal the heart, and therefore the light, of each of the worlds. The game wipes Sora, Donald and Goofy of any skills they had gained in the prior games, making it easy for new players to jump in, but frustrating for old fans, as they now have no choice but to be told the controls through unavoidable on-screen pop-ups. Despite the game’s consistency with mechanics and controls, there are new and improved special attacks that the player can utilize, enhancing the gameplay and making it more interesting than it has been in the previous games.
Because the game comes so long after the last installment, the developers at Square Enix wanted it to be accessible to new players to reach a wider audience, while also keeping old players satisfied. This resulted in the storyline feeling rather dumbed-down for older players who are invested in the plot, but still not quite simple enough for those just starting out, as they aren’t familiar with many of the characters. Either way, both sides of the equation are left feeling a little incomplete.
After such a long wait and much anticipation, it’s disappointing that many long-time fans are left feeling like something in the game is missing. While the new worlds are interesting and the gameplay still has the original fun that is associated with the franchise, the worlds are somewhat small and repetitive on their respective maps, making them rather confusing to navigate, even with the maps included in the game. This would be small enough to overlook, however the story lacks the depth that most fans keep coming back for.
“Kingdom Hearts 3” is not set to be the final game in the franchise. Hopefully in years to come, the story is yet again enriched with the same heart that players enjoy.
Grace Barnett // Staff Writer