“Kingdom Hearts 3” stays true to its magical story and gameplay

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Square Enix

“Kingdom Hearts 3” returns with classic Disney characters and elaborate fantasy story.

Prudence Nowicki, Multimedia Editor

The long-awaited Kingdom Hearts 3 stays true to its roots, bringing together the magic of classic Disney characters and a fantasy role-playing game style, but it has improved by leaps and bounds since the first Kingdom Hearts title was first released on the PlayStation 2 in 2002.

Finally, 13 years since Kingdom Hearts 2 was first released, after seven “side” titles have been added to the Kingdom Hearts series, Kingdom Hearts 3 has arrived.

What was once simply a Japanese game that brought together Disney with the video game franchise Final Fantasy today has become an international franchise of its own with more than 10 installments over the past 17 years.

In Kingdom Hearts 3 the main protagonist is Sora, a young hero, who is joined by famous Disney characters Donald and Goofy. The three of them travel to different Disney worlds including Tangled’s Kingdom of Corona, Big Hero 6’s San Fransokyo. Frozen’s Arendelle, Hercules’s Olympus Coliseum, and more in order to stop the darkness.

A plot that may sound cheesy or trite is actually only the surface of an elaborate story that has been built upon since the first game in the franchise was released. While it does include light-hearted moments and cute morals — as to be expected of a game filled with Disney characters — it also includes dark stories and characters with terrible fates.

In Kingdom Hearts 3 the characters and story are developed beyond what they have been before, with a stronger connection and emotions throughout the game.

With Kingdom Hearts 3 being on a newer console with much more capacity and potential than previous titles, the Disney worlds are nothing to laugh at. What were once small worlds broken into smaller areas separated by long loading screens with simple cartoon-like graphics now are detailed, immersive, open world-esque areas that are so similar to their movie counterparts it feels like watching the movie itself.

Kingdom Hearts has always had a unique RPG gameplay style that brings together a weapon exclusive to the series called a keyblade and magic. The first game was inspired by the magic and items that filled the Final Fantasy franchise while also being individual and bringing in its own fans who fell in love with the game style.

Kingdom Hearts 3 is no exception. In fact, it has all the distinct components from the past games, but improved upon greatly. The use of magic is much more flowing and convenient than in older titles. Compared to before, magic can be incorporated seamlessly into battles with easy shortcut commands that can hold up to 12 different actions. The new game also includes plenty of flashy magic like “attraction flow,” which allows the player to conjure attraction rides styled after those at Disney, such as Mountain Coaster, Pirate Ship, and Mad Tea Party.

Overall, the new game doesn’t disappoint and is essential for anyone who has played earlier games, is a fan of Disney, or loves RPGs.

However, the story of the Kingdom Hearts franchise is vast, intricate, and convoluted. Anyone who hasn’t played since the first game in 2002  or only one or two titles in the series will be very lost when it comes to the story.

While for many games it wouldn’t be necessary to know the story, Kingdom Hearts 3 is a very story-oriented game. So while the game is absolutely a must for any gamers to play, anyone new to the games should definitely visit the “memory archive,” which is a feature available in Kingdom Hearts 3 that does its best to summarize the past story before Kingdom Hearts 3.

For the absolute best experience of the game, though, players should consider playing the previous games. Kingdom Hearts is a classic that everyone should play and that people of all ages will enjoy.

The game has many great new features to make it stand out among games but also stays true to its roots and the magic the series has always had.