BY HARRISON BLUTO
Photo courtesy of AP Images. Kingdom Hearts 3 features many famous Disney characters like Mickey Mouse, Donald, Goofy, Buzz Lightyear, Woody and many more.
Kingdom Hearts 3 is a flawed nostalgia ride, with fun gameplay, beautiful visuals and fantastic music. The Disney elements are sure to put a smile on anyone’s face, whether it’s fighting monsters with Mike and Sully from “Monsters Inc” or sliding around in the Mad Hatter’s teacups, the inner Disney child in you is sure to come out.
Unfortunately, the game builds its primary experience off of years of overly convoluted story and lore, leading a somewhat lackluster experience for anyone other than dedicated fans. Before I talk about the weaker elements of the game, I will discuss the stronger elements such as the art, music and gameplay of Kingdom Hearts 3.
ART: The game is beautiful. The animation is colorful and vibrant. There is an intense amount of work that went into the visuals of the game, and it shows. Whether it is in the lifelike Pirates of the Carribean level, or the watercolored, shell shaded environment of Winnie The Pooh’s level, the game looks breathtaking.
MUSIC: The music is fantastic. Every level included music from each of the respective Disney movie which added to the atmosphere of every world. The original tracks are also excellent are also extremely strong and well used throughout the games many cutscenes. I was not a very big fan of the way the theme songs would loop which would make it difficult to succeed in levels.
GAMEPLAY: The actual gameplay of Kingdom Hearts is the best it has ever been for the franchise and easily the most substantial element of this particular installment. The combat is fast paced and easy to grasp for any skill level. Every weapon in the game has a transformation that can be activated making every weapon acquired unique rather than merely a stronger version of a previous one. These transformations range from a giant hammer to dual blasters that keeps the combat from becoming stale over the course of the game.
The game provides a ton of variety throughout the game. Whether it’s steering a pirate ship with Captain Jack Sparrow or cooking with Remy from “Ratatouille,” most world levels have an element in it that makes it stand out from the others and keeps the experience fresh. Kingdom Hearts does an outstanding job of pacing to keep you from doing one particular thing for too long, preventing the game from stagnating.
Unfortunately, the game is hugely hindered by its lackluster, ever-present story.
STORY: The story is the most prominent as well as the weakest element of the game. The story of this series spans the course of nine main title games that span over eight different video game platforms. Due to the many different platforms the series released on, many people have to get recaps provided in the game or on youtube for the game.
I played eight of these games and still found myself vastly confused by some things that occurred in the game. Considering that this franchise is created for kids, this level of complication in the plot is not what it should be. The story tries to be deeper desperately and ends up as a generic “My friends are my power” story. It seems more like a kid trying to write what they thought was deep for adults than adults trying to write for kids.
All of this combined with relatively dry voice acting leads to a sub-par story. Considering that this story is a drastic element of the game, taking up about 12 hours with cut-scenes out of a 24/26 hour game, drastically hurts the game. It became very annoying to walk from zone to zone, being stopped to be spoon-fed exposition.
The practice of using cut-scenes for exposition every single time is outdated game design. Now games often give you exposition while the player moves from location to location keeping the game moving without losing the player’s attention. This constant stopping to feed the player exposition leads to some dead time in the game that could easily not be there if the cut-scenes were not so Excessive.
If you have had a chance to play early versions of Kingdom Hearts and are a dedicated fan, you probably already own this game and have your own opinion. As a long time fan, I would say the story is the weakest it has ever been, however, the gameplay is also the strongest it has ever been.
All in all, I would rate the game a six out of ten. The gameplay itself is entertaining; however, it is evident that the developers only wanted to tell you a story, stopping you from having fun and weighing the experience down.