If there has been one trend in video game releases this generation, it has been games long considered Vaporware finally being released. Now that Kingdom Hearts III is out, I’ve had the chance to play a few hours and collect my thoughts.
A Long Wait
Games coming out long after their initial announcement has been a bit of a trend this console generation. Two other video games come to mind:
- The Last Guardian– announced in 2007 for PS3 and released in 2016 as a PS4 exclusive
- Final Fantasy XV – Revealed prior to the launch of PlayStation 3 in 2006 and released in 2016 for PS4 and Xbox One.
The last time I wrote about Kingdom Hearts III for the WDW Radio Blog was in my “Disney Games for 2016 and Beyond” blog post.
Not Really the Third Game
Although the the Roman Numerals for 3 may be in the title, this is far from the third entry in the series. In the interim since II’s release in 2005/6 there have been a cavalcade of back stories, side stories, and spin off entries mostly for handhelds with Birth By Sleep hitting the PSP, 358/2 Days for Nintendo DS and Dream Drop Distance for 3DS (Get it? 3 Ds?) among others. I would be lying to say I wasn’t excited, but I have not had nearly as long as a wait as others as I only played through the first and second entries for the first time last summer.
I definitely remember being aware of the games when when they first came out. I was 6-7 years old and my parents weren’t really in the know about Final Fantasy so that “Disney game with the weird anime guys” never entered the disc drive of my PS2.
Now that I’m done with that long anecdote, I have played through the first world, Olympus, based on Disney’s Hercules which is just the perfect amount of time to give some guidance to WDW Radio Blog readers without spoiling the game.
Kingdom Hearts III definitely delivers visually and really stood out after playing through the HD remasters of the PS2 entries so recently. Running on Unreal Engine 4, this is by far the best looking Kingdom Hearts game, running near 4K on Xbox One X and PS4 Pro. I suggest you take a look at Digital Foundry’s breakdown video if you want a side by side comparison of the game on both consoles base and upgraded models. I was most impressed when pre-rendered cut-scenes that looked relatively close to an actual CG Disney movie seamlessly transitioned into gameplay. Long gone are the days of amazing pre-rendered cutscenes leading into much lower polygon count messes.
The Story So Far?
Most people not deeply into Kingdom Hearts lore will be confused by the plot. Unless you played all of the spin-offs you are going to be missing introductions of key characters not it the first or second game. You will also be missing backstory on why things are the way they are. The game does provide optional backstory summaries of the other games for those who absolutely need to understand everything from the start.
Without a doubt the best thing about Kingdom Hearts III is its soundtrack. The new opening song “Face my Fears” doesn’t quite hit me as well as “Simple and Clean” and “Sanctuary” from I and II, but it’s still pretty good. The fully orchestrated music in the rest of the game is absolutely outstanding. Having a real orchestra always makes a big difference in delivering a grandiose video game experience.
It goes without saying, Kingdom Hearts III is the best Disney video game this console generation. In the midst of one of most barren landscapes for Disney games in the history of gaming, this entry will remain a light shining in the darkness.
(Screenshot copyright Disney and Square Enix)
To learn more about Zack and read is recent posts for the WDW Radio Blog, visit his author page by clicking the link on his name at the top of this post.