By Dylan Valic
Since Square Enix released “Kingdom Hearts II” in 2005, fans eagerly awaited the next installment in the series. The series has had a few side installments throughout the years, but none of them have managed to reach the levels of success the main entries have. That all ended on Jan. 29, when “Kingdom Hearts III” was released.
“Kingdom Hearts” is a crossover series between Disney’s cinematic hits and Square Enix’s “Final Fantasy” games. The newest entry in the series allows players to explore the worlds from newer Disney movies such as “Big Hero 6,” “Frozen,” and “Tangled.” Thanks to Disney’s 2006 acquisition of Pixar, characters from “Monsters, Inc” and “Toy Story” also joined the star-studded cast.
Don’t let the Disney characters fool you, however; the game’s plot is still very dark and holds true to the serious tones of the “Final Fantasy” series. You play as Sora, a chosen hero of light who travels to the different worlds to find six heroes. These heroes will fight along- side him in an upcoming war. The antagonist, Xehanort, is likewise attempting to find others to stand alongside him in battle. The Keyblade War, the event the game leads up to, is a fated battle between light and darkness for control of Kingdom Hearts. If Sora and his friends fail, the power that Kingdom Hearts contains will fall into Xehanort’s hands, and life will be changed forever.
Combat in “Kingdom Hearts III” is a combination of mechanics from the previous entries in the series. Returning veterans will be happy to see the return of mechanics, such as shot lock or reaction commands, while newcomers are slowly introduced to these functions and how they work. Taking the best of 13 years’ worth of mechanics makes the combat featured in “Kingdom Hearts III” smooth and responsive.
Throughout my play, I never felt that the game deliberately put me at an unfair advantage, and that every enemy could be defeated by one of the mechanics at my disposal. This is a huge jump forward from previous entries in the series, where I felt limited by what options the game provided me in combat.
Despite its strengths, “Kingdom Hearts III” is not without faults. The mini game sections feel very invasive and take you out of the moment. Certain story sections, such as the “Frozen” world, are just frame by frame retellings of the movies they are based on.
The voice acting seems to be a mixed bag, with certain characters sounding natural and others sounding like they are reading a script.
This is in contrast to previous entries in the series where all of the characters sounded natural and as if they were actually present in the situation at hand.
Students agree that the game could have used some improvements. “I felt the story wasn’t as good as One and the combat wasn’t as good as Two,” Jesse Taylor, a sophomore game design major, said. “I liked it for nostalgia, but I felt like it would be hard for newcomers to get into.”
Despite its flaws, “Kingdom Hearts III” is a fantastic experience overall. I enjoyed almost every moment of it and felt like the 13 year wait was worth it.
“Kingdom Hearts III” is available for PlayStation 4 and Xbox One for $60.