Kingdom Hearts III
Visit Disney worlds with Sora and company to put a stop to antagonist Xehanort's evil deeds
With detailed environments and character models, the series looks better than ever. The Disney worlds are especially impressive, matching the movies they represent wonderfully
Main composer Yoko Shimomura's ability to capture Kingdom Hearts' emotional essence shines here yet again. The classic Disney music helps bring each world to life, and watching Sora explore Frozen while Let It Go plays makes me grin
The action-based combat is easy to learn, but has enough depth to keep you engaged. Multiple difficulty levels let players of all skill levels get into the action, but the previous story threads aren't as easy to follow
With higher stakes, Kingdom Hearts III is a lot of spectacle in the best way possible. It isn't afraid to go big, but it also doesn't forget what made fans fall in love in the first place
If Disney has taught us anything, it's to believe in magic. The company's partnership with Square Enix may have seemed unlikely 17 years ago, but Kingdom Hearts became a phenomenon with a dedicated fanbase that remained invested in a sprawling story spanning eight entries and multiple consoles. Now, Kingdom Hearts III finally takes the next major step in that journey, giving fans what we've been waiting for: resolution. The new installment addresses threads that have been left hanging for years, and it does so by leveraging the Disney magic that seems to make anything possible. The result is the series at its strongest, and most importantly, it provides satisfying answers to the biggest question marks.
The story is a dream come true for devoted fans. Kingdom Hearts III explores plot points that wind through 358/2 Days, Birth by Sleep, Re:coded, and more; the narrative picks up where Dream Drop Distance left off, with Sora attempting to regain and enhance his lost power to stand a chance against Xehanort. So much has happened to so many different characters in the franchise, and spotting these familiar faces in Kingdom Hearts III and learning what they've been up to is exciting and makes the years of investment feel worthwhile. Like many fans, I've been wondering the fate of beloved characters, such as Aqua, Roxas, and Naminé. Kingdom Hearts III takes these arcs in intriguing and surprising directions, while also providing some closure. Let's just say there are some cool scenes that still stick out in my mind, especially after waiting nearly a decade to see if Birth by Sleep's Aqua, Ventus, and Terra would ever be reunited.
As much as I enjoyed the tale, newcomers (and even old fans who have just missed a few entries) will probably have a hard time following many portions. A memory archive in the menu provides short videos to get you up to speed or refresh your memory, but they're not comprehensive. As a result, this is not a good place to jump into the series, but it remains rewarding for those who are already invested.