Latest installment of beloved game offers more new questions than it answers (Spoiler warning)
“Kingdom Hearts 3” is the ninth game in the Kingdom Hearts series, though it is the first real made-for-console game released since “Kingdom Hearts 2”. The game follows Sora, the protagonist of the series, as he looks for the Power of Waking throughout different Disney themed worlds.
In this game, Sora and his friends are trying to find the seven guardians of light. Ultimately, Sora’s goal is to defeat his enemy, Xehanort, and Xehanort’s “Organization XIII”.
The overall plotline
The Kingdom Hearts series has a notoriously complex plotline, so complex that “Kingdom Hearts 3” comes with over a half hour of recap videos available on the title screen before the game even starts. The backstory that stretched out over the last nine games is repeated many times over the course of the game’s cutscenes. I found this annoyingly repetitive. As someone familiar with the franchise, nothing in the first half of the game was new information.
As Kingdom Hearts is a blend of Final Fantasy and Disney, there was a fair amount of Disney worlds. Personally, I was a fan. I felt like each of the worlds were fleshed out, had interesting storylines, and had fun new game mechanics to work with. While the musical cutscenes in Arendelle (the world based on the movie “Frozen”) were frankly awkward, and the plot and length of San Fransokyo (based on the movie “Big Hero 6”) left much to be desired, the worlds were overall pretty good.
I was disappointed that no Final Fantasy characters made an appearance in the entire game. Though they have not made big appearances since “Kingdom Hearts 2” and “Birth by Sleep”, the characters added a lot to the games. By removing them, the game seemed to be missing something.
Kairi: Princess of heart, guardian of light
In the original “Kingdom Hearts” game Kairi was a main character. She went missing early in the game and Sora and Riku were both separately trying to find her. In the game, she was shown to be a “Princess of Heart”, a vague term that referred to characters with exceptional “light”. Because of her status as a “Princess of Heart”, Kairi was able to return Sora’s heart to him, when he gave up his life to save her.
In “Kingdom Hearts 2” Kairi also played a key role, showing how the outside world had forgotten the events of the original game. Though she did not have a whole lot of personality in this sequel, she still had self-sufficient qualities and even fought off a kidnapper and escaped a cell.
In “Kingdom Hearts 3”, Kairi has been training to become a keyblade wielder. Her aptitude for the keyblade was hinted at in “Birth by Sleep” where Aqua bequeathed her a keyblade. The game also mentions how there are new “Princesses of Heart”, but that Kairi is still one of them, along with a guardian of light.
It’s unforgivable that, in her first fight–after all this training–she is immediately defeated. She’s kidnapped by the villain and he shatters her in front of Sora.
Before this fight, Kairi only talked to Sora twice, and both times were stilted and awkward. The writing was strange, and her previously lively character was flat and uninteresting. She offered Sora a paopu fruit–a symbol of intertwining their destinies–without any lead up, creating an awkward atmosphere. This romance subplot fell flat.
After she was shattered, Sora vowed to get her back, even if it destroyed him. The game ends with everyone back and safe on Destiny Islands, except Sora–who seemingly gave up his life for her.
The game wasn’t awful
Overall the game was a fun time, I enjoyed playing it. After so long, I expected a better plotline that actually made all of the aspects of the overly complex storyline fall together. I was disappointed with how the game handled previously strong female characters. They appeared watered down and less powerful than they were in their original games. Again, it was fun–but it could have been so much better.