Square Enix and Tetsuya Nomura's Kingdom Hearts III has finally launched for the Xbox One and PS4, and gamers and critics alike are pouring out their opinions of love, hate, and everything else in between for the recently released Japanese RPG that finally concludes the long and winding story of Sora.
Most of the big sites are doling out a lot of high praise for the game. IGN, for instance, proclaimed that the game was everything that they had hoped for, scoring the latest entry an 8.7 out of 10, and noting that the ending – while mildly weird – did bring everything to a close in a satisfying manner.
This kind of lauded fawning carried over across several outlets, many of whom thought that the game did just about everything right, from the mini-games to the character development, and especially the combat.
PlayStation Lifestyle in particular had more than a thousand words to share about many of the game's different aspects, worlds, characters, and story elements. But even with whatever small flaws that they encountered during the playthrough, it was still hailed as the best that Square Enix has delivered in the series since its debut back in the early aughts on the PlayStation 2, writing...
I had my doubts about this game, as I already mentioned. I never once thought there was a way Square Enix could live up to the hype the company has built up for this game. But bravo, it has done it and then some. The developer has refined and perfected the combat. It kept its silliness in tact. It kept in the darker themes and deep moments of self-reflection that we all need every once in awhile. It’s, quite frankly, the best Kingdom Hearts game Square Enix has ever created.
Several other outlets also shared a similar measure of enthusiasm for the high-fantasy adventure that Tetsuya Nomura and the crew at Square Enix crafted around Sora's big finale against the Heartless in the latest game.
However, the story of good and evil didn't entirely sit well with all reviewers. While it may be a classic tale of light attempting to triumph over darkness with a few noteworthy characters from popular Disney properties like Pirates of the Caribbean and Big Hero 6 tossed in, the execution of it left some reviewers feeling as if the story was convoluted and overwrought.
Eurogamer criticized the storytelling mechanics as being more complex than they needed to be, and felt a more simplified approach to bringing closure to the character arcs could have been handled with more expository restraint...
[…] We're invested in Sora entirely because we've spent so much time with him - as him - rather than because Nomura has made us care. And his unstinting cheerfulness in the face of almost certain doom becomes slightly wearing - although given there's always some kind of deus ex machina to help him out of a bind, that might explain why. Still, credit to Haley Joel Osment for making the absolute best of the platitudes he's made to spout. […] What's perhaps most frustrating about Kingdom Hearts 3 is that it proves it's capable of cutting through the crap. There's a piece of pure visual storytelling late on that is comfortably one of the game's most moving moments - a gesture of friendship in dire circumstances that says so much more than several hours' worth of characters explaining the plot to one another could ever do.
Eurogamer's critic wasn't the only one who had problems with the crossover game's story structure. Metro also took shots at the game's pacing and inclusion of characters from worlds like Monsters Inc., and Tangled who only had the most flimsy of excuses to even be included in the game. Metro ended up scoring Kingdom Hearts III a rather unflattering 6 out of 10, but with ample reasons to back it up. The outfit wrote...
There is a good game buried somewhere in here and if Square Enix had just taken out the Disney world tour aspect and made that a separate experience, with a nice simple plot and a focus purely on the movie characters, it would’ve been a fun, breezy little action game. But instead it’s a confusing slog, with so much exposition and languidly-paced cut scenes we can’t help but wish they’d just taken all the Final Fantasy-esque storytelling out and made that into a separate CGI movie.
The key takeaway here is that even for the critics who didn't like the game's pacing and overabundance of cinematics, they still recommended the game for diehard fans who have been following the series and its overtly complex story for nearly 20 years.
As noted by Gamespot, even with the complicated lore it was still a fun “frolic” through a crossover that only comes once in a lifetime.
If you're the kind of gamer who thoroughly enjoys the Disney-branded licenses and the characters (and Hollywood voice actors) that come along with them (even if their placement in the story doesn't always make sense) it seems as if Kingdom Hearts III is the big-budget JRPG event of the generation, even more-so than Square's own Final Fantasy XV.
You can nab a copy of the game right now for the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One. Unfortunately, the game isn't available on PC, but maybe if enough PC gamers politely ask Nomura for a port he might open his heart and oblige?