When looking back at 2006, I realized it was actually a great year... well, for the most part, anyway. We got Borat: Cultural Learning Of America For Make Benefit Glorious Nation Of Kazakhstan (ed - of all the movies...), we got The Office starring Steve Carell, and somewhere in a top secret room, Tetsuya Nomura was penning down ideas for a sequel to Kingdom Hearts II Final Mix. It would only take 13 years of leaks, speculations, rumors, and delays for fans of the series to eventually get Kingdom Hearts III. The hotly anticipated title finally released worldwide on January 29, 2019, and the reception has been great.
Before seeing the main menu of the game, I experienced something that got me even more excited. The inclusion of the Pixar logo right before the Square Enix logo made me grin from ear to ear, and made my head spin with all the possibilities. One thing to note about the worlds is that there are fewer in Kingdom Hearts III than in previous titles. Crying foul, are you? No need to worry, each world in the game is massive, stretching horizontally and vertically, giving you ample space for battles and a shedload of nooks and crannies to explore. Some previously used worlds do return here, but they too have been expanded and remade to meet the game's epic proportions.
I was also pleasantly surprised by the voice acting in Kingdom Hearts III. There are a lot of voice actors reprising their roles in the third entry in the series. The audio team even went so far as to get some of the original voice actors of the Disney films, this includes Josh Gab as Olaf, Idina Menzel as Elsa and Wallace Shawn as Rex. I don't know how much money Square Enix had when developing the game, but judging by the list of voice actors, I'd wager it was a boatload.
The first thing you'll notice when getting into the game is the shift in graphical fidelity. Initially, the game started its development on the in-house engine called Luminous Studio. After development testing, the team decided to move the development to Unreal Engine 4. Of course, this decision came with a host of problems and a bunch of delays. No matter the issues they had, switching to Unreal Engine 4 was probably one of the best decisions they made for Kingdom Hearts III.
So far, the revamped combat system is nothing short of greatness. I wager that even non-Kingdom Hearts fans will have a ball with the combat system. There's so much going on in any given battle, yet every action you take can be tracked. using Attractions, Team Up's, and changing forms mid-fight makes each encounter a marvel to behold, however crazy it might get. Small details worked into character animations caught my eye while squaring off against my first fire-based Heartless. As soon as Sora is hit with a set amount of fire attacks, he grabs his bottom (which is now on fire) and jumps around trying to extinguish it. Another, more humorous addition I experienced was while fighting a "normal" armored Heartless. As I wailed on the creature, eventually diminishing his health bar, he spun in place then fell to the ground in typical old-style Disney cartoons.
Kingdom Hearts III consists of so many moving parts that it can seem dizzying at first. Outside of collecting items when not in combat, there is also keeping an eye out for hidden areas containing treasures. Managing Sora, Donald and Goofy's Action Points, items and equipment is a managerial task in its own right. Managing your health, what attractions to use and switching between Keybaldes during combat constantly keeps you on your toes. The amount of technicality and, by extension, love that went into this game is evident from the get-go. Playing Kingdom Hearts III and think back that Tetsuya Nomura said about the game being "announced too early in its development" makes perfect sense: this game must have been a monumental task to develop, aside from all the legalities with the various Rights departments.
Kingdom Hearts III is a gift, neatly wrapped and given to its fans with love. If you are still unsure about the game, be sure to keep an eye on the Nexus Digital for my full review, but in the meantime, have a look at 15 Minutes of Mount Olympus Gameplay.
Kingdom Hearts devotee, From Software fanboy and aspiring Audiophile (the good kind that believes in FLAC files). Vincent enjoys writing about games almost as much as playing them.
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