Kingdom Hearts III is a title that fans of the series are (and us) we have waited 13 long yearsDespite this decade, there have been no small episodes, spin-offs and remastered versions – on almost all platforms – that have drastically expanded the narrative segment of the franchise.
After 13 years it is therefore useless to deny that the expectations of the whole community were very high. However, there was also the fear that the game could not convey the same feelings as the first two episodes of the main series could give us: it was enough to press the "start" button to find a magical and fantastic world where everything is possible …
We are talking about a fable that succeeds in merging the universe of Disney with that of Square Enix thanks to a narrative section edited by Tetsuya Nomura and Sora, the protagonist, who will never be "misplaced" in the worlds he will visit .
Tested on Xbox One X – also available on PlayStation 4 with support for PlayStation 4 Pro
THE PLOT, AN OBSTACLE FOR NOT TO BE INSTALLED
The problem (if so, you can define) The story compartment is larger than Kingdom Hearts III that could actually be an obstacle for all those users who want to play for the first time together with Sora, "Donald" and "Guffy".
Kingdom Hearts III is basically the third installment of a trilogy that debuted in 2002 on PlayStation 2 and expanded over the years with "secondary" episodes released on various platforms (including mobile devices and portable consoles). The different games have therefore dramatically developed the narrative plot and are in fact the chapters needed to understand all references present in Kingdom Hearts III.
The events that are told in the new episode go to close the Xehanort storyline, leaving some situations "open". The adventure starts from Mount Olympus, where Pippo and Donald Duck try to help the lost forces – including those from Awakening – after the disastrous events in Kingdom Hearts 3D – Dream Drop Distance. We will then embark on a long journey that will take the iconic Trio to a series of Disney and Pixar worlds to fight against countless enemies (including Heartless and Nameless) to prepare for the best last fight while Riku and Mickey – in full autonomy – they will gather the allies for the final battle.
The saga – naturally – presents two "souls": that Disney and that of Square Enix. The third episode is no exception, but the result is not flawless. In fact, in the worlds of the American multinational and in that Pixar, the backbone of Kingdom Hearts III actually does a few steps forward. So "secondary" stories will be told (some unpublished others based on the plot of movies) interspersed with different intermezzo scenes in which the members of the XIII organization and the archenemy of Sora appear, which will help the user to get some points of interest from the intrigued narrative plot.
The head story of Kingdom Hearts III is developing and reaches the conclusion in what we can define as the second part of the game, after visiting all the worlds for about 25 hours of play. It is superfluous to say that for fans of the saga the last part will be a whirlwind of emotions with fascinating and spectacular "boss-fight & # 39; interspersed with long and unforgettable scenes of interludes. Several speeches for the newcomers of the series who may not contain the essence of the story and are even bothered by the many "cutscenes".
Please note that you still have access in the main menu to the memory archive which contains short summaries that summarize the general story to the events in Kingdom Hearts III. To fully understand all the dynamics, the interwovenness and the relationships between the different characters used in the game, the memory archive is not enough.
THE COMBATS A TRIPUDIO OF EFFECTS AND ANIMATIONS
Kingdom Hearts III real-time battles are visually spectacular, a riot of effects and animations that are able to leave everyone speechless and are based on a tactful "button manure" component that has always characterized the series. The control system is therefore simple and intuitive, the keys that are useful for the action are small and to perform the different "special attacks", simply press the button set for the action.
On battlefields, as well as healing drinks, elixirs and accessories, Sora can equip up to three key zones – each with different attacks, functions and casts – that can be changed during the fight. Between special attacks, spells, tapes, subpoenas, castings, attractions and attacks in combination with the characters in the group, every battle is a riot of colors and effects, perfectly visually spoken.
The whole fighting system therefore rests on the tested mechanics of the franchise. In the bottom left corner you always see the four basic "actions" (fixed): Attack (Keyblade), Magic (both offensive and restorative spells), Objects (use an object if you have equipped it) and Bonds (evocation). In addition to these four pillars & # 39; a series of more stratified mechanics are activated, allowing Sora and his companions to cause devastating and extremely spectacular attacks.
Using Keyblade and, for example, causing damage to enemies for a long time can be activated the mergers that improve and adjust the attack of the weapon that gives life to a devastating grace. Similar speech also for spells with the ability to use improved spells, provided you have the correct bar filled (consecutive opponents touch).
There will also be many of the above attractions (Pirate ship, Crazy Cups, Carousel or Horses, etc.) that can be activated after they hit the enemies, surrounded by a green circle. The attractions are, besides the fact that they are extremely spectacular, depending on where you fight, have a wide range of actions, give enormous damage to enemies and can be concluded with a kind of Special (Epilogue).
There is also no lack of combined attacks with fellow group members and the Fluimoto, with which you can bridge large distances in a short time and come back very useful, even in battle. Also present the the shooting who – connected to the focus bar and the Keyblade used – will enable you to hook and hit multiple enemies simultaneously and will also be essential to reach otherwise inaccessible places.
You can also call allies – including the terrifying Simba – on condition that you consume the entire PM bar that is recharged over time or with special drinks.
Defeating enemies and bosses, Sora, Goofy and Donald, will go up, they will increase their statistics and unlock innumerable skills (both passive and active) with which moveset, attack, defense and healing phases can be adjusted. However, each skill has a cost in points that is deducted from a ceiling that will rise by raising the level.
In general, the entire structure that manages and entertains the combat phases works so that the fights are varied and visually spectacular the level of challenge is really fixed and the attempt to make the most strategic collisions has failed miserably.
During our 35 hours of playing at the standard difficulty level, we never encountered an insurmountable battle, even when Sora was below the required level of the world we visited. The ability to use more types of Keyblade would – at least on paper – make the clashes a little more strategic (using for example the right ones based on the weaknesses of the enemies), but because of the difficulty, the attempt has certainly failed. However, we emphasize that Kingdom Hearts – by nature – has never presented particularly difficult challenges, even if we thought it was too simple in this chapter.
Only disappointment, even in the mechanical RPG with an excessive base system. The statistics of Sora and friends will in fact increase independently and you can only interact with the skills by deciding – based on the available points – that you can activate or deactivate. We will also be able to equip the trio with items and items that give extra bonuses, increase resistance to specific attacks or increase a number of parameters.
The extremely basic RPG mechanics, the level of challenge that is set and the number of points that are too high to activate the skills, do not encourage the player to try different combinations and you always use the favorite Keyblade. However, we report the possibility of making malus possible, designed specifically to challenge the player and ensure a higher level of challenge.
A crafting system is also inevitable that, in addition to allowing the creation of healing drinks, elixirs and different items, also allows to improve Keyz values provided you are in possession of the necessary materials. The workshop will be opened in interaction with the Moguri (the only character of Final Fantasy present) with which you can also act.
In Twilight you also have the possibility to enter the broom of Uncle Scrooge and – by completing short mini-cooking games – to make gourmet menus that give the trio temporary bonuses.
KINGDOM HEARTS III IS NOT ONLY SUSPENDED
Kingdom Hearts III not only fights, the game structure is actually expanded with a series of sideline activities ranging from collectibles, photo & # 39; s, optional bosses to 20 mini-games inspired by the Disney world of the 80s and the "travels" in space aboard the Gummiship.
The cute mini-games, strictly in black and white, will not be immediately available, but will be unlocked to continue in the adventure and to find the right treasure chests scattered in the game worlds. To access, you must enter the Gummifono, a kind of smartphone invented by Cip and Ciop that the paper & # 39; diary & # 39; of the Talking Cricket gift in the previous episodes.
Via the Gummono you can then open a section with detailed data sheets of allies and enemies, the glossary and the summary of the story. As a kind of smartphone you can also take photos with the device and make the inevitable selfie.
A special mention goes to the game sessions on board the Gummish Chicken, the iconic means of transport with which you travel in space to travel from one world to another. It is about a game in the game while the star kingdom of Kingdom Hearts III is rich in treasures but also dangerous enemies. So space battles are being tackled, mini-bosses are not missed and the pitfalls will lie behind every corner. Valuable treasures will be present and rare materials, exclusive designs and unique components for Gummish Chicken can be recovered.
In addition to the possibility to modify or modify the existing "ships", there is also an editor that allows you to make your own Gummiship completely yourself, equip with a range of accessories, weapons, bonuses and ensure that the different statistics are in balance (maneuverability, life points, strength, role, attack).
A MAGIC WORLD
If visually the worlds present in Kingdom Hearts III leave no room for criticism and are treated in a manic way, the same can not be said, analyzing the gameplay and content presented in some "universes".
Caribbean, San Fransokyo, frozen and Rapunzel they are undoubtedly the best worlds: fascinating, comprehensive and capable of guaranteeing a good variety of content that adds peculiar mechanics. In the Kingdom of Rapunzel, for example, the thick and blonde hair of the princess will be very useful, even in the exploratory phase, in the frozen areas the snowballs can be used in battles and it is impossible to remember the sailing ship in the Caribbean Sea from Pirates to mention the highlighted free-roaming component of San Fransokyo.
The 100 Acres wood can be safely avoided instead, which is in fact a simple extra, not at all addictive and with an institution reduced to the minimum union, in which the task of Sora is only to complete three trivial and simple mini-games in Puzzle Bobble style.
Mostropoli and Toy Box – although the best in the world of Winnie the Pooh – have not been able to amaze us. In the world of Monsters Inc, the institution is over-guided, linear and repetitive, while in the Toy Story universe the story does not stand out with originality and in the toy store only participates in a succession of fights except that you can ride powerful mechs .
The visual representation of settings and characters is impeccable that edge on perfection: it seems to look at the related films of Disney and Pixar. Kingdom Hearts III was developed with the Unreal Engine 4 and offers a stunning visual compartment with animations and perfect particle effects, non-smudged textures and a manic attention to detail with costumes and polygonal models that are almost identical to their counterpart in the film.
In some worlds, moreover, the representation of the Trio by making changes: in Mostropoli for example, Sora, Pippo and Donald will turn into real monsters, while Jack Sparrow will have more realistic connotations.
We emphasize that in Kingdom Hearts III, the soul Disney, however, has "wiped out" – with the exception of the Moguri – any reference to characters and elements associated with Final Fantasy and the iconic settings of the Square Enix brand range have been changed to "simple" controversy, a decision that some fans may not appreciate.
Nothing to mention instead in the frame rate: on Xbox One X (as well as on PlayStation 4 Pro) are available two graphic modes, one that prefers the resolution and the other stability. In both cases, the differences are really minimal, even if you notice a few small drops in standard mode (graphics) on Xbox One X that still do not harm the gaming experience. We also report theabsence of the HDR.
Some perplexities instead of the soundtrack entrusted to Yoko Shimomura, which is moderate in the Disney worlds compared to the fascinating music we were used to.
Uncertainties instead on the automatic camera system that at times does not do its job, forcing the player to intervene manually. The dubbing, rigorous in English, is accompanied by subtitles in Italian. Finally, the presence of some must be reported too long a load.
13 years are long and in this period the games have changed a lot, but Kingdom Hearts III wanted to preserve the solid foundation of the series so fans can "revive" those feelings and emotions of a decade ago. Kingdom Hearts III is not a game for everyone and in some areas you could do better.
The narrative sector, for the neophytes, could be a real obstacle. In order to fully understand all the dynamics, the references, the interweaving and the relationships between the different characters that are used in the game, the memory archive is not enough and a thorough knowledge is needed not only from the two main chapters, but also from the other episodes .
The backbone of Kingdom Hearts III comes to the fore and only really exciting in the second part of the game, with a first part that is not able to involve as we had hoped. On the gameplay side, fighting is the real quintessence: fun, spectacular and overwhelming, but the level of challenge is really too low and in RPG you can hope for something more.
However, Kingdom Hearts III is a dream come true: it has been 13 long years, but the wait – even with some as and some of it – has been repaid.
CONTENTS / GAME MODES 8.5