Kingdom Hearts III Review: #MakeSoraADisneyPrince
By Skywing Knights // August 10, 2019
“They can take your world, they can take your heart. Cut you loose from all you know… But if it’s your fate, then every step forward will always be a step closer to home.”
Well, it’s finally time. It’s time to review the game that was over 14 years in the making.
Kingdom Hearts III.
(And yes, there will be spoilers. I have warned you.)
(This is also massively long and my longest review thus far, so get comfy boys and girls, here we go…)
I’ve been holding off on writing this review for a while now. Yes, even though I played the game the week it came out, or at least, started the game then. I waited this long because I wanted to get through the entirety of the game. I wanted to have an understanding the full story line, experiencing all the elements – everything, before I said anything. Admittedly, I also wanted that 100% Trophy but… what can you do with a perfectionist? (But seriously, you should thank me because not only did I do all of that. I rewatched all 12 hours of cutscenes… yes… all 12 hours…. OTL)
Kingdom Hearts II was one of my first games – yes out of order, but if it makes die-hards feel any better, I ended up going back and playing/finishing the original Kingdom Hearts before returning and finishing the second one. And yes, this was indeed back in the days of the PS2. Aka “the good ‘ol days” depending on who you talk to.
Since owning a PS2, a Gamecube ended up in my possession and then… that was it. And then… Square Enix and Disney announced to the world on June 11th, 2013 that Kingdom Hearts III was in the works. Finally, I decided ‘Alright, it’s time to upgrade’. Not even the beautiful Final Fantasy games that I also adored since long ago had gotten me to do that. But Kingdom Hearts III? That was an easy ploy to play…. And it worked.
So after spending hundreds of dollars for a beautiful gaming system/suped up Blu-Ray player (that’s how I justified it when talking to my parents about it over our weekly family dinner) and then a couple extra bucks down for the game… the real question for me as a player was going to be – was it worth it? Even as I sat down to set it up, controller in hand, I wondered… Was this really all going to be worth it?
“May your heart be your guiding key.” – Yen Sid
Holding the Core of Disney
Kingdom Hearts is a unique series. Combining both Final Fantasy and Disney worlds and characters into one game? while maintaining the canon storylines of all that those included? That’s no easy feet. Not only is it hard to do, but it’s a massive responsibility. Why? Let’s start with the obvious. Because it’s Disney.
When Tetsuya Nomura pitched the idea of the original Kingdom Hearts to Disney Execs, he probably never thought they’d say yes. I can’t imagine what he thought when he heard that one simple word. Probably joy. And probably a sudden realization of the massive amount of responsibility he had just been given. Disney had literally just handed him the keys to Disney mythos. And Disney mythos are no laughing matter.
As the 2nd largest company of the Broadcast and Cable Network Industry in the world as well as the #1 Largest Major Film Studio of the “Big Six” in the world, the Disney brand is massive and it has one main product – “magic”. And not just any magic – a certain kind of “magic”. “Disney Magic” (and keep that in mind – we’ll come back to what “Disney Magic” is later).
Square Enix has done games combining worlds and story lines before. Heck, they do it often in their own various Final Fantasy games. These games and their stand-alones have evoked feelings of urgency, relentlessness, and even betrayal in players before. They’ve created worlds that are fully immersive and suck players into stories that they become emotionally invested in. It’s likely a huge part as to what persuaded Disney to give Nomura the chance with this one. Why?
Kingdom Hearts, establishing a story in which our main protagonist, Sora, and his friends travel from Disney movie world to Disney movie world, had to embody every element of “Disney Magic” brought to the big screen as well as insert the player within it all, giving players feelings of holding the magic of magicians, the strength of warriors, and the infinite *love* of heroes in the face of unbeatable odds. Square Enix had experience with doing this with their own franchises. So combining Disney worlds (and any other worlds for that matter), trying the concept out? If anyone was going to get the go ahead, it was going to be Square Enix.
And the original Kingdom Hearts was a success. So much so that now we have 3 main games and seemingly dozens of other side games out there. (Okay, not dozens, but it feels like dozens). This ultimately ended up creating problems for the storyline. Indeed, as Square Enix and Disney dragged their feet to bring Kingdom Hearts III to life, they created a seemingly almost broken story to players trying to keep it all straight.
Kingdom Hearts III was going to have to tie all of those together while retaining that beautiful Disney Magic. At the same time, it would be balancing this dimension of multiple worlds and universes. (Saying it like that, I can see why they took so long).
The graphics were out of control – I’ve never seen graphics so well. It clearly had a budget – no expense was spared in making that game. – J.S.
There’s more to light than meets the eye – Eraqus
Pressing the On button for me was like being immersed in eye candy. In all honesty, at first, and even now, I couldn’t be sure if it was due to this being my first game system since the PS2, but my immediate reaction was that this was stunning. My roommate days prior had been working on finishing KH2. (You know, because I’m a terrible roommate who got her into it). But the thing was, she was playing on the PS2, since that’s what we had prior to getting KH3.
So imagine jumping from that pixelated nonsense (that we didn’t realize was pixelated nonsense at the time) to this… this absolutely gorgeous thing. This thing called Kingdom Hearts III on the PlayStation 4.
I had seen game play on the PS3 and PS4 before. Not for long, but I could clearly appreciate the detail work I had seen on there prior. Maybe it was being so fully immersed in the game itself. And with this gorgeous, no beyond gorgeous orchestra playing in the background producing the sounds of fantasy. Or maybe it was just that stunning. But Kingdom Hearts III felt like an entirely different level of immense graphic beauty to me. This was maybe the first step in nailing that Disney Magic by creating a world of fantasy. And boy did they nail it.
As I began exploring the worlds of Kingdom Hearts III though, I started to realize that it wasn’t just the PS4’s visual quality that made this game beautiful to watch and play.
With the various Disney worlds that were available to jump into, each coming from different mediums – from 2D animation, Final Fantasy style worlds, 3D animation, classic Walt Disney Animation Studios style animation, Pixar animation, and live action films, what was perhaps the thing that tipped Kingdom Hearts III over the edge for me in terms of beauty was the sheer fact that not only did everything flow together well, but each world had its own texture, its own style that was completely and utterly perfect considering their various inspirations.
The worlds were each reminiscent, if not practically exact to the style of their originals. I felt like I was in Corona. I felt like I was in the Toy Story world. It was as though I had jumped literally into the animator’s tablets at PIXAR and Walt Disney Animation Studios. Sora, Donald, and Goofy, looked as though they were meant to be in the Caribbean with Jack Sparrow. At the same time, they were meant to stand alongside Winnie the Pooh.
It was incredible and just stunning to go into these 3D worlds of some of the newest and best that Disney has to offer. Not to mention, with some of the most out of control detail I’ve ever seen. I mean, you could see the detail of the fibers, not just the texture, in the clothing. YOU COULD SEE THE STITCHING, oh my goshhhhhhh. (As a cosplayer, this detail was enough to drool over gosh darn it).
Not only were the details and styles practically word for word, animation still by animation still exact, but the worlds felt (and often times were) extremely immense. Port Royal of “Pirates of the Caribbean” in particular was this way. This was much to my surprise honestly considering the lack of care from the public for the “Pirates of the Caribbean” franchise as of late. My only guess was that it was one of the worlds they had been pre-determined to be involved after its success in KH2. As such it had been a world that the game designers had constantly gone back to work on whenever they had free time in between Final Fantasy games and were bored. Or maybe they all just really like Pirates. Who knows…¯\_(ツ)_/¯).
This both worked to Port Royal’s advantage and disadvantage. (I can’t tell you how annoyed I got running around from island to island and swimming in the ocean). It was clearly a labor of immense undertaking and while Port Royal was the largest by far, the other worlds were far from nothing to scoff at either.
Kingdom Hearts 3
“A Heart can live anywhere even if it’s just data.” – Sora
Now after 5 (really 14) years of waiting for this game, having beautiful worlds is one thing. But gameplay is a whole other monster to tackle. Ultimately, as I’ve always seen it with video games – video game “gameplay” experience is going to vary depending on who is playing and their preferences. I’m not a heavy gamer, but I enjoy strategy and having multiple capabilities while playing games. I also enjoy RPG style games, but have less fondness (ok, no fondness) for first person shooter games. (I just can’t – I get sick watching the movement.) All of these preferences will likely impact my overall view of the game’s “gameplay”
That said, unlike its predecessors, Kingdom Hearts III had a vast number of new gameplay experiences, techniques, and, in a sense, environments in which one could play. In addition to the numerous new Keyblades available to Sora (and other accessories), which has become a bit of a standard for most of the Kingdom Hearts games, Square Enix went out of its way to give Sora numerous and extensive new fighting techniques that could all be upgraded as well as maneuverability and customizable capabilities like never before. (And yes, that meant you could finally make that duck heal you (You hear that Donald? I’m calling you out like everyone else has).
From gorgeous, specialized keyblades (Crystal Snow and Ultima, oh my goshhhhh so pretty), to first person control of essential Disney Gundams in the Gigas (please don’t make me do that again), numerous minigames (“This looks like a good spot to find some ingredients”), and new “attraction” inspired features, Kingdom Hearts III was certainly no stranger this time around to wowing and engaging their audiences with new and unique ways to dive into their worlds. (And yes, the marketing ploy worked btw, I now seriously want to go to Disney World.)
Additionally, as mentioned before, Square Enix created a good number of worlds to explore throughout the game as well. The number of worlds available for exploration in Kingdom Hearts III totaled to 12 this time around. They included Traverse Town, Olympus, the Toy Box, the Kingdom of Corona, Monstropolis, the 100 Acre Wood, Arendelle, Port Royal, San Fransokyo, and the Keyblade Graveyard. (And technically, you could also count the Final World and Scala ad Caelum, so I do.) All of these world environments were extensive and executed beautifully. Some like Corona followed a particular path. Meanwhile others like Port Royal and the Toy Box were heavy on exploration.
After seeing all of the worlds, I found myself wishing that worlds such as Atlantis and Agrabah could have been brought back from previous games as well – both because they were really fun and because I just so desperately wanted to see more Disney worlds animated by Square Enix for the PS4 (not to mention, considering Olympus and the 100 Acre Woods were the only ‘2D’ worlds, they were AWESOME).
But aside from exclusion of more worlds (which may just be me being greedy, I’ll admit), there were other pitfalls though. Port Royal was long and tedious to the point where it was almost annoying to play. One was almost wishing the story would just hurry up so we could leave. This was a shame as it was clearly the world that had the most effort put into it. Gameplay (not story though) at times suffered from a huge number of interruptive cutscenes. (Again, these were not bad cutscenes, they were beautiful and needed to progress the plot. But as there was so much story, it meant delaying gameplay time).
I believe everyone also had personal gripes too. I wasn’t a fan of the fact that they choose to keep Battlegates mostly unavailable until after completing the entirety of the game. This annoyingly prevented 100% completion and trophy acquirement upon defeating the antagonist Xehanort. Additionally, I wished that languages could have been changed in game as well. (I’m sorry, but when you have kings and queens of voice actors in Japan such as Mamoru Miyano in a game, you better give me that option to change languages and not force me to buy an entire other disk in order to experience it… and then relearn all of the buttons… yes, I bought the Japanese version, don’t judge XD).
The biggest complaint I heard around the board though was that the X button seemed to be enough to beat anything while playing on Standard Mode. To be fair, it kinda was. Sora leveled up so fast. (Though apparently not fast enough to level out before Donald and Goofy. What the heck man, I’M the one over here doing all the work, not you. Go look for some ingredients, why don’t ya?) As a result, Square Enix ended up releasing ‘Critical Mode’ which now players have been finding impossible to get through so… uh, a win?
Despite the complaint voiced by many, and likely truth, that X was enough to get through the game alone on the Standard Mode though, I found that I still enjoyed the game for the variety of moves available which definitely carried me through the story even when times were rather slow. There was just something rather special about being able to use moves and keyblades so specific to those worlds. In a way, it just added to how immersive the game felt overall and with that nostalgic sense of Disney Magic everywhere you turned, it was a very exciting kind of experience to be able to play through the game. And you know what? I’d definitely play through it again.
The Overall Story
Kingdom Hearts III
“Does that Heart of Light come with a really good insurance policy?” – Xigbar
For a story as convoluted as the Kingdom Hearts saga is, it was inevitable that the writers for Kingdom Hearts III would be under immense pressure with a mammoth task of tying all of these various game plots and aspects together to conclude the series (did I say conclude? ha… ha…. OTL). To briefly summarize the enormity of the assignment given to writers…
They had three sets of three friends that had storylines left unfinished, an ancient history of keyblade wielders’ that had to be intertwined with current events, the story of two friends who found themselves on opposing theological sides of the duty of keyblade wielders, a broken organization rife with a desire to have ‘hearts’ of their own, and the final story laid in with the apprentices of the Master of Masters. More or less.
Oh, and don’t forget, this is taking place in worlds within Disney movies and even some lands inspired by Square Enix games (along with their characters). So yeah… no big deal… (I’m just kidding of course, it was a very big deal).
For all of that, one might think that it would become even more convoluted with the release of the third game in the series.
So imagine my surprise when I found it, for the most part, was very much so the opposite. In fact, for everything this story involved, it was pretty sasyncd storytelling. In fact, not only did it bring gamers along on a journey of discovery and adventure through the nostalgia of stories they knew through Disney, but it also took them on an emotional roller coaster speaking to the exact nature of what truly is the ‘heart’.
(And btw, when I say roller coaster, I seriously mean it – as I watched through cutscenes taking notes, more than half of my notes were emotional reactions to the story – perhaps I’ll let you all read all of those another day. 😉 )
That said, the story of Kingdom Hearts III was perhaps the most anticipated aspect of the game for players, namely because it had to wrap up so much. While both Disney and Square Enix promoted this game as a game in which “you didn’t have to play the previous games in order to understand what was going on” (to which many newcomers were happy to “breath a sigh of relief”… kind of.), I would argue this was half true.
Having primarily played KH and KH2, and having background knowledge already regarding the events in other games, I can state that things were indeed summarized relatively quickly and well without too much interruption to the narrative currently being told and there were ways one could go back and have the entirety of the past summarized outside of normal gameplay on the menu screen if they so wished.
The obvious downside to this though was that players unfamiliar with past games were only as emotionally involved at the beginning of the game as far as their understanding of past plot points were. So for instance, where as I was already invested in the stories of Sora and Roxas and their friends because I had played KH and KH2, I started out having less of an emotional connection to the stories of Ventus and his comrades.
Impressively though, I found that I did definitely become more invested in these stories over time. This was thanks in part to the tightness of the overall storytelling through out the game. Perhaps more so than Kingdom Hearts II and more impressively than the original Kingdom Hearts.
Game makers made the smart choices in not spending too much time overall on recounting past games and rather focused more on moving the story and it’s various elements forward, a choice that I think made for a more powerful and overall stronger end for the trilogy (thus far). If they had done otherwise, the game would have dragged out longer and it would have become massively tedious to get through where as here, the story flowed much more naturally.
Additionally, nearly each realm or world entered had a reason for existing in the story, creating a valuable storyline and purpose to gameplay. In the Toy Box, players learned about vessels. In Corona, we are introduced to the eminent threat of the danger to the new 7 Princesses of Heart. And in Monstropolis, there was a focus on what it takes to be a ‘complete’ heart – memories that create emotions. Everything involved had a purpose – there was nothing in the game that didn’t need to be there. (If anything, I’m pretty sure the biggest complaint was that we wanted more).
Most impressively though, all of the plot lines were intriguing and kept the audiences’ interests. They had good tie-ins and continuations of stories from previous games for the majority of the game. The explanation for as to why Sora was once again ‘weak’ was one that worked well (albeit standard and a little frustrating for long time players, but to be expected). The continuation of Riku’s story of redemption was unique – an introspection of forgiving oneself and accepting one’s past mistakes.
Players also got an insight into the intriguing relationship between Axel and Saix’s friendship from years past, a plot point only hinted at in previous games. Meanwhile, the final battle included giving Sora a battle capability from Union X Cross characters, adding nice depth, dimension, and yes, heart to those lost in the Keyblade Graveyard. And slowly as one made their way from world to world, we began to see characters coming together and uniting, while our main character continued to more desperately search for and desire for an understanding of the ‘heart’ to achieve the Power of Waking.
“Terra, I kept my promise” – Ventus
Indeed, gamers were also rewarded with many satisfying endings of the game. (And yes, amid numerous cut scenes, but I liked them okay?) With conclusions, reunions, and departures, the bittersweet nature of the story tugged at the heartstrings (no wonder this game series has the name that it does). Friends overcame falling short, were made to feel like “somebody”, accepted themselves and their pasts, found redemption, gained hope from one another, and learned what it means to have a “heart”, all in a gloriously tear-worthy ending.
Very deep stuff for technically a kids game and for that, I give nothing but my highest respect to the developers. Even more impressive though was that for all the many characters involved, we as players were still connected to them all and still followed one main story. The story of a young man weilding a key trying to find out what it means to have “a strong heart”.
The Disney Prince
Kingdom Hearts III
“My whole journey began the day I lost her and every time I find her, she slips away again. I thought we’d finally be together, but she’s out there alone not for one more second.” – Sora
Even with everything the game’s story provided, the main storyline of Sora’s journey remained the most striking. When you play in an RPG, you get attached to whoever you’re playing as. You struggle with them. You watch them get stronger. RPGs in many ways promote this – this feeling of communal understanding between you and the character going through the story. You tend to feel what they feel. Not to mention, you hurt when they hurt and you cry when they cry. And you’re happy when they’re happy. That’s the goal anyway.
But with Kingdom Hearts III, with so many plot points, how is it that we as an audience don’t fall into the trap of running off with the other subplots and characters? Particularly in a medium where players tend to self-insert themselves into the shoes of the main character (as they do tend to be more bland and one dimensional for that purpose), what is it about Sora that makes us feel so much for him and keeps him so unique, even with everything else going on?
If I may pose this theory – it has to do with Sora’s concept and creation. Sora was originally meant to embody Mickey Mouse. However, as time went on, he began to grow more as a person deeply involved with the many realms and characters of Disney movies (in a way, like many of us are), all of which involved some connection to Disney Magic. So what is Disney Magic? Some may say that Disney Magic is music, animation, princesses, adventure, and stories. I will argue though that it goes way beyond that.
Walt Disney was a legend for a reason – he put all of his heart and effort into his films and it was a mentality that still impacts the Walt Disney Company today. His stories, and Disney stories since, all have something in common – a heart. They are stories in which trials are overcome, hardships are endured, and characters discover what true strength is – a powerful feeling that allows us all to surpass whatever it is we face.
It’s a feeling that comes from the heart, indeed, even love. Isn’t it appropriate then in the beginning of this game that we start in Olympus? Where Hercules alludes to the fact that it was his love for Meg that allowed him to regain his strength? “For a true hero isn’t measured by the size of his strength, but by the strength of his heart.” Indeed, that entire catalyst is what starts and points Sora on the right direction towards the Power of Waking. That little hint that true strength comes from the “strength of his heart”.
And don’t we all wish we could be a little bit like Sora? He goes through a lot. Sora sees people struggle to get home and keep failing, despite their best intentions. He loses hope when he sees his friends fall. He feels lost in a world where sometimes, it just doesn’t seem like he’s needed. And yet, in spite of that, he holds onto his “heart” – he holds onto that feeling that he’s not even truly aware of that’s pushing him to keep fighting, to keep going. He holds onto love.
Particularly there is one moment, near the end of the game that I love that illustrates this. Everything kinda goes dark – like you’ve lost, and then suddenly, you hear those annoying two voices of Donald and Goofy coming not from the TV screen, but from your controller. You’re not even sure you’re hearing it correctly and then you blink and realize that’s where it’s coming from and you act on it, just as Sora would, and you come back to deliver that final attack, having remembered what you’re fighting for and in the utmost, most glorious state and BOOM, you’ve done it. You’ve completed Kingdom Hearts III.
That’s why in the end, especially in regards to Sora’s relationship with Kairi, I feel that we as an audience react so strongly. We’re proud of him – we’re happy for him – he’s finally realized what matters most to him and he’s willing to do whatever it takes to find and bring home the one he loves. Truly the boy becomes the Disney Prince, even as your heart breaks a bit, watching Sora go off using the Power of Waking to find her, bring her back, and then… disappear.
The Need for More
“Do you see? A heart is just pain.”
“Pain is being human, Xemnas.”
“Really? It must take incredible strength.”
I’ve written a good number of pages praising this game’s story at this point. I’m sure you are all sick of hearing that. I’m not going to lie, I went through a good deal of thoughts at the end of the game rolled into the credits. First being: WHY DID SORA DISAPPEAR OH MY GOSH CHILD I IS NOT HAPPY. And then, KAIRI WHY YOU LET YOUR PRINCE GOOOOOO?!? (Seriously, I’m not letting that go. We have plenty of Disney Princesses (and their mostly less notable princes), let’s make him THE Disney prince – #MakeSoraADisneyPrince ).
But after that initial reaction, I began to review the overall story in my head. Aside from realizing I needed to rewatch everything, the biggest gut feeling I had was quite simple:
Why couldn’t there be more?
Perhaps this is to the fault of the format (it is a game after all), but there just didn’t seem like there was enough. Maybe that’s just greed on my part, but as the (beautiful) credits continued, I just kept thinking of things I wanted more of.
I wanted more interaction between Kairi and Sora (after all, without knowledge of past games, their courtship in this game could almost be considered to have taken too long to have occured). Give me more Disney Villains, more worlds to explore. And of course, I wanted more Final Fantasy characters (seriously, that one was seriously lacking). Add in the fact that we had waited 14 years for this game and I felt at a total loss.
Now, don’t get me wrong, it was a GREAT story and frankly, I’m seriously impressed that the writers managed to do what they did – create a cohesive third act and perhaps even make the tightest story of the entire series. But there were things that not only felt missing at times, but also things that just didn’t make sense that needed more of a reasoning behind them. I would have loved to see more of Ventus, Aqua, and Terra’s past flashed back to.
I’d like to know the following too. If Kairi and Axel were busy training ALL THAT TIME, why on EARTH was she kidnapped so easily? Why were Maleficent and Pete the only ones of the Disney Villains with major roles? Was there more going on behind the scenes? Perhaps things with Ienzo and the other apprentices of Ansem the Wise that were maybe cut? And for the love of all things good in the world, WHERE WAS CLOUD?? (You’re making me wait for the remake, aren’t you Square Enix? Don’t think I can’t tell!!)
There were likely reasons why we didn’t get these elements and answers in this game. As I alluded to before – we have NO idea what went on behind the scenes in those meetings. We have no idea how hard it must have been bringing these many games together to create a ‘satisfying’ ending. We also have no idea what legal constraints had to be met. Nor do we know really how much more time they felt they could afford to give to cutscenes.
So while I am pointing out many remaining questions and some plot holes – perhaps better answered in a movie format rather than a game format, considering everything they were working with in this game, I generally consider these as more so minor complaints and more along the lines of my just wanting more.
But then there was that secret ending.
And that blew all my patience for the next game out of the water.
Kingdom Hearts 3
“There are hearts all around us,
you only have to see them for them to become real.”
Now, after alllllllllll of that, if you’re like me, you got the secret ending. You got the ending that you had to play through Port Royal for and had to BEAT THAT FRICKIN FLAN GAME FOR 1000% times over for. (Not bitter about that or the gummi ship at allllll….>> ) But you got it. And suddenly all of those questions that have sprung up as the credits rolled go away and feel like nothing.
Because you’re hit with a sense of “what did I just watch”.
That ending was one of the most WHAT WAS THAT endings I’ve watched in a long time. So let’s talk about it. Let’s talk about the fact that Sora has woken up in what is essentially Tokyo after disappearing upon returning Kairi home. (AND BTW WHAT IS RIKU DOING THERE HUH??)
Now I’m not sure how many people oversees got this. But Sora was in what is essentially downtown Shibuya. Meanwhile, Riku was in basically Shinjuku. I’m sure many people in Japan did. I did (I lived there). But that’s the thing – as I watched it – it hit like a ton of bricks. I kept thinking “Wait, I know that building. Wait, I’ve been there. I’ve stood there. WAIT WHAT THE HECK ARE THEY DOING IN TOKYO??” It was rather surreal.
Now, there are tons of theories floating out there. Many players noted that Sora and Riku are now likely in the land hinted at in the Toy Box. The land of the game Verum Rex. Said location looks like it takes place in an alternate reality version of Tokyo. Indeed, the character Yozora from the game is seen at the top of the Tocho.
Others have noted that the Shibuya 109 building is the same as it is in Tokyo. Save of course for the change to the number – now 104. Game designers did this in the game “The World Ends with You” as well, another Square Enix game by the same developers. This implies that they could’ve also landed in that world. This wouldn’t be too much of a stretch either, considering the characters from “The World Ends with You” have appeared in Kingdom Hearts 3D: Dream Drop Distance as non-playable characters.
Personally, the 104 is more likely of a nod to “The World Ends with You” I think. Indeed, they’ve likely landed in a world that is the world of Verum Rex or one more closely based off of it. (Come on, why else would they bother with trying to get you revved up for it with that trailer in the Toy Box or through using the Gigas?) I have one other theory personally that I like way better which I’d like to share:
I wonder if there is the potential that Square Enix is implying that they’ve literally landed in our reality. That Verum Rex is quite literally our world.
Now, why would I think that would be cool? Because in our world, Walt Disney existed. He lived in our reality. And he was the mastermind and catalyst for what created everything in the realm of Kingdom Hearts. No, he didn’t create the Final Fantasy elements, but literally without Walt Disney, Nomura never would have pitched the idea. He never would have thought to bring the two worlds together. And if Sora is indeed in our world, it means (for the purposes of the story) that our world is connected to the worlds of Kingdom Hearts.
It would also have heavy implications that our world – our love for all of these wonderful characters would thus be the thing powering the worlds visited in the Kingdom Hearts series (Come on Square Enix think about the money making power that could give you). Even cooler, when you think of it like that – what if OUR world was the ultimate “Kingdom Hearts”? What if that’s why it should never be opened?
Because if we were to actually encounter real versions of our beloved characters and knew that we were powering them – it could throw everything in the worlds of Disney into chaos. The characters of Verum Rex are aware of this. Meanwhile, Sora’s there because our love for these worlds has begun to diminish. He’s there to bring back the power of our love for these worlds. But he can’t alert us to the fact that these worlds do in fact exist. BOOM. Mic drop. I’m out.
Not really out. In any event, if you can’t tell, I really rather enjoyed the secret ending of Kingdom Hearts III. My theory is full of plot holes I’m sure. But still, the ending was really exciting and makes me eager for the next game. (Whenever that will be of course -insert eyeroll here-.) But no, DANG IT. If Sora is a Disney Prince, I’ve never wanted to be a Disney Prince more in my life XD. (Mostly because Tokyo is my fav, most loved place outside of my hometown. But SERIOUSLY DISNEY PRINCE.)
#MakeSoraADisneyPrince . I’m not letting that drop.
I think though the theory I outlined above and of course talks of Disney here bring me to my end points about the game. It was beautiful, gorgeous, and a magnificent undertaking by Square Enix, Pixar, and Disney. Graphics and music were out of control. The story incredibly brought to fruition the ending desired by most if not all players. (Minus the fact that they’re separated again of course. Come on though. After Final Fantasy VII, X and X-2, we had to know that Square Enix loves to deny us the love story endings we desire.)
But most of all, the creators of the game didn’t make or treat Kingdom Hearts III just as a huge cash grab type of project. Yes, they got money, but they didn’t have to do it and the developers didn’t treat it that way.
Rather, they choose to create this game and they succeeded in bringing with the project that irresistible, nostalgic, and beautiful Disney Magic. The magic that makes you believe in people. To believe that what you’re doing will one day all be worth it, that true friendships can in fact exist. And really – that’s kinda the beautiful magic that Disney brings to us. And Disney does so in a world filled with turmoil, massive responsibilities, burdens, and a lack of light. It brings us that light – that love.
Could you beat the game via pressing X? Yes. Could we have asked for more plot? Yes. But that… in the long run to me, doesn’t really matter. The heart of the story – Sora – was a stunning example of what makes us all keep coming back to Disney. We love it because it helps us get through the hard times. It helps reminds us that good things can come. And that while there is darkness in the world at times, there we can also find light and happiness. And that happiness is brought on by love and compassion which perhaps truly is the true magic Walt always intended to be shared by his company, Disney.
PS. Oh my gosh why is this 12 pagessss long. I didn’t even talk about the monster child plot point that is Xigbarrrrrrr. (Seriously, what even Xigbar, what even???) OTL Ah, well, another time. 😉
Disclaimer: I own none of these images, though I did admittedly screencap a BUNCH of them. XD Additionally, these are my reactions to the game – none of them are ‘right or wrong’. They’re just reactions and opinions and theories. (And yes, I know my theories are just that, theories that could go against the canon.) However, there was literally so much to this game and the series itself. It was impossible to include it all. So just because I didn’t mention something, it doesn’t mean I’m ignoring it – this article was just getting too long. Thank you for understanding!