The Dark Seeker saga has come to an end, but for all its strengths, the conclusion stumbles in a few areas.
There’s a lot of awkwardness in Kingdom Hearts 3’s dialogue and dialogue delivery that just cannot be denied. The writing itself can be a bit too obtuse at times and can get all too caught up in itself – something that fans of the series might probably be immune to by now – while the delivery of the writing in terms of voice acting is also a bit inconsistent. While some characters have been voiced very well, others seem to lack the emotional range and gravitas that scenes require of them. Then there are smaller issues, like repeated dialogue prompts that are cued way too often during exploration sections- we get it, Donald. This might be a good place to find ingredients, and yes, we know there might be a Hidden Emblem nearby.
The Gummi Ship sections are quite divisive- while there are many hardcore Kingdom Hearts fans who adore these sections, there are others who cannot stand them. Props have to be given to Kingdom Hearts 3 for expanding upon them quite significantly, shedding their previous on-rails nature and giving us larger areas to fly about in and even tackle some side objectives in. Ultimately, though, it just doesn’t land very well. While it can be a bit of light, mindless fun in short doses, Kingdom Hearts 3 seems to focus on the Gummi Ship more than it should.
SOME WORLDS FEEL EMPTY
Traversing Disney worlds and interacting with places that have been such an integral part of our childhoods is one of the biggest draws of Kingdom Hearts games. Kingdom Hearts 3 takes us to many iconic and beloved Disney worlds, but it doesn’t always do them enough justice. Some worlds just feel too empty and are lacking in interactivity. The main objective often feels like the only real objective worth pursuing in many of the Disney worlds we visit, and the fact that Kingdom Hearts 3 doesn’t do more with these iconic locations is a little disappointing.
Speaking of iconic Disney locations, there’s none that’s more revered and beloved as much as Toy Story and its Toy Box. Excitement was sky high when it was announced that Woody and Buzz would be crossing paths with Sora, Donald, and Goofy in Kingdom Hearts 3. And while the simple fact that we get to see them and interact with them and just exist in the same world as them is surely enough for loads of people, it’s hard to shake the feeling that Kingdom Hearts 3 wastes the potential of a world that is otherwise ripe with potential. To say nothing of the fact that a large portion of it devolves into uninspired mech battles, Kingdom Hearts 3’s Toy Box takes us to a huge toy store, whereas many would have preferred instead to brave the simple dangers of crossing a busy street as toys, or sneaking about Andy’s house while trying to hide from his Mom, or breaking into his mean neighbour’s house to maybe rescue a toy in need.
DISNEY STORIES DON’T ALWAYS GEL WELL WITH THE LARGER NARRATIVE
As Kingdom Hearts has progressed as a series, it has stopped relying on Disney worlds and become more confident in its own story, and the larger tale of Master Xehanort and Organization XIII has taken centerstage. That is truer than ever in Kingdom Hearts 3, and is something that fans of the series absolutely love about it- but it doesn’t always know how to reconcile its Disney worlds with that larger story. While a few Disney worlds fit in nicely with the tale that Kingdom Hearts 3 spins, other feel like they’re breaking up the pace, don’t really have much to contribute to the main narrative, or just don’t fit with it too well.
THE LACK OF FINAL FANTASY CHARACTERS
When Kingdom Hearts started out, it began as an ambitious crossover between Disney properties and Final Fantasy characters in a backdrop of its own creation, but as time has gone on, Final Fantasy characters have started mattering less and less. In Kingdom Hearts 3, they’re virtually non-existent. While for series fans it’s exciting to see the series’ own story being front and centre – and understandably so – there are many who feel a little miffed by the lack of representation from the Final Fantasy series.
NO WORLD MAP SCREEN
This is a relatively smaller complaint, but it’s one that has popped up quite a bit. While exploring the many worlds and locations of Kingdom Hearts 3, there’s no way to bring up a larger map to view its size and scope in entirety, and to be able to figure out your ultimate destination with regards to your current location. All you have to go on is a small mini map in the corner of the screen, and it feels a little weird that such a basic feature is missing from the game. Hopefully, future patches will fix this issue.
How hard or easy a game should be is a delicate balance that not all games manage to strike, and Kingdom Hearts 3 definitely falls in the category of games that don’t. It’s a game that’s almost too easy for the vast majority of its runtime, even on harder difficulties, so much so that even “Hard” (or “Proud”) feels like “Normal”- if that. Coming up against massive bosses that should be putting up much more of a challenge but don’t ultimately do so can be disappointing, while combat by and large ends up feeling like it doesn’t need much active participation from the player either.
COMBAT IS TOO BUTTON MASH-Y
This is a point that ties in with the previous one- combat is inherently way too easy in Kingdom Hearts 3, and because of that – or maybe even the other way around – it ends up feeling too button mash-y. Though Kingdom Hearts 3 gives players a plethora of options, moves, combos, and attacks to choose from in any given combat scenario, owing to its low difficulty, it never incentivizes or encourages anything that requires a lot of skill.
ATTRACTIONS AND KEYBLADE TRANSFORMATIONS
Special moves during combat, such as Attractions and Keyblade Transformations, are a dime a dozen in Kingdom Hearts 3, to the point where they end up feeling not that special after all. The game lets you trigger these huge attacks all too often, and while they’re a visual feast, they can end up losing heir value as a result. There’s also the fact that sitting through these animations and cutscenes time and again can end up feeling a little annoying- but at least these can be turned off, so that part isn’t as much of an issue.