Kingdom Hearts III E3 Impression 2
My Kingdom Hearts III journey began as I headed toward Dragon Quest XI. After checking in, I was directed, mistakenly or otherwise, to the Kingdom Hearts III booth instead. Taking it in stride, I quickly set up shop in front of the kiosk and prepared myself for an entirely different experience than the one I expected. And that’s exactly what I received. My time with Kingdom Hearts III was equal parts a nostalgia overload and modern Square Enix nonsense, one I have difficulty parsing on a personal level.
The demo, titled Toy Box, brought Sora, Donald, and Goofy to the world of Toy Story, where the trio was rather effectively turned into action figures and brought to arms against Heartless who had done the same. The opening of the demo was a lengthy cutscene setting the situation: Andy is missing and the toys are all waiting around for him to come back. During that time, an anime-haired dude wearing a black trench coat — maybe Kingdom Hearts fans know who this is, I didn’t — appeared and brought the Heartless with them. With Sora and company helping to clarify the situation, they realize they must head to a nearby toy store. And then some Heartless attack.
I have to admit, I’m not the biggest Kingdom Hearts fan. But visually the game is astounding. The Toy Story characters could nearly pass for their movie renditions, helped no doubt by the cartoon aesthetic. Battles play out beautifully, if incredibly simply. Fights can be easily won by smashing the attack button while occasionally dodging or blocking. I’ll admit I did die once as I wasn’t paying attention to my health, but I chalk that up entirely to inexperience with the combat system. Also, is it supposed to be a hassle to cast magic? Either I had to move my right hand to the D-Pad to operate the menu or Sora would stand there dumbly while I quickly tried to cast Fira. It didn’t matter too much, the magic was unnecessary.
Several times, mostly by accident, I hit a button that would activate a special ability that would lay waste to entire hordes of enemies in a grand, visual flourish. One involved Sora conjuring a bunch of teacups, large enough to ride in like the theme park ride where they obviously got the idea, that spun around the battlefield, bashing opponents left and right. Another summoned another classic theme park ride, the swinging ship, that bashed enemies that were unfortunate enough to pass underneath. I absolutely loved these bits, partly because they were so visually captivating and partly because they play into the childhood wonder the mega-corporation Disney has infected me with.
After these fights end, more cutscenes began and I quickly lost interest before finally skipping them, context be damned. Perhaps some context would have been good, for when I was handed control again, Sora was now in the cockpit of a miniaturized mech called Gigas at the toy store. I think it was called a Gigas, Ham mentioned it. Anyways, now in a mech, I was tasked with dispatching more mechs in a very simplistic fashion. While there wasn’t too much to these fights, the enemy mechs were so easy to maneuver around they proved no challenge at all, I appreciate the effort put into place to not only change up the gameplay but to also have it fit the Toy Story setting. After defeating all the enemies, the demo promptly ended.
All in all, Kingdom Hearts III had a meaty showing at E3 this year and this demo was no exception. For a game that has been anticipated for what seems like forever, there is a lot there for fans of the series to appreciate. Newcomers, like myself, better have a fonder perspective on Disney than I to carry them through some pretty dire voice acting, exclusively from Sora, and exposition-heavy cutscenes. Will Kingdom Hearts III find a new audience despite its extended absence from home consoles? I have no idea, I suppose we will all find out together when the game releases on PlayStation 4 and Xbox One on January 29, 2018.