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I replayed I and II leading up to Kingdom Hearts III coming out and thought that would be enough to get me caught up on the story.
Boy was I wrong.
I had no idea what was going on AT ALL throughout my entire 40 hour playthrough of the game. Apparently there are 7-8 other games I had no idea existed that are integral to understanding III's story. More so than I and II. Wish I'd known about that going in.
The gameplay is fun, though. 10/10 would sit through confusing cutscenes again.
As mention at YMMV section, the game is indeed have massive flaws for the supposef Grand Finale of Xehanort Saga. Even though Nomura did a good job to tie up some of the loose end from previous games, he ended up creating more loose end than the one he tried to solve. In addition of not exploring enough the backstory a few characters that doesn't get enough characterization from II, many worlds were wasted for the potential of telling an original story instead of just retelling the story from their original franchise. Overall, the game is enjoyable and fun to play but wasn't enough to qualify as the Grand Finale of the game.
So, KH 3 is here and with it we get not the end of Kingdom Hearts as a series, but "merely" the end of the Xehanort saga, spanning a whopping 9 entries across various systems and 17 years of releases. In some respects, it really is like the Avengers: Infinity War of video games - plot threads from every single previous entry reappear and tie together in this game's narrative, several of which I thought were complete throwaways or retconned earlier in the franchise, and overall bring about a satisfying and grand conclusion to this story while setting up a few things to explore later, as well as giving us one hell of a twist epilogue and an interesting secret movie after the credits.
Gameplay-wise, KH 3 is something of a "best of" regarding mechanics of previous games - we've got Flowmotion from DDD, Links and Shotlocks from BBS (as well as an adaptation of Style Changes specific to the Keyblade/magic you're using), and of course, Reaction Commands and the general floaty combat from KH 2, though here they're significantly toned down to avoid the "press triangle to win" strategy that would let you plow through the game. It's great overall.
But it would be remiss of me to not mention my one huge issue with this game: the world Arendelle, aka Frozen. Now, I have no strong feelings on the movie, having never seen it, so that's not why I hate this world - I hate it because of all worlds in all KH games, this feels most like a theme park attraction of a setting and storyline. Unlike every other world where they get involved in the events going on and have meaningful interactions with the protagonists and antagonists of the story, Sora and co. literally more or less just watch as the plot of the movie unfolds on its own without their involvement. Sure, they MEET Elsa, Anna, Sven, and Olaf, but that's as far as their interactions go. The three most standout examples of this crap are 1. the entirety of "Let It Go" being present in the game as a cutscene that adds NOTHING to the "story" with Sora (who even comments afterwards "I don't know what we just saw"), 2. Hans showing up all of two times and NEVER TALKING (so an uneducated viewer has no idea why he's the bad guy), and 3. Sora, Donald and Goofy getting knocked off the peak of the mountain and having to climb back up TWICE, all while the plot goes on without them. I don't know what prompted this creative decision, it really doesn't seem like Nomura's style, but I can't think of a valid reason to insult the fanbase like this.
That being said, that's 1 world of 11 done wrong - everything else I had no problems with, and as is the case with most KH games, playing this game brought me back to my childhood and reminded me of better and simpler times, though it not being afraid to get dramatic and sad also elevated the quality. Would gladly recommend to anyone who's played the previous games - if you haven't, this won't be anywhere near as enjoyable.
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