So, when I do my primary impressions, I like to work a little differently. Instead of sitting down and composing my thoughts calmly, I figure it’s more fun (or funny) to get an hour-by-hour snapshot of the game as I spin in circles through maps and scream at bosses. So I hunkered down for six hours and played the all new Kingdom Hearts III. Here’s how that went:

Hour 1

Okay, so we’re back in the swing of things! It’s nostalgic to hear the old sound effects and titles. And yes, there are way too many openings, so not much as changed. Still, it’s a nice reminder of all that’s come before. Now, I do have to say that this game takes a LONG time to load, but with these shiny, sleek new designs, I should be more understanding. Still, it’s a lot of processing power on the old PlayStation 4, so I got a little nervous.

Tutorial’s the same always – stained glass floor, ominous dream questions, pick your poison. I chose Wisdom and Warrior, and having little scenes to choose from rather than concepts was fun. Still, the way the story starts after is…confusing? We’re thrown right to Yen Sid to go on another quest. Why? We JUST got home in the last game, and now we’re leaving with no explanation? Seems weird, but okay. And then they have the audacity to throw “Kingdom Hearts II.9” at me at the start of the first level. Hold the phone, what? So we’re not even playing the actual game yet? Good grief! I get that these games have a ton of intros but that’s just rude.

Well, I just got to Thebes so let’s see how the first world shapes up…Hades is already great.

Hour 2

Was the voice acting always this…weird? It feels kind of stilted. Was Donald this annoying last time too? Maybe I’ve been wearing my nostalgia-googles a little too long. Thebes is a fun world with new Heartless designs and new climbing abilities. We finally got some Organization XIII exposition so that’s always a good time. The combat is fluid but I’m having a lot of trouble with flowmation. That and I keep getting turned around (even with a map, I am useless). I am hoping that I’m at the 50% mark for Olympus but…well… who knows. Time to scale a mountain.

It’s also been made clear that Sora, somehow, has lost all his powers and so has to go on a journey to get them back. Which I guess makes sense, given that they need to have a reason for us to start at the beginning. Still, a little more exposition would have been nice, more connection at the beginning.

Hour 3

Okay, so I finally got through the Olympus level. Donald STILL refuses to heal you when you really need it, so the more things change…but still, I really liked the way the combat has become so responsive. The attractions are a lot of fun to use in combat, as are the team combo attacks. I just got the new keyblade so I’m dying to try its capabilities on the next level. Not sure which one that is yet since Maleficent and Pete are on some weird question.

Now is a good time to talk about the game’s loading screens. They often have pictures and captions, with some seriously cheesy hashtags, like it’s Instagram. It feels like it’s trying to collect to the millennials, which is…a choice. One that is going to age this game badly.

Sometimes my console can’t process how fast the game is going and it…blips? It goes dark for a hot second which is sort of terrifying mid-battle. Does anyone else have that problem? Hopefully it’s not indicative of something worse.

Hour 4

Oh look, here’s King Mickey and Riku on the search for Aqua. Was that a thing? When did all of this happen? WAS I ASLEEP? There’s been a lot of catch up with Yen Sid, getting all the new equipment, stating the “mission” and getting all the new tech in so most of that ate up the hour. Also finally, FINALLY in Hour 4, we got the last freaking title card. WE DID IT! The game starts now!…four whole hours in.

It’s a weird change to have one of the Disney worlds be the starter world that we have to get used to before moving on. I do miss Twilight Town and Traverse Town, but I guess they wanted to get Hercules out of the way. Plus, the next world is Twilight Town so it’s not like it’s gone missing. Olympus was a good time, and though we had pretty limited characters, hopefully they are saving the best for later.

Sora’s new outfit looks great, and it’s cool to see former-Organization members on the good guys team. Still, when I asked for more exposition I didn’t mean THIS MUCH. But hey, now we’re going to romp around Twilight Town!

Hour 5

Did I say romp? I meant torture ourselves with a long and stupid mini-boss fight that is so disorienting and annoying that it took me over 40 minutes to finally defeat. No matter how you change the settings, Donald still refuses to heal you which is the world’s most frustrating glitch. You can have nothing but a sliver of health but the duck will still try and shoot fire at the demon horde. HEAL ME YOU INSOLENT MALARD!

We get introduced to the Hidden Mickeys aka the “lucky emblem” where we have to take photos of the symbol to bring you “luck” – whatever that means. Probably just another accomplishment to try and unlock trophies. Maybe it’s how you unlock the Sephiroth fight? 

Also, a word to the wise, there’s no save point between the point before the Olympus boss battle and the end of the Twilight Town mini-boss which is ridiculously frustrating. For me, it took over two hours to get between the two points, so I hope it goes better for you guys and you don’t have a power outage or anything.

Hour 6

It wouldn’t be Twilight Town without exposition and mini-games! Thankfully, it’s more the latter than the former, but still, so much exposition. There is a lot going on with this game and I’m not getting the emotion behind it to justify it. So before, Sora’s mission is to save Aqua. Now he wants to separate Roxas from his own heart so that he can live. Organization XIII wants that too, so that Sora can be drawn into the darkness but why that is exactly is…confusing. I mean, to be fair, Kingdom Hearts has always been a few sheets to the wind when it comes to plot stability, but it’s a lot all at once. Either way, I’m having fun smashing Heartless with the pirate ship so you give, you get.

I did get to the cooking with Remy mini-game with is, essentially, Cooking Mama but way shorter. I got all of the different versions of the mini-game down except for the pepper grinder one, which I was always too fast or too slow, so we’ll have to see what happens there. Remy doesn’t talk (probably couldn’t get Patton Oswalt so they figured why bother), so there’s not much interaction there. Still, as far as mini-games go, it’s pretty good. 

I also unlocked the classic-style mini game from the movie poster but haven’t had a chance to play yet, given that after six hours of video games my brain starts to melt. I don’t have the stamina I used to, it seems.

In Conclusion

Like I said, the more things change, the more they stay the same. I’m not sure that’s a bad thing in this case though. It definitely still feels like a Kingdom Hearts game, even with the new gadgets and additions. For me personally, the combat feels fluid, and the environments are smooth and interactive. I did get stuck a few times in some trees or in a corner, but only for a second. The animation is also very fluid and well-rendered but the dialogue feels sort of choppy and rushed. Not sure if they wanted to just push the dub out as fast as they could or if the budget just wasn’t there for re-takes. Either way, if you’re a fan like me, you’ll enjoy it throughly. If not, I think your mileage may vary.

About The Author

Sara Roncero-Menendez

A reporter by trade, Sara is a lover of horror, sci-fi, and all things pop culture. From indies to classics to even the strangest schlock, all movies and TV shows are fair game. She believes Batman is the most fascinating superhero, and that Silent Hill is one of the best horror franchises ever made (as long as you don't count the movies). Fun Fact: The only movie Sara will not rewatch is The Room -- once was more than enough.