Bangkok, Thailand – Aside from Spider-Man and the Resident Evil 2 remake, probably the game that got the most attention the recently concluded PlayStation Experience 2018. was the much-awaited third installment for Kingdom Hearts III. A lot of expectations were riding on this one especially since the last major numbered game released more than a decade ago. We got our slimy little hands at the game and now I am giving to you my first impressions. Please do keep in mind that these are all based on the demo presented at the booth. This is an early assessment of the game so things might change when the retail version rolls out next year.
I played the demo on a PlayStation 4 PRO. The game only featured 2 stages at that time. The first one I chose was Olympus, which is of course a world based on Disney’s Hercules. The scenario was really short as the game immediately drops you in a boss fight against a Rock Titan. You start off at the base of the mountain as you walk-climb along the side while dodging rocks that the boss throws out at you. The sequence going to the boss was pretty easy to be honest, you only needed some quick analog taps left or right, as you can see the boulders coming a mile away.
The fight between the Rock Titan was pretty easy and straight-forward to say the least. You needed to aim its legs to knock it down then leap up to its head for massive damage. I was pleasantly surprised (and initially confused) at one of the ultimate team attack moves in the game- the Big Magic Mountain where you hop on a train and dish out fireworks towards the Titan. It was eye-candy levels of flashy, but it is not really something that felt new for the franchise.
For some reason, in the demo I felt that the controls were kinda slow and lagging. The input was kinda delayed and it somehow translates in the Keyblade swings, maybe it was the trait of that particular weapon? I guess we’ll know how this fares in the coming months.
The second scenario was the Toy Box from Pixar’s Toy Story. This world is significantly bigger in terms of story and gameplay compared to the first one. In Toy Box we find our beloved Toy Story characters in Andy’s room finding out that Andy, his sister and his mom has vanished. Additionally, strange things happen right after the appearance of some heartless – Buzz’s laser apparently working.
The real star of the story hands-down has to be Rex, I won’t spoil his quips for now but he said that he recalls Sora, Goofy and Donald because he is a big fan of the Kingdom Hearts series and he plays it all the time. Hilarious stuff.
After dishing out a few of the small-fry baddies we were also re-introduced to young Xehanort in an Organization XIII robe. When all is said and done the gang got together to try and figure out all the weird happenings in their neighborhood – all the while curious as to where Sora, Goofy and Donald actually came from. After a short recon mission from Sarge the Toy Soldier, the group went outside the house and headed to another familiar place in the lore called Galaxy Toys.
As you might expect, we got to encounter a lot of battles en route to our destination. One of the enemies that I fondly remember from KH 1 and 2 that made his return is the rotund baddie called Large Body. It was nice fighting this big boy again and remembering his weak spot!
Once at the toy store, the heroes find out that the toy’s has been possessed by the Young Xehanort, who uses it to his advantage by mind-controlling the biggest robots he could find. Sora, on the other hand played fire with fire and mounted an robot toy for himself – leading to a cute mech vs mech battle.
Again flashy fights and superb ultimate team-up sequences happen. I loved the rocket sequence especially hitting it at the right moment, ending the battle and the demo altogether. Trademark KH fanfare.
Overall, the demo was a nostalgic feeling that took be back in the days of my well-loved PlayStation 2 console. Although some scenes and voice-acting fell flat for me (Woody I’m looking at your lifeless eyes) overall, the charm is definitely there. The one slightly negative thing I felt though after playing the demo… Is that it seemed like they really never dabbled on anything new, it felt like they didn’t take a risk and stuck with the old formula. Yeah I know, if it an’t broke, don’t fix it right? But somehow I really wanted to expect more from Kingdom Hearts 3… It felt simple and safe. But hey! This is just the demo guys, maybe they’ll hand out the big guns when the full game finally releases next year.
Unless, true to Squeenix form… They delay it again.