It’s been thirteen years since Kingdom Hearts II came out and five years since Kingdom Hearts III was announced. On Friday May 18th, 2018 select people were invited to attend the KH3 Premiere event where an actual game demo was playable.
We saw a short 25 minute presentation with the Director of the game Tetsuya Nomura, Co-Director Tai Yasue, along with their interpreter Aileen Matsuoka, and led by the Community Manager Sunil Godhania. Everything, from the theme of the game to how they went about creating the different worlds and how each character interacted in the worlds, was talked about.
The Kingdom Hearts III Demo
The demo I got to play had two worlds in it. The first world was Olympus, where I got to make Sora climb up what I’m assuming is Mt. Olympus to fight against the Rock Titan, while the second world was Toy Box, which is the world based off of the Toy Story Franchise. Each world had its unique elements: Olympus was more of a boss battle while Toy Box gave us more room to explore the world. I got to see Andy’s room as well as the street he lives on all while fending off the heartless. The game itself looked gorgeous on both Xbox One x and PS4 Pro, however the game was utilized better on the Ps4 just by a little compared to Xbox. It was incredible to see cutscenes flow into the gameplay effortlessly without changing graphic quality at all: for example, woody and Buzz looked exactly the same in the cutscenes as they did while playing the game.
New mechanics in Kingdom Hearts III
The player movement felt very smooth. I was able to move Sora seamlessly through the level with ease. What amazed me was that the game kept all of the mechanics that were in the previous installments, including all of the side games. There was flow motion from Dream Drop Distance, and aerial dodge and high jump made comebacks from Kingdom Hearts II. Yet they didn’t just stop at keeping the old mechanics, they also added brand new mechanics that made the game nothing like any Kingdom Hearts game before it has ever been. What caught my attention first was that Sora’s main weapon, his Keyblade, could transform into different objects. I got to try out three brand new Keyblades while exploring around Toy Box. Each Keyblade was based off the Toy story, Tangled and Monsters Inc worlds and ranged anywhere from a giant Hammer, to two yo-yo’s, to a giant staff. Each Keyblade also had different effects: for example, when Sora dodges while holding the mirage staff, he creates an after image that would also attack at the same time he attacked.
Another new mechanic were the attraction flow attacks that were triggered during certain points of the game. The ability to use these rides definitely brought the magic that you feel when riding them in person. One of the attractions is based off of the car in Buzz Lightyears Astroblasters, and while using this attraction flow attack I wanted to hit as many things as I could as if I was actually on the ride itself. Being able to attack the Rock Titan while riding a weaponized version of Big Thunder Mountain Railroad was exhilarating. It wasn’t just spamming the attack button as fast as humanly possible. The Rock Titan would try and punch Sora out of the sky and you’d have to aim at his fists to dodge them.
New worlds in Kingdom Hearts III
Both worlds in the demo felt larger than life. Having to climb up mountains and dodge boulders being thrown from the Rock Titan made the world feel very dynamic. I not only went vertical but had to actually climb up the Tock Titan himself. The weather in the world went from sunny to rainy and really tested the power of the current gen systems because there was no lag at all. Toy Box was even better than what I got to try in Olympus. There were new enemies that were bigger and badder that I had to figure out how to defeat. The Galaxy Toy’s part of the world itself was made up of three different floors that were explored to progress the games story. At one point the game required Sora to use vents to get to the next area and it took quite a while to find it. I explored the toy store for at least 45 minutes before asking one of the staff where it was. Surprisingly, after finishing the demo I learned that a lot of other people had a hard time finding the vents also so I felt a little relieved. It just goes to show how big these levels are and the importance of exploring everywhere.
New Heartless in Kingdom Hearts III
While exploring the worlds Sora, always ran into heartless. The demo had heartless both new and old for him to battle with. One of the bigger heartless that were fought were a brand new type called Gigas, giant mech robots that when defeated Sora could jump into them and control them. What was awesome was there were three types of Gigas, all color coordinated and each with a different special attack. My favorite of the new enemies fought was probably the Kaiju’s – giant reptilian dragon dinosaur toys that actually moved like a kid playing with his toys when attacking. Their movements were very stiff and easy to dodge, but it was fun to figure out their fight patterns. The boss battle at the end was a giant anime-like doll with bunny ears and glowing yellow eyes that was very creepy.
I’ve been waiting to get my hands on some type of playable demo since it was first announced back in 2013, but like a lot of people I’ve always been waiting for this game to come out for 15 years. After playing it today I can say that it was completely worth the wait. Kingdom Hearts is the one video game franchise I’ll always say is my favorite and will continue to support it for as long as I can!