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Game Review

The game box may say Kingdom Hearts III, but the fact is, there have been some dozen different games in this long-running series. This latest chapter, though, is supposedly the final wrap-up of the primary story trilogy—a tale that is an odd-but-beloved blending of Final Fantasy JRPG (Japanese role-playing game) characters with everything Disney.

If you or yours are new to this concept, well, settle in. This Square Enix game isn’t easy to get your mind around quickly. The series’ Mickey-and-the-gang-meet-dark-world-destroying-angst storyline can feel charming, but it’s also dense, twisting and—like many JRPGs—complex enough to be totally confusing.

I’ll try to boil things down into their simplest form and give you a thumbnail sketch of what’s going on.

Donald, King Mickey, Xehanort and More

So, among the numerous wicked people in this tale, there’s a central baddie: a bald, evil-eyed fellow named Master Xehanort. After many years of twisting and turning effort, he’s essentially creating a war between some good guys (The Seven Guardians of Light) and some not-so-good guys (The Seekers of Darkness of Organization XIII). To do that, Xehanort is forging a legendary weapon called the X-blade, and eventually he just wants to plunge everything into darkness.

(Cue an evil hand-wringing chortle.)

Anyway, because of this bald baddy’s efforts, you step up, as a young Keyblade master named Sora. He’s been the central protagonist, for the most part, throughout the series. This spikey haired teen has lost memories, shared other people’s “hearts,” gained and lost great powers, battled scores of inky-black malevolent creatures … and made his way through challenge after challenge. With the help of Donald Duck and Goofy—and many other Disney heroes along the way—Sora sets off to find lost Keyblade Masters who can serve as the Guardians of Light in the upcoming Keyblade War.

Got it? Yes? No? Well, trust me, that’s a very simplified version of things.

The basic action, however, involves traversing a fantasy realm that encompasses a wide variety of Disney and Pixar worlds—such as the worlds of Frozen, Tangled, Hercules, Pirates of the Caribbean, Winnie the Pooh, Toy Story and Big Hero 6. And for the most part, it’s a colorfully endearing adventure. Each level follows the basic formula of rehashing a given film world’s story, albeit in abbreviated form. But along the way, Sora also flies into battle with various monsters as he follows the story's main quest.

Too Dark to Be Goofy?

Oh, and on that monster front, I should mention that while there are quite a wide variety of battling beasties, big and small, they generally come in two types: the Heartless and the Nobodies. The Heartless are creatures whose hearts have been corrupted by darkness, leaving them as black, spirit-like entities with no body or soul. And Nobodies are, in essence, the empty, malignant shells left behind.

Sora—along with all the other good guys who can wield those large key-like weapons—chops, bashes and smashes these creatures over and over and over again with special attacks and combos. Sora can also pull in Disney friends like Goofy, Mickey and Donald, for powerful team attacks. And he can dial up large-scale assaults based on Disney theme park rides. Sora rides about in a magically crated Disney park train or Caribbean pirate ship, for instance, and he blasts away at enemies within range (with the slain all disappearing in a puff of smoke).

If anything, Kingdom Hearts III’s odd, Eastern-tinged magic and spirit beings seem the most troubling aspect here. Yes, the overall goal of the game is one of light, goodness and friendship. But when you're battling foes that don’t possess a heart, or those who possess many hearts (or spirits and memories), or partial hearts … it all starts to feel a bit questionable. Especially when looked at from the perspective of a Christian mom or dad.

There’s Disney charm and color here, to be sure. It’s all the rest that makes Kingdom Hearts III an uncomfortable realm to live in for a hundred hours of play.

Positive Elements

Spiritual Content

Sexual Content

Violent Content

Crude or Profane Language

Drug and Alcohol Content

Other Negative Elements

Conclusion

Pro-social Content

Objectionable Content

Summary Advisory

Plot Summary

Christian Beliefs

Other Belief Systems

Authority Roles

Profanity/Violence

Kissing/Sex/Homosexuality

Discussion Topics

Additional Comments/Notes

Episode Reviews

Credits

Rating

Readability Age Range

Author

Cast

Director

Distributor

Network

Performance

Record Label

Platform

Xbox One, PlayStation 4

Publisher

Square Enix

Released

January 29, 2019

On Video

Year Published

Awards

Reviewer

Bob Hoose

We hope this review was both interesting and useful. Please share it with family and friends who would benefit from it as well.

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