What I Want From Kingdom Hearts III

It’s been six years since the last Kingdom Hearts game was released (thirteen if you don’t count the spin-offs) and yet its long-awaited third installment still doesn’t have a release date. Thankfully, the development team has been pretty generous in delivering a steady stream of updates. Today they released not only a new video showcasing a Monsters Inc. World, but also the new theme song from series regular Utada Hikaru (it’s called “Chikai” in Japanese, and “Don’t Think Twice” in English, and you can listen to both versions here).

Every update takes the hype to a new level, but it also ups the anxiety for some kind of timeline. The wait is truly excruciating, but it’s given me valuable time to decode the timeline and think about what I really hope to get out of the supposed Xehanort finale. Without letting my expectations get too ahead of me, here are the three things I want from Kingdom Hearts III.

1. Simplicity.

One of the most maddening things about the Kingdom Hearts series is how convoluted it all is. Some might argue that that’s one of things that sets the series apart, but I for one have had enough of the plot twists and the turns.

I’m tired of having to pause and look up every name, creature, and reference whenever anyone opens their mouth to speak, and I feel like it’s high time for the developers to stop revising and trying so hard to explain. And I think the questions they’ve raised in Dream Drop Distance, Unchained X Back Story, and Birth By Sleep, are already more than capable of carrying the narrative of Kingdom Hearts III without making it any more complicated.

Part of me knows that this may be an impossible request, since we’ve only been given more and more questions throughout the many spin-offs that have happened since Kingdom Hearts II, and the writers seem to relish their nonsensical twists and operatic drama.

2. Openness.

In the face of the open world era that’s sweeping the modern gaming landscape, it’s difficult not to wonder how the Kingdom Hearts series will adapt, if at all. Even Nintendo jumped on the bandwagon this past year, and I think that what they did with Super Mario Odyssey could be really compelling in a future Kingdom Hearts title.

Super Mario Odyssey’s worlds aren’t massive like in The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild or Horizon Zero Dawn, but they struck a really unique balance between a open and closed world that made them fun to explore while still maintaining the ability to keep the player on a linear narrative track. I think a Kingdom Hearts game could really benefit from an idea like this, especially if it gave us a better reason to go back and explore the worlds we’ve already visited beyond a secondary storyline and more hordes of heartless.

3. Closure.

Tetsuya Nomura, Kingdom Hearts III’s game director, said in an interview with the LA Times that “the battles the characters have been fighting for the past 10 years will come to a conclusion. That is the plan. But the series will continue.”

That’s all fine and good, but Nomura’s words don’t make me feel confident that we’ll get some kind of meaningful closure, so let me just say it now: Nomura, we need some kind of meaningful closure.

In the sixteen years that have transpired since the first Kingdom Hearts game landed in 2002, we have seen eight different titles released. Some of those titles jump around in time, while others have us revisit previous timelines, adding alternate realities, clones, revised memories which literally change events from the past, and new characters that are really different versions of other characters that split off when one thing or another happened, and other characters who live inside other characters but sometimes pop out to have stories of their own. It’s gotten really, really messy. So messy, in fact, that trying to explain it to someone who wants to play Kingdom Hearts III but only really played Kingdom Hearts is almost impossible without a few hours and note cards.

If Nomura and his team are serious about ending this story, then whatever comes after it is their first chance at a clean slate, at truly telling a story that doesn’t need to constantly revised and contradictory. The Kingdom Hearts fandom is ready to move on from the mess we’ve got right now, but I think that will only be able to happen with an ending cutscene that doesn’t suddenly offer new information with a dramatic cliffhanger. Let it end.

What do you want from Kingdom Hearts III? Let us know in the comments below, or connect with us on Instagram and Twitter!

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