Happy Kingdom Heartsmas, all! After OVER A DECADE of waiting, we have the punctuation for one of the most confusing, wonderful, insane mash-ups in history. I have spent an irresponsible amount of my Tuesday playing (watching) several hours of this game, and I have opinions.

First things first, I love it. There are flaws. Lots. But thus far, it’s the perfect injection of zany, shouldn’t work goodness we were hoping for.

For the benefit of discussion, I’m going to list out my first impressions, both good and bad. Keep in mind throughout, though, I can and WILL be investing several more hours. Happy playing, and sound off in the comments!

Good:

It’s Gorgeous

Man, this game delivers on visuals. It’s a perfect blend of nostalgia (both from the original properties and the earliest games in the series) and sharp Square Enix graphics. The cut scenes (and there’s a TON) don’t get old, because everything blends, and looks like a planned scene even when you’re at the helm.

Bad:

I set down my controller a lot in the beginning

I get that this is right in the wheelhouse of the parent video game company, but man, there’s a lot of content without interaction at the top (including the music video, no matter how pretty).

Good:

Very little hand-holding

Remember to use your camera while in the Gummi Ship!

Let’s face it, games have been getting easier. Not always a bad thing, but Super Mario Bros. is a brutal learning curve compared to more contemporary titles. KH3, while offering the necessary instructional cards, does not walk you through every little maneuver. Things like AP usage, quick commands, and the like I had to click around and learn about myself, and it was rewarding!

Bad:

You better know the lore

Hand-in-hand with the lack of hand-holding is the lack of backstory. This game puts a TON of faith in you knowing about the couple dozen characters and their all interconnectivity (and confusing shared names/clones). I mean, I’m a fan, and I was google-ing in the first 15 minutes.

Good:

Plenty for Disney Parks fans

The “Attraction Flow” special moves are fun, dynamic-changing, and completely squee-worthy for hardcore fans of the Disney parks. They all look like they’re pulled directly from the Main Street Electrical Parade, and reference a ton of attractions with interesting mini-game mechanics

Bad:

There’s a ton of details to spot!

Dialogue is a little rough on the ears

To be fair, this is a Japanese game, with concepts pulled over to a fully voice-acted experience, which is wonderful. The problem is it doesn’t sit quite right in the ear. Partly pacing, partly chunky, cheesy wording. And this isn’t a knock on the voice acting which is pretty good (for the most part, there were one or two misses in my first few hours).

Good:

Combat feels good

In any sword/bullet-hell/slash-em-up, there’s always the risk of the combat feeling bland, which KH3 avoids. Hits feel strong, and the targeting system is intuitive enough that you feel in-control, without being coddled.

 

Bad:

Restricted to save points

While there have been enough save points for me to feel moderately comfortable in between, it still feels like an antiquated game mechanic overall. It’s a small gripe and does add to the stakes a bit, but I think they could’ve incorporated a save option into the pause menu without much loss.

TIPS AND TRICKS

It’s rewarding to explore!

Now, as with any Square Enix title, there’s a strong learning curve. I am by no means an expert, but I’ve picked up on a few things I think are worth mentioning. Here are my tips:

-Get on customizing your party’s items quickly, especially the consumables. It can be a bit of a nuisance to re-stock Donald and Goofy, but in a battle, it can be difficult to select an item, and one of them dropping a potion has saved my butt once or twice.

-Similarly, pay attention to the customizable special moves, which use AP! You and your party frequently get new moves as you level, which can easily be missed and are not automatically activated. As you get more moves than you have AP for, experiment to find what works best for you.

-Don’t sleep on the Moogle store! It’s much more accessible than in previous games, and their stat buff items can really make a difference. Moreover, if you’re a completionist item-smasher like me, you’ll have plenty of Munny to spread around.

-You can probably wait a bit on upgrading your gummi ship. The base one you get can handle the first few journeys fairly easily, and you’ll save some coin.

-Flowmotion is pretty tricky, so take the tutorial option when it comes up on Olympus. It’s more or less required for certain fights, and worth mastering early.

-You can upgrade your keyblades in the Moogle workshop! It’s not advertised, but by the time I found the section I already had the necessary items to pump up a couple levels.

-The camera feature is actually pretty good, so have fun! It adds an element of gameplay in the form of hidden mickey’s, but it’s also just a great way to appreciate the artistry, and get perfect screen grabs. Just take the picture, go to your photos on your gummiphone, and screenshot your favorites (there’s a command to remove the UI from view). Most of the photos in this article were taken with this feature!