Where To Start If Kingdom Hearts III Is Your First Game in the Series

This neatly leads into Sora's first mission in Kingdom Hearts III, to discover his lost power while his friends, Riku and Mickey, search for some lost Keyblade masters who may hold the key (heh) to preventing a war before it happens. A war with who? The new Organization XIII, a crew of evildoers who may just be split versions of the series' main evildoer, Xehanort. This is where a flowchart would come in handy, but as a new player just know that the guys in the long black cloaks are bad and you've got to stop them.

From there, the bread and butter of the Kingdom Hearts series comes out in full force, and you journey from Disney-inspired world to Disney-inspired world, including Olympus from Hercules, Toy Box from Toy Story, Monstropolis from Monster's Inc., Arendelle from Frozen and a handful of others. Some of these were in earlier games in the series (which will be obvious when Hercules or Winnie the Pooh address Sora by name) and some are brand new, like Frozen and Big Hero 6. 

Each world is wonderfully-crafted, with plenty of detail packed into every corner. For new players, this is probably the strongest element of the game, as Sora, Donald and Goofy are simply slotted into the events of the film versions of Tangled, Frozen and Big Hero 6. Sure, it may feel a little forced, but these worlds are replicated extraordinarily well, with a handful of returning voice cast to boot. Though, some of the soundalikes can pull you out of the illusion.

In addition to the Disney and Pixar worlds, there are appearances from characters like Simba from The Lion King, Stitch from Lilo & Stitch, Ralph from Wreck-it-Ralph and Remy (known here as Little Chef) from Ratatouille. These are either in the form of "Links," one of the game's many summoning systems, or just as cameos in Twilight Towna point of gathering for residents of the multiverse.

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Unfortunately, there's not too much here for fans of the Final Fantasy aspect of Kingdom Hearts, except for an incredibly-built trailer for "Verum Rex," a video game from the Toy Story world that bears a striking resemblance to the ill-fated Final Fantasy Versus XIII, which eventually became Final Fantasy XV. It's a fun Easter egg that does come into play a bit later in the game's story, but for the gaming enthusiast at large, it's a nice touch.

While there is certainly a lot of background to the Kingdom Hearts series going into this third entry, the game does a solid enough job at explaining the basic stakes of its story for first-time players. If you don't have the 17 years of history with the franchise, then you're in for a gorgeous action RPG that just so happens to cross over some of Disney and Pixar's most iconic worlds, and that might be just enough for you to enjoy it. Even if it is a bit corny.

Kingdom Hearts III is now available for PlayStation 4 and Xbox One. A review copy was provided by the publisher.

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