While everyone has been giddy for the return of Resident Evil in the form of this week’s Resident Evil 2 remake, reviews have started surfacing for Kingdom Hearts III, just days before it launches. The third and most likely final installment in the Keyblade Saga and Sora’s epic struggle against The Darkness.
So how does the game fare with critics? Judging by the first wave of reviews, the reception is pretty positive, notwithstanding some reservations regarding the game’s narrative.
Game Informer’s Kimberly Wallace pronounces it the series’ best, noting that “it provides satisfying answers to the biggest question marks.” Up front about her devotion to the series, Wallace admits newcomers “will probably have a hard time following” the game’s story. Wallace concludes that "While not perfect, Kingdom Hearts III is the game I’ve been waiting for.”
GameSpot’s Tamoor Hussain had an even handed take on the game, declaring it weakest when it focuses on the Keyblade Wars and strongest when focusing on “heartfelt tale of enduring friendship” between Sora, Donald and Goofy. Some material “retreads old ground,” Hussain says, but adds, “It's hard not to get swept up by the exaggerated displays of heroics or earnest reminders that your friends exist in your heart.”
Destructoid’s Chris Carter directed praise towards the game’s technical aspects, saying that characters look authentic and true to their source while each world shines. He reported that gameplay is smooth and the booming soundtrack is a cut above most current games. Carter gave himself authority as “a hardcore action fan who loves his iFrames and combo inputs” to praise the game’s controls.
Less than pleased was Polygon’s Allegra Frank. She expressed disappointment in what she called “a whimsical but tepid action-RPG romp with a flat story, repetitive gameplay, and very few surprises.” Frank was also dissatisfied with how the story’s grim struggle and dark villainy created an unsettlingly stark contrast against musical numbers and Sora’s indefatigable high spirits.
But for IGN’s Jonathon Dornbrush, it seems that his enjoyment of the game was kept afloat by that same whimsy. “Specific resolutions aren’t all that surprising,” Dornbrush writes, but enjoyed seeing characters interact in new ways and rekindle old bonds. “It's nice to see that, even so long after the very first game, Kingdom Hearts III is so full of heart."
Here’s what other reviewers had to say:
USGamer: “The PS2 generation of JRPGs may be a criminally ignored one, but with Kingdom Hearts III, the era's ridiculous anything-goes sensibilities get to rise again.”
GamesBeat: “Kingdom Hearts III often can’t help itself. It feels pressure to be the most Kingdom Hearts game ever, and it is … for good and bad.
GamesRadar: “It's been 13 years since the last big release for Kingdom Hearts, and now I'm not sure how I lived without its Mickey Mouse shaped madness in my life.”
Press Start: “Nomura and his team have managed to pull off one hell of a feat with a game that does everything it sets out to with a tangible sense of purpose and a hell of a lot of heart.”