Alright, I promised last week I would dedicate an article specifically on my impressions from playing Kingdom Hearts 3 at PAX Australia, so here it is. Don’t expect anything gigantic because after all, with the lines so big, the time we got with the game was very limited so I had to make my assessments very quickly, while in the meantime having people shouting in my ear (remember, this is a gaming expo).
There were two choices for the worlds: the one was a battle against the titan-boss from Olympus Coliseum and the second was a large portion (I’m assuming, since we don’t know how big it’ll be just yet) of Toy Box, the world based on Toy Story. I jumped right into it, kicking things off against the titan boss. The game introduces the ability to run up walls, although I had a feeling it was available in previous editions but I could be wrong. It didn’t feel really all that innovative to me.
The boss fight itself was really clunky. Just smash the attack button until you get a prompt to summon the train ride. Yet even though I did get that prompt more than once and I did press the triangle button at the time I was meant to, the train attraction wasn’t showing up or wasn’t becoming available for some unexplained reason. Perhaps there was something I was doing wrong, I don’t know. The game wasn’t explaining it to me.
I enjoyed smacking around the few Heartless and seeing the functions of Sora’s new sparkling Keyblades. However the battle system hasn’t really changed; if anything, it feels like it has dumbed down from previous editions. It was exactly like KH: 0.8 A Fragmentary Passage where all you needed to do was press X until the triangle prompt showed up and you got an even stronger version. Flashy as all hell, but ultimately not much choice or strategy into it. I used a few of the spells as well yet there didn’t seem to be much of a point for them being there.
Then I got to the titan boss itself. Holy crap. I couldn’t see anything! All I did was smack its legs until their HP went down to 0, meanwhile spamming Curaga cause there was nothing I could do against its stomp attacks that kept taking away nearly half of my own health. After that was done, I had to follow some flashy, star-like things on my screen in order to make it up to its two heads (couldn’t I have done that in the first place?) to start smacking it around some more. That’s when the train-ride prompt issue came up. Eventually I got to summon it, but because I was so low on both HP and MP and I couldn’t find where the Item menu was to restore any of them (if there even is one), I had to wrap it up quickly so as to avoid the dreaded “Game Over” screen and thus missed out on seeing the fancy ride.
After that was done, I went into the Toy Box world and watched the opening cut scenes. I have to admit, I don’t know if that really is Tom Hanks and Tim Allen or not, but it does sound like them. In between all the getting-to-know-each-other, a short fight with some Heartless breaks out in Andy’s room (I’m sure you’ve seen it by now in the trailers) during which I experimented a little and switched around with the Keyblades during battle. I got to use the rolling cups, that are based on a Disneyland theme ride, and also the mechanical claws that eventually turn into a drill from Monsters Inc.
And I need to say, while I was using all these weapons and they were pretty and my screen was filling up with sparkling lights and gorgeous colors, I had trouble understanding their function. They were hard to control (the teacups especially were going all over the place), there didn’t seem to be any special elements or weaknesses towards one type of Heartless to a specific type of attack, so I was left to wonder if all this game is is just a bunch of showing off. I remember a lot of tough battles in the Kingdom Hearts series that involved strategy, however they were mostly the boss fights. The rest have just been about smacking the Heartless or Nobodies until they’re not on your screen anymore.
A lot of my excitement dropped after this experience. Yes, it was pretty (however I do feel that the trailers did it more justice than the game is worth and that is yet another issue that will eventually come up; Toy Box was nowhere near as impressive as an actual Toy Story movie) and yes, some of the fights were fun and I do want to know where the story of the three orphans from Destiny Islands will end, however in this day and age where games like Red Dead Redemption 2, Assassin’s Creed Odyssey and God Of War are popping up every two months, I feel like Kingdom Hearts 3 just may not be able to give fans what they expect from it.
To put it in the words of one of the main characters “Mickey… You’re too late.”