After taking 14 years to create, Kingdom Hearts III accomplished more than simply tying up loose ends. The gap since Kingdom Hearts II was full of spin-offs and prequels that focused on the series’s lesser known protagonists: Roxas, Aqua, Ventus, and Terra. These titles provided insight into a fragmented story, culminating into a cohesive narrative.
In the beginning, Kingdom Hearts introduced a young, naïve boy who would go on to become the series’s main protagonist and one of the greatest Keyblade wielders of them all. The Keyblade, a legendary weapon used to unlock/lock doors between worlds, seeks out potential individuals through out different worlds. However, not all wielders use this power honorably. Some seek to abuse this power, such as Keyblade master Xehanort.
During the events of Kingdom Hearts II, fans were introduced to everyone’s favorite “nobody” Roxas. Nobodies are heartless beings born from a person’s heart taken by darkness. During the events of the first game, Sora sacrificed himself, turning into a Heartless, thus spawning the nobody Keyblade wielder Roxas.
The series’s prequel, Kingdom Hearts Birth by Sleep, introduced three heroes as they fight to prevent the events yet to come. Keyblade wielders Aqua, Terra, and Ventus are on the path to earn their mastery title when Xehanort puts his plans into motion. Xehanort uses Terra’s latent darkness against him, using him as a pawn to kill his long time rival, Master Eraqus. This causes a chain of events that comes together in Kingdom Hearts III.
Bringing all the Keyblade wielders together was always a fan’s dream prior to Kingdom Hearts III‘s release, and the developers at Square Enix did not disappoint. For the first time in the franchise’s history, all three parties of heroes were on the same battlefield. This assembly leads to emotionally powerful moments between characters who had only heard of each other’s existence through King Mickey or the wizard Yensid.
Xehanort, has been cultivating an epic showdown worth the long wait. All of his pieces fell into place as the Keyblade wielders assembled for a final, decisive battle between light and dark. This moment is where Kingdom Hearts III truly shines. The spotlight bounced around to multiple heroes in their own struggle against Xehanort and his allies. Roxas was reunited with a friend thought to be dead; Aqua was able to rescue Ventus from his eternal slumber; and Sora, uniting everyone together, fulfilled his destiny. Players were able to control each hero from all three groups to give each one a truly satisfying ending.
Kingdom Hearts III did more than meet the expectations of fans—it exceeded them. The fun, fast paced gameplay gave players the full arsenal of a Keyblade master. Beyond that, the finale struck an emotional chord, giving fans a satisfying ending to a saga that has run for nearly 20 years.