NOTE: This article has plenty of spoilers from the Kingdom Hearts series and possibly Final Fantasy VII. If you have not played every game in the series – especially Dream Drop Distance – you should not read this!

NOTE 2: As I haven’t played Kingdom Hearts: Birth By Sleep for years, I forgot that there was a certain event which involved a death of some sort. However, it did not feel impacting as this person simply faded into the light. Another character in 358/2 Days left the series in a similar way and yet, they are considered to return to the series in the third entry. Perhaps Birth By Sleep’s could be the same.

As a long time fan of the Kingdom Hearts series, I have been concerned over its trajectory. Birth By Sleep, the darkest game in the series, had a world called Disney Town which focused on childish mini games. Later on in the narrative, Ventus goes into a deep sleep while Terra’s body is taken away from him, and Aqua is lost in the darkness for a decade. The two scenarios do not mix at all. As the initial fanbase grows up, the mini games presented in worlds like Disney Town and Atlantica are often complained about and truly feel out of place for a series that can grow from a darker tone. Now, as Master Xehenort takes the spot as the main villain of Kingdom Hearts III and Sora has become “more mature” according to a press release by Square Enix, here is how I would like to see the Kingdom Hearts series evolve into a more complex, darker story. The first argument that can be made in contention to an idea of a darker Kingdom Hearts is the fact that Disney is a main ingredient in the series’ formula. Some think the company’s history is too childish and cannot be complemented with a narrative that is darker in tone. However, I would mention the contrary. Many of the company’s catalog has a harsh tone. Gaston, in Beauty and the Beast, tries to kill the Beast; Elsa, in Frozen loses control of her powers and an attempt at her life was taken; and Simba, in the Lion King, watches his father being killed as he falls into a stampede and gets crushed. There has always been a dark prevalent within the Disney universe.

mufasa death

Mufusa and Scar from Disney’s The Lion King

However, in past Kingdom Hearts games, no one in the series has truly died, and while Xion’s passing was discussed by the community, recent entries in the series have pointed towards her return alongside Ventus, Terra, Aqua, Roxas, Namine and Ansem. The initial press release for Kingdom Hearts III also states that Sora will be searching for the key to return hearts. Now, for the future of Kingdom Hearts, could there be the undertones of both Final Fantasy and Disney that we have not seen represented before? Sora — the character that has often been criticized for being one-dimensional and lacking in character depth — will be at a mature age, and with that, perhaps the naivety would fade away. Master Xehenort has been able to manipulate his enemies into his bidding in Birth By Sleep as he succumbed Terra into darkness and Ventus into a fated battle for the X-Blade. He also has shown incredible power in the Secret Ending of Kingdom Hearts II that we have never seen in the games previously, and now after Dream Drop Distance, we have thirteen seekers of darkness who are lead by Xehenort. Perhaps, much like previous Disney movies, we could see the death of a major character as the scale has been set so high by Master Xehenort and Vanitas’ fast paced and experienced combat skills. Perhaps, from a tragic event, Sora’s personality would be able to mature and progress the character for the aging fanbase of Kingdom Hearts. A potential loss that could devastate Sora and bring him to a breaking point would be Kairi, a new keyblade wielder who is inexperienced in combat, and as she first wielded it in Kingdom Hearts II, she seemed to struggle swinging it unlike when Sora and Riku first received theirs. If Kairi died, Sora would start to lose himself and question his strong sense of justice as her loss could be his fault. Perhaps it could leave him open for manipulation or a deep feeling of revenge. Something so devastating would change Kingdom Hearts forever, and while dark (and I feel sad about the possibility of a main character being killed off), this could be a way for the series to grow from its ‘Happily Ever After’ narrative structure. As a side note, we could also see the infamous Final Fantasy VII death scene recreated in a future Kingdom Hearts game.

Aqua, Terra and Ventus readying for an epic battle in Kingdom Hearts: Birth By Sleep

Other than the change in plot, the worlds of Kingdom Hearts could change their appearance when you revisit them. YouTubers by the name of HMK and Skyward Wing brought up the idea of all these worlds being claimed by the realm of darkness if Sora and company fail in Kingdom Hearts III. If Square Enix adapt something like this, the worlds could be altered like in Epic Mickey‘s Wasteland and concept art. The concept of Epic Mickey is that the game takes place in a land where Disney characters go to after they’ve been forgotten by the company and the public. When first announced, various concept art pieces for the game were shared to the internet and the end result brought a disturbing, and yet, interesting set of altered characters and worlds from the Disney films we know and love. The worlds being redone in this manner, alongside the art team behind games such as Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII and Parasite Eve, would be a fantastic way to create an unsettling atmosphere for Kingdom Hearts III or future games after the Xehenort saga. So, what would you like to see in future Kingdom Hearts games? Should the series become darker or remain the same? Comment below!

Chris Penwell
Chris Penwell is an editor who loves an engaging story and interesting combat within games. Previously writing for PlayStation Euphoria, Chris is a fan of most Sony Computer Entertainment titles including Uncharted, The Last of Us, and even White Knight Chronicles but he is open to all platforms. His ultimate goal is to go to E3 and interview the developers who have created the games he has loved throughout the 15 past years of his gaming experiences. His most anticipated games include Kingdom Hearts III, Beyond Good and Evil 2, The Division, Final Fantasy XV, and Destiny.

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    1. Not to be the dork that is the first to comment, but also as a long time fan of the series and having grown up with it, I’m in agreement that we’ve seen the game taking some rather interesting steps in the previous years. The original is light, fun, and entertaining. I remember playing this game with my dad who found it interesting enough. With the release of CoM, I only played for the plot as I was lost in the strategy and complexity of the card system. It felt like a waste of time, though a good try where the plot was involved in bringing an ever so slightly more demented antagonistic cast. Even playing as Riku who was still struggling with the darkness within himself was a fascinating turn of events. KH2 bumped it up quite a bit where the darkness level was while still keeping the original lightheartedness of the first game, but I agree that Sora maintained his naivety and silly-hearted nature. However, I think that is part of his appeal when he looks at things through his rose tinted glasses. Even with the prequel with BbS the game still addresses that necessity of the balance of yin and yang and what happens when one over powers the other, a theme developed further in D3. A part of me hopes that Sora does get an understanding that he has to accept what darkness is within himself, we’ve seen him have doubts and troubles, he just doesn’t have as deep of a struggle as Riku had. The other hopes he keeps his familiar attitude and personality, come a traumatic experience or not for him and the players because too drastic of a change could be problematic- how he appeals to long time fans, to new fans, how much of a change is made could make the game too dark, etc. Sqaure would have to be very specific in how they go about it to give him more dimension to his personality without entirely losing that certain… daydream-happy, optimistic personality which I find to be why I like his character so much as is.

      1. Thanks for your response. I completely agree with your view of Sora. He does not accept the darkness within him and he is naive to the harsh events around him. For example, what happened to Roxas, Xion, and possibly, Riku who have had to go through many traumatic events.

        I hope he keeps his upbeat personality in Kingdom Hearts III but I want to see him tested in some way.

    2. I’m not down with Kairi dying, maybe injured and that alone would make Sora go crazy. I know this game is gonna be a lot darker than the other ones and one of my worst fears about it is one of the main characters dying such as Kairi. I probably wouldn’t play anymore, honestly.

      1. In kingdom hearts chain of memories Vexen researched clones and made a clone of Riku and he fought Sora and Riku. Therefore Xehenort might make a clone of Kairi and make her fight Sora or hold her hostage

      2. I do agree with you. After reading your comment, I realized that I do not want a major character to die but if they are going for a darker tone, that sadly could happen. However, I do want to see Sora tested to his limit and it would be interesting to see if one of the purest hearts would turn to the darkness like Riku in the original Kingdom Hearts.

        1. In KHDDD Sora was used as one of the 13 seekers of darkness because Riku`s heart became uncompatable with darkness. So that’s already been partially done.

    3. This topic has always been important to me. I grew up playing kingdom hearts. Now being 18, I have lost a lot of interest in the games due to the overall childish tone of the last few (and the fact that they were cheap spinoffs on the ds). I think the last one i played was BBS. And I couldn’t stand some of the stupid teddy bear looking enemies that were all neon colored and everything. Compared to KH1, 2, and I think COM, if I remember correctly. The heartless like the shadows and then later on the nobodies were all pretty menacing. I want KH3 to take a darker tone. I really do. Even if it didn’t, I would still buy it as I have been waiting since I finished KH2 for the first time. I cant wait for KH 2.5 to release so i can play through KH2 Final Mix for the first time and BBS the way I always wanted to play it. I think right now, their main fan base is mainly composed of long time fans rather than those that that they have drawn in from the 6-10 year old range over the last few years. Mainly because the fans that have been playing since the beginning, have been waiting 9 years for the 3rd main installment.

    4. Well actually there has been a death in the series that being of master Eraquas after Terra fought him to protect Ven

      1. Oops, I forget about that, in particular, but honestly having Eraqus fading into light truly didn’t leave much of an impact for me. Thanks for letting me know though.

        1. Oh, and Cinderellas Stepsisters and Stepmother got crushed by the Cursed Coach

          1. I more see that as their hearts being taken. Like Sora, they can be brought back by the light. Eraqus fading into the light also makes me think he could come back as Xion “passed away” in light and it has been pointed that she’s coming back.

            1. Xion did return at the end of DDD but her returning as a main character is questionable

            2. You’re forgetting that the Unversed didn’t steal hearts so I think it’s more like it absorbed thier darkness a destroyed thier bodies. Also at the end of Birth By Sleep Xehenort says to Terra that he is not the first in Terras heart and then he says Eraquas. So it is possible that Eraquas will once Xehanort is defeated to congradulate Sora and then pass on.

            3. But Xion cant come back she is apart of sora as well as Roxas

    5. Since Ventus, Aqua and Terra are reappearing do you think that we will be able to play as them.

    6. In developing Sora, I honestly want them to go with the route that Togashi took for Gon, who was this same, upbeat main character partnered with a more reserved, white-haired deuteragonist. Gon became this more mature character in the later chapters, as unprecedented as it may have been if you look at his character from the beginning, so I think Sora could become more mature in a manner that works with the audience if they try.

      I’ve also always wished that Sora would channel his inner Roxas somewhere in there. I say this because, looking at Days, Roxas went through the death of his own “Kairi”, Xion, effectively becoming darker as a character from then on. Granted, Roxas was a bit glum from the day he was born, but I still think that Sora deserves to have his Roxas episodes, haha.

      1. By Gon I meant the main character of Hunter X Hunter, for the unfamiliar.

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