A story almost 17 years in the making, Kingdom Hearts 3 brings the long-awaited conclusion to the dark seeker saga. With plenty of tears both of joy and despair, Kingdom Hearts 3 feels exactly how I imagined it. A booked end that’ll have you face your fears of what lies ahead, where nothing is simple and clean. This is a story built upon not just Kingdom Hearts 1 and 2, but the entirety of the Kingdom Hearts series thus far. Yes, that means the spin-off games and the mobile game. If you’re watching this review wondering if you can jump straight into 3, you’ll be doing yourself an incredible disservice. Kingdom Hearts 3’s narrative is built upon the foundation started by the previous games, providing a major pay off for those that stuck around so far.Taking place after the events of Kingdom Hearts Dream Drop Distance and the ending of a fragmentary passage, the story has you following Sora and his friends as they gather the seven guardians of lights. These guardians of light are keyblade wielders needed to stop the evil Master Xehanort who at the same time is seeking out his own 13 wielders of darkness. Legend has it that when these 13 pieces of darkness and 7 guardians of light clash, the mythical χ-blade will be created, the very same weapon that Xehanort is after. The 25-30 hour adventure had me smiling, crying and laughing the entire time. As a fan of the series so far, there’s a lot of genuine heartfelt moments that I’ve been waiting so long to see.Likewise, the narrative had some of the most brutal scenes in the series by far, it lives up to the climactic conclusion the series has been building up for years now. Sure some of the common tropes of the Kingdom Hearts series are still here like odd dialogue choices, but even the comedic characters like Donald and Goofy, get their own time to shine. Certainly one of the best parts of Kingdom Hearts 3’s story is how well the Disney worlds are treated. Rather than being complete retellings of the movies, they feel much more original. While some still follow their film’s story, most have an original premise to them and actually feel part of the grander Kingdom Hearts narrative. In general, it helped make sure the pacing of the story flowed smoothly despite each world feeling so completely different from one another. In the end, Kingdom Hearts 3’s story succeeds in living up to the expectations many have set for themselves. The conclusion though predictable to some extent still managed to take me by surprise with an ending that has me eagerly waiting for the epilogue and secret movie. The dark seeker saga may be over but the true Nomura fashion Kingdom Hearts 3 leaves you itching to find out what comes next.Kingdom Hearts 3 feels like a culmination of all the different battle mechanics that the series has experimented with throughout the years. At its core, it feels a lot like Kingdom Hearts 2’s rpg mechanics. Sora and his team use AP to add new abilities, different keyblades have different stats and so on. What has changed is the battle gameplay and it’s so much more fun. I’ve always enjoyed Kingdom Heart’s combat despite it occasionally being spam of the attack button in earlier games. Kingdom Hearts 3, on the other hand, feels so much more fleshed out where there’s always something going on in a battle. Every single keyblade now has a transformation that turns into these amazing looking finishers.In one instance you’re swinging your keyblade and in another, it’ll transform into a pair of magic-wielding guns or an electric shield. The transformations are beautifully animated and flow smoothly throughout combat. Also new to the battle mechanics are attractions, you can think of them sort of like summons although they’re based on Disneyland rides, perfect for crowd control. Summons also make a return bringing some new faces to the series like the recent Wreck Ralph films. Across the handful of Disney worlds, each one has a gameplay quirk that changes up the feeling of combat. For example in the Toy Story world, you can get into these giant toy mech suits that completely change up the combat. Additionally, the amount of characters in your party has been raised up to 5, letting you quickly switch between performing limits with Donald and Goofy, only to immediately follow up with a special attack with the help of a Disney friend.Altogether these new additions along with refinements to the battle system, make combat so addicting. Where in previous games I’d try to avoid fights at times to continue the story, in Kingdom Hearts 3 I actively chased them down. Outside of the combat, you’ll travel to different worlds l across the Disney universe. They all feel so much grander than before, even the ones that aren’t entirely new. Twilight town, for example, cuts away the loading screens making one uniform world to explore. On the other hand, Mount Olympus gets this brand new area to explore that feels so much bigger than what was in Kingdom Hearts 2. The worlds aren’t just far in view but there’s actual vertically to them now. Ultimately it made exploring each one of them a better experience even those that were in previous installments. Getting from one world to another is once again done by the gummi ship and I personally haven’t been a fan of the mechanic. I thought the sequences were just padding in previous entries and while I’m not entirely in love with it in Kingdom Hearts 3, it’s definitely better. Instead of just being one mindless on rail system, the gummi ship is now a complete 360 area exploration sequence.If you just want to boost over to the next world, you can, if you want to fight some enemies or look for treasures on the way, you can too. You can still build and create your own ships like before but the general gameplay design feels much more entertaining now. When I started Kingdom Hearts 3, I was eager to get into all the story cutscenes and just find out how my favorite series would end. However, as I played, not only was I excited to keep on learning more about the story, but I was equally excited to visit a new world, get a new keyblade transformation, jump into battles and so on.It’s easily one of my favorite rpg combat systems and it features some of the best boss battles in the series to go along with them. Kingdom Hearts 3 continues the visual style that was established in Kingdom Hearts 0.2 A Fragmentary Passage. Using the Unreal engine, both old and new pieces of the Kingdom Hearts series have been completely remade in 3d. Despite being built on the same tech, Kingdom Hearts 3 looks better than 0.2, with character models having a bit more life to them.From the details on a character’s piece of clothing to the lighting in the environment, it looks beautiful. Personally, I’m a big fan of how combat sequences can easily become firework shows in a plethora of different attacks and limits. Seeing all the particle effects spark up lights and then immediately transition to a fully animated limit or summon, it flows so perfectly. The art style also does an incredibly good job at recreating the style of the many different Disney properties in Kingdom Hearts. Hanging out in the Toy Story world looks like something Pixar would have made in the early 2000s, scene comparisons between Tangled the film and Kingdom Hearts, looks surprisingly comparable.Some of these examples look truly astonishing and if anything, it helps further sell how natural this collaboration is done. Now I played on a PS4 Pro and an Xbox One X for my review and both target a 4k 60 fps. The PS4 Pro resorts to checkboard upscaling for its resolution and while 60 fps is hit most of the time, I did see a few dips on the PS4 Pro. Xbox One X, on the other hand, had a more stable performance. You do have the option to switch between prioritizing the resolution or the frame rate on the enhanced consoles too. I personally recommend getting it on One X for the best performance but you can still have a good time on the PS4 Pro as well. The Kingdom Hearts series has always been known for its music. Simple and Clean, Sanctuary and the collection of feeling inducing instrumentals that get my heart racing every time. All of them have become iconic and Kingdom Hearts 3 continues that trend. Face My Fears despite being so different from previous theme songs in the series, somehow finds a way to fit in with the theme of Kingdom Hearts and it has easily become one of my favorite songs recently.Voice acting throughout the campaign is also well done. Despite some of the Disney characters not being played by their original voice actors, I still found their performances to be believable and compelling. The same goes for the main cast of non-Disney Characters. Sure there are some odd dialogue choices here and there but that’s more appointed to the game’s writing than the acting in this case. At any rate, Kingdom Hearts 3 featured some of the most goosebump-inducing scenes seeing those that have been cheerful and full of hope up to this point, see their darkest point. After waiting for Kingdom Hearts 3 for so long, I’m happy to say from a story standpoint, it completely lived up to my expectations while exceeding them on the gameplay front. Visiting the many Disney worlds and fighting alongside my friends was a complete joy while the climatic ending was everything I was hoping for. It was a long wait, but one that was well worth it. I give Kingdom Hearts 3 a 9.5/10. .