I'm not normally one to review games, but I figured I'd provide a text-based review of Kingdom Hearts III just to get my thoughts on the game out there.
I'll try my best to not spoil anything and keep this short; just to give you guys the full version of what I think of the game now that I've beaten it...
Yes. BEATEN IT!
I have gone through the whole game and defeated the final boss, so I have full and conclusive opinions on the game now and nothing premature. Even so, I'll stick squarely to the gameplay since that's what you'll be most interested in. I won't say anything about the story for spoiler reasons.
I will say this though: this is a story that makes you question what you already knew about the characters... and then grind your heart into the dust.
Oh, and by the way, even if you are new to the series, you can still learn about what happened in the lead-up to this game with in-game archives told by Chirithy.
How thoughtful of you, Square Enix!
The gameplay is only one thing: FANTASTIC!
On top of everything that carries over from Kingdom Hearts 0.2 Birth By Sleep - a fragmentary passage - there are a lot of new things that make this game so much fun to play and super fluid!
If you played the aforementioned game, you already know how easy it is to chain attacks and magic together without trouble. If you haven't, here's all you need to know. Because you can use magic in motion as well as hack away at enemies like normal, it's easy to go from slashing to casting magic as you make your getaway exit... or get into the thick of it, cast magic and then slash away. It's that easy! After a while, you'll be able to either perform a formchange or use extra powerful magic! You can also use shotlocks as long as you have energy in your Focus gauge.
It's also possible to switch between three different Keyblades on the fly, and each one has its own stats, secondary abilities, shotlock power and formchanges. My favourites by the end were Hero's Origin and Star Seeker. Hero's Origin was just a bruiser keyblade, and the formchange - Counter Guard - I found mighty handy to have on hand; Star Seeker was great for using magic and had a great ability and I loved using the second formchange it had - Star Blaster... Keyblade plus bazooka equals "I will eliminate each and every one of you Heartless maggots!"
The best part is that you can power up Keyblades and make them stronger. This means you can keep using your earlier Keyblades even after obtaining new ones, so you can really customize you equipment to your liking. Speaking of which... armour and accessories now have abilities. It certainly makes picking the right equipment for the job a lot more critical, as they can really swing the tide of battle around!
Oh, and you could also have up to three different quick-use menus at any one time you could cycle through. It's a neat idea, but I didn't really bother with it much after a while...
This might sound like a lot, but it's actually really easy to get used to and comprehend...
Almost... too easy I thought.
Is it just me, or is this the EASIEST Kingdom Hearts game to date? No, seriously, I played this game blind and on Proud and I can count on one hand the number of times I got Game Over. 5. And only 2 of those were by actually dying. The others were from failures elsewhere. And BOTH of those deaths were during the final boss. So yeah, I didn't find this game THAT hard surprisingly... compared to every other game where I couldn't keep track the number of times I lost to a single BOSS.
In fact, I also found myself rather reluctant if not hesitant at times to change my equipment. Once I had gear and equipment I was happy with, I didn't change it even when I got better gear, simply because the abilities I felt were just too important to relinquish. I think Donald kept the Mage Staff+ I got him at the start of the game right to the end, and I took on the final boss with the first 2 Keyblades you unlock - the only one different was the Big Hero 6 Keyblade (forgot the name).
So yeah, great new additions, but... I'm not entirely convinced they're really to the games benefit.
But by far the WORST thing about the gameplay is the pacing. And this ties into the story as well. The first problems is that the levels are long... like, REALLY long! Some last up to two hours long, including the prologue level in Olympus! But this pales in comparison to the Toy Box, which took me - get ready for this... 3 HOURS TO BEAT!!! The level just kept going and going and going and didn't ever seem to come to a stop!
Not helping this is the cutscenes. Sure, getting the story is good and I like the story that's told... but at times we just get back-to-back-to-back-to-back-to-back cutscenes that can last up to a total of HALF AN HOUR!!! Yes, you CAN skip the cutscenes... but on your first around, you'll want to watch them so you don't miss anything important, and so it craves relief with gameplay! Gameplay that feels like it's never coming!
I didn't buy a MOVIE, Square Enix! I bought a VIDEO GAME! I want to PLAY the GAME!!! *sigh* Look, I know a lot of previous Kingdom Hearts games had lots of cutscenes that played in sequence too, but they didn't take THIS long to get through them! So in this case, it just feels like it's taking forever.
If I can play any of the other games in the series and not get bored from watching the cutscenes - no matter how long they were - and yet lose it here, you know that something is wrong.
Well, so much for keeping it short.
So yeah, I'm kind of in an odd place with this game.
I probably love this game more than I have issues with it, and they don't really do anything to dampen the fun... except for the pacing. That's just garbage!
As a result, I can't really call this my favourite Kingdom Hearts game. That honour still belongs to Re:Chain of Memories for me. I probably COULD call it the best game in the series, though I couldn't call it a perfect game because of the pacing problem. In fact, I probably wouldn't even give it Game of Year because of it...
In conclusion, the game is really good! It does so many things right, but a lot of those things bring about there own problems I feel.
It's a game I can highly recommend to anyone who loves games with great levels of customizability and great stories... not so to a casual player though, or JRPG-outsiders. The pacing will definitely get on your nerves, assuming you can get to the grips with the layer-upon-layers of gameplay elements.
But above the all, and most crucially... the game is FUN!
And at the end of the day, that's all that matters. And that's why I love this game!
I can only wait to see where the series go from here...
The ending is really open to what can happen next.
I'm the Primordial Clok-Roo