Kingdom Hearts 3 less than the sum total of its parts
Kingdom Hearts 3, Playstation 4/Xbox One, 7/10
It is truly beyond difficult to discern the target audience of Kingdom Hearts 3.
If the game's self-indulgent horde of Disney mainstays are intended for a younger audience, then its ridiculously impenetrable storyline makes little sense in the context. This, after all, is a storyline so intricate that most adults would have to pause the game after many of its 200+ cut scenes just to scour the internet for tidbits of information in order to make sense of the meandering and overburdened plot.
Even the characters themselves struggle to convey their purpose or role in the grand tangle of rampant fan-service and endless McGuffins.
Of course, the Kingdom Hearts series has never been known for its lightness of lore but it seems Kingdom Hearts 3 has actually incorporated this trait as a badge of honour.
To be frank, if you haven't intently followed the Kingdom Hearts series thus far (and somehow haven't forgotten the events preceding the 15-year gap between the releases of Kingdom Hearts 2 and 3), then any one of the many 30+ minute "recap" videos on YouTube will be necessary - a necessity which speaks volumes of what you should expect playing this game.
Fortunately, where Kingdom Hearts 3 lets down in story, it makes up for somewhat in other facets of the game. The combat, for example, is absolutely excellent and, while not the most deep, is so frighteningly big in surface content that you will rarely find yourself bored.
Big, bombastic special moves reminiscent of some of the more extravagant Final Fantasy games are always a source of enjoyment, even if they are followed by the occasional eye-roll.
Visually and musically, it is obvious that Kingdom Hearts 3 is the product of a herculean amount of work on behalf of Square Enix. The screen will always be filled with a menagerie of visual effects and impressive lighting, without ever really feeling too busy, while the musical score numbers among some of the best to ever come out of the studio, which is high praise considering the games that number among their output.
Kingdom Hearts 3 is an explosive disharmony of disparate story and design choices, that ends up feeling somehow less than the sum of its parts.
A difficult game to recommend to anyone who wouldn't consider themselves a die-hard fan of the sprawling series.
New Ross Standard