52 Weeks of Gaming: Week 5 (1/28-2/3): Dive to the Heart

After waiting 113,560 hours since the release of Kingdom Hearts II, Kingdom Hearts III is finally here! In the 14 hours that I played this week, I can confidently say that it was worth the long wait. I’m not exactly sure where to start, but I guess I’ll start this week’s entry with what I enjoyed about the game.

            Compared to all of the previous games in the series I’ve played, Kingdom Hearts III feels the best to play in terms of combat. I was surprised that I was able to pull of the flashy combos that you get in later parts of previous games early on this time around. Using magic is as satisfying as when I played as Aqua in A Fragmentary Passage since using magic is quick and you can move around while pulling off magic. I also like that there are playable tutorials so new players can get used to the mechanics of the game anytime, which makes the game the most accessible gameplay-wise in the series. The only problem I had with the combat are the attraction attacks because it felt like it threw off the rhythm of battle and the music change ruins the mood of the fight.

            The environments in the game is much livelier than other games in the series. In previous games, you were walking through linear rooms that only had enemy encounters and an occasional chest. In Kingdom Hearts III, each area’s subsections in each world are all merged into one area so it feels like everything is connected, especially with less loading screens and smooth transitions. Each section is designed to be more open with multiple pathways, each usually rewarding you with good items or a lucky emblem. There are multiple NPCs (some of them actually speak) scattered in areas of each world, making the world feel alive. I first noticed this from the beginning of the game at Olympus, where you end up saving people in Thebes. When you return to the world after clearing it, the restored version of Thebes has people walking through the streets and working to rebuild the city. In previous entries in the series, you rarely see NPCs in playable areas. I also noticed that Sora, Donald, and Goofy actually talk with each other while you explore each world and comments on what is going on in the story (and where to find ingredients), which is something that should have been in the series sooner.

            Out of all of the world’s I have played so far, I enjoyed Toy Story the most since it reminded me of when I watched the movie when I was a kid. Just like how I wanted to play with the toys in the movie, the toys at Galaxy Toys to realistic enough that I wanted to play with all of them. Playing as the Gigas and being overpowered with them reminds me of how kids usually have all their toys fight each other and having the big toy demolish everything. Just like every world in this game, it looks like you are actually playing in the actual movie the world is based on.

            I enjoyed the Monster’s Inc. world because you explore more of the factory than what you see in the movie. The Tangled and Frozen worlds look great; however, I had a problem with their stories. Both worlds’ stories are the plots of the world’s movies, but the game leaves out some scenes that gives necessary context to fully understand the story. The other problem I had was that the Frozen world felt too long since you climb up the mountain three times. Hundred Acre Wood was a world that definitely didn’t need to be in the game, since all you did was play three rounds of a puzzle minigame and had not a lot of impact on the story.

            At this point of my playthrough, I noticed that the game hasn’t focused on the overall plot of Kingdom Hearts. All I know at this point is that Mickey and Riku are still trying to find Aqua and Sora needs to obtain the power of waking to help find characters like Roxas. Hopefully next week I finish the game and everything comes together.

            Before Kingdom Hearts III came out, I played Travis Strikes Again: No More Heroes again. After playing the second game in the Death Drive MK-II, some of my concerns from last week were cleared up. The game is broken down into nine cases, with each case starting with a puzzle to get into the house where the murder happened while ending with fights within each room in that house. This gives me hope that each game that you play will be different enough that it doesn’t feel too repetitive. However, I found both games repetitive while playing them despite only taking about an hour to complete each one.

            The transition story between each game is too long despite doing a good job at making sense of the plot. It is told in a retro-styled visual novel with a lot of text to go through. I do enjoy that the text still has some of that No More Heroes charm of being self-aware, like how they mentioned that this style of storytelling is boring to the player and how it would affect the game’s Metacritic score. Whenever I finish Kingdom Hearts III and Tales of Vesperia, I will go back and finish this game.

Finally, the Piranha Plant DLC finally came out for Super Smash Bros. Ultimate. From the little time I played the plant, I am actually surprised how well they play. It is quick and it was able to make a lot of combos. Playing as it online, I was able to play well enough that it has the highest GSP on my roster.

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