"Kingdom Hearts III" is finally here

Square Enix and Disney’s long-awaited action role-playing game Kingdom Hearts III is set for release on Jan. 29 for the PS4 and Xbox One.

The video game will follow the protagonist Sora, embarking with Donald and Goofy, on a quest to stop Master Xehanort from recreating a war of light verses darkness. To do this involves Sora having to travel through and protect several worlds of light — each one being based on a Disney or Pixar film, while also gathering others to join the side of light and fight with him. Older characters will be rejoining the series, including many lesser villains who will either redeem themselves or join with Master Xehanort.

The series creator, Tetsuya Nomura, stated in an interview with IGN that “there is an intention of adding a playable character aside from Sora.” A trailer later confirmed the deuteragonist Riku would be playable. Trailers also confirmed numerous gameplay mechanics, including Drive Forms, larger player parties of at least five characters and a new feature, Attraction Flow, inspired by Disney park rides. In addition, action commands are still prominent, and the overall gameplay is far from the simplistic style of the original game.

Kingdom Hearts III is the first game in the series to be made with the Unreal Engine 4. Co-Director Tai Yasue talked about the change in an interview with GameRadar’s Edge magazine, “The thing with Unreal Engine 4 is it’s really easy to experiment, gameplay-wise. We didn’t need any assets to start off. We had to learn a lot (about the system.)” The Unreal Engine 4 updates the graphics while keeping the light and colorful atmosphere of the series.

The Japanese-American singer Utada Hikaru returns to sing the themes of the game, with the opening “Face My Fears” being a collaboration with the American artist Skrillex. Yoko Shimomura also continues to compose the familiar sound of the series.

When asked about writing for the entire Kingdom Hearts series in an interview with Game Informer, she said, “There are many different Disney worlds inside the game(s) and so many memorable songs within the Disney world(s). I wanted to make sure I was living up to that expectation, creating something that wouldn’t pale in comparison, while also being mindful of the unique aspect of Kingdom Hearts.”

Although the game has officially been in development since 2013, fans of the series have been anticipating it since 2005, with the release of Kingdom Hearts II. The cliffhanger ending of the second main title implied more for the series. Despite the teaser material relating to numerous spin-off titles, fans have held out on the unspoken promise of this third, main title game.

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