I think it's supposed to be a place where lost hearts end up when both your body and heart are destroyed at the same time(in the Kingdom Hearts universe I mean), hench to why Sora didn't end up turning into a Heartless again or recreating Roxas.
Story while having enjoyabke moments feels lacking in substance, I'll take this write up from someone else that illustrates most of my issues:
Spoilers for the entire game, including the optional reports. You have been warned.
First I want to talk about the positives, since it's only fair to do so. The party banter between Sora, Donald and Goofy has never been better, and this for the most part extends to their dialogue with Disney characters. They're also very expressive in their body movement and the camerawork during cutscenes is also the best in the series so far. The game is also very funny, I laughed out loud several times in almost every world, and especially the self-aware humor is highly appreciated (KH II.9, Jiminy giving everyone plot summaries, "Don't you know how popular I am?" etc.). Individual scenes could hardly be better, the problem I have with KH3 is with the overall structure that ties them all together.
The game even starts off good, really good. Olympus and Twilight Town contribute well to the story, as the gang has legitimate reasons to go to those worlds. I was especially pleased with Sora having actual emotion about having lost his powers when playing through Olympus. In regards to Twilight Town, it's a shame that the setup for using the digital Twilight Town for bringing back Roxas isn't used in the story itself, but is just tucked away into an optional report as a handwave for why he could come to Keyblade Graveyard on his own. Still, at least it didn't feel like I was wasting my time.
After that, the story comes to a screeching halt for the next 15 hours as you explore random Disney worlds and accomplish nothing. Sora is supposed to be looking for "the power of waking" but does nothing to that end, and then the plot just gives it to him after it's done with the filler. No, outside of Olympus, Disney worlds don't contribute to the story at all, even in KH3. Toy Box and San Fransokyo at least foreshadow the the replica-thing, but nothing is really accomplished. I guess Monster's Inc. world explains why Vanitas is back but it makes little sense, though I can appreciate trying to tie it to the overall plot. The unfortunate thing is that these are isolated scenes and instances for lengthy worlds where SDG have little to no reason to be in. They're just filler. All the plot happens elsewhere, so let's talk about elsewhere.
There is some nice setup for Roxas's return with Vexen, Ansem and Ienzo, but too bad the final resolution of that is in an optional report, so it still feels like he just falls out of the sky. At least they tried with him ( looking at you, Xion ). Riku and Mickey go to Dark World, then realize Sora still needs to go through 15 hours of filler, so they leave, do nothing, get some new keyblades so that SE can sell more merch, and then go back to Dark World and the plot resumes. There is extensive setup for a mystery test subject girl that Lea and Isa were trying to save. Wow, can't wait to find out what that is all about! There is some setup for an extra purpose for Demyx/Luxord/Larxene/Marluxia. Wow, can't wait to find out what that is all about! Maleficient and Pete are looking for the Black Box from Back Cover. Wow, can't wait to- You get the idea.
Kingdom Hearts 3's main problem is that it lacks an identity. It lacks a story of its own. Everything it does is either filler or setup for future games (or DLC), until you get to the endgame.
Aqua and Ventus are saved, but it's payoff for a setup in another game. Sora and Kairi share a Paopu fruit, but it's payoff for setup in another game. Lingering Will saves the gang, but it's payoff for setup in another game. Riku Replica sacrifices himself to help Namine, but's it's payoff for setup in another game. Sea Salt Trio reunites, but it's payoff for setup in another game. No, I'm going through each one this time. Terra breaks free and saves Aqua and Ven, but it's payoff for setup in another game. All the villains have death monologues, but they're payoffs for setups in other games. Sora beats Xehanort with barely even knowing who he is, because it's payoff for setup in other games. Eraqus has a reunion with Wayfinder trio, but it's payoff for setup in another game. We get happy reunion scenes and they're all payoffs for setups in other games. The end.
I get it, it's a sequel, it's a finale, but it has to tell its own story. This is the absolute bare minimum KH3 could possibly have been. It's throwing isolated sad scenes at us, with absolutely nothing else going for it. And even these scenes barely contribute to the plot. It's ticking off a gigantic checklist. Of course the game had to have these things (most of them anyway), but it needs to do something of its own to be a good story, worthy of standing beside the ones it ended up just leaning on.
Now, I have to recognize that KH3 isn't at fault here. Kingdom Hearts 3 is a victim of its own series. The game has to majorly consist of Disney worlds, but the writers can't tie them into the plot, so most of the time is wasted. The game has to resolve the stories of half dozen spin-off games, so they're all crammed together with all the characters getting barely any screentime outside of those. It's even cannibalized by its own inevitable sequel, because everything original KH3 does, is setup for that sequel. The game is being pulled in far too many directions because this series has become too expansive for its own good. The 13 years of story-relevant spin-off games has finally come around to bite them in the ass. It's a good thing we're finally over with Xehanort Saga so that the story can move on without all this baggage.
Perhaps the character that got the biggest shaft here was Kairi. She's in hyperbolic time chamber doing off-screen training for the whole game and has like two scenes with Sora. Then we see the fruits of this all training, she's elevated from being helpless to... still being helpless. Like... I don't know if this is some kind of super meta joke again, but c'mon, she gets kidnapped for a third time. And then she just fucking dies and everyone just forgets about it until the end, where she is revived off-screen just to create another sequel setup with Sora vanishing.
To be clear, I don't hate the story of KH3, I enjoyed all the callbacks, but it's just incredibly disappointing that that is all there is to KH3. Before release, everyone was adamant about players needing to have played the other games to understand the story and feel the emotional impact of KH3. I guess we were half right, you need to have played the other games to feel the emotional impact, but you don't need them to understand the story, because there is no story.
I mean. Come on, it's like someone expected Kairi to effectively wield a keyblade, NOT get kidnapped and the story end with Sora fighting side by side with her as she promised.
But seriously, that about sums it up. The overarching story is shallow with it's Disney usage, and its own plot is either terribly convoluted to the point of absurdity or such obvious sequel bait you can't help but go...
Here we go again.
For a game that's supposed to be a finale to an arc, it certainly feels more like a set up game than a conclusion. There are so many dangling plot threads it all feels like a cheap, frayed sweater that got tossed your way for Christmas courtesy your Auntie but you know she bought it at an outlet mall for 60% off.
I weep for anyone who seriously is a fan of Kairi or something. Cause yeah, that was just cringe worthy character usage for the new female keyblade wielder. Like, dayum.
Even Princess Peach could fight back effectively and not get kidnapped in every game she appeared in.
I think it means that the next title of Kingdom Hearts(if there ever will be another title with Sora returning which I want to happen) will be focusing on bringing Sora back. I mean, if you think about it, his friends saving him and Kairi protecting him with her heart is like how Tifa helped Cloud get his memories back in FFVII, Rinoa finding Squall when he got lost after defeating Ultimecia, Yuna looking for ways to bring Tidus back in FFX-2, a false Serah guiding Lightning back when the latter is about to sacrifice herself by sealing herself and Bhuniveze in the Unseen Realm, and Lunafreya guiding Noctis and helping him in Spirit in FFXV.
And while Disney owns full rights of Sora and the other Kingdom Hearts characters, they are desgined by a Final Fantasy character designer that is Nomura, and they look more Final Fantasy than Disney. So in a way, the Kingdom Hearts characters are all half Disney and half Final Fantasy like I've been saying for ages. Plus, Sora is somewhat a Final Fantasy character anyway.
Apparently they WERE working on a critical mode. Someone found it in the game's files. Maybe they couldn't finish on time and we'll be getting this as a DLC patch. It seems to half both MP and HP, but you deal double damage but you also TAKE double damage from what you take on proud which... honestly seems really brutal to me. I like in 2FM where you just take as much damage as you do on proud but you have less HP...
Maybe that's why they didn't finish it. They wanted to balance it more.
I just looked it up and apparently Proud in KH3 is 1.5x damage taken. So triple for this Critical mode which yeah, could get rough.
Although double damage given to enemies is huge too.
Interested in what the final balancing is gonna be.
He said he might livestream it... what I'm wondering is, I know in DDD at least one of the bosses had a move exclusive to crit so... I'm wondering if he'll find any special moves or anything like that. That'd be awesome
The ideal change would be nerfing the dmg output, cutting down your max MP reduces your combat and combo options (that would be the equivalent of removing combo modifiers such as combo pluses and finishers) which is something higher difficulty shouldnt do, they should encourage trying new options and approaches to combat.