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“On that land shall darkness prevail and light expire. The future... it's already been written.”
Kingdom Hearts III is an action role-playing game developed by Square Enix 1st Production Department and published by Square Enix for the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One. It is the ninth installment in the Kingdom Hearts series. The game was confirmed to be in development during E3 2013. It was released in January 2019. A PC port was released on March 30, 2021 via Epic Games worldwide, which also included the previous add-on material from the Re: Mind DLC.
“Believing light and darkness must remain in balance, Master Xehanort seeks to spark war against the 'tyranny of light' to restore equilibrium.
In an effort to undermine Xehanort's plot, Sora, Donald, and Goofy search for seven guardians of light and the "Key to Return Hearts", while King Mickey and Riku search for previous Keyblade wielders.”
―Kingdom Hearts III press release
After setting off on his new journey in Kingdom Hearts 0.2 Birth by Sleep -A Fragmentary Passage-, Sora, Donald, and Goofy will attempt to search for seven guardians of light and the "Key to Return Hearts", as well as find a way to restore those in Organization XIII connected to Sora (Roxas, Xion, and Namine). Meanwhile, King Mickey and Riku search for other previous Keyblade wielders (Ventus, Terra, and Aqua), in an attempt to stop Master Xehanort's plan to "balance" the light and darkness, which will ultimately lead to the final showdown between Sora and Master Xehanort. Following the start of the game, Sora seeks out Hercules and through training regains his lost powers after what happened with Xehanort in Dream Drop Distance, completing his Mark of Mastery and becoming a Keyblade Master.
Kingdom Hearts III will serve as the final chapter of the "Dark Seeker" saga, with Nomura revealing that the plot of the game will pick up "immediately after the events of 0.2 Birth by Sleep -A Fragmentary Passage-." He also added that the plot will examine the seven lights and thirteen darknesses coming together for the final battle, but that everyone that is expected to fulfill these roles may not.
Continuing on from 0.2, Sora visits Olympus to ask Hercules for assistance in helping recover his lost strength. They end up helping him stop Hades from taking over the Realm of the Gods with the Titans. Despite the victory, Sora only gets the meager clue to believe with all his might in order to get his strength back. The King and Riku are also badly beaten by the Heartless in attempting to find Aqua, damaging or breaking their keyblades. Yen Sid instructs them to find Merlin to receive replacements, while giving Sora new clothes and a gummiphone. The gummiphone allows communication across the worlds, mainly between the two groups and Ienzo, who is researching the data Ansem the Wise has on Sora.
At the same time, Maleficent and Pete are going from world to world in search of the Black Box; she believes that a book of prophecies is hidden away inside of it. The Organization is also looking for a "New Seven Hearts", which Yen Sid believes to be the next hosts of the seven pure lights. Ienzo deciphers the data, which reveals three hearts are inside of Sora's own heart; they know one is Roxas, and a run-in with Vantias has them convinced the second belongs to Ventus. Unfortunately, they are unable to create a vessel for Roxas' heart, as Vexen has rejoined the Organization to continue his research.
Ansem, Seeker of Darkness manages to track down Ansem the Wise in the Dark Margin; he kidnaps him, while infecting Aqua with a potent darkness. He believes that Ansem holds the secret to finding Subject X, a girl who had lost her memories just as he had; Ansem the Heartless takes his former teacher to his former hideout in Twilight Town, wanting to see the data he has hidden. However, Ansem the Wise is rescued by Hayner, Pence and Olette, who are surprisingly backed up by Nobodies. Hiding a safe distance away, they are greeted by Vexen, who explains he infiltrated the Organization to make amends for his previous actions. He coerces Demyx into delivering Ansem and a replica vessel to Radiant Garden, where he can help Ienzo prep it for Roxas.
Elsewhere, in the Dark World, Mickey is taken captive by a Demon Tower and the now-corrupted Aqua, known as Anti-Aqua. Riku holds her and the Demon Tower off until Sora manages to find a way there. They defeat the Demon Tower, and Sora purifies Aqua of the darkness that turned her into Anti-Aqua, and take her back to the realm of light. Aqua leads Sora to Castle Oblivion, which she reverts back to the Land of Departure so they can wake Ventus. However, Vanitas attacks to claim Ven's heart. Sora is telepathically contacted by Ven, who tells him he still has the power of waking; he wakes Ven, who chases Vantias off before he could kill Aqua. With their training complete, Lea and Kairi join the group, completing the Seven Guardians of Light. Lea is especially confused by the connections between everyone, including the fact Ven and Roxas look the same.
The Guardians go to the Keyblade Graveyard, where the Organization sends waves of Heartless, Nobodies and Unversed to wear them down, before Terra-Xehanort arrives and manages to take down Ven and Lea before Donald exhausts himself repelling him. A giant tornado of Shadows scatters everyone to other worlds for the Lich to steal their hearts. However, Sora uses the power of waking to save them, but Young Xehanort warns there is a steep price for misusing that power as Sora has done to save everyone. The Guardians return to the graveyard, where they take on the Organization, defeating them one by one. Luxord, Marluxia and Larxene fade away; Luxord gifts Sora a special card. Dark Riku is defeated, with his vessel left behind for Namine's heart to use. Xigbar falls into a ravine, leaving a cryptic message. Vanitas fades away for good, while its revealed Xehanort's guardian holds Terra's heart; Sora helps restore Terra to normal. Xion's heart takes control of the replica the past her is using, restoring all memory of her. Roxas revives, helping defeat Saix.
The Heartless, Nobody and young selves of Xehanort fight Sora, Riku and the King; the Xehanorts are defeated and return to their original places in time. Despite this, the X-blade is forged. Xehanort slays Kairi and opens Kingdom Hearts to reboot the universe and purge it of darkness. However, Sora is able to seal Xehanort within himself, being dragged along to Scala ad Calem. Xehanort absorbs replicas of the Organization to power up, but is defeated. The rest of the guardians join them, with the spirit of Eraqus convincing Xehanort to give up. His injuries catching up with him, Master Xehanort accepts defeat and surrenders the X-blade to Sora before passing on with Eraqus. Sora uses the X-blade and seals Kingdom Hearts with the support of his friends. Despite warning, Sora uses the power of waking to revive Kairi. Everybody goes their separate ways to reunite with their friends and loved ones, such as Hayner, Pence, Olette and a revived Isa and Naminé. Everyone celebrates on Destiny Islands, but as Sora and Kairi share a moment, he fades away as punishment for misusing the power of waking.
In an epilogue, Xigbar is revealed to have survived the Keyblade War. He is surrounded by the Foretellers, save for Ava. Xigbar is revealed to be Luxu, and shows them the Black box.
In a post-credits scene, Sora and Riku awaken in Shibuya. As Riku walks the streets, he is unaware that he is being watched by Yozora, the protagonist of the fictional video game Verum Rex. Elsewhere, the Master of Masters surveys the world, framing the moon above to resemble Kingdom Hearts.
After Square Enix finished development of Kingdom Hearts II Final Mix+, Kingdom Hearts producer Tetsuya Nomura was approached by Disney who expressed interest in a sequel. In regard to a possible release of a Kingdom Hearts III, Nomura said, "We have various ideas, but we're not at the point where we can say that." He added that due to the development of Final Fantasy XV (which at the time was Final Fantasy Versus XIII), "it's physically impossible at the present. I feel that it's not the right time to talk about the future of Kingdom Hearts." In response to questions as to the secret movie in Final Mix+, Nomura noted that it was of a "new series" in Kingdom Hearts rather than Kingdom Hearts III. When asked about Kingdom Hearts III, Nomura noted that fans and partners alike were interested in its release, and would work to "realize it" as soon as possible. In the Kingdom Hearts Birth by Sleep Ultimania guide book, Nomura announced three upcoming titles, one of which was Kingdom Hearts III. However, Final Fantasy XV was still his primary focus, preventing him from starting production on Kingdom Hearts III. He later noted that Kingdom Hearts III would not see a release until after 2012, due to his pressing on Final Fantasy XV, regardless of the 10th anniversary of the series occurring in that year. The Nintendo 3DS video game Kingdom Hearts 3D: Dream Drop Distance was announced to connect to Kingdom Hearts III, both in terms of gameplay system and story, similar to the connection between Kingdom Hearts: Chain of Memories and Kingdom Hearts II. It has been confirmed by Tetsuya Nomura that the game will conclude the "Xehanort Saga" but will not be the final game in the series.
On June 10, 2013, Kingdom Hearts III was announced with a teaser at Sony's E3 event, to release on the PlayStation 4. In a conference the day after, Square Enix confirmed that the game would also be released on the Xbox One. Unlike Kingdom Hearts and Kingdom Hearts II which were developed by Square Enix's Product Development Division 1 team, Kingdom Hearts III will be developed by Square Enix's 1st Production Department, who developed Birth by Sleep and Dream Drop Distance and worked on the HD 1.5 Remix collection.
Directly after E3 2013, Tetsuya Nomura claimed that Kingdom Hearts III was announced "too early", based on where the game currently stands in development. He continued by saying, "Many fans were feeling impatient due to our continuous releases of spin-off titles, so we decided to announce it at the same time as Final Fantasy XV". In an interview with Famitsu in June 2013, Nomura discussed the updated visuals seen in the teaser trailer as well as the gameplay. On the visuals, he said that they tried to remember that these "Kingdom Hearts characters were originally paintbrush art from Disney productions, a texture that was one of our original aims, and that it was time to return to that. So [chief creative director Takeshi] Nozue went through a series of tests, and the results are the visuals that we refer to in the team as the Kingdom Shader. It may look like a pretty drastic change, but I see it as a rich evolution of everything we've shown you up to now."
Series producer Shinji Hashimoto stated in a September 2013 interview with IGN that as both Kingdom Hearts III and Final Fantasy XV are directed by Nomura, it is expected that there will be a significant gap between the release of the two, "as [they] want each game to be perfect in terms of quality." Hashimoto also reiterated Nomura's statements about the game's announced at E3 2013, as "the company thought it was about time it addressed speculation about the long-awaited conclusion to the trilogy." In October 2013, Teruzane Utada, father of singer Hikaru Utada, stated on Twitter that Hikaru would once again be involved in the theme song for Kingdom Hearts III, as she did with Kingdom Hearts and Kingdom Hearts II. He later clarified, however, that it is still undecided on their involvement.
In an interview in the January 2014 issue of Game Informer, Nomura stated that the plot of the game will pick up "immediately after the events of Dream Drop Distance." He also added that the plot will examine the seven lights and thirteen darknesses coming together for the final battle, but that everyone that is expected to fulfill these roles may not. On the new gameplay seen in the D23 trailer, Nomura revealed that all keyblades transform, each in different ways, and confirmed that the attractions have seen in the trailer, such as "Big Magic Mountain", are not tied to the keyblade abilities, but the enemy you are up against. Also in January, Sora's English voice actor, Haley Joel Osment, stated he had been in talks with the development team after the announcement and, assuming he would be back, expressed his belief that he would not begin voice recording until mid-2014 at the earliest.
In June 2014, a short teaser was released at the end of the E3 2014 trailer for Kingdom Hearts HD 2.5 ReMIX. Co-director Tai Yasue revealed that the sequence seen in the teaser was the opening scene for the game. He added that it was created by Nomura who had "a real clear picture of [what] the starting sequence" should be and that the text seen and heard was going to "be a real integral part of the story".
In September 2014, it was announced that Nomura would be leaving Final Fantasy XV development team as director, so he can focus his attention on other projects, including Kingdom Hearts III.
On October 6, 2014, it was announced that the game would be developed using Epic Games's Unreal Engine 4, instead of Square's Luminous Engine as previously announced.
In April 2015, Nomura stated there would be "news [and] new announcements" about the game in November 2015 at the Japan D23 expo.
In June 2015, Nomura revealed that development was on track and that as secret films were being considered. He also stated that the team has an internal release window they are trying to hit. On August 17, 2015 during the D23 Expo, Kingdom Hearts producer Shinji Hashimoto announced that a world based on Big Hero 6 will be featured in Kingdom Hearts III. In November 2015, new footage was shown at the Japan D23 expo, footage which was cut from the E3 2015 trailer for time.
A gameplay trailer was released during the Kingdom Hearts Orchestra World Tour in Los Angeles in mid-June 2017. The following month at D23 2017, a world based on Toy Story was revealed and it was announced that the game would release in 2018.
On February 10, 2018, it was confirmed a world based on Monsters, Inc. will be included in the game.In addition, a new trailer was revealed revealing Utada Hikaru doing KH3's theme song, "Don't Think Twice". Also, they talked about the development. The development is split into three parts. Part 1 is 90% complete, part 2 is 60 to 70% percent and part 3 haven't been given a percentage, but Tetsuya Nomura is planning something for the final world.
On May 19, 2018, the Kingdom Hearts III Premiere Event began, allowing invited guests to play through a small demo of Kingdom Hearts III. A few weeks later on June 9, it was announced that the game would be pushed back to 2019.
At the E3 2018 XBOX Press Conference, a new trailer was released, confirming a world based on Disney's Frozen. At the E3 2018 PlayStation Showcase, it was revealed that Sora, Donald, and Goofy will revisit The Caribbean, the world of Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End.
In September 2018 at Tokyo Game Show 2018, a trailer featuring a world based on Big Hero 6 was officially revealed.
At X018, a world based on Winnie the Pooh was revealed on November 10. On November 20, 2018, it was confirmed that the game's development has been completed.
The game was released on January 27, 2019 in Japan and January 29, 2019 worldwide. In the US and Canadian territories, special DLC keyblades are available for pre-order based on the retailer (Amazon, PlayStation, or Xbox Store) Kingdom Hearts III is purchased from. Patches were made downloadable in the following weeks post-launch. The Epilogue video (which requires players to finish the game to unlock) was released on January 30, and the Secret video (which requires an unlock method based on the difficulty level the player used) was available on January 31 for all regions.
This is the first Kingdom Hearts game to feature the moniker "Disney" instead of the Disney Interactive Studios logo following the latter's closure in May 2016 when Disney decided to becoming a Licensing entity for video games.
The game was initially set to be released in 2018, before it was pushed back to January 2019. The reason for the game being pushed back according to Nomura was because the development team had been told the original release date they had considered was not "good timing in the year" to release the game, especially considering "differences in holiday lengths and how stores behave in different regions". In addition, Square Enix requested the game be released as simultaneously as possibly between Japan and the rest of the world, and not wanting to move up the release at the expense of development, resulted in the January 2019 date being chosen.
In the Toy Box world, Rex mistakes Sora, Donald, and Goofy for Verum Rex characters, with Rex confusing Donald and Goofy for Yozora's sidekicks, Magia and Aegis. This scene was later cut in the final version of the game.
With this game, all members from both the first and second Organization have had their names spoken in a cutscene.
Until this game, only Luxord did not have his name spoken. Before this game, many English-speaking fans assumed it was pronounced "Lucks-ord" instead of "Lewx-ord."
Nomura explained that the new Organization was going to have ranks, just the previous version. However, he decided against it while in production, as it would be confusing since it would mean some in the new Organization would have held two different ranks.
This would explain why all the Organization's meetings take place in the Keyblade Graveyard, as opposed to Where Nothing Gathers.
In the Limitcut Episode of the Re:Mind DLC, a new Garden of Assemblage appears, with ranks included for the data rematches for the Real Organization XIII. Another DLC-exclusive cutscene also reveals who was chosen as the Thirteenth member, thus allowing fans to finally know who was at the meeting back in Dream Drop Distance.
Nomura explained the absence of Final Fantasy characters is due to not being able to find a way to fit them into the story. He already had to figure out a way to conclude the character arcs for the Seven Guardians of Light and the Real Organization XIII.
Thus Cloud and Sephiroth's feud hasn't been settled.
Leon, Yuffie, Aerith and Cid had no way to further contribute to the story.
However they would later appear in the Re:Mind DLC in the Limitcut Episode.
Seifer and his gang are absent from Twilight Town, having gone on a "warrior's journey".
Its implied a few weeks or months have passed since Kingdom Hearts II in-universe, as Le Grande Bistro replaces the armor shop in Twilight Town. Additionally, Radiant Garden has been fully restored to its former beauty previously seen in Birth by Sleep.
This marks the first time that no coliseum events are a part of Olympus, instead being lightly replaced with Battle Portals.
This is also the first Kingdom Hearts game for PlayStation and Xbox to not have over 90 save slots in the Save Menu (some players tend to save their favorite Boss Fights, so they can fight them over and over without having to go through the entire game). Instead, there are only 9 of them.
Ienzo states that none of the former members of the first Organization XIII can use the Dark Corridors to travel between worlds. This contradicts the actions of Lea, who used one to travel to Disney Castle in Dream Drop Distance. However, he may have meant that it was no longer safe, as only Lea retained his Black Coat from his time in the Organization; the rest of the restored ex-Organization members no longer had their Black Coats.
The members of the Real Organization XIII appear in worlds that Sora visits related to their personalities in some way. With the exception of Master Xehanort, Terra-Xehanort, Xion, and Saix.
Xigbar appears in Olympus, reflecting his true identity as the "ancient" Keyblade wielder Luxu.
Ansem and Xemnas appear in Twilight Town, representing the duality of Heartless, Nobodies, and Light and Darkness.
Young Xehanort appears in Toy Box, reflecting his youth and how he "toys: with his enemies.
Marluxia appears in the Kingdom of Corona, very likely due to his power over flowers and the Sundrop Flower.
Vanitas appears in Monstropolis, due to it and the Unversed formerly having been powered by the screams/negative emotions of children from Monsters, Inc.
Larxene appears in Arendelle, reflecting her cold-heartedness; the cold weather also represents her "biting" words.
Luxord appears in The Caribbean (having been there before), reflecting his clever wit and gambling.
Dark Riku appears in San Fransokyo, with his artificial nature reflected by both Baymax and Dark Baymax.
Unlike Kingdom Hearts II, Sora, Donald, and Goofy are redesigned with pirate outfits and their models are slightly more realistic and detailed (ex. Donald has noticeable feathers, Goofy has noticeable fur).
The third film was chosen over the second film because Nomura felt that Dead Man's Chest was the setup for At World's End and that it would be strange to abruptly end the story (of the original trilogy) as the Dark Seeker Saga was wrapping up.
On the Classic Kingdom poster for Mickey and Sora in Giantland, Ludwig Von Drake is credited as the creator of sound cartoons.
During the battle of the Lump of Horrors Unversed in Monstropolis, Sully reminded Mike that he needs to "Reach down and let the scare out." That was from Monsters University when Sulley was practicing Mike how to scare before the big game.
Davy Jones inclusion to the Kingdom Hearts lore reveals that "hearts" are not the actual organ.
It seems to be the spirit of the person.
Hiro being conflicted about destroying the combat chip is a source of confusion for fans.
The REAL Baymax chip is in the 2.0 body; the chip Dark Riku reprogrammed only had Baymax's loyalty to Hiro and martial arts in it.
Following the recent news relating the arrest of Olaf’s Japanese seiyu Pierre Taki for the suspicion uses of cocaine at March 2019, he will gain a new Japanese seiyu in its Japanese version.