Kingdom Hearts 3 Review (Spoilers)

It’s been a week, so let’s get the real reviews rolling.

What a way to start out one year closer to the end of the world. After a certain number of years that I don’t have to say because everyone knows, Kingdom Hearts 3 is real, in physical form, and released worldwide for all to see with bated breath. With 10,080 minutes passing, those sighs have nearly released for the majority of reviewers, game players, and those interested in the Square Enix/Disney phenomenon. It certainly has for this particular writer. Thus, it is now time to give my personal thoughts to the infamous third. It will be detailed, lengthy, and full of emotions and opinions on everything, and if you didn’t catch the title, I’ll give one more warning: spoilers are coming ahead. Which may be useful to you, who are just looking for a quick way to know about the game without playing it. That way you don’t have to wait for your favorite YouTube artist, or sibling, or significant other, and you can be in the nerdy loop for the next month on breaks as words like, “disney”, “final fantasy”, “keyblade”, and expletives are thrown together.

The Keyblade War

We’ll cut to the chase: We were taken through an anime experience as, one by one, we fought a couple hordes of heartless, and three- count them three- Organization members at a time. Most of them final bosses of the past, Xemnas, Ansem, Marluxia, to name a few. At first, seeing the fights in the distance to decide which increased the feeling of intimidation. But, once the actual battles begin, small hp bars, and near practical inaction made me feel oddly superior. It was a little underwhelming not fighting Organization members and a mass influx of Heartless or Nobodies at the same time, and even further less with all of them having close to no health. I think I was around level 40 too.

The cut-scenes during the conflict between good and evil were all worthwhile however. Friends were reunited for the first time in years, some who had thought they would never see them again, and one they forgot. I’m talking about Xion. Strangely enough, I was surprised to see Terra restored, but happy all the same. In fact I would say the story from the end of the Disney worlds to the final boss became what everyone wanted. If only the fights were a little longer. Perhaps it was only me, but Kingdom Hearts fights conditioned me to expect several phases per one fight. But with characters like Vanitas, Anti-Aqua, Terra-nort, and Saix, they had only one mode. Especially Saix! That dude moon raged the whole time, which was exciting, until it was over in a minute. My wife got the mistaken idea that I was actually good!

And now the final battles. Xemnas, Ansem, and young Xehanort was beautiful- but still short! I would have been happy had the health on those guys were just longer. I didn’t prepare any items, and I still prevailed.

That is until Xehanort…

GREAT HIGH CAEDUM!

This was the challenge and fight I was looking for! Different stages, attacks so impossibly difficult to ignore or avoid. Guarding became a mandatory skill. And soon the armor came off, and the x-blade came out. Once it did, each phase was a new challenge that introduced me to the game over screen over and over again. Items were mandatory, as well as strategy, and the culmination of everything I’ve learned. Finally, when the time came to end this convoluted trilogy, I did not feel disappointed as friendship overcame an iron-handed lonely old man. But the best part to me, was Xehanort was won back to friendship by his old comrade, Eraqus, and wasn’t slaughtered. I loved it, Tetsuya Nomura reminds this barbaric American that no matter how evil you are, you’re never too far away from friendship. The only things that deserves the bit end of a keyblade- stock heartless and Nobodies apparently.

But oh man, that ending, epilogue, and secret video. What an emotional mess. Sora goes after Kairi, and apparently restores her at the cost of his life. But since no one dies, the bittersweet emotions simply clogged my throat until I saw him waking up in a modern city, looking up at a Ten Four building.

Shibuya?

And why was Riku there? And red eye Riku? Is this just another final game sequence that all secret endings are famous for teasing?

And that wasn’t even the hardest kicker. That trophy belongs to Luxu being Xigbar bringing the Old Masters back to present time- minus Ava- and showcasing the all-seeing eye Keyblade with the black box, Pete and Maleficent looked the entire game for. That was a magnificent move to keep the story of Kingdom Hearts going, transition into the next arc, and keep the series alive. But, this brings some questions, like, are the old masters going to meet these new masters? Will the girl Lea and Saix mentioned be revealed and integral to the next story? If Sora was found in Shibuya, is he part of the Reaper Game, and will we see more of a transition to more Square Enix worlds and less Disney worlds? Does that mean more Final Fantasy characters returning or appearing? Will Kairi receive more character? Will we play more than three keyblade wielders?

These questions we hopefully will receive and answer for in the coming years.

Disney Worlds

Corona, Arandelle, Toy Box, San Fransokyo, The Caribbean, Mount Olympus, and Monstropolis (without looking them up), became the exploration of choice for this installment. And they were good. Very good. Huge worlds, the size they should have always been, absolute gorgeous scenery and graphics, characters ripped from their movies, and stories that both compliment the world and create a new relationship between the dwellers and the outsiders. The cohesion between the overall plot, and the smaller narrative per world was the tightest the series has ever seen.

A lot of articles previewing the game all agreed Arandelle was a graphic bore and the level was uninteresting. But I have to ask them if they played it after the storytelling? And before I answer that, Did they not know what they were getting into? It’s the Frozen movie! And I didn’t hear them complaining at the time of it’s release. It’s also not as dreary-looking as Skyrim, that game was heavily uninspiring to walk through. But the post level content is where it’s at. The Flan task, and the sledding provide some wonderful gaming challenges. Sledding was a full mission of its own degree. Ten treasures were hidden within the course to find, and finding them all was essential in crafting the Ultima Weapon. Arandelle was just as filling and satisfying as any other. The Caribbean was a nice slice of Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag, with a touch of the classic KH formula.

All of the worlds were worthy of note, and besides Corona, Caribbean, and Mount Olympus, and Arandelle hving movie related plots, the others were delightfully original. San Fransokyo in example brought the original Baymax back to the world.

But my personal favorite was the Toy Box. And get ready to grab your raincoats, the tear storm is about to rage. Woody and Buzz were personal toys from my childhood. At the first mention of the world I was underwhelmed, however. I was too focused on the worlds all being too Pixar to care. And my worst fears came to life, all the worlds were Pixar movies, essentially. But then I actually entered the level, and Woody and Buzz were alive to me again. At two in the morning, exhaustion and childlike wonder filled my eyes with joy. The level was an absolute joy. Buzz succumbing to darkness, but Woody laying down the light against Young Xehanort, reminding him of the sad loveless childhood brought the Square/Disney collaboration to its highest peak. I hadn’t been fully sucked into a world since the Cerberus fight of the first Kingdom Hearts. It reminded me of why this series works, and why I love it above all other games.

Gameplay

The way you fight and explore in the game of Kingdom Hearts is another reason why I play it, and call it my favorite game. Action RPG is at its finest in KH3, and here’s why. You are unreasonably magical, over the top, and awesome. I watch anime for the fight scenes and the imagination of creators made from color and lines. Kingdom Hearts captures the feeling of anime fights in game form, without overly complicated button combinations. It’s so simple a child can play, but that’s why I like it. The child can play on Easy, and I can play on Proud and be challenged. Flowmotion, Attractions, Magic, Links, combat, and a full cast of arty members have never been tighter. I like that Flowmotion commands were broken up over the game, and introduced as additional abilities, so you’re not overtaken by so many abilities at the start.

The Gummi ship experience toned down from KH2, but enhanced over KH1, and it’s perfectly balanced. The open space challenge and exploration are what the game should have been since the beginning. Secret bosses, constellations, leveling up, finding ship fragments, grabbing both gummi and synthesis items in space are surprising and welcome. Also avoiding fights couldn’t have been more pleasing. I didn’t bother with the gummi section of the game until I went for the ultimate keyblade and the upgrades, and I didn’t have to do anything except use skill to get passed those necessary fights.

Speaking of gummi; the gummiphone… was pretty cool. It was like being introduced to the Sheikah Slate. Except the selfie mode was more fun. Just being honest. Also having the reports, and journal on it made sense. Using the camera to find lucky emblems was fun, really fun. I’m all about collectibles and hidden objects and their inclusion I welcomed with open arms.

I mentioned the ultimate weapon a couple of times, and I had a good time fulfilling the requirements, unlike KH1.5. In general, the synthesis section of the series has always been bogged with excess. 2.5 was enjoyable but there were too many items, and the level up system felt ridiculous in the later difficulty. But in 3, it was shortened and sweetened to a manageable level.

And the mini-games (except those terrible Pooh games) keep me coming back to play them. They weren’t chores. But at the same time they weren’t substitutes for the missing Colosseum. I missed it very much…

Final Thoughts

We finally have a Sora with character. KH2 was a bit brutal, and DDD gave me the impression he was shouting and one sided the whole time. But the moping, and the nagging, the bull-headed, brazen actions, and the relationship between Donald and Goofy hit higher points this time around.

I give Kingdom Hearts 3 a 9/10. Kairi needed much more character, the final level needed more length in the fights, and maybe should have had one or two additional Disney levels.

P.S. I played the game on Proud Mode.

Up and Coming Games: Onirism

Gimme back ma’ Teddy!

Do you remember Hat in Time? It was cool, remember? Well, the little girl grew up! And some shadow enemy stole her teddy bear. Apparently she also lost her hat, so she’s no longer called Hat Girl. Today we’re taking a look at Onirism, made by Crimson Tales.

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The game demo starts off quick, which is great. I could get a good feel for the controls right away, and the tips for controls didn’t break me from playing. Although I played with a controller, the inputs were for the keyboard, but I figured it out easily. The interactive environment was fun to play with, finding vases and crates to smash for currency. The music delighted me, it was refreshing as I took my walk through the woods.

I soon found a sign with three directions: Village, Temple, and Volcano. I was thinking, cool, quite a bit to do for this demo, it should be a quick but filling experience.

Sadly, I was thinking it would stop at the village, but to be honest I’m still trying to figure out where it ends.

After I went on my way, I found my first gun.oni 2

And then I found the main fighting mechanic of the game. And it is deeply fleshed out already in the demo.

For the demo I found a smorgasbord of guns to utilize against the various frog/lizard/amphibian enemies, hogs, and some freakin’ annoying wind-up toy animal that comes out of nowhere, EVERYTIME!

So I saved someone in front of the locked Village and they told me the key is in the temple. The girl was in no mood to get it, except the villager convinced her that the person who took her teddy went through the village and into the volcano (he wasn’t wrong).

So I went in through the temple, finding some new guns like the elven lance, and the great big boomstick which were hidden behind challenges and upgrades.

And so I went into the temple…

And I got lost in the temple.

And I learned a lot about the game during that time.

1.) The enemies will follow you if you try and run past them.
2.) They’re really good shots when you try running.
3.) When they gang up on you, you’re as good as dead.
4.) Checkpoints are fairly placed. So… progress can be lost. I ended up retrieving the Elven Lance like three times before finding the way to go, AND finding a new checkpoint.
5.) The Elven Lance is cool, but there are other guns, and it’s not effective enough.
6.) The Rocket Launcher though!

The game also has bonus rounds that you can find hidden throughout the world. Be prepared for a challenge though. This game doesn’t hold your hand.

I will say that I am pleased with the Crash Bandicoot style level in the volcano, although I think the jumping mechanic needs to be fixed, because I died a lot…

Actually I died from slipping off the ledge quite a few times everywhere, especially in the Volcano, which by the way is a little more straightforward than the temple.

Going back to the temple, the very bottom held the first boss battle.

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It was’t as simple as shooting it, you had to wait for the weakpoint to be revealed. However, her attacks were tough. I died again and again from the poisonous gas.

You know what though? I found an easier time smashing her with my umbrella!

And that black widow fell, baby!

After climbing back out in a rush, the exit led me to the key!

I went into the Village, found nearly every gun available, had no money, and proceeded to the Volcano.

The Volcano is hard.

I’m stuck in a large room with three waves of enemies, and I run out of ammo at the last wave every time. There’s a default pink rechargeable gun that is available at all times, but the damage is minuscule. I got reeeeeal close to finishing when some lava beast killed me from off camera.

The Kickstarter Side

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There’s a lot the developers want to do with the game. Tons of costumes, more guns, enemies, levels, ports, and merchandise. There’s a candy kingdom with a Prince Blueberry, if reached, will be another playthrough option character. You can even play as the teddy thief herself if they raise it enough, but it can only happen if they raise the money.

The game itself has a beautiful amount of polish already included. Aside from control issues, and some lag problems, there’s a lot here.

There’s a lot of Alice in Wonderland, Skylar and Plux, elements, which is great since EA took that away from me… But if you’re a fan of that gameplay, then you’re going to love this.

You can play the demo now and see what I mean about the Volcano being difficult, now!

 

Kickstarter site:

Game Download page:
https://gamejolt.com/games/Onirism/310178

 

Zero Time Dilemma Review

Warning: If you are not a fan of heavy sci-fi setting, pseudo science theories, psychologic horror, blood, gore, complex story plots, cut scenes made for 3DS, and puzzles, then this review and this game is not for you.

However,

If that list tickles your fancy, then read on, ya weirdo!

I just finished a little diddle called Zero Time Dilemma, a visual novel– well actually it’s not. It’s a story heavy game with cut scenes, puzzles, choices, and story branches. The idea is to play out a fragment of each story in random order, until it all comes together in a spectacular ending. The idea may sound crazy, but if you’re familiar with complex sci-fi storytelling, then this won’t be too much of a hassle.

Published by Aksys games and written by Shinji Hosoe, and developed by Spike Chunsoft Co. The great powerhouse responsible for Danganronpa, the first five Dragon Quest games, J Star, and the upcoming Jump Force. This company has the reputation for handling anime in video game form like no other.

Shinji Hosoe is the man behind the Nonary Game series, to which Zero Time Dilemma (ZTD) comes from his cranium. It’s the third and final game in the series, but chronologically it is the second. The story usually stars nine characters all caught in a game for survival. The goal of each game is using the complexity of human interaction and danger, to serve great purposes involving timeline reconstruction and awakening psychic powers.

Yeah, so now we’re going to get into the weird stuff.

When you start the game you find nine people stuck in three cells, all separated in three teams. Four of the characters are from the first and second game, so there is a small requirement of having their knowledge beforehand. However, I feel you can play the game without having to. As it is, there are five new characters that Nonary veterans won’t know. So backstories come plenty. But there are moments that you can appreciate more if you play them before. The judgment and decision ultimately fall on you, ya dig?

The nine characters need to escape by finding six key codes. The only problem is key codes are linked to the nine characters, and only are revealed when one dies. As a result, six must die, and three may live. And throughout the story, there are MANY ways for people to die, some subtle and others very gruesomely.

The greatest portion of the game is cut scene after cut scene. It’s honestly an odd way to go about a finale to a series, but a lot had to happen. What I mean is, an apocalyptic event happens that can be prevented in this game. Three of the nine characters are aware of this before they entered this game willingly. They plan to stop it, but even they are unaware of how to accomplish it.

So in speaking of gameplay, when you do have control, you’re always in an escape room. The goal is to find puzzle pieces to solve bigger puzzle pieces to solve the big puzzle.

Pretty much an escape room.

The graphics are nothing to gawk at, but they’re not an eye sore either. I played the PS4 version, and I could clearly see this was a handheld game. The experience was casual in terms of hand eye coordination, but heavy in the feels.

***SPOILERS AHEAD***

So what was all this for? And is the ending worth twenty hours of cut scenes, blood splatter, and escape rooms?

Oh, you bet!!!!

You find that the villain actually forces all nine characters into the trouble of developing psychic powers in order to jump through parallel timelines. Zero, (our big baddie) only made the plan to kill two billion people so a terrorist wouldn’t kill eight billion people. But thanks to timeline jumping, our heroes prevent Zero from winning, and Zero convinces them to find the terrorist and prevent them from winning.

In case it sounds too simple for you, let me explain this one point: your whole focus for two games is to find this Zero guy. There never was any awareness or care for the terrorist guy who still goes unnamed.

And the best part? At the end, our heroes jump to the timeline where Zero did nothing. And he’s a free man! A safe man. He gets away, and also is kind of a hero for making the nine super powered and purpose driven! It’s amazing!

And if you don’t take my word for it, I implore you please, please play it for yourself. You will not be disappointed.

I give the game a 9.5 out of 10. It’s nearly perfect, but I feel as if the cut scenes could have been animated, hand drawn.