I never thought I’d see the day, but I got to play Kingdom Hearts 3’s Premium Showcase demo at Gamescom 2018 and it was glorious! I haven’t been this excited for a game in ages.
At the start of the demo you can pick between two levels to visit. The temptation was there to just play both in a row, but I was already feeling guilty towards people waiting in line by skipping past them with a Square Enix VIP fastpass so I decided to just choose one. I have a bigger affinity with the Toy Story franchise than I do with Hercules, so Toy Box it is…
(Quick aside: I’ll be using pics snapped with my phone to add a bit of authenticity rather than just getting them from a presskit)
In this demo, we see Woody & Buzz trying to come up with a plan to deal with the heartless that are invading their world, but just as they intend to launch the assault, Sora & friends swoop in to save the day. It’s your first chance at combat and you can bet on making quick work of the heartless if you’ve played the previous games.
The combat felt quick and responsive. You can get by just chaining combos together with your default attack button, but it’s a lot more fun to use what’s available in the environment (like a ball to roll around on), your magic attacks or your special attacks which are tied to your equipped keyblade.
Each of these animations are just pure eye-candy and I wanted to see them all. I never got the feeling that one was particularly more effective than the other and I hope they keep this balance to reward experimentation throughout the game. Each of the keyblades can transform into it’s own kind of weapon like a staff, two yoyos or changing your hands into drills. Get enough hits in and you can then start a special attack and end with a big finish.
Just like in the previous games, there is an overarching plot but each disney world has its own problems to solve and mini-narrative to go through. You no longer have to pick which characters to swap out into your party though, Donald & Goofy stayed present throughout and Woody & Buzz were just added to the team. Voice acting was superb, but content wise it felt like they were aiming too much for people who haven’t played a KH game before (with Donald explaining that they need to preserve the order in the game by not revealing their true origins).
Exploration wise, you can now easily wallrun on shining surfaces, which gives an incredible sense of freedom. A feeling that was only growing when we got out of Andy’s room and out into the streets. Especially with your own size shrunk down to that of a toy’s the world felt massive. I spent a good 5 minutes just looking around on the streets and wondering how far the demo would let me explore.
Graphically the game looks amazing as well. Colours are bright, textures are detailed and edges are sharp even as I was standing mere inches away from the Samsung 4K set. I can’t wait to see it in action on my own 4K/HDR TV set and running on an Xbox One (which was the platform the demo was running on )
I experimented with the combat some more, culminating the battle with a rideable rocket and sweeping the streets with a big explosion. The crew then decided to keep looking for Andy and a mysterious, dark hooded character (The organisation, no doubt!). We ended up in a toy store and where introduced to another neat gimmick: I got to ride in a giant (well compared to the rest of us) toy robot.
I was able to control it freely in first person mode and even leave it at will to take over any of the other available mechs, each with their own unique set of attacks. I honsetly find it amazing how often the game manages to shake things up and keep the combat so addictively fun. I realise this is only a demo and they could very well just be showing us their best material. But I have faith that Square Enix is working their (Disney) magic on this title to bring us the best Kingdom Hearts game yet.
I can’t wait for the full release of this game. I hope within my (kingdom) heart that I’m allowed to review this title because I intend to squeeze every last playable drop of content out of it. Other games in 2019 are going to have to work hard to get my attention away from this one.
Extra optional boss spoiler (I think): According to Rex, “Bahamuth” would be a difficult boss to beat. I think they’re teasing him as the hardest optional boss. Would be awesome to battle the king of dragons!