KHI Site Staff
Square-Enix gave us a review copy of the game this afternoon, and since we're seven hours deep and still pretty early on, I figured it'd be a good idea to give you guys my first impressions today before you begin the game tomorrow!
I was struck, immediately, by the graphics quality. It's not a surprise in some ways, as we've been following the development of this game since day 1 and it's always been beautiful. Something really special has happened here, though. Square-Enix has defined a style all its own for this game. It's a shame there aren't more 2D inspired worlds to show off the style outside the CGI worlds. The breath of life Olympus has is jaw-dropping, especially when you consider that in the first Kingdom Hearts game, Olympus was three or four boxy-rooms wide.
Exploration is better than ever. Square has managed to hear the criticisms of the not-so-living environments of past games and here almost everything is brimming with life. Invisible walls aren't as intrusive (at least, not in the first three worlds), NPCs live and interact with you, there is so much to see and collect. Nomura wasn't kidding when he said 0.2 was about the length of a Kingdom Hearts III world. I haven't been able to clear any of the first few worlds in under two hours.
I've only just unlocked the full arsenal of gameplay tools, but so far I've enjoyed them. The tank-like Sora I had in the demo back during the premiere event is much more fluid. You can turn off the animations for things like Links and Attractions (unfortunately, you can't toggle off the free-running indicator on walls) and the ability system makes a welcome return for more customization. Did I mention party members are also easier to control, allowing them to do their own thing, stay out of the way, stay close to Sora or defend him? Donald hasn't let me down once.
The music is incredible, and a lot of attention has been given to the soundscape of the worlds. It's a nice change to have so many individual scenes scored as opposed to the world themes looping ad infinitum. The voice performances hit a series high, and so far the localization has been the best and most natural it's ever been.
It's still relatively early, but so far Kingdom Hearts III is a worthy conclusion to the Xehanort Saga. I'll have more to say once I've completed the game, and so will our other staff members, but for now please be excited!
Kingdom Hearts III releases worldwide tomorrow!