And so we come to the end – for now – of Tetsuya Nomura’s iconic and in-no-way-confusing Kingdom Hearts series. Additionally, then, this is the end of our excursion into the nebulous Cloud; pun extremely intended. Yet, of course, for all the shade we throw at the concept of Cloud Versions and the myriad flaws they bring to the table, Kingdom Hearts 3 feels like the only game of the three that actually necessitated a Cloud Version to run on Switch. Of course, “necessitated” isn’t really the case; it could have been cut down/compromised to work, but if 1.5 + 2.5 ReMix doesn’t get a port, then there’s no way Kingdom Hearts 3 was going to.
This game was a long time coming, but we’d say that with the Re:Mind DLC (included here), it’s a very worthy sequel to the extremely large and feature-packed Kingdom Hearts 2, building on the series by adding features from previous games while remaining faithful to the feel and delivering a relatively satisfying conclusion to what is apparently the first major arc in the Kingdom Hearts series. Only took them 17 years.
Combat is more dynamic than ever, exponentially more flashy. Mobs of Heartless are bigger, but so is your arsenal. FlowMotion combat returns from Dream Drop Distance, now augmented with the ability to run on (certain) walls, taking the fight to the air effortlessly. It feels floaty, but in a way that’s liberating, empowering. You’re enormously strong in Kingdom Hearts 3, but the enemies rise to the challenge. It’s a fitting escalation. In a sense, we got the impression that the visuals had finally caught up with the kind of freewheeling feel that Nomura wants. Many will disagree, but we enjoyed fighting Heartless here more than in any other instalment.
The story is impenetrable to newcomers. We’re fairly seasoned with this narrative and still felt baffled or blindsided at times. The pacing of the game is a mess, no question. It avoids the Kingdom Hearts 2 problem of an interminable prologue by essentially funnelling you into Mount Olympus and an exciting, fast-moving battle, but following this, things slow right down and stay at what is effectively crawling speed. It’s an interesting and not particularly likeable juxtaposition between the sheer joie de vivre of the combat and the story that progresses at the rate of a not particularly desperate tortoise ambling towards the toilets.
It’s a relatively enjoyable story for series veterans but so much is left unexplained or open-ended that it can feel like a missed opportunity at times. The Re:Mind DLC adds plenty of enjoyable content but doesn’t resolve anything, instead introducing new questions via an apparent and baffling crossover we won’t spoil here (though of course it’s well known and documented at this point) that pushes the self-indulgence of Kingdom Hearts to near-critical breaking point. We realise it’s unconventional to spend so much time in a review criticising a game’s ending but we feel it must be clear to players that you will need to enjoy the journey rather than expect a truly satisfying resolution.
And it is a good journey, with a focus on more modern Disney movies such as Big Hero 6, Tangled and the obligatory Frozen, with Pixar-perfect stop-offs at the immortal Monsters, Inc. and Toy Story – the latter of which leading to the game’s funniest, silliest sequence (you’ll know when you see it). The environments are vast compared to the compartmentalised environments of the preceding games, seeing you cross huge expanses of land at high speed without so much as a cross-fade transition. It’s really rather joyous, with the verticality resulting in all manner of new cubbyholes to hide treasure and other secrets. This transforms exploration from the somewhat tiresome checklisting of KH2 into a gleeful unearthing of rewards.
It’s a good game, approaching great, but of course here on the Switch it’s heavily compromised by its Cloud-based nature. You already know this, but even with a strong internet connection you’re going to encounter hitches, freezes, crashes — far from ideal in a game based around save points. If you don’t have stable internet, you may as well forget it completely. We found performance was generally fine if we remained very near to the router, or connected it to the internet via LAN, but at that point your hybrid console may as well not be. The manner in which this game is presented to Switch owners really puts a dampener on the entire experience. Ultimately, Kingdom Hearts 3 + Re:Mind is cheaper and better in any other format, so unless you're a docked-only Switch gamer with perfect internet, recommending this becomes very difficult.
Once again, Kingdom Hearts 3 + Re:Mind on Switch is impossible to recommend without caveats as long as Cloud gaming relies on an erratic, unreliable provision of service. When it does work, it’s a joy; every bit as good as any given title in the series, a dream to explore and thrilling in its spectacle. But then it falters, the input lag kicks in, and the illusion is taken away in a matter of moments. Buy this game and you are effectively renting an imperfect version for the duration of the Cloud service’s lifespan. Want to play Kingdom Hearts on handheld? Well, there's always the Steam Deck, we suppose.