Kingdom Hearts FAQ #14: Kingdom Hearts 3

You said it, AxelSo, Kingdom Hearts 3 is the first Kingdom Hearts game since 2005, eh? How’s that working out?

Excuse me, but, despite the seemingly simple numbering of the third installment, there have been approximately twelve billion Kingdom Hearts titles in the last (nearly) fifteen years. And that’s something of a problem! All of those titles were very much Kingdom Hearts stories, but all of them (save Dream Drop Distance) primarily featured side characters, like Roxas, Ventus, or Aqua. And, because the Kingdom Hearts franchise has literally no idea how to write an ending, each of those characters wound up with unresolved stories begging for a climax come Kingdom Hearts 3. And does Kingdom Hearts 3 reach that long awaited climax for a cast of at least thirty freeloaders? … Wait, should that be a question?

Does Kingdom Hearts 3 reach that long awaited climax for a cast of at least thirty freeloaders?

Pretty much! It’s actually kind of impressive how many “side stories” have built up over the years, and Kingdom Hearts 3 ties up nearly all of them with a neat little (inevitably heart-shaped) bow during the final world.

Wait… “during the final world”? The game doesn’t gradually solve these problems over the course of the entire 20-30 hour game?

Oh my no. Have you played a Kingdom Hearts game before? All of that messy plot is saved for the final couple of hours, and the rest of the game is having fun around Disney-based worlds while creepy dudes in coats occasionally discuss their favorite Netflix shows (Ansem is apparently really into Ozark).

That sounds… bad.

That’s not a question. It’s a statement. A correct statement.

So is Kingdom Hearts 3 bad?

Poor girlCertainly not. In a lot of ways, Kingdom Hearts 3 is what the Kingdom Hearts titles have been striving for since the initial announcement of Squall Leonheart meets Dumbo. Disney worlds are huge and varied, NPCs actually exist (where appropriate) so Planet Tangled feels populated by actual people (as opposed to the Agrabah Marketplaces of the past that had apparently been struck neutron bombs), and the various worlds often contain mechanics that unmistakably separate the “levels” by something other than your Disney-approved guest characters. There are (relatively) Giant Robots in Toy Store world! A sailing system reminiscent of a mini-Wind Waker in Pirates of the Caribbean world! Big Hero 6 features a Crack Down-esque super-hero city playground! It’s pretty great, and a far cry from the themed hallways of some of the previous titles. In fact, in a weird way, it makes some of the more classically “videogame-y” worlds worse by comparison. Frozen is basically the ice level (complete with ice maze, ice tower, and the return of Square-mandated snowboarding), and Monsters Inc.’s factory stage is another fine showcase for our gaming friend, the conveyer belt. But those worlds aren’t bad! Just kind of ordinary when compared to exploring a gigantic toy store filled with murderous tsum tsums (which is rarely a destination for old-fashioned Chocobros).

So play Kingdom Hearts 3 for the Disney experience?

It’s certainly what is front and center. Four of the worlds are basically “play the movie” experiences wherein Sora gets to tagalong while a film unfolds (and, for some reason, a complete cutscene featuring the entirety of Let it Go), one world serves as a quasi-sequel (and inadvertent condemnation of capitalism), and two worlds seem to be excuses to hang out with a cool cast of characters. And that’s fun! It’s all very entertaining, and the only thing that really separates this whole experience from the much-missed Disney Infinity is that that “real” plot keeps rearing its ugly head (and Anna doesn’t get a grappling hook).

So the Kingdom Hearts plot is the worst part of Kingdom Hearts?

Not exactly. The narrative just… doesn’t know what to do.

Who even are these guys?At first boot, the game encourages you in every way it can to watch what amounts to a “Previously on Kingdom Hearts” segment, because, obviously, when the narrative gets to “Oh my gosh, here’s Aqua after ten years,” it wants you to gasp right along. The only problem is that, once the game gets going, it takes absolutely no time to build up to the inevitable third act revelations. Excuse me, that is partially wrong. Some lip service is paid to rescuing the other “guardians of light”, and Roxas seems to get a disproportionate amount of Sora’s attention (likely because Twilight Town has become the new Radiant Garden/Traverse Town), but once you’ve actually got feet on the ground of a Disney world, all of that auxiliary plot is ignored. The bad guys seem to get features during each level, but they’re a little… bad. And not in a good way.

So who are the villains?

Short answer: It’s Ansem.

Here they all areLong answer: Xehanort has assembled an all new, barely different “Real Organization XIII”. (So named because there was a different Organization XIII back in the 80’s, and Xehanort didn’t want to run into any copyright issues. The 80’s Organization XIII had Ratxcy the Gorilla.) This membership drive’s goal is to amass “13 points of darkness” to build the Excalibur of keyblades, the χ-blade. Xehanort attempted this alliance once with Kingdom Hearts 2’s Organization XIII, but they all wound having their own wills and desires, and some malcontents, like Marluxia, tried betraying the Organization. This time, Xehanort has decided to populate his ranks with some time-displaced versions of himself, and some previous Org members, like Marluxia.

… Xehanort is not a clever man.

I may as well explain who all these dudes are, because it’s not like Kingdom Hearts 3 is gonna.

Organization XIII Tier Chart

Ansem Tier: All of these characters are Ansem. Or Xehanort. Look, time travel makes fools of us all.

Old man comin'#1 Master Xehanort: The original Xehanort, the mastermind behind all of his incarnations’ actions, and the final boss of Kingdom Hearts 3. We’ll get to his exact motivations in a bit, but just know that he used to be voiced by Leonard Nimoy in the PSP game, and it is a goddamned shame ol’ Spock couldn’t return to ham it up for the final chapter.

Young man comin'#2 Young Xehanort: Portrait of a Xehanort as a young man, and previously the final boss of Kingdom Hearts: Dream Drop Distance. The teenage (or so) version of Xehanort that was recruited by his older, heartless self to himself travel through time and recruit the rest of the Ansem squad. He seems a little cockier than Old Man Master Xehanort, mostly because, thanks to copious time travel, he knows he lives at least long enough to enjoy Matlock.

GIVE ME MY COAT!#3 Terra-Xehanort: Xehanort from when he first (or thereabouts) possessed Terra (we’ll get to him later), and previously the final boss of Kingdom Hearts: Birth by Sleep. TX is mostly here just to screw with Terra’s previous buddies, Ventus and Aqua. Considering Ventus and Aqua don’t join the party until the final hour, you can guess how much you see of TX. Terra-Xehanort is also occasionally referred to as “Labcoat Xehanort” by exclusively me.

It's so dank here#4 Ansem, Seeker of Darkness: The Heartless monster man that was previously Terra-Xehanort, and previously the final boss of Kingdom Hearts (1). This is the creature that kicked off the Kingdom Hearts franchise by attempting to drown all of the worlds in The Darkness, and then use the Seven Princesses of Heart to open a door to The Darkness, and then, like, makeout with the Kingdom Hearts that exists in The Darkness. He was inevitably thwarted by a preteen boy and his daffy dog and belligerent bird, but the dude did destroy like a full 95% of the universe, so he’s probably the most accomplished Xehanort. For the curious, he’s named “Ansem” because he had some plot amnesia when he became a Heartless, and took the name of his former master, Ansem the Wise. For reasons that I am sure have nothing to do with this being the final chapter and all Ansem-storylines finally having a planned climax, none of the Xehanorts seem to have their previously persistent amnesiac tendencies in this title.

Some nobody#5 Xemnas, Superior of the Inbetween: The Nobody created at the same time as Ansem the Heartless, preceding leader of Organization XIII, and previously the final boss of Kingdom Hearts 2. Xemnas is supposedly a heartless, emotionless shell, but, like all of his Nobody friends, he gained a will and mini-heart of his own. Also: laser swords. Sweet. He was already pretty much the prototype for “real” Xehanort in the grand scheme of the franchise anyway, so he’s pretty indistinguishable from Master Xehanort now that they’re all lined up in a row. I suppose his defining trait is that he is, technically, the Xehanort/Ansem that lasted the furthest into the future before being cut down by a kid that can summon the Lion King.

Darky Dark Darkness Tier: The following members are not distinctly Ansem, but are living embodiments of darkness, and talk about The Darkness like it’s their damn dad that owns a dealership.

Get in the van, stupid#6 Vanitas: The dark side of Ventus (a good guy from Birth by Sleep). Xehanort has wanted that χ-blade for a long time, and one time he decided the best way to do that was take his young apprentice and split him into two people: one dark, one light. I’m… sure that plan made sense at the time. Vanitas was once simply the darkness that was part of Ventus, but was reformed (after being destroyed by Ventus during Birth by Sleep) by absorbing the bottled horror of children from Monsters Inc. Interestingly enough, Vanitas looks just like Sora, because it seemed like a cool plot twist for Birth by Sleep Ventus’s fractured heart resonated with baby Sora when Xehanort performed his unique brand of open heart surgery.

This is confusing!#12 Dark Riku: This is evil Riku. Kingdom Hearts 3 makes a big deal about which evil Riku this Dark Riku happens to be, and, ugh, do you think your plot maybe has a problem when there are multiple choices for which evil twin of your morally compromised character is running around this week? Anyway, everyone thinks this is a time traveling Dark Riku from when Ansem first possessed Riku during the worst boss fight of Kingdom Hearts (1), but it is revealed that he’s really a time traveling evil clone of Riku from when he was possessed by Ansem (which appeared in Kingdom Hearts: Chain of Memories). However, without time travel, that evil clone was never completely killed, became Dark Riku Ghost, hung out in The Darkness for a couple of years, and then decided to join up with (present) Riku when he went wandering around The Darkness looking for Aqua. So there are somehow three Rikus running around in time for Kingdom Hearts 3 (but it could have been as many as four). Eventually, time-traveling Dark Riku is defeated when Riku and Dark Riku Ghost team up to push time-traveling Dark Riku out of his (new) clone body. We’re down to one Riku by the end of KH3, but please look forward to playing Kingdom Hearts Versus featuring Dark Riku Ghost and Dark Riku Ghost the Younger.

Hangers-On Tier: All of these members were previously members of the OG Org XIII. They were (generally) all murdered by Sora during Kingdom Hearts 2 and/or Chain of Memories, but apparently if you die as a Nobody, you come back to life as a somebody later. Presumably due to realizing that this is the greatest health care plan ever available, all of these people became Nobodies again before re-joining the Organization.

#7 Xigbar: I am so mad at Xigbar right now, I am not going to address him until the end. So, so mad. He’s the guy with the guns that aren’t really guns, if you’re curious.

Stay away from sweets, kids#8 Saïx: Previously Isa, a friend to Axel/Lea, and is thus completely irrelevant to everything until Axel decides to get off his butt and join the fray. As such, Saix does nothing save taunt Axel until his final turn when Axel carebear stares (hits) him back to the good guys. He probably would have been really relevant in that Axel-based spin-off game that I am convinced Nomura has been kicking around for the last decade.

He's a pirate#9 Luxord: He likes gambling. That is still all we know about the dude. Like in Kingdom Hearts 2, he menaces Jack Sparrow, survives to be one of the final boss fights, and dies having accomplished nothing. Sora whacked him but good again, though, so he’s welcome to come back as a human for Kingdom Hearts 4 Years Divided by 21 Seconds in 7 Days.

Shocking Pink#10 Marluxia: A pink-haired dude with a scythe who once tried to kill Sora (okay, not really a defining trait) and takeover the original Organization XIII; also the final boss of Kingdom Hearts: Chain of Memories (and, miraculously, not an Ansem). Marluxia, despite being defined by his treachery and murderous tendencies, does exactly nothing over the course of Kingdom Hearts 3, save taunt Sora whenever possible (and, again, not really a defining trait). He’s “dead” again by the end, though, so expect some kind of resolution for his character eventually.

One for the ladies#11 Larxene: Still the only female Organization XIII member that isn’t a goddamn continuity snarl, and still Marluxia’s sidekick more than anything else. Larxene actually gets to show a little personality over the course of her featured world, as she repeatedly tells Sora to just leave Frozen’s Elsa alone, and let the poor girl deal with her own problems for once. Sora, naturally, doesn’t listen, but Larxene was right, right? We all saw an entire musical where Elsa made out perfectly fine without the assistance of a teenage boy, and, man, it just hurts when the character designated as “The Savage Nymph” is offering excellent advice to dumb boys that are just trying to help but should probably shut the heck up. Erm… where was I? Oh yeah, Larxene eventually gets keyed by Sora. Thanks for playing.

Poor, poor Xion#13 Xion: Xion is back! Somehow! This former Organization XIII member was the final boss of Kingdom Hearts: 358/2 Days (kinda sorta), and pretty much the focus of that entire adventure. Despite the fact that she died and was erased from the universe with an accompanying letter from Nomura explaining why she would absolutely never be back and is dead forever and ever, Xion returns, presumably because of the efforts of the next yokel on this list. Xion is an official Organization XIII member now, and she appears for… I want to say a solid three minutes before she instantly defects to the light side upon the sight of Sora. And then she stands around with the good guys doing jack squat. Yay! Happy ending!

Tiers of a Clown Tier: These guys are technically Organization XIII members, but they were “benched” in favor of other Organization XIII choices, like Riku #2,512 and Character That is Inevitably Going to Betray Everybody. Just as well, both of these Nobodies wind up betraying Organization XIII anyway, because it is rough having five managers that are all the same guy.

Love these guys#13.1 Even/Vexen: The original super scientist of Organization XIII. He is responsible for the clone bodies that are used by like half of the Organization. Apparently, by Kingdom Hearts rules, a heart can travel through time, but not a body, so he’s responsible for Org XIII’s rental fleet. And I guess bodies have souls that are separate from hearts, so the various clone critters can be morally separate entities? Whatever. After making sure that all the villains are good and snug in their new bodies, Vexen defects so he can drop off a spare body for Roxas. Note that Vexen initially explained that he joined Real Organization XIII because Axel killed him (the first time), and Vexen wasn’t going to help any team that had Axel as a member. And I was so excited that Axel was finally going to face some consequences for being a murderous bastard for a solid couple of games, and that “bad” Vexen was going to be a thorn in the side of Sora and The Guardians of Light entirely because of choices Axel once made… but, nope, it was all a feint anyway. Axel will suffer zero consequences for everything. You dashed my hopes quite expertly, Kingdom Hearts 3. Bravo.

Go play with your sitar#13.2 Demyx: The dude with a sitar from Kingdom Hearts 2. He was useless last time around, and he’s useless as hell in KH3. He joins Vexen in defecting entirely because Organization XIII gives him exactly nothing to do. Then Vexen gives him nothing to do. Incidentally, both Demyx and Vexen don’t wind up fighting Sora, so they’re both presumably still Nobodies after the culmination of Kingdom Hearts 3. Maybe Mickey Mouse will have to put them down for the good of the universe…

So what is The Real Organization XIII trying to do again?

For the first time in Kingdom Hearts history, this plan has pretty straightforward steps! Xehanort wants the χ-blade. As he learned back when Ventus and Vanitas fought during Birth by Sleep, a χ-blade may be produced when the forces of pure light and dark clash. However, it can’t just be one fight, it apparently has to be seven fragments of light fighting thirteen shards of darkness, because that’s the exact alchemy formula for the original χ-blade (presumably, Xehanort learned this from a moogle shop). So Xehanort hatches the following plan:

1. Be as freaking evil as humanly possible
2. Gather together 13 souls (including self) to be the shards of darkness
3. If necessary, fill empty slots with time-displaced versions of self
4. Share a fragment of personal soul with every member, thus guaranteeing a “link” to said darkness shards
5. Continue to be as freaking evil as humanly possible for a solid twenty years, thus getting the attention of the good guys every time you so much as sneeze
6. Wait for the good guys to inevitably gather together seven keyblade wielders
7. Taunt the good guys into showing up on your doorstop by just kind of existing (see step 5)
8. Wait patiently as the good guys boatmurder your twelve shards of darkness… or the darknesses defect… or both? Look, it apparently doesn’t matter, so don’t worry about it.
9. Each defeated (or whatever) shard of darkness will create a keyblade. Since each of the darknesses are linked to your soul, they’ll be your keyblade
10. Kidnap Kairi (just for funsies)
Hearts!11. Combine all thirteen evil keyblades while the seven fragments of light just stand there, and now you’ve got a χ-blade keyed to your specific soul.
12. Use the χ-blade to unlock Kingdom Hearts, and reboot the universe as you see fit.

Wait, what was that last part?

Apparently, Xehanort’s plan “all along” was to use the χ-blade to access Kingdom Hearts, and then use Kingdom Hearts to make the universe great again. And, incidentally, Xehanort would be kind of in charge of this reboot, so he’d effectively be the god of the new Kingdom Hearts universe.

This was his plan along? Was this foreshadowed in previous Kingdom Hearts titles?

Probably? I’m having a rough time remembering if this was always Xehanort’s plan throughout the franchise, or if I’m just confusing it for when literally every other Final Fantasy villain tried the exact same thing. We at least already established early that Kingdom Hearts (the object) rebooted the universe once after the initial Keyblade War that is practically the Kingdom Hearts origin myth. Point is that Xehanort is going to destroy the universe, so naturally Sora and the gang have to stop that.

Oh yeah, the gang. Who are the Seven Points of Light?

These articles are my not-so-secret way of getting lists out of my system. I love me some lists.

The ol' gang#1 Sora: You know who that is. Interestingly enough, despite saving literally everyone repeatedly, he is regarded as the least experienced member of the team, and is thus the butt of every joke. Sora, I’m pretty sure you’re in an abusive relationship with the rest of the universe. Mickey Mouse is laughing at you.

Let's rock#2 Riku: Sora’s best friend who only tried to kill him once. Maybe twice. He’s an official Keyblade Master after the events of Kingdom Hearts: Dream Drop Distance, and is regarded as the baddest ass of them all. For most of this adventure, he is joined by a magical ghost that only he can see. The ghost is his previously mentioned reformed evil clone, and entire sections of deviantart are already hard at work on fanart of their relationship.

#3 Mickey Mouse: Hot dog! It’s the star of The Great Circus Mystery!

And his legions of fans#4 Axel for some goddamn reason: Axel/Lea has a keyblade now. He also inexplicably is 100% aware of the fourth wall, and occasionally points out how bonkers everything has gotten. He would be my favorite character if I didn’t hate him so, so much. Fortunately, he doesn’t have the time to do much beyond hang out in a pocket dimension with Kairi, a woman he once kidnapped. I’ve got his crimes memorized.

Nope!#5 Kairi: Girl, you deserve a better franchise. She’s got a keyblade, she’s training to be a master, and… Have you played other Kingdom Hearts games? Did you read, like, just the previous paragraph? You know what happens to Kairi. We all know what happens to Kairi. This is a boys’ game, Kairi, and you’re the main character’s chaste girlfriend. You know your role. Look, if you really want to participate in this story, see if you can find Sora a bald friend in an orange gi. That is about the only way you’re going to avoid the fridge. I’m sorry.

She's baaaaaack#6 Aqua: Hey! An actual woman in this franchise that does something! I mean, sure, she has to be rescued from The Darkness by the boys. And, despite being a Keyblade Master, all she seems to do is rescue her friends that she was generally responsible for imperiling in the first place, but, dude, that’s better than literally every other woman in Kingdom Hearts! I am so excited/disgusted!

Dees Entus#7 Ventus: Aqua’s buddy and one of the stars of KH: Birth by Sleep. Aqua reawakens Ventus after his decade-long nap, and then they both join the gang to reclaim Terra’s heart. They accomplish this, because no one ever dies in Kingdom Hearts, and everybody gets a happy ending.

A simple chart

Nobody ever dies?

Terra-Xehanort is eventually transformed back into Terra-Terra by the powers of friendship. Ansem the Wise was obliterated by his own moon-sucking machine at The Castle That Never Was (I love this series), but he simply fell into The Darkness, was temporarily kidnapped by Organization XIII, and then ultimately rescued by our heroes. The “good” members of (classic) Organization XIII are all real boys again that hang out in Radiant Garden being generally helpful. Roxas was summoned from Sora’s heart just in time to save bffs Xion and Axel. Pretty much every “lost” character over the last couple decades of Kingdom Hearts lore is back and ready for hugs.

What about Master Eraqus, the creator of Final Fantasy and former best friend of Xehanort?

Big ol' man-hugOh, he was hiding in Terra’s heart the whole time (while Terra’s heart was hiding in Ansem’s Heartless, natch). He rematerialized, gave Xehanort the ol’ “if you were really my friend, you wouldn’t destroy all of existence”, and the universe is once again saved by the power of friendship (and hitting an old man with a key for a half hour).

That’s how Kingdom Hearts 3 ends? With friendship “defeating” Xehanort?

Well, that, and some convoluted plan to trick Xehanort into sticking his head so far up his own ass, he becomes a black hole. But the friendship thing is more thematically relevant.

So thus ends the Kingdom Hearts saga?

Well, there are a few dangling plot threads…

Of course there are. Elaborate!

Well, first of all, there’s the obvious issue that Kairi and Sora become separated again thanks to the events of the finale. Either she’s lost, and he’s looking for her, or he keybladed too hard to restore her, and she’s stuck sitting on a tree waiting for him to return. The ending is kind of ambiguous in a Final Fantasy 8-Game Theory kind of way. And Sora may be stuck in The World Ends with You as a result of all of that. Which, really, that isn’t the worst thing in the world to have happen to a Square Enix teenager.

Are there are any other sequel hooks?

Okay, buckle in for this one: looks like the Kingdom Hearts franchise really wants to focus on the cell phone game nobody played.

What the hell?

Mickey!So there’s Kingdom Hearts χ, which was a browser-based game that eventually found its way to mobile stores as either Kingdom Hearts Union χ or Kingdom Hearts Unchained χ (just a name change to denote multiplayer showed up). The general setting of the title is right around The Keyblade War, a piece of the Kingdom Heart mythos that occurred a craptillion years before the events of any given Kingdom Hearts game. In short, it was a time with a lot of anonymous keyblade wielders running around smacking random monsters into submission, so it is an ideal setting for MMORPG-like mobile gameplay. Be your own Original Character, pal around a world that could not have any impact on the real, “present” worlds of any given Kingdom Hearts game, and maybe summon Cloud through time travel for a special attack or something. Kingdom Hearts of the Old Republic. Pretty straightforward.

… But?

But the Keyblade War is an integral part of Kingdom Hearts lore, so naturally there has to be a big, convoluted backstory for why the war happened in the first place. What was once a modest “everybody fought over the right to the all-powerful χ-blade” story morphed into a tale of betrayal and prophecy and furries.

What?

It’s kind of like if the three different teams in Pokemon Go were all fighting for the fate of the world because their daddy didn’t love them enough.

Oh. Of course. Care to explain how that went down?

LOOK AT MEIn short, there’s The Master of Masters. M&M pulls an Odin, and sticks his eyeball into a keyblade, and, as long as that keyblade “sees” something, then Master of Masters has knowledge of that event. He gives this keyblade to his subordinate, Luxu. So, for the rest of time, if Luxu and/or the eyeball keyblade were present, then Master of Masters would know about the event from his vantage point in “the past”. So Master of Masters wrote down all of history before it happened, bound it into a book, and gave five tomes to five “foretellers”. The five foretellers read various parts of the book, were not so thrilled with the ending (obliteration of the universe or something), and started five different guilds to try to figure out how to avert the apocalypse. Unfortunately, the five guilds couldn’t agree on how to get their shit together, and this sparked the Keyblade War that led to the very apocalypse they were trying to prevent, because that is how prophecy always works. Sorry! Them’s the rules!

That sounds weirdly convoluted for a mobile/browser game.

Pretty much. But it’s basically all an excuse so “the player” of the “past” can use pages from The Book of What Happens Next as summon cards for Donald Duck. What a price we pay for our fun.

So how is that related to Kingdom Hearts 3?

Aside from one weirdly NieR-esque scene at the Keyblade Graveyard, it doesn’t seem to overtly impact Kingdom Hearts 3 at all. Yes, there are mutterings of Maleficent and Pete looking for The Book of Prophecies, and there is exactly one scene where it is implied that the Organization XIII B-Team (including the likes of Marluxia and Larxene) are all descendants of Keyblade War warriors or… something. But that’s it. Some “links” to the past, but nothing overtly “you have to know this” about it all. Oh, and Xehanort has had the eyeball keyblade since the time of Birth by Sleep. Seems like that might be relevant.

Don’t be coy. How is it relevant?

After Xehanort is completely defeated, a mysterious character in a dark cloak is seen with the eyeball keyblade. He claims it is back in its original owner’s hands, and summons a mysterious box. He then summons the foretellers to his side, because of course they’re somehow still alive after hundreds of years. And then the mysterious figure throws off his hood to reveal… Xigbar.

Who?

Ol' one-eyeBraig/Xigbar (either name works, let’s stick to Xigbar) was Xehanort’s second from about the time of Kingdom Hearts: Birth by Sleep. Up until Kingdom Hearts 3, every scrap of data seemed to indicate he was a “simple” guard of Radiant Guardian who was seduced by Xehanort’s charms and decided to become a loyal toady in exchange for some unnamed price. However, he was repeatedly thwarted by teenagers, permanently scarred by at least one, and “killed” by another one (twice). During his second death, Xigbar revealed he did it all for a chance at a keyblade. But, for reasons that are unrevealed, that dying soliloquy was apparently a lie, because… I guess Xigbar knew the audience wanted to hear some kind of justification? Who knows. Regardless, during the epilogue and a “secret report” or two (only available after completing Kingdom Hearts 3), it is revealed that “Xigbar” was secretly Luxu, the original owner of the eyeball keyblade, this whole time.

What?

Luxu apparently has the same possession powers as Xehanort, and has been body hopping for the last however many years. Xigbar (who, can’t stress this enough, has literally died once or twice) is apparently his latest body. Is he stealing bodies or just being reincarnated? Regardless, it is heavily implied that Xigbar manipulated Xehanort up to this point to see a new χ-blade/”Keyblade War” produced.

So Xigbar/Braig/Luxu has been the real big bad this entire time?

That seems to be the implication! Or he’s working for the real big bad. Professional, generational Smithers right here.

So where does this leave the Kingdom Hearts plot going forward?

We seem to have a few dangling threads:

Unicorns!1. What is the connection between the Organization XIII members and the “history of the keyblade”?
2. Why are the Foretellers back?
3. One of the Foretellers, Ava, is missing. What happened to her? Was she trapped in a dungeon and forced to deal with Lea and Isa for some reason?
4. What in blazes is Luxu up to?
5. Luxu has a mysterious box. What’s in the box!?
6. And, uh, I guess there’s that whole Sora thing.

So, suffice to say, there is more than enough material left here for a new Kingdom Hearts adventure (or maybe trilogy!). And, if nothing else, now there’s a reason for you to go download the mobile app and hope to gleam the tiniest scraps of information and foreshadowing from that title. Xehanort might be dead, but don’t worry, convoluted plans by mysterious jerks in cloaks are here to stay!

Sorry, I thought this whole section was about how this plot is all a bad thing?

Assuming Microsoft Word isn’t lying to me (“keyblade” is too a word, you stupid program) we’re about 4,000 words into the “plot” section of this FAQ. And all of this? All of these twists and turns and characters are only relevant in the absolute last few hours of Kingdom Hearts 3. In fact, Kingdom Hearts 3 doesn’t even have a proper “last dungeon” like previous KH titles, it just has literally hours of boss fights and cutscenes, and the occasional break to maybe hit a save point or review data files. It’s just plot dump after plot dump, and some (admittedly cool) boss battles to convince the player they didn’t just accidentally pop in a Xenosaga disc. None of it has anything to do with the Disney Worlds, and, save a quick universal tour during one sequence, none of it seems to even be related to the game that came before. In short, it feels like you either have to complete all these “unnecessary” Disney Worlds to earn the right to see the end of the Kingdom Hearts “trilogy”, or you can completely quit after the last Disney World, because the selling point of “play in Disney movies” is over now. WHAT'S IN THE BOX!?!Kingdom Hearts 3 is essentially two experiences haphazardly sewn together, and could only possibly please some outrageous malcontents that live for a fusion of shonen nonsense and Disney animated canon.

That would be you, right?

Well, yeah, but my mom keeps telling me I’m unique, so I can’t imagine there are that many people like me.

Kingdom Hearts 3 sold 5 million units in its first week, more than Resident Evil 2 or any other game in January of 2019.

Oh. That right? Weird.

Be more positive! Could you acknowledge what you actually liked about the game?

Give or take the music being oddly phoned-in (and eerily silent for random cutscenes), Kingdom Hearts 3 really does seem like the promised epitome of Kingdom Hearts. While it is incredibly dated (I cannot remember the last time I thought “wow, this sidequest is designed to sell strategy guides” in a modern game), it is also dated in some good ways. There is no Day 1 Season Pass or a random break in the story where a party member has to disappear behind a flashing sign that reads “DLC coming soon!” (Note: There is inevitably going to be Kingdom Hearts 3 DLC. There has, in its own International Version/Remix kind of way, been “DLC” for literally every Kingdom Hearts title that has ever existed, going right back to OG Sephiroth.). The twists of the Toy Story world are genuinely fun, the unique Toy Story “possessed toy” monsters are an excellent change of pace for monster design in the series, and… uh… I need something not Toy Story related…. Oh! Donald Duck channeling the late, great Tellah was pretty amazing.

All these dorksKingdom Hearts 3 isn’t a bad game by any means, it just doesn’t seem to have its priorities straight, and there is a very narrow audience that would enjoy 100% of this title. Anyone old enough to enjoy this plot thanks to fifteen years of buildup is not going to enjoy these time wasting minigames, I guarantee you this.

Oh, wait, what about Leon, Cid, Aeris, and all the rest? You forgot to mention what happened to all the “guest” Square characters.

Yeah, well, so did Square-Enix.

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