Kingdom Hearts is one of my favorite franchises. There’s something about the combination of Disney, Final Fantasy, and pure anime moments of hype that make me unable to put my controller down. I have 125 hours in Kingdom Hearts 3, despite it and the DLC only taking me around 30-35 hours total. I’ve beaten Kingdom Hearts 1 Final Mix in less than ten hours for a speedrunning trophy. I’ve grinded away at Kingdom Hearts 2 Final Mix and the Roxas fight that gave many people a nightmare as a child. So it’s not with a light heart nor a light tone that I say that Kingdom Hearts lore is getting too big for itself and that it would serve it well to start fresh with Kingdom Hearts 4.
Kingdom Hearts Lore Is Massive
For a brief bit of context, every single Kingdom Hearts game has connected to the rest of the series. Despite people at the time thinking Kingdom Hearts: Chain Of Memories would be completely unrelated to the rest of the series, it actually had absolutely pivotal moments that would be key to understanding what went on in basically every other game in the series.
The same happened with Kingdom Hearts Union Cross, a mobile title for the series, in which we find out some information about the past of the Kingdom Hearts universe that was absolutely key to understanding the motives of the villain of the saga and the appearances of several of that game’s characters in Kingdom Hearts 3 proper. It’s this linkage between the games that often puts people off the series and makes them wary about touching something with so much lore. Honestly, who can blame them when the series has titles like:
- Kingdom Hearts 1 Final Mix
- Kingdom Hearts Re:Chain Of Memories
- Kingdom Hearts 2 Final Mix
- Kingdom Hearts 358/2 Days
- Kingdom Hearts Birth By Sleep Final Mix
- Kingdom Hearts Re:Coded
- Kingdom Hearts Dream Drop Distance HD
- Kingdom Hearts 0.2 Birth By Sleep Final Mix A Fragmentary Passage
- Kingdom Hearts Union Cross
- Kingdom Hearts Back Cover
- Kingdom Hearts 3
- Kingdom Hearts Dark Road
- Kingdom Hearts Melody Of Memory
It’s this core linkage that I was hoping the series would abandon going forward, at least if only in the beginning stages of setting up the new story arc for the series.
His Dreams, Shattered.
Of course, my hopes were completely crushed the other day, thanks to an interview that Tetsuya Nomura, series creator, had with Game Informer. In said interview, Nomura spoke about the already-announced new mobile installment in the series, saying the following:
“Compared to our past mobile releases, it’s a lot closer to the series and also connected in many ways to Kingdom Hearts 4. The easiest way to get more new information and hints about Kingdom Hearts 4 would be first to play Missing Link. I know that not everybody is really into smartphone games, so some fans might not be really excited for it, but we are making it so that it’s something that anyone can jump right into.”
Reading this quote caused me to sigh in defeat. Truly, Kingdom Hearts cannot escape the trappings of itself and thus cannot discover a new identity for a new generation. Kingdom Hearts 4 being revealed and confirmed almost instantly within the trailer itself to be continuing directly on from the ending of Kingdom Hearts 3 and Kingdom Hearts 3: ReMind, in which Sora finds himself within a mysterious new realm called the Quadratum, we were never really going to get a completely new slate for the series, but I was hoping that it would forgo the mobile game lore and keep Kingdom Hearts Missing Link as something completely separate in the same way that Kingdom Hearts Dark Road is.
Kingdom Hearts 4 Has Required Reading
You see, Dark Road might have come out after the ending of ‘The Darkseeker Saga’ (what fans and the creators have dubbed the first set of games leading up to Kingdom Hearts 3), but it’s a very specific part of that saga, adding context and character to the worlds within. Kingdom Hearts Missing Link could have done something similar, but it seems that instead, it will be required reading before playing Kingdom Hearts 4.
I’m going to play Kingdom Hearts 4 regardless of lore-ties, I always was. I have too much of a sunk-cost fallacy at this stage, and I honestly adore the characters that Nomura and company have developed across the many games. I’m just worried that at some point, it’ll be a case of diminishing returns, and I’ll find myself caring less and less about the games until, eventually, it’s just a passing interest. If the lore presented within the mobile games is available in a more concise format, then it won’t be as much of an issue, but it took until the end of service for Kingdom Hearts Union Cross to have the entire story available in one package, so I don’t particularly have my hopes up that Nomura and Square Enix will do the right thing when it comes to storytelling.