One of the most anticipated titles at this year's EGX was undoubtedly Kingdom Hearts 3. Lengthy queues filled with people were eager to get some hands-on time with the sequel they've been waiting the best part of 13 years for.
There were two playable segments at EGX, the colossus boss battle and the Toy Box world. While the former was included as a way of introducing the combat, it was definitely the latter that most people were interested in. The Toy Box world took players to Andy's bedroom in the Toy Story universe.
I started with the Colossus demo as I wanted to spend some time with the combat system in Kingdom Hearts 3. Just like the previous games in the series, the combat is a mix of physical and magical attacks utilized through an on-screen menu.
The combat system has always been one of my biggest gripes with the Kingdom Hearts series. It feels simple while also being a bit clunky and cumbersome. The choice of linking one button to attacking and also navigating the menu to utilise magic is frustrating and takes players out of the moment. Unfortunately, it seems like this system remains in Kingdom Hearts 3. I'd like to see some custom controller options, or alternative layouts as it could really improve the way combat plays out.
I did notice some nice improvements to the battle system though. Sora moved around the battlefield more smoothly than in previous iterations, and there were certainly more enemies populating the battles.
Forms make a return in combat, giving players the option to swap Sora between various versions of himself, all with unique powers. Summons also made an appearance in the demo, with Sora calling in help from various members of the Disney universe. I was impressed with how the summoned allies weaved in and out of battles, their effect on the immediate area and how they change the flow of boss battles.
Kingdom Hearts 3 is up there as one of the most graphically impressive titles I have ever witnessed. Square Enix have perfectly captured the art style of each Disney film, resulting in gameplay that looks on par with Hollywood-style animation. This was most evident in the Toy Box demo as it took place in Andy’s bedroom, a location I’ve grown up with - having watched the first Toy Story film at the cinemas as a child - so it was somewhat poignant to find myself traversing his bedroom now that I’m a 27-year-old man.
While I didn’t get to fully play the Toy Box demo, there was certainly a feel of authenticity to it with the voice cast being almost spot on. Each character sounded like their movie counterpart, adding to both the authenticity of the Disney properties used in games, as well as the general level of immersion. The writing was expectedly quite cheesy, which slightly ruined my immersion - especially as the lines in most Disney films are incredibly well written.
My short time with Kingdom Hearts 3 at EGX left me thinking that this it is indeed going to be the game that fans have been waiting for, but I feel Square-Enix has done very little to entice new players. Regardless of my own personal gripes with the series, Kingdom Hearts 3 is set to be a stunning return to the world of Disney, with the EGX demo showing that the series looks better than ever.