Less than two weeks remain before the release of Kingdom Hearts 3, which may be the most anticipated game of 2019. Kingdom Hearts 3 marks the culmination of the franchise’s story so far, known as the Dark Seeker Saga or the Xehanort Saga. The story so far spans eleven different games and movies, with Kingdom Hearts 3 serving as the twelfth. It’s a lot to take in, which means that in order to be wholly prepared for Kingdom Hearts 3 it’s best to start researching now.
For those wanting to experience the story of Kingdom Hearts 3 naturally, the Kingdom Hearts The Story So Far is available now exclusively for the PlayStation 4. It features all of the games or movie replacements of certain games. That said, with just two weeks left until Kingdom Hearts 3 there’s scant time left to play through all of the games to fully understand the Dark Seeker Saga‘s story.
Alternatively, there’s plenty of fan-made content summarizing the events of Kingdom Hearts leading up to where Kingdom Hearts 3 will begin. This “Kingdom Hearts Story Summary” video from Suggestive Gaming is a great option, as it summarizes the entirety of the Kingdom Hearts franchise’s story in just 30 minutes. The video puts the story in chronological order without regards for individual games, so for those hoping to understand how each game adds to the story this isn’t the best option. It is, however, the best option for quickly preparing for Kingdom Hearts 3.
As important as it is to understand the pure story of Kingdom Hearts up to this point, it’s also important to understand the franchise’s structure. Awareness of how the story has been told so far will also highlight the characters and themes — arguably even more important going into Kingdom Hearts 3 than the nebulous minutia of the story itself so far.
Here’s our breakdown of the franchise’s story based on key events from each game, which should work well alongside the chronological story breakdown:
The introduction of Sora, Kairi, and Riku, who are each pulled into a world-spanning battle against the Heartless (beings of Darkness and/or stolen Hearts corrupted by Darkness)and Ansem, the villain behind it all.
Chain of Memories, 358/2 Days, Kingdom Hearts 2
There are two important plotlines from within these three games:
- Sora has lost his memory due to a trap by Organization XIII, a group of Nobodies (beings that have had their Hearts stolen), and their Nobody prisoner, Namine. Roxas, Xion, and Axel are friends and members of Organization XIII. Roxas and Xion rejoin with Sora to restore his memories with the help of Namine, who eventually rejoins with Kairi, all sacrificing their own existence.
- A revitalized Sora battles world-to-world against Organization XIII. Ultimately the Nobodies are defeated with the help of Axel, who sacrifices himself. The leader of Organization XIII, Xemnas, is revealed to be the Nobody of a man named Xehanort, whose Heartless form was Ansem. Sora, Riku, and Kairi, all now able to wield Keyblades, return home.
X Back Cover, Unchained X, Union X
In the ancient past, Light is seen as a gift from the land of Kingdom Hearts, guarded by the X-blade. Distrust leads to the Keyblade War, wherein the X-blade is shattered into 7 pieces of Light and 13 pieces of Darkness. Kingdom Hearts disappears and the remaining Keyblade Masters dedicate themselves to protecting the world.
Birth by Sleep
Around 10 years before Kingdom Hearts, an aging Keyblade Master Xehanort works to corrupt a fellow Master’s apprentices, Ventus, Aqua, and Terra, in order to both recreate the X-blade and to find a suitable host to transfer his Heart into. Ventus is found unworthy and has his Darkness pulled out, which becomes Vanitas, wounding Ventus until he binds his heart to baby Sora. Terra is chosen instead, ultimately giving in to Darkness and allowing Xehanort to possess him. Aqua fights Terra-Xehanort, erasing his memory, but sacrifices herself to Darkness to save his life. Xehanort eventually regains his memory, but in the process splits into a Heartless and a Nobody (Ansem and Xemnas).
Re:coded, Dream Drop Distance, .2 Birth By Sleep ~a fragmentary passage~
After the events of Kingdom Hearts 2, Sora and Riku are tasked to become Keyblade Masters, but Sora nearly succumbs to Xehanort and only Riku passes the test. It’s revealed that Xehanort is able to travel through time and is gathering 13 versions of himself. Riku ventures out to rescue Aqua, Kairi trains to be a Keyblade Master, and Sora is tasked with recovering his strength after losing it in the fight with Xehanort. Together they must bring together the 7 Lights to fight Xehanort’s 13 Darknesses.
And that brings us to Kingdom Hearts 3.
Obviously, this filtered approach to Kingdom Hearts‘ story leaves a lot out. For some important Disney-related information look up King Mickey and the Princesses of Heart. Also important is Organization XIII, so it may be worth further researching its members. Of key importance is Lea/Axel’s growth into a Keyblade user, as well as several members’ ties to Ansem the Wise (and Xehanort).
Also, while Xehanort is well-described, his goals aren’t. Xehanort believes that Light and Darkness must exist in equilibrium, but to accomplish this, he believes he has to put the X-blade together again and with it recreate Kingdom Hearts to match his ideals. The vast majority of the Kingdom Hearts franchise’s story happens outside of the original Kingdom Hearts and Kingdom Hearts 2.
One final note of importance to close this out. If everything still feels too confusing or you feel like there’s not enough time to truly catch up by Kingdom Hearts 3‘s release date, don’t worry. Kingdom Hearts 3‘s story will either go over or glaze over everything from the previous games as necessary to provide a simple starting point for new players. It may not be as rich of experience overall, but it will almost certainly be just as fun.
Kingdom Hearts 3 is scheduled for release on January 25 for the PS4 and Xbox One.
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