kingdom hearts 4 must be a reset.
There was a time when the news of a new Kingdom Hearts the entrance would have sent me into paroxysms of joy. But the announcement that kingdom hearts 4 is in preparation barely inspired a “eh, it’s nice”. I’ve been a faithful devotee of the Church of the Keyblade since the moment I heard “Simple and Clean” by Hikaru Utada. Kingdom Hearts and KH2 have been my games, one of the founding texts at the heart of my identity as a gamer. But the spinoffs started to fragment on consoles I didn’t own, and the story turned into a quagmire of characters and plot points (Aqua got ‘nortered’!) that even I, with my years of training in the weird-ass gladiatorial pits World of Warcraft and Final Fantasy lore, could not unravel. Kingdom Hearts lost me, resulting in my downfall kingdom hearts 3 somewhere in the middle of the game, disappointed and so sad that the franchise so formative for my youth has become totally unrecognizable to me.
kingdom hearts 4 then represents a chance for me and my beloved franchise to reconcile. The game needs a clean slate, and kingdom hearts 4 could be the starting point that I and other expired keyblade holders desperately need. The story, as it stands, is completely impenetrable. Even the most concise editorial staff and video tests doing the herculean task (heh) of explaining the lore to recognize that this story is weird and convoluted even by permissive RPG standards.
Even if we talk Kingdom Hearts 4, it is actually the 16th game in the franchise. This fact, taken in isolation, is good. It happens all the time. ( Cough Final Fantasy cough.) Where the series loses me and others is when each of these 16 games is canon and utterly necessary to figure out what’s going on. Imagine if you had to play the first 14 Final Fantasy games to understand Final Fantasy XV. Why would anyone care? Even Square Enix seemed to realize things had gotten out of hand when it released a collection of Kingdom Hearts titled games The story so far.
The result of all this winding, fast-paced storytelling is a lack of consistency that shows up in the games. kingdom hearts 3 wasn’t great. Several reviewers of the game pointed to the game’s overworked story as a contributing factor to its poor reception. (That and the fact that we are still dealing with the Gummi Ship despite being almost universally reviled by the fanbase.)
It should not be so with kingdom hearts 4. the Kingdom Hearts franchise is like a library with a pile of overdue books. Over time, the fallout has piled up like accumulated late fees to the point that it has become so daunting that the library has gone from a source of joy to a source of shame. All KH4 needs to do is grant lore amnesty, freeing fans from the burden of trying to figure out what happened before. And just like libraries with late fee waiver programspeople (myself included) will be coming back in droves.
Although there is very little in the trailer that leads me to believe KH4 will push the giant reset button, I remain optimistic. If Square Enix can get rid of Sora’s Giant Clown Shoesit at least signals a willingness to, as Elsa would say, “let it go.”