We’ve had plenty of Kingdom Hearts games since 2006, however, this was the last time a mainline title in the series released, and on a console that wasn’t handheld. Now, on January 29th we’ll finally be able to conclude the Xehanort saga and play through a brand new main Kingdom Hearts title on the PS4 and Xbox One. That feels good to write.
Fortunately, there have been plenty of great games to fill in the thirteen-year gap. But if you’re like me and struggling to waste the time away as you push through the final few days before the big release, here are five games that might help.
Don’t worry, the list isn’t all just Kingdom Hearts titles – although it definitely could’ve been.
1. Final Fantasy XV
Developer: Square Enix Publisher: Square Enix Platform(s): PS4, Xbox One, PC
Seeing as though it’s one of the crossover series that supports the foundation of the game, the latest JRPG from the Final Fantasy franchise unsurprisingly shares quite a few similarities with Kingdom Hearts. With familiarly fluid, party-based combat and a story which may leave quite a few things unexplained, Kingdom Hearts fans will feel right at home with this one.
Final Fantasy XV also presents you with an amazing, beautiful open world full of side-quests to explore. It makes for a nice change from the fairly linear and only moderately open worlds that we’re used to seeing in the Kingdom Hearts series. The only downside here is that you might not be able to complete the 40+ hour story in time.
2. Ratchet and Clank
Developer: Insomniac Games Publisher: Sony Computer Entertainment Platform(s): PS4
While it’s pretty far removed from the fundamental mechanics of the Kingdom Hearts franchise, Ratchet and Clank will likely strike a chord with fans of the series all the same. The entertaining and often amusing story about a Lombax seeking a taste of adventure will take you back to the roots of the Kingdom Hearts series. Just as Sora sets out visiting other worlds, as Ratchet (and Clank) you’ll head out to explore new worlds that are all unique in their own way – although they, unfortunately, won’t be Disney based.
For anyone who played the earliest Ratchet and Clank games on the PlayStation 2, this retelling of the original game should hit you with a good dose of nostalgia. With the story not being too long either, you should have no trouble squeezing it in before the big release.
3. Super Smash Bros. Ultimate
Developer: Bandai Namco/Nintendo Publisher: Nintendo Platform(s): Nintendo Switch
When challenging yourself on the higher difficulties of Kingdom Hearts, the timing of your attacks and blocks quickly becomes very important. As this will almost certainly be the case in Kingdom Hearts III as well, getting some practice in on a classic fighting game like Smash Bros. will likely prove to be very rewarding. You could really do this with any fighter game, but this one has Cloud in – why would you choose any other?
With that said, if perfectly timing your attacks down to a tee isn’t really your thing, then at least the spectacle of some of the finishers in Smash Bros. Ultimate might come close to resembling some of the undoubtedly flashy and over-the-top set pieces we can expect to see in Kingdom Hearts III.
Developer: SIE Santa Monica Studio Publisher: Sony Interactive Entertainment Platform(s): PS4
If you like the fast-paced combat and epic-scale boss fights of the Kingdom Hearts series, you needn’t look any further than the God of War franchise for some more of the same. While Sora and Kratos could not be further apart in terms of appearance, it’s in their fighting styles that they share something of a resemblance. Much like in Kingdom Hearts games, looping together combos and executing a well-timed block, dodge or attack interruption will often be pivotal to winning any major battle while playing as Kratos.
On top of that, if you hadn’t already heard, it’s honestly just a really great game. There’s an awesome story to experience and plenty to do and explore alongside. If you haven’t picked God of War up yet, it’ll be the perfect time filler for bridging that gap until Kingdom Hearts III drops.
There are a lot of Kingdom Hearts games out there by now, and really you should play all of them before diving into Kingdom Hearts 3. But seeing as though its release is almost upon us, I’ll give you a free pass to just watch the cutscenes of any games you haven’t played. However, you absolutely should not skip over this one.
While Kingdom Hearts 2 isn’t the game that will immediately follow into Kingdom Hearts 3, out of all the titles in the series, this one will probably give you the best flavour of what to expect from the next instalment. With a near-perfect combat system, incredibly compelling characters, meaningful boss-battles, and a thoroughly engrossing (albeit slightly confusing) story, it is the pinnacle of the series so far.
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