Kingdom Hearts 3 is an impressively bizarre product. On one hand, it's basically a bad Shonen anime. On the other hand, it's a virtual Disney simulator. 2 sides of the same coin, both vastly different yet still in a sort of harmony. Somehow over the course of damn near a dozen different titles in the franchise, Kingdom Hearts has managed to normalize the total batshit insane idea of a crossover over the Disney and Final Fantasy worlds. It's not that aspect of the game that strikes me as bizarre. It's not even the total lack of Final Fantasy characters that throws it off. Nor is it the totally insane, fast paced combat where shit blows up constantly and you summon random Disney rides to kill shadow monsters. What really makes Kingdom Hearts 3 so puzzling to me boils down to a single issue...cutscene direction.
Before you hit the title screen in KH3, you can watch a really beautifully done montage of scenes from the past games in the franchise. After watching it a single tear slowly rolled down from my left eye. The nostalgia was so real in that moment, it was like I was reliving my own experiences of playing through all those games. My childhood, into my teenage years, all the way into the crushing depression of being a young adult. I was both sad and pumped to finally be playing what was supposed to be the game that would finally wrap up the damn near two decade long storyline. I started a new game. I thought I was ready. But there's no way you can be ready for this level of fuckery.
It all starts out promising enough. The Olympus level has quite a few action scenes, and they're not bad. The first clue that I was in for a bad time came in the voice acting. Every returning character outside of Donald and Goofy sound bored off their asses. There's almost no inflection, no emotion. It's really quite baffling that this level of quality was considered passable. Take for instance this scene.
Skip to about a minute in for the really good stuff. Notice the awkward long pauses, the weird tone of voice, the lack of reaction from anyone outside of Mickey Mouse, who has a terrible quality all his own. This example is one of many, and it's the rule in KH3, not the exception.
You might have noticed in that last example that the whole cutscene was essentially just 4 characters talking blandly in a boring room. Welcome to the primary form of story exposition in KH3. The problem seems to stem from the amount of ground KH3 has to cover to tie up loose ends, coupled with 8 completely arbitrary Disney worlds that serve absolutely no purpose in the overall plot line. Sora lost his powers again, so he has to journey through these worlds in an attempt to regain it. In between worlds and every once in a while during them, Sora gets a call on his new Gummi Phone that fills in some plot detail. These conversations are all just like that cutscene above. All are completely lifeless lore dumps, solely in place to try and wrangle in the tangled web of plot lines Kingdom Hearts landed itself in. If you're a masochist, take a look at this masterpiece of a scene.
The truly crazy thing about this is that in motion, the game is fantastic. The animations are awesome. The potential is here, it's just not realized. Just take a look at this boss fight. (https://youtu.be/CuUBFyFgUl0?t=131) It's a really awesome fight, but it's one of the only fights in the game that really has this level of involvement. Every other boss up the the final ones are just simple fights with big health bars. Even a fairly extensive boss rush towards the end is a complete let down. You fight some of the same bosses from KH2 here, and they're all more boring to battle than they ever were before. Even the last boss is a bore, and the endgame drags on far too long. Perhaps the worst thing about the end game (Spoilers!!) is that you not only have to fight a large handful of samey boss battles in a row. This would be bad enough, but they also all redeem themselves in their final few seconds. They all give some vague monologue about happiness, and hearts, etc. and basically thank Sora for taking them out. Just look at this.
Now imagine seeing this same scene 10 times over with slightly different vague bullshit.
I'll leave you with this scene, which happens fairly early in the game.
It was this scene that finally cemented in my head the fact that KH3 was not going to be what I'd hoped for. This scene, which to most probably sounds like total nonsense, is so poorly voice acted I couldn't help but laugh watching it. This is what KH3 is for the most part. It's a lot of fun to play. The music is probably the best in the entire series. The combat is a bit easy but it's flashy and cool. It has a lot of high points, but the lows are unbelievably low.