To say that Kingdom Hearts 3 is quite polarizing would be to say it lightly, with fans arguing over nearly every facet of the game. There’s not much common ground to be found between diehard fans and naysayers. , but there’s at least one thing we all agree on – Arendelle really sucks.
I realize this immediately undermines the whole “Kingdom Hearts 3 is awesome, actually” chord that I’ve been trying to build when talking about the game recently, but there’s no sugarcoating – it’s just one of the worst worlds in Kingdom Hearts History. In fact, it’s actually a good case study for what makes a good Kingdom Hearts world, and what doesn’t, so let’s look at the bright side and see this as a teaching moment.
Let’s start with the big one – the story. All Arendelle does is lazily insert Sora, Donald, and Goofy into a rushed, half-ass version of Frozen’s plot. It’s been done in previous Kingdom Hearts games, of course, but at least in worlds like Aladdin, the movie and its main beats do justice and make Kingdom Hearts characters feel like they have a relationship with the protagonists of Disney with which they exist.
I bought that Sora cared about Mushu and Mulan at the end of The Land of Dragons in Kingdom Hearts 2, when he might have had a good conversation with Anna and barely participated in the ending scenes of Frozen. It feels incredibly forced, including the revamped scene from Let It Go which is literally a direct translation from the movie. The game is much more interested in having Sora interact with Larxene than trying to teach our hero a lesson through the power of Disney. Sora is just here for the ride and it sucks.
The next big issue is the setting. Aside from Elsa’s Ice Castle, which you can’t even enter, there’s nothing about Arendelle that makes you feel like you’re visiting this world. It’s just a snowy mountain that you climb over and over again with endless heartless to fight and nothing else. Oh, other than a random ice maze that has nothing to do with Frozen and is somehow made of…lightning. To the right. It doesn’t help that we have Snowball as a party member instead of Elsa, Anna, or Kristoff. Even Olaf would have made more sense.
Arendelle also doesn’t have a unique gameplay mechanic to help it stand out. You can stand on a snowball, I guess, and there’s the Frozen Slider minigame that everyone hates, but there’s nothing of note beyond being a little more centered on the platform than other worlds, which isn’t exactly Kingdom Hearts’ forte anyway. Compare that to Pirates of the Caribbean, or even Big Hero 6 with its massive map, and it’s clear there hasn’t been much thought given to why Arendelle should make the cut beyond “Frozen. is big, innit”.
These three reasons are key to why Arendelle sucks, but let’s be a little fussy. Despite being able to give Sora and his friends an appropriate winter look, they are oddly left in their normal clothes, with Donald claiming “that’s not how the magic works” when Sora asks him about it. It makes sense in other worlds when Sora stays in his normal attire, but the opportunity was there and it makes the world feel like a bit more of an afterthought. All of the best worlds in Kingdom Hearts history have costume changes, after all.
Sadly, there are glimpses of something bigger lurking in the snow, with some pretty funny scenes between Sora, Donald, and Goofy, as well as the return of the full voice cast from Frozen (minus Hans), but nothing None of this is enough to save Arendelle from its infamous status as the worst world in Kingdom Hearts history.
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