"Kingdom Hearts III" is the long-awaited successor to 2005's second entry, although Square Enix has not stopped publishing spin-offs over the last decade. Discounting the mobile games, five side stories were released between the second and third numbered sequels.

Any other studio would have used these modest entries to explore standalone stories or experiment with unique mechanics; however, Square Enix decided that everything must be connected. In many ways, "Kingdom Hearts III" embodies the franchise's best and worst elements. Building upon "Birth By Sleep's" intuitive combat system, 2019's ambitious action-RPG should keep most hack and slash fans entertained for the story's 30-40 hour runtime.

'Kingdom Hearts' perfect combat

Those familiar with the series' trademark mechanics should feel right at home in Square Enix's modern entry, while newcomers can look forward to a smooth battle system that progressively expands Sora's usable move-set to accommodate for flashier stunts and combos.

Along with the basic gameplay loop, "Kingdom Hearts III" utilizes various mini-games to break up the monotony. For better or worse, the previous entries' Gummi Ship sections are back and as annoying as ever. Most Disney worlds contain a unique deviation composed around a peculiar feature associated with that license. For example, "Pirates of the Caribbean" lets Sora take part in a naval ship battle, while "Toy Story's" level allows players to step into some mecha suits.

Varying wildly in terms of quality, these sections feel more like an obligation than a meticulous attempt to interject an exciting fresh mechanic.

'Kingdom Hearts' story is a mess

"Kingdom Hearts III" faces the unenviable task of needing to simultaneously satisfy long-term fans and the uninitiated. The franchise's premise is simplistically brilliant; "Final Fantasy" characters visit Disney's iconic worlds.

What more needs to be said?

Sadly, Square Enix devoted the greatest part of the previous and current decades to senselessly complicating such a flawless fundamental concept. Moving past all the mind-numbing discussions revolving around nobodies and the heartless, here is a story that is fundamentally about an optimistic boy who employs the power of friendship to save the universe from the darkness.

At its best, this strange crossover celebrates two massive cultural behemoths; at its worst, Square Enix's action-RPG devolves into endless bouts of exposition, as the writers try to stitch together an overarching narrative capable of holding even the tiniest speck of water.

"Kingdom Hearts III" is available to purchase on the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One for $59.99.