Kingdom Hearts is a game series created by Square Enix in collaboration with Disney to create an extremely deep and complex story. With Kingdom Hearts III finally hitting the market after all these years, I thought I would take it upon myself to fill news fans in on the story so far and to give old fans a refresher before they decide to pick up this game if they have not already.  

There was once one world and it was full of light. The light was believed to have come from Kingdom Hearts, the heart of all worlds, and was protected by its counterpart, the X-blade. People created weapons that looked similar to the X-blade which were known as keyblades. People wanted this light for themselves and began what was known as The Keyblade War. Many people let themselves be consumed by darkness and countless lives were lost in this war. During this battle, the X-blade shattered into twenty pieces, thirteen of darkness, and seven of light. Kingdom Hearts was swallowed into the darkest depths and the world was destroyed. However, there was one faction of children whose hearts were filled with light who were able to rebuild the world. But instead of being able to restore the world as one whole world, much smaller worlds were created from the original’s fragments and were blocked off from each other.  

Many years went by, and there were two young apprentices for a keyblade master: Xehanort and Eraqus. Xehanort had a fascination for darkness and The Keyblade War, but his fellow apprentice was against the idea of using darkness and bringing back the war. The two went on to become keyblade masters, and Master Xehanort traveled to many worlds while learning more about light and darkness. He believed there was too much light in the worlds and wanted an equilibrium between light and darkness. Recreating The Keyblade War was what he believed would be able to give him the X-blade and the power of Kingdom Hearts in order to have the ability to remake the universe.  

During his travels, Master Xehanort decided that he needed a potential vessel to put his heart into in case his initial plan did not work. He decided on a teenage keyblade wielder by the name of Ventus. In order to make Ventus his vessel, Master Xehanort needed him to fight by using his own darkness to make him prone to being used as a vessel. Master Xehanort summoned a heartless and ordered Ventus to battle them. When someone falls to darkness, their heart becomes a heartless which is an emotionless creature that runs on instincts and attempts to invade worlds and take the hearts of others to turn them into heartless as well. When someone becomes a heartless, their body, soul, and mind are left behind which becomes a nobody, and when both a person’s heartless and nobody are destroyed, the person is restored. However, Ventus refused to fight the heartless, so Master Xehanort used his keyblade to extract the darkness from Ventus. By doing so, Ventus’ darkness became a being known as Vanitas, and Ventus became a pure light but also lost his memories. Being a pure darkness, Vanitas had the ability to use his negative emotions to create creatures called the unversed as well as being able to wield a keyblade.  

Master Xehanort kept Vanitas as his apprentice and decided to bring Ventus to The Land of Departure so Master Eraqus could train him to be a master of the keyblade. Master Xehanort wanted him to be trained so one day he could clash with Vanitas so they could forge the X-blade. He returned to traveling the worlds while Ventus was left with Master Eraqus and his two other apprentices, Aqua and Terra. Aqua, Terra, and Ventus became the best of friends and all trained together for several years. Years after Master Xehanort extracted Ventus’ darkness, he was invited by Master Eraqus to watch Aqua and Terra attempt the Mark of Mastery Exam. This version of the exam was meant to consist of the pair attacking spheres of light, but without anyone noticing it was him, Master Xehanort used his darkness to make the spheres full of darkness. Aqua and Terra still fight and defeat them, but Terra was not able to completely hold back his darkness and failed the test while Aqua became a master. At this time, Master Xehanort realized that if his plan with Ventus and Vanitas failed, Terra would be his new vessel. Master Xehanort disappears and has Vanitas distribute unversed throughout many worlds. Master Eraqus has Aqua and Terra go to the worlds separately in order to fight the unversed and find Master Xehanort. Vanitas was able to convince Ventus to travel the worlds to find Terra even though Master Eraqus did not want him to. Master Eraqus gave Aqua the additional task of spying on Terra to check on his darkness use and to get Ventus back.  

During Aqua’s journey, one of the worlds she journeyed to is Radiant Gardens. She found a young girl named Kairi and saved her from the unversed while accidentally granting Kairi the ability to one day wield a keyblade. During Terra’s journey, he visited The Destiny Islands and found a young boy named Riku and granted him the ability to use the keyblade one day. Ventus eventually returned to The Land of Departure but was almost eliminated by Master Eraqus because he did not want there to be a chance that he would clash with Vanitas. Terra returned shortly after and saw what was going on and teleported Ventus to safety. He clashed with Master Eraqus and when Terra weakened him, Master Xehanort appeared and, to Terra’s surprise, killed Master Eraqus. Master Xehanort teleported away and the three keyblade wielders all eventually gathered together at The Keyblade Graveyard, where the Keyblade War took place.  

The three clashed against Master Xehanort and Vanitas, and during the battle, Vanitas merged with Ventus. By doing so, the X-blade was forged but the two would continue to fight inside of Ventus’ heart. Ventus defeated Vanitas and destroyed the X-blade because of his victory, but also broke his heart. Ventus went into a coma and a young boy named Sora allowed his heart to rest inside of him until Ventus was ready to wake up. While Ventus and Vanitas were fighting in Ventus’ heart, Master Xehanort was fighting with Terra so he would use his dark power. Terra used darkness in his battle, which made his heart weak enough for Master Xehanort to place his heart into in order to make Terra his vessel.   

Aqua took Ventus to the Land of Departure and turned their home into a castle which became known as Castle Oblivion. She placed him in a chair to rest until she would come back to wake him up. Aqua then traveled to Radiant Garden, where she found Terra possessed by Xehanort. She fought and defeated him, but when he was being consumed by darkness, Aqua saved him but by doing so, she was trapped in the realm of darkness and Terra possessed by Xehanort lost his memories.   

Terra possessed by Xehanort was found unconscious in Radiant Garden and was awaken by Ansem the Wise, a researcher of the heart and sage-king of Radiant Garden. Ansem the Wise had five apprentices: Braig, Dilan, Even, Ienzo, and Aeleus. Terra possessed by Xehanort became his sixth apprentice and became Apprentice Xehanort. The six apprentices did experiments on the heart and created heartless and nobodies. Ansem the Wise told them to stop their experiments, but they overthrew and banished him to the realm of darkness while Apprentice Xehanort took the name, Ansem. Eventually, Apprentice Xehanort used his keyblade to turn the six apprentices into heartless and nobodies. The six nobodies were able to retain their human form and were the first six members of the original Organization XIII, headed by Xemnas, the nobody of Apprentice Xehanort. Xemnas knew the true goal of the Organization was to create an artificial Kingdom Hearts to give the members Xehanort’s heart so there could be thirteen pure darknesses to recreate the Keyblade War because the X-blade was originally broken into thirteen pieces of darkness and seven of light. While the six nobodies were gathering seven more members, Apprentice Xehanort’s heartless was just a heart in a cloak at first and kept the name Ansem. His first goal was to go back in time to speak to Xehanort as a teenager to inform him of the situation and to give him the power to travel through time to give his heart to other vessels and gather other versions of himself throughout time to create The Real Organization XIII. This was done in case the plan with the original organization did not work. Ansem’s second goal was to gather seven princesses of pure light to fight the organization if they were able to all get Xehanort’s heart. His third goal was to create a different artificial Kingdom Hearts, which was a door, which would release so much darkness to destroy the worlds.  

Ten years after Ventus’ heart first took refuge, Sora was spending his time as a fourteen-year-old with his friends Riku and Kairi in the Destiny Islands. Worlds were being sunken to darkness by the heartless, and Sora’s world was no different. Riku was taken by the darkness while Kairi flew right through Sora, with her heart entering him. After defeating a giant heartless by using the keyblade, Sora was sucked through a dark portal that brought him to a world called Traverse Town, which was a world where people were brought to when their world was destroyed. There, Sora learned about the keyblade and how he must lock the hearts of worlds in order to restore the links between worlds and protect them from the heartless. He also met his new friends, Donald and Goofy, who he decided to travel with to other worlds to save them.  

Sora went from world to world, saving them while fighting Disney villains who were working with Maleficent. Maleficent was told by Xehanort to gather seven princesses of pure heart which was her goal. She also found Riku and used him to help accomplish her goal while he was trying to get Kairi’s heart back. Sora eventually made it into Hollow Bastion, which was the new name for Radiant Garden, and defeated Maleficent. Riku was possessed by Ansem and fought Sora but was defeated. Ansem took a form that looked like a thirty-year-old Xehanort and banished Riku to the realm of darkness. Riku entered the realm of darkness and made his way to King Mickey and Ansem’s Kingdom Hearts. Meanwhile, Sora turned himself into a heartless in order to release Kairi’s heart and awaken the other princesses as well. Soon after this, Kairi hugged Sora, and by doing so, restored him to a full person. Sora, Donald, and Goofy traveled to the world named The End of the World, which was where all the remnants of the worlds that were destroyed by the heartless gathered. The trio encountered Ansem and they destroyed him. In order to close the door to Kingdom Hearts, Sora, Donald, and Goofy had to close it from one side, and Riku and King Mickey had to close it from the other. They did and all the lost worlds were restored.   

Kairi returned to the island, Sora made it to Castle Oblivion with Donald and Goofy entering from the ground level and making it to the top, and Riku made it to Castle Oblivion from the lowest basement level and making it to the ground level. During Sora’s journey through the castle, he traveled through manifestations worlds he visited created by his memories. The organization used Naminé, Kairi’s nobody, to change Sora’s memories to make him a puppet that Marluxia and Larxene, members of the organization, could use to take down the organization. Sora made his way through the castle and defeated Marluxia and Larxene, while Axel, another member of the organization, eliminated Vexen, the fourth member of the organization, and had Zexion, the sixth member of the organization, destroyed as well. Sora lost all of his memories, but Naminé told him if he went to sleep in a pod, she could restore his memories, so he agreed. Meanwhile, Riku went through the castle, fighting his own darkness. He was being haunted by the remnant of Ansem in his heart and did not want to use his darkness at first. Eventually, he accepted the use of darkness and used it to defeat Ansem and Lexaeus, the fifth member of the organization. Riku left the castle and traveled with King Mickey while being on the run from the organization.  

While Sora was asleep, his Nobody, Roxas, joined the organization. He befriended Axel, and another member named Xion. Xion was a puppet created by the organization that could wield the keyblade to gather more hearts to create Xemnas’ artificial Kingdom Hearts. About a year after Roxas joined the organization, Xion was destroyed by Roxas because she had some of Sora’s memories which were not allowing Sora to wake up. A day later, Riku took Roxas and brought him to Ansem the Wise, who had returned. Roxas was brought to a sleeping Sora, and he returned to him to wake him up.   

For Sora’s second journey, he, Donald, and Goofy went to the worlds to restore their links with each other and to destroy the organization. Near the end of their second journey, Sora was reunited with Riku and Kairi. At that point, there were only three organization members left: Xemnas, Saix, and Luxord. Saix and Luxord were destroyed by Sora and friends, and then Ansem the Wise damaged Xemnas’ Kingdom Hearts before being transported back to the realm of darkness. Everyone except Sora and Riku returned to the Destiny Islands, while the duo defeated Xemnas. After they did, they also returned to the Destiny Islands.   

Soon after Sora’s second journey, he and Riku started the mark of mastery exam to become keyblade masters by going to sleeping worlds and waking them up. The duo went on their separate ways to do so, and after they woke up the six worlds, Riku encountered a revived Ansem while Sora encountered a revived Xemnas. Riku defeated Ansem and returned to the real world. Sora defeated Xemnas but was heavily weakened and became unconscious. The Young Xehanort that was time traveling took Sora to be the last vessel for the real organization. He brought him to a room where the revived Master Xehanort and the other organization members were gathered. Master Xehanort tried to make Sora his last vessel but failed. He warned that the Keyblade war was neigh and he and the other members disappeared. Sora was awakened and was not made a master while Riku was.   

With the final battle neigh, Riku and King Mickey started to travel to the realm of darkness to find Aqua while Sora was getting ready to start his third journey to get his strength back and gather seven guardians of light to battle the real organization.  

Previous articleThe World Needs World Trade Centers: Q&A with the Expert Andrew Gelfuso
Next articleSails, Songs, Servants, Seas—Piracy at its Finest
I radiate both internally and externally, an infinitude of passion for creative thought, an unending lifelong code of self and peer-improvement, and an idiosyncratic perspective and outlook on all things good, bad, and in between. I believe that when we are, one day, gone, all that will have mattered is what we did to change this world, for better or worse.