Kingdom Hearts 3: Four key questions following the TGS 2018 trailer

The Kingdom Hearts 3 extended trailer from this year's Tokyo Game Show is loaded with narrative exposition, so Shacknews puts our brains to work and puts forward some major questions.


The following article contains spoilers for the Kingdom Hearts storyline. If you have yet to play any games in the series and wish to avoid these spoilers, turn back now!

Square Enix promised that an extended version of last week's Big Hero 6 trailer for Kingdom Hearts III would debut ahead of this year's Tokyo Game Show. That trailer has arrived, but fans got far more narrative exposition than they bargained for, with a slew of story reveals and a new batch of questions.

Now that a little bit of time has passed, it's time to do a deep dive into this latest trailer and try to piece together exactly what's happening. Even the most diehard fans may be scratching their heads a bit, so let's take a look at some of the bigger questions that they may have following this newest trailer.

1. What is the ultimate role of Twilight Town?

Twilight Town has played a key role in the past. Its central role is that it's the birthplace of the Nobodies, but more significantly, it was a frequent hangout spot for Roxas throughout Kingdom Hearts 358/2 Days. In Kingdom Hearts II, a virtual version of Twilight Town held Roxas until he was eventually reunited with Sora.

Twilight Town has also made frequent appearances in the Kingdom Hearts 3 trailers, alluding to a much bigger role this world will have. For this trailer, Sora is frequently having flashes of Twilight Town, where he'll even see flashes of Roxas having sea salt ice cream with his friends.

Later in the trailer, Sora actually runs into Hayner, Pence, and Olette within Twilight Town. They agree to help him search for Roxas, which is a theme that goes all the way back to the trailer that aired before E3 2017. Over a year has passed and Roxas' particular role in this story is still unknown. But let's table this particular plot point for the moment.

Sora tells Roxas' friends that "Another Twilight Town awaits!" This is likely a reference to the virtual Twilight Town from Kingdom Hearts II and could be holding remnants of Roxas within it. Players should expect to spend a significant amount of time in Twilight Town, as they continue the search for Roxas. Just remember: finding Roxas may not necessarily be a good thing and might actually play into the villains' hands.

2. Is everyone from Organization XIII back?

A running theme with these breakdowns has been the aggravating idea that the Organization XIII members that players worked so hard to defeat in Kingdom Hearts II appear to be alive and well. Nobody stays dead anymore these days, from the looks of it. But the TGS trailer appears to allude to this point and point to something bigger at work.

Larxene was first spotted back in the Xbox E3 2018 Briefing trailer, acting as an antagonist in the Frozen world. A night later during the PlayStation Showcase trailer, she alluded to new Princesses of Heart. But that's not what Sora is addressing in this new trailer. He's specifically addressing Larxene's "thirteen."

"It's not like you've found your thirteen," Sora tells Larxene.

And to that, she replies, "Oh, we've got 'em." That leaves Sora and company stunned.

This is the biggest piece of proof that Organization XIII is riding again, but it's still hard to gauge whether it's the exact same roster. So far, there's Xigbar, Larxene, Marluxia, and Luxord, just to name a few. But there are a few things to keep in mind beyond this.

First, look at the 1:34 mark of this trailer, where Sora thinks he's getting a call from Riku. It turns out to be Isa. Not the Nobody Saix, but the human Isa. He's apparently not part of the Organization XIII roster. At least not yet, anyway. That could change as the story goes on.

But one member of the Organization XIII roster that certainly isn't joining back up is Axel. Axel (or Lea) has clearly thrown his lot in with the good guys after the events of Kingdom Hearts: Dream Drop Distance and has already been spotted with Kairi.

This would point to Organization XIII requiring a few key replacements to make their group whole. The easy solution would be to use Vanitas or Young Xehanort to fill in the gaps. Vanitas was spotted in an earlier trailer, while Young Xehanort played a key role during the pre-E3 2018 preview.

But what about Roxas? What if all the effort Sora goes to in order to find Roxas is just him doing the villains' work for them. What if Roxas returns, only to side with the clandestine Organization? What would this mean to Sora? And also, what would it mean to Roxas' best friend Axel/Lea?

3. What is the "vessel" that Xigbar is referring to?

Let's go back to that idea of Sora accidentally doing the villains' work for them. While the PlayStation Showcase trailer hinted at this with Xemnas and Ansem practically daring Sora to bring Roxas back, the TGS trailer practically spells out that, yes, the villains need Sora for their own ends.

Here, Ansem hints that Sora is following a trail of bread crumbs that the Organization has laid out for him. He notes that if Sora strays away from that path that he should be eliminated. But here, Xigbar notes that they would have to find "another vessel."

What does this mean, exactly? Do the villains intend to somehow take control of Sora? This wouldn't be unprecedented in the series. Remember that Xehanort took full control of Terra in Kingdom Hearts: Birth By Sleep. Remember that Riku's been controlled at various points in the series (keep this in mind for later) before Sora was able to reach his friend. But let's think of this in the context of the overarching plot.

If Xehanort's ultimate goal is to unleash the all-powerful χ-blade, perhaps he's aware that he can't wield it himself. Perhaps he needs a younger, more capable Keyblade Master to use it. Would he need a "vessel" like Sora, one of the Keyblade's chosen? And if he has to go, who else would the villains get?

Well, it should be interesting to note that the 2:55 mark is the first that we see of Ventus, one of the main protagonists of Birth By Sleep. Ventus is still in a vegetative state following the events of that game, as darker half Vanitas lords over him. Would Ventus figure into Xehanort's plans for a vessel? That's not likely, otherwise he would have used him already.

But maybe there are a few others he could use. What about...?

4. Have both Riku and Aqua fallen to the darkness?

First thing to note is that this trailer is the tale of two Rikus. The first time Riku shows up, he's telling King Mickey that he's ready to face the darkness. Mickey tells him that it's because he's found the strength to protect the things that matter.

What happens from Riku from here is interesting, because it appears there's a shift. The very next scene of Sora expecting a call from Riku and getting Isa can be interpreted as Riku falling off the grid. There's no more contact between him and Sora until much later. When they do make contact again, Riku is donning an Organization XIII robe, taunting Sora that they've always tried to one-up each other.

Something has clearly happened here and it would have to be more than Riku faking everyone out. There's already been an elaborate Riku ploy going back to Kingdom Hearts II, where he fell to the darkness so hard that he took on the form of Ansem. The villains would know better than to fall for Riku trying to fool them again.

But what if this isn't Riku?

Let's remember that prior Kingdom Hearts II, Riku becomes so consumed by the darkness that he takes on the form of Ansem. What if this had a side effect? After all, there can be no Heartless without an accompanying Nobody. What if when Riku fell to the darkess, he also left behind enough energy to craft a Nobody? What if this Riku seen here is some sort of Nobody? That would mean that the true Riku would still be with King Mickey while this other Riku would be working with the revitalized Organization XIII.

Aqua's situation is much hairier and tougher to break down. That's because there still isn't a true bridge between the events of her standalone story from Kingdom Hearts HD 2.8 Final Chapter Prologue and Kingdom Hearts III. It's looking more and more like those blanks will be filled in as the story goes along.

Aqua was the strongest member of her class in Birth By Sleep, but let's also remember that she will have been stuck in the Realm of Darkness for years. No matter how strong one's will is, one can only fight for so long. And if the Realm of Darkness lives up to its name at all, it's crushing despair and temptation, all coming nonstop and all unbearably overwhelming. Even the mightiest warrior can't withstand that and it's reasonable to assume that Aqua was eventually crushed by the weight of it all.

However, it should be noted that Aqua is still seen dealing blows to the Heartless. There's a very brief glance where she can be seen defeating a Heartless at the 3:13 mark. That could be a flashback, but it could also be an indicator that she's still fighting.

But is Aqua also a candidate for a new vessel? It's hard not to get that idea where there's a quick shot of Vanitas standing over her unconscious body, apparently ready to strike down on her. Again, it's worth noting that she's the strongest of her class, so it would stand to reason that Xehanort would want her as much as he wanted Terra back in Birth By Sleep.

That's quite a bit to take in. Any ideas on what to expect with the Kingdom Hearts III story? Join the conversation and let us know in the comments. Kingdom Hearts III is set to release on January 29 on PlayStation 4 and Xbox One.

Senior Editor

Ozzie has been playing video games since picking up his first NES controller at age 5. He has been into games ever since, only briefly stepping away during his college years. But he was pulled back in after spending years in QA circles for both THQ and Activision, mostly spending time helping to push forward the Guitar Hero series at its peak. Ozzie has become a big fan of platformers, puzzle games, shooters, and RPGs, just to name a few genres, but he’s also a huge sucker for anything with a good, compelling narrative behind it. Because what are video games if you can't enjoy a good story with a fresh Cherry Coke?

From The Chatty
  • reply
    September 17, 2018 11:40 PM

    Ozzie Mejia posted a new article, Kingdom Hearts 3: Four key questions following the TGS 2018 trailer

    • reply
      September 18, 2018 10:27 PM

      There are two pieces of majorly false information in the article that lead both it and its readers down the wrong path.

      - First, the person contacting Sora isn't Isa (doesn't even look like him in hindsight, I bet); It's Ienzo, the human form of Zexion that we know is making efforts to help the protagonists from Ansem's Lab in Radiant Garden since his re-introduction in DDD.
      - It's not that hard to notice that the hooded Riku is the "15 year old" form Riku, with his hair length and proportions (again, in hindsight does not look much like current Riku). As we've already been re-introduced to Replica Riku ("Repliku") in a snippet of one of the E3 trailers, this is likely Data Riku from re:coded. If one looks closely, the microbots attacking the BH6 cast have been replaced with Bug Blox, and Sora having a visor guarantees that this confrontation is taking place in San Fransokyo. Rather than a last-minute introduction to some Nobody of Riku, bringing back Data Riku and having Xehanort possess him to corrupt that world with Bugs seems more inline with the story flow, as well as an adaptation of BH6's setting.

      For your sake, PLEASE correct this. It wasn't hard to find this article, so I'm not the last person visiting it.

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