Kingdom Hearts 4 Has One Big Chance That KH3 Didn’t

As the Xehanort Saga finally concludes, and moves on to something new, the series has a new chance to reinvent the storyline.

For all of the games or franchises that have confusing or nonsensical plotlines (See: Metal Gear SolidResident Evil, etc.), one in particular that’s often meme’d and criticized to death is  Hearts. To what degree the entire  Hearts‘ timeline is confusing compared to its counterparts is up to debate, but there’s no denying how extremely convoluted the story is based on its original premise. Dueling personalities, existence and non-existence, the 13 (arguably more) embodiments of Xehanort, Kingdom Hearts revels in its strangeness.

However, with the Xehanort Saga finally coming to a conclusion, an opportunity for the series presents itself. For the first time since Kingdom Hearts 2, many loose plotlines that follow the resurrection of Xehanort have been tied up and completed. Sure, there are still plenty of story ties pulling fans in a few directions, but it’s now far less than before when Xehanort was the main villain. From what’s been hinted at, the future story of Kingdom Hearts seems to have more clear-cut villains and narrative direction compared to the last few games.

Xehanort’s Saga Ties Up Many Loose Ends

Recapping the Xehanort Saga would take an arm and a leg to do. The reason why many criticize Kingdom Hearts‘ story is because of its reliance complex identities, timeline manipulation, and tangentially the disjointed releases over a decade split between eight different platforms. That being said, even if all these games came out on half of the platforms they did, the story would still be just as confusing. The story was generally straightforward until after Kingdom Hearts 2, where the various spin-offs all became canon storylines.

Even if the average fan owned all of these consoles, the story was still told in a non-chronological manner anyway. Kingdom Hearts, in its 17-year-run between the first game and Kingdom Hearts 3, consistently jumped backwards and forwards in the timeline. The various evolutions of Xehanort’s schemes, Organization 13, the fallen Keyblade Masters from Birth by Sleep, the Keyblade War itself, most of it was tied to the Xehanort Saga. Granted some of the unresolved plot points from Union Cross and the Foretellers seem to be making an appearance in the next Kingdom Hearts game, but that plotline can’t nearly be as confusing compared to Xehanort’s overly complex schemes.

A Clearer Direction for Kingdom Hearts 4

Based on the secret ending(s) of Kingdom Hearts 3, much of the characters from Kingdom Hearts‘ earliest canon are being brought into the current timeline to resolve their storylines. However, aside from the Foretellers and the Master of Masters showing up after Xehanort is defeated, there’s also a new potential storyline with Yozora and (potentially) Luxord. Yet, despite all of the new and old Kingdom Hearts characters clashing in the next game, this is a chance to have a much less convoluted timeline and story.

That much is clear when Tetsuya Nomura mentioned the next major Kingdom Hearts project was already on the way for 2022. Rather than trying to balance 13 different villains across six or so games, the story has a chance to be much more concise. It’s clear the Master of Masters and the Foretellers (alongside the mystery of the “Black Box”) are going to be the focus of the story moving forward. Yozora’s role is uncertain, but he seems more like a rival/adversary at first and not a true overarching villain. Focusing strictly on these characters is plenty for the next mainline entry, without the added baggage of Xehanort or any of his split consciences.

Still Plenty of Unanswered Questions for Kingdom Hearts

Of course, with any Kingdom Hearts story, there’s a big ole “if” here. Game director Tetsuya Nomura is known to be obsessed with timeline and character manipulation, and has a well-documented interest in the “singularity” as a storytelling concept. While the Foretellers and the Master of Masters are on the way into the current Kingdom Hearts timeline, Sora’s reawakening is still the number one priority for now. It’s unlikely this issue is going to be resolved in Melody of Memory, where the story will be focused on Kairi’s perspective. Just as much as the next Kingdom Hearts game has a chance to make things simple again, it could also become much more complex.

Much of this depends on Braig/Xigbar, the “Black Box,” and the Master of Masters’ role amongst the Foretellers. The Master of Masters interacted with Xehanort briefly before the events of Kingdom Hearts 3, as shown by ReMind, so his role is still very much up in the air. Xigbar on the other hand has summoned the Foretellers with the “Black Box,” the purpose of which is still relatively unknown. There’s a whole lot of questions without many answers for Kingdom Hearts, but at least right now there’s a clear focus on two potential villains: Xigbar and the Master of Masters. Things could get muddy in between, but for now it’s a promising premise.

Kingdom Hearts project is reportedly in development for 2022.

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