The entire Kingdom Hearts story explained (so far)

kingdom hearts 3 story so far
kingdom hearts 3 story so far

Kingdom Hearts III’s new DLC, Kingdom Hearts: ReMind, has finally arrived, bringing the story of Sora and pals’ fight against the evil Xehanort to a thrilling conclusion. With that in mind, we’ve been brushing up on the game’s expansive lore, from the main series to its multiple spin-offs, to be as prepared as we can for the end of the Xehanort saga.

Naturally, we thought this primer might be handy online instead of just in our notebook. So whether you’re stepping into this magical series for the first time, or you’re an old-timer looking to brush up your knowledge before you start playing the new DLC, we’ve got you covered with our handy chronological Kingdom Hearts story guide.

Kingdom Hearts III’s new DLC, Kingdom Hearts: ReMind, has finally arrived, bringing the story of Sora and pals’ fight against the evil Xehanort to a thrilling conclusion. With that in mind, we’ve been brushing up on the game’s expansive lore, from the main series to its multiple spin-offs, to be as prepared as we can for the end of the Xehanort saga.

Naturally, we thought this primer might be handy online instead of just in our notebook. So whether you’re stepping into this magical series for the first time, or you’re an old-timer looking to brush up your knowledge before you start playing the new DLC, we’ve got you covered with our handy chronological Kingdom Hearts story guide.

kingdom hearts 3 story so far logo

If you’re yet to start playing Kingdom Hearts III, make sure to check out all the editions you can get at GAME first. And once you’ve completed the main story, find out how to play the new DLC!

The Keyblade War

A long, long time before the events of the original Kingdom Hearts game, there was only one world in existence, which was powered by a single source of light, life, wisdom, and other nice things. This source was an immensely powerful object called Kingdom Hearts, and it was protected by a key-shaped blade called the χ-blade.

Of course, things can’t stay perfect forever, and people began to fight over Kingdom Hearts with Keyblades – weapons made to look like the original χ-blade. The result is a war so terrible that the original χ-blade shattered and Kingdom Hearts was lost in the darkness, apparently for good. The world then also shattered from one cohesive whole into multiple pieces, (many of which bear a startling resemblance to some of our very favourite Disney and Pixar movies). And that, you see, is why we can’t have nice things.

The Keyblade Masters

kingdom hearts 3 story so far xehanort

With the world badly broken and the forces of light and dark unbalanced, things start to look pretty grim – until a Keyblade Master called Xehanort shows up with the bright idea of balancing everything out.

Except Xehanort ultimately ends up trying to restart the Keyblade War and trying to forge a brand new χ-blade for himself. One way to do that is to force a heart of pure light to clash with a heart of pure darkness, so he decides to rip his apprentice Ventus in half in order to create both. Nice guy.

Ventus and Vanitas

The results of Xehanort’s drastic experimentation are Ventus (the good half with a heart of pure light) and Vanitas (the bad half with a heart of pure darkness). Xehanort wants to keep the two apart, so he keeps Vanitas by his side and sends the comatose Ventus to the Destiny Islands to recover. There, Ventus’ heart connects with that of a newborn baby named Sora (remember him for later) and he makes a miraculous recovery, although he loses his memories in the process.

Beginning his training under Keyblade Master Eraqus, Ventus soon befriends fellow apprentices Aqua and Terra, and all three train to become Keyblade Masters in their own right. Meanwhile on Xehanort’s side, Vanitas manages to spawn an army of baddies called the Unversed, while Xehanort himself attempts to manipulate Terra into running to him for guidance. Discovering Terra gone, Ventus and Aqua then set off to bring him home, while also fighting the Unversed they come across.

kingdom hearts 3 story so far ventus aqua terra

Eraqus realises that Xehanort is still a threat, and decides to kill Ventus to stop his dastardly plans, but Terra saves him and Xehanort kills Eraqus instead. Terra, Ventus, and Aqua try to avenge their master at the Keyblade Graveyard, the site of the original Keyblade War, but in the ensuing battle Terra’s heart is fully consumed by darkness, enabling Xehanort to take over his body.

Vanitas then forces Ventus into battle and the two fuse together to form an unstable χ-blade. Ventus eventually wins the struggle for supremacy and destroys both Vanitas and the χ-blade, but loses his own heart in the process. Aqua creates a world called Castle Oblivion to keep Ventus’s comatose body safe, and Ventus’s heart drifts back to Sora’s body for safekeeping.

Aqua then tries to save Terra’s heart, diving into the realm of darkness, but ends up becoming trapped there for all eternity.

Enter the main characters

kingdom hearts 3 story so far riku sora kairi

This is where main characters Sora, Riku and Kairi come in. Remember when Terra went running across the worlds with Ventus and Aqua in pursuit? It was at this point that Terra met Riku in the Destiny Islands, and Aqua met Kairi in another world called Radiant Garden. Both children end up becoming their Keyblade successors at this stage. Sora also became a Keyblade successor around then, though in his case it was because his body had accepted Ventus’ lost heart alongside his own.

Enter more bad guys

Xehanort is still controlling Terra’s body at this point, though he lost his memories after the previous battles. He meets the ruler of Radiant Garden, a man called Ansem the Wise, and becomes his apprentice, gradually recovering his memories and becoming a bad guy again in the process.

Hoping once again to claim Kingdom Hearts for his own, he unleashes the evil Heartless monsters on Radiant Garden and traps Ansem the Wise in the realm of darkness with Aqua. The residents of Radiant Garden are either turned into Heartless or get scattered across the worlds, which is how Kairi ends up on the Destiny Islands with Sora.

With Ansem the Wise out of the way, Xehanort (still in Terra’s body) then steals Ansem’s name and splits into two separate entities: Ansem the Heartless and Xemnas the Nobody. Ansem the Heartless’s goal is to collect the Princesses of Heart (Disney Princesses who can be used as keys to unlock Kingdom Hearts), while Xemnas just wants to use the stolen hearts of a whole lot of dead people to trigger Kingdom Hearts’ reappearance.

Meanwhile, the real Ansem’s apprentices decide to follow Xemnas. They call themselves Organization XIII, and base themselves in Castle Oblivion, the same place where Ventas’ comatose body was left by Aqua.

The main story begins

We’ve now reached the point where the original Kingdom Hearts begins, with main character Sora and his friends Riku and Kairi living peacefully in the Destiny Islands, where they dream of getting the chance to leave and explore other worlds.

Big bad guy Ansem the Heartless makes that dream happen by destroying the Islands entirely, and although most of the residents of the Destiny Islands get turned into Heartless in the process, Sora and Riku survive (and Sora actually manages to get a magical Keyblade weapon along the way). Kairi, sadly, loses her heart in the process, and Sora ends up absorbing it. Unaware of this, Riku leaves in search of a way to save Kairi while Sora floats off into space.

kingdom hearts 3 story so far donald goofy

Meanwhile in Traverse Town, Disney favourites Donald Duck, Goofy, and Pluto are busy searching for King Mickey Mouse, who disappeared while investigating all the chaos caused by Xehanort (who, just to remind you, is now split into two entities, Ansem the Heartless and Xemnas the Nobody). It turns out that Donald and Goofy have also received orders from King Mickey to find a Keyblade wielder, and with Sora conveniently turning up right under their noses, it makes sense for them all to team up.

Riku shows up next and, unimpressed by Sora’s lack of interest in Kairi’s plight, he chooses to ditch Sora and leaves instead with Mistress of All Evil, Maleficent, who is after the Princesses of Heart (they’re the Disney Princesses with hearts of pure light).

Sora, Donald and Goofy then make their way across a number of familiar Disney worlds, sealing the hearts of the worlds to keep them safe from Maleficent and the Heartless. After several encounters with Riku on their travels, Sora and co. finally turn up at Hollow Bastion (which once upon a time was called Radiant Garden, where baby Kairi lived, and which is now Maleficent’s headquarters).

Riku discovers that Sora’s Keyblade was intended for him all along and claims it, forcing Donald and Goofy to abandon Sora as their orders are to follow the wielder of the Keyblade. However, Sora challenges him and is able to win back the Keyblade (and the loyalty of Donald and Goofy), whereupon they battle and defeat Maleficent.

Multiple pieces of Sora

Riku, it turns out, has been possessed by Ansem the Heartless, and is armed with Ansem’s Keyblade which is capable of ripping out people’s hearts. Ansem/Riku taunts Sora with the knowledge that Kairi’s heart is trapped inside Sora’s body, and she cannot be restored without it. Sora manages to defeat Ansem/Riku, but then proceeds to impale himself with Ansem’s Keyblade anyway, releasing both Kairi’s heart and his own from his body.

But what happens next is not quite as simple as Sora just dying. Kairi’s heart returns to her body, restoring her to life, and what is left of Sora then turns into a Heartless. However, the hearts that were inside Sora also spawn two empty beings called Nobodies (one Sora version and one Kairi version). More on them later.

Kairi is revealed to be a secret Princess of Heart (just like the Disney Princesses) and she is able to save Heartless Sora, turning him back into Normal Sora. Meanwhile, the two Nobodies, called Roxas and Naminé, end up in the hands of Organization XIII.

Sora then heads off to fight Ansem once more. Ansem finally opens the door to Kingdom Hearts, believing it to now contain nothing but darkness, and also thinking that the world needs a higher proportion of darkness to light. However, what spills forth is a light so bright that it vanquishes Ansem at last, but also reveals a great horde of Heartless inside.

To prevent the Heartless from spilling through into the worlds, Riku and King Mickey then lock themselves in on the wrong side of the door, allowing balance to return to the world but sacrificing themselves in the process.

Back to Castle Oblivion

kingdom hearts 3 story so far organization xiii

Things don’t end there though. Sora, Donald, and Goofy continue to search for Mickey and Riku, and they find themselves next at Castle Oblivion, the base of Organization XIII, where they gradually lose their memories. Sora begins to experience flashbacks of a mysterious girl called Naminé, who he believes is his childhood friend.

However, Naminé is in fact the Nobody version of Kairi, and she is being forced by Organization member Marluxia to alter Sora’s memories so that Sora can be manipulated into helping Marluxia seize control of the Organization. Naminé soon regrets her actions and tells Sora the truth before attempting to undo her magic, but the process of restoring their memories takes a year and involves Sora and friends sleeping it off inside giant metal eggs.

Meanwhile, the real Ansem the Wise (who we last saw being trapped by Xehanort in the realm of darkness with Aqua) returns for revenge against his former apprentices, now the members of Organization XIII. Hiding behind the pseudonym DiZ, he helps Riku and Naminé to restore Sora’s memories.

However, Roxas gets in the way and Riku is convinced by Real Ansem/DiZ to fight him, because as long as Roxas exists Sora will never wake up. A defeated and amnesiac Roxas is then placed by Real Ansem/DiZ into a virtual simulation of Twilight Town until he is eventually ready to merge with Sora.

Almost a happy ending

By this point, there are only about half of Organization XIII’s members left, and they become new targets for Sora (now awake, fully merged with Roxas, and with his memories intact). Donald and Goofy join forces with Sora once again, with the search for Riku and Mickey resuming. Since Sora has now merged with Roxas, Kairi and Naminé also merge too, and that happens just in time for the trio of Sora, Kairi, and Riku to reunite in the World That Never Was, the new headquarters of Organization XIII.

Real Ansem/DiZ then shows up with a plan to encode Kingdom Hearts into a machine to keep it safe, but his device explodes and Real Ansem/DiZ returns to the realm of darkness.

Sora and friends proceed to fight Xemnas, but also end up becoming trapped in the realm of darkness. When a vision of Kairi appears before them, they are able to escape, only to find themselves back on the Destiny Islands where, for them at least, all the chaos began.

He’s not dead yet

Despite the destruction of both Ansem and Xemnas, it is revealed by King Mickey that Xehanort was able to restore himself and intends to return. In order to claim Kingdom Hearts for himself, he plans again to use the Princesses of Heart to create a new χ-blade (the original Keyblade that once protected Kingdom Hearts).

Sora and Riku train for the Keyblade Master exam by venturing across dream versions of multiple worlds and, despite Xehanort’s best efforts, they both survive the experience. Riku is named a Keyblade Master while Sora fails, and their teacher Yen Sid decides to gather seven Keyblade wielders to protect the Princesses of Heart from Xehanort.

kingdom hearts 3 story so far kh3 yen sid

Time for a new adventure

After all this drama, Sora’s in a pretty bad way, and he’s also lost his ability to restore lost hearts, which is called the “power of waking”. He teams up with Donald and Goofy again and sets off to look for a way to restore his abilities, while Riku and King Mickey set off in search of Aqua, who’s still languishing in the realm of darkness. In the meantime, Kairi trains to become a Keyblade wielder in her own right.

Meanwhile, the youngest apprentice of Ansem the Wise, Ienzo, contacts Sora and Riku with the bombshell that Sora’s body currently contains the hearts of Roxas, Ventus (who’s still asleep in Castle Oblivion), and an imperfect copy of Roxas called Xion. Riku figures out that the past members of the Organization have been creating artificial humans, which essentially allows them to exist in the present and cause more trouble. Sora gets the bright idea of using one of these artificial humans to house Roxas’ heart.

Into the darkness

Remember Ansem the Heartless? He’s still around in the realm of darkness, where he kidnaps Ansem the Wise and attacks Aqua, corrupting her heart. However, Ansem the Wise is then rescued by Vexen, a double agent in the Organization. Riku and Mickey show up in the realm of darkness and engage the corrupted Aqua in battle. Sora shows up in the nick of time, thanks to Master Eraqus’ keyblade which he finds in the Destiny Islands, and proceeds to restore Aqua to her normal self and finally free her from the realm of darkness.

Joining forces with Sora and co, Aqua then heads straight for Castle Oblivion to finally wake up Ventus. They’re hampered briefly by the other half of Ventus, the evil Vanitas, but Sora manages to restore Ventus’ heart midway through the fight, allowing Ventus to defeat Vanitas.

A battle in the Keyblade Graveyard and beyond

So far, so good for Aqua and Ventus, but where’s Terra in all this? Still possessed by Xehanort, he sends a vast swarm of Heartless to stop the heroes from facing the Organization at the Keyblade Graveyard. Falling in battle, Sora wakes to find himself in a strange limbo realm, where he manages to restore his power of waking. He uses it to revive his allies and turn back time to prevent their defeat by Terra-Xehanort. Fortunately, this time Terra’s willpower is enough to stop a repeat of the massacre, and Sora and his allies finally take down the Organization. Terra is restored and joins forces with Ventus and Aqua once more, leaving just one more big baddie to deal with… Xehanort.

The end of the Xehanort saga

Being, you know, utterly evil, Xehanort destroys Kairi. Sora loses control and attacks Xehanort, allowing him to finally acquire the χ-blade – meaning he can unlock Kingdom Hearts. Sora, Donald, and Goofy warp through time as they battle Xehanort, but they eventually defeat him when all the Keyblade wielders join forces and the spirit of Eraqus (he’s Xehanort’s old friend, and the teacher of Aqua, Terra, and Ventus) appears to convince Xehanort to surrender. With Kingdom Hearts now safe, Sora successfully uses his powers to restore Kairi, but after using them so much and so often, he fades out of existence.

Two final things…

kingdom hearts 3 story so far kh3 verum rex yozora

In a post-credits scene, a surviving member of the Organization named Xigbar retrieves Xehanort’s Keyblade, and you know that can’t be good.

But there’s also a secret ending. Curiously enough, Sora and Riku seemingly awaken in the real world – in Shibuya, Tokyo, to be precise. There we catch a glimpse of a mystery Organization member, and also the main character of the video game featured in the Toy Story world: Yozora of Verum Rex. Which leaves us wondering… what could it all mean?

The adventure continues

kingdom hearts 3 story so far heroes

Got all that? Good, because now you’ll be able to dive straight into Kingdom Hearts III’s new DLC, Kingdom Hearts III: ReMind, without having to play through the entire series first. It’s worth mentioning that Kingdom Hearts III and its DLC aren’t the end of the story, but they are the last chapter of the Xehanort saga, so there’s no need to mourn the loss of this incredible universe just yet.

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