'Kingdom Hearts 3' Lore Explained: From Xehanort to Mickey Mouse

After nearly two decades in development, prospective Kingdom Hearts 3 players are now trying to learn all they can about the game's lore before its release on January 29. The world and story of Kingdom Hearts is among the most complicated of any video game series. With dozens of Disney stars and original characters (many of whom share the same name or body) spread across countless worlds, Kingdom Hearts is a tough franchise to crack. If you were hoping you could play the third title without understanding the story so far, you will be in for a world of head scratches and awkward silence once the game launches on Tuesday.

I've been a Kingdom Hearts fan since middle school; I've played every game and read too many online forum posts. Even with that level of commitment, I still don't understand everything about the lore of Kingdom Hearts . There's so much random craziness, I rely on a few pieces of information that help me understand what the hell is going on.

  • A Heartless is a manifestation of a person's heart, transformed by darkness into an evil monster.
  • A nobody is the physical shell of that person, which can be controlled like a puppet.
  • The Unversed are the most raw form of darkness and can manipulate negative thought.

This is a tl;dr and a gross oversimplification of the franchise.

  • In the beginning, there was the Kingdom Hearts, a source of light that's basically a giant moon in the shape of a heart. It's counterpart was the χ-blade (pronounced keyblade but not a keyblade) that protected the power. Eventually, the blade broke apart, splintering into 20 pieces (seven of light and 13 of darkness). This caused all the Disney worlds to appear, and each is completely cut off from the others.
  • Xehanort, the series' main bad guy, wanted to recreate the χ-blade and discovered that it can be done if you have two hearts, one light and one dark, that clash together. That's been his end game for the entire franchise. He's used multiple clones, including future and past versions of himself, to try and achieve that goal.
  • In Birth by Sleep, Xehanort tricked Ventus (one of his pupils) into clashing with an evil clone of himself called Venitas to try and achieve ultimate power. It didn't work. Kairi, Sora and Riku (the series main protagonists) all have keyblade powers passed onto them by Ventus, Aqua and Terra pupils, eventually growing up to be keyblade wielders of their own.
  • The three heroes get separated at the start of the original Kingdom Hearts . It ends when Sora, using the keyblade and the power in his heart, manages to beat the villain Ansem (who's only one of a series of guys with the name Ansem.)
  • In Kingdom Hearts 2, Sora and his friends fight Xemnas, who has managed to gather a group of Nobodies calling themselves Organization XIII. This Organization was eventually destroyed, but a new one springs up in Kingdom Hearts 3.

If you want to know the lore of Kingdom Hearts , you must be a glutton for punishment. Here are a collection of videos that attempt to explain why Donald, Goofy and Sora are fighting Maleficent, Pete and an army of cloaked men with hair that doesn't move.

Twitch streamer ludwigahgren managed to cram as much information into a minute as possible, but he's just skimming the surface.

So This Is Basically Kingdom Hearts

This video is my favorite to show how ridiculous and convoluted the Kingdom Hearts timeline is. You can replace the word "darkness" with anything and it would still be just as bonkers. If you only have the time to watch one video on the list, this is the one that I recommend.

The (Simplified) Kingdom Hearts Timeline

Cutting through most of the garbage, this summary is what I send to people who want to know just enough of the franchise without getting overwhelmed,."

Kingdom Hearts Story Summary

The most comprehensive video on Kingdom Hearts lore on YouTube that isn't two and a half hours long. If you are brave enough to click that link and want to digest this monstrosity, then this is the best video for you.

Kingdom Hearts 3 attempts to close all the plot holes that the series has left behind. If you are a newbie and attempt to learn all the small stuff, there's a high percentage you'll get bogged down in the details. If you don't get it, you shouldn't feel bad because I'm sure that people in the comments are going to tell me how even I don't get the lore. They probably don't either.