How to Play the Kingdom Hearts Games in Order

Playing the Kingdom Hearts Games in the Right Order

Square Enix and Disney surprised fans during the Kingdom Hearts 20th Anniversary event by announcing Kingdom Hearts 4. This reveal gave us a fresh glimpse of Sora’s adventures after his solo journey at the end of Kingdom Hearts 3. While we eagerly await more updates and a potential release date for Kingdom Hearts 4, let’s delve into the chronological order of the Kingdom Hearts games. This list will help you gain a clear understanding of the intricate storyline, Sora’s role as the Keyblade’s chosen one, and Master Xehanort’s relentless quest to cast the world into darkness, marking the Dark Seeker Saga.

How Many Kingdom Hearts Games Are There?

The Kingdom Hearts series boasts a total of 13 games released across various platforms, including the PSP and Game Boy Advance. And there’s exciting news: a new mainline game was officially announced in April 2022, adding to the franchise’s legacy.

Kingdom Hearts χ / Unchained χ / Union χ

This section covers the titles that have undergone a series of transformations. Initially known as Kingdom Hearts χ [chi], this game was initially exclusive to Japan on PC. However, over eight years, it evolved into Unchained χ and finally Union χ [Cross], reaching mobile users worldwide. The title “χ” refers to the coveted χ-blade, a weapon with an “X” shape capable of unlocking Kingdom Hearts.

Kingdom Hearts Union χ transports players hundreds of years into the past, leading up to the Keyblade War. In this game, you control a fresh Keyblade wielder in the 2D realm of Daybreak Town. Your goal is to align with one of five factions and secure that faction’s supremacy over the others by competing for the finite light available to the world. Union χ follows shortly after Unchained χ, but in an alternate data world where players revisit the past to erase memories of the Keyblade War. Although the game was shut down in May 2021, you can still access its cutscenes online. If you’re not into gacha-style games, you can opt to watch the cinematic events of Kingdom Hearts χ Back Cover in Kingdom Hearts HD 2.8 Final Chapter Prologue.

Kingdom Hearts Dark Road

In this title, Kingdom Hearts Dark Road, you get to explore the origins of Master Xehanort. Set 70 years before the events of Birth by Sleep, the game takes you on a journey alongside a young Xehanort. As he trains on Scala ad Caelum with Master Eraqus, Xehanort embarks on a quest to search for the Lost Masters under Master Odin’s guidance. This journey sets off a chain of events that ultimately leads to Xehanort’s transformation into the Seeker of Darkness.

Dark Road employs similar 2D gacha-style graphics as Kingdom Hearts χ, providing insights critical to the series’ overarching storyline. Though playing the game might not be possible, you can still immerse yourself in its story by watching its cutscenes online.

Kingdom Hearts Birth by Sleep

Jumping ten years before the events of the first Kingdom Hearts game, Birth by Sleep is narrated from the perspectives of three Keyblade Apprentices: Ventus, Terra, and Aqua. These three trainees, under Master Eraqus, reside in the Land of Departure. The story unfolds after Aqua and Terra’s Mark of Mastery exam, where Aqua is named a Keyblade Master, and Terra struggles with his inner darkness. As they embark on separate journeys to find Master Xehanort and counter the Unversed creatures wreaking havoc on other worlds, the game unearths the origins of Sora and Master Xehanort’s connections.

Ventus carries a piece of Sora’s heart within him, while Xehanort creates Vanitas from the darkness purged from Ventus’ heart. The game also unravels the mystery behind Sora and Riku’s Keyblade wielding abilities, explaining how Terra imparts the power to Riku and how Aqua establishes bonds between Sora and Riku with Ventus and Terra.

Kingdom Hearts 0.2: Birth by Sleep — A Fragmentary Passage

Serving as an epilogue to Birth by Sleep and a prologue to Kingdom Hearts 3, A Fragmentary Passage (included in Kingdom Hearts HD 2.8 Final Chapter Prologue) propels the story forward. After sacrificing herself to rescue Terra from the Realm of Darkness, Aqua spends a decade wandering within the darkness. She battles Heartless in the dark versions of familiar worlds, seeking to save Terra’s heart and confront apparitions of Ventus and Terra. Meanwhile, King Mickey ventures into the Realm of Darkness to rescue Riku. Their paths converge, and together they work to seal the door to Kingdom Hearts.

Kingdom Hearts

The first game in the series follows Sora as he embarks on a quest with Donald and Goofy. Their mission is to reunite with Riku and Kairi after the Heartless ravage Destiny Islands, plunging the world into darkness. As they journey between different worlds via the Gummi Ship, they encounter Disney and Final Fantasy characters, sealing Keyholes to prevent further darkness consumption. Maleficent leads a group of Disney villains, including Riku, in pursuit of the seven Princesses of Heart to unlock the keyhole leading to Kingdom Hearts.

Upon reaching Hollow Bastion, the plot thickens. Kairi’s body is found, her heart transferred to Sora’s body during the disaster at Destiny Islands. Riku falls under Ansem’s control, and Kairi’s status as a Princess of Heart becomes pivotal. Sora’s journey leads to sacrifices, transformations, and the sealing of the door to Kingdom Hearts.

Kingdom Hearts: Chain of Memories

This installment follows Sora, Donald, and Goofy as they venture to Castle Oblivion in search of Riku and Mickey. Their memories fade upon entering the castle, where Marluxia, an Organization XIII member, informs them of a memory-based journey. With world cards representing Sora’s memories, the trio encounters memory versions of characters from the previous game. Meanwhile, Riku navigates the castle’s basement levels, battling his inner darkness while facing other Organization XIII members.

Chain of Memories introduces crucial characters like Naminé and DiZ, adding complexity to the overarching plot. Naminé’s role as a manipulator of memories and the story’s development further enrich the series’ intricate narrative.

Kingdom Hearts: 358/2 Days

Set during Chain of Memories, 358/2 Days delves into the creation of Roxas, Sora’s Nobody. As Roxas joins Organization XIII, the game explores his interactions with Axel and Xion. The revelation that Xion is an artificial replica designed to absorb Sora’s memories adds layers to the storyline. Roxas’s journey toward self-discovery culminates in a heart-wrenching finale.

Kingdom Hearts 2

Continuing from Kingdom Hearts, the second game begins in Twilight Town, where Roxas enjoys his vacation. Roxas, Sora’s Nobody, and his experiences are central to this installment’s narrative. The game uncovers the truth about Organization XIII and the relationships between characters. The storyline’s depth grows as it delves into the heart and identity of the characters.

Kingdom Hearts: Re:coded

Originally released as “Coded” in Japan, Re:coded centers on King Mickey and Data Sora as they repair Jiminy Cricket’s corrupted journal. The journey explores hidden messages within the journal, combining gameplay elements with story progression. The game’s episodic structure adds a unique dimension to the franchise.

Kingdom Hearts 3D: Dream Drop Distance

In preparation for Master Xehanort’s return, Master Yen Sid sends Sora and Riku into the past for a Mark of Mastery exam. Their mission involves unlocking the keyholes of seven worlds destroyed by the Heartless. This game introduces the concept of Dream Eaters and Nightmare creatures. The storyline delves into the intricacies of time travel and introduces younger versions of key characters.

Kingdom Hearts 3

The culmination of the Dark Seeker Saga, Kingdom Hearts 3 brings Sora’s journey to its climactic conclusion. Sora embarks on a quest to gather the seven guardians of light and confront Master Xehanort. The game explores the battle between light and darkness, tying up loose ends from previous installments. Its long-awaited release after 13 years marked a monumental moment for fans.

Kingdom Hearts: Melody of Memory

Melody of Memory offers a rhythmic experience where players engage with the series’ music while reflecting on past events. The game’s narrative unfolds as Kairi recounts the series’ highlights from a lab in Radiant Garden.

Kingdom Hearts Games in Release Order

To ensure a complete understanding of the story’s evolution, here’s a list of the games in their release order:

  1. Kingdom Hearts – September 17, 2002 (PS2)
  2. Kingdom Hearts: Chain of Memories – December 7, 2004 (Game Boy Advance)
  3. Kingdom Hearts 2 – March 28, 2006 (PS2)
  4. Kingdom Hearts: 358/2 Days – September 29, 2009 (Nintendo DS)
  5. Kingdom Hearts: Birth by Sleep – September 7, 2010 (PSP)
  6. Kingdom Hearts: Re:coded – January 11, 2011 (Nintendo DS)
  7. Kingdom Hearts 3D: Dream Drop Distance – July 31, 2012 (Nintendo 3DS)
  8. Kingdom Hearts Union χ [Cross] – April 7, 2016 (Android, iOS)
  9. Kingdom Hearts HD 1.5 + 2.5 ReMix – March 28, 2017 (PS4)
  10. Kingdom Hearts HD 2.8 Final Chapter Prologue – January 24, 2017 (PS4)
  11. Kingdom Hearts 3 – January 29, 2019 (PS4, XBO, PC)
  12. Kingdom Hearts Dark Road – June 22, 2020 (Android, iOS)
  13. Kingdom Hearts: Melody of Memory – November 13, 2020 (PS4, XBO, Nintendo Switch, PC)

By experiencing these games in their chronological order, you’ll gain a comprehensive understanding of the intricate Kingdom Hearts universe and the epic saga that spans across time and dimensions. Stay tuned for more updates on the Kingdom Hearts series as we await the release of Kingdom Hearts 4 and beyond.

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Stevie Flavio
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