Kingdom Hearts is a gaming series that has taken the JRPG world by storm. Produced by Square Enix, known best for their work on the Final Fantasy series, Kingdom Hearts has just continued to grow in popularity since it was first released back in 2002.
We here at Fuzzable are big Kingdom Hearts fans so, we thought we would put together a handy guide as to how to play these games in an order that the story can kind of make sense, because, let’s be honest, even us hardcore Kingdom Hearts fans struggle with the story sometimes.
There are a couple of ways to play the Kingdom Hearts games but the most obvious one is, publication order. This way, you are not being spoiled for anything because this was the way that Square published the games and they were not going to spoil the games for you. So, that order would be:
Starting with the original Kingdom Hearts, the beginning of Sora, our main character’s, story. A great place to start. Kingdom Hearts has a lot of world building and probably the most explanation as to what is actually going on within the story. Sora starts off as a normal fourteen year old boy who lives with his parents and with his two best friends, Riku and Kairi, they build a raft to get off of the island they are on because they want to explore other worlds.
Let’s just say, things don’t exactly go to plan and Sora ends up with a keyblade and has to go around to different Disney worlds to fight heartless. It’s such a great, fun game and a great introduction to the story.
Chain of Memories
Chain of Memories was originally released on the Gameboy back in 2004 and is the game between Kingdom Hearts and Kingdom Hearts 2. A lot of people went into Kingdom Hearts 2 without finishing Chain of Memories, including us and we can say, we don’t recommend.
Chain of Memories is a game that can definitely be a little confusing when playing it for the first time. There’s a lot of story there and the battle system is completely different to what we’re used to in Kingdom Hearts as it uses a card system and takes a lot of getting used to but when you do, you can see how great a game it really is.
There are a lot of new characters introduced through Chain of Memories that can be a lot of handle if you haven’t played it and then dive straight into Kingdom Hearts 2. We get the introduction of Namine, who becomes an essential character and Organisation XIII who become the main villains of the whole series so it is definitely an essential game to play. And, we recommend playing it before Kingdom Hearts 2 but do not play it before Kingdom Hearts because you will be spoiled.
Kingdom Hearts 2
Before you all shout at us about the fact there’s a certain other game that could go here, there’s going to be another order after this one, don’t panic. But, if you want to play them in release order, Kingdom Hearts 2 was released first. After a very long four year wait between the two mainline Kingdom Hearts games, Kingdom Hearts 2 was a very, very much anticipated by Kingdom Hearts fans and to this day, is still arguably the best one out of the bunch.
Although, Square really threw us off with that prologue. We wanted Sora, we were waiting for Sora and then we got Roxas who we knew nothing about and were then thrown into a three hour prologue of getting attached to Roxas and then them stamping on our hearts with Roxas, so, that was a fun time, wasn’t it? This is why it’s so important to play Chain of Memories before diving into Kingdom Hearts 2 because the start of the story will be hard to make sense of without it. Plus, you will have no idea who the Organisation is.
Luckily with Kingdom Hearts 2, the battle system we were used to and loved was back. Although, they introduced reactions commands which are commands that come up during battle for you to perform special attacks. They took a while to get used to but when we were there, we loved them and realised how much better the Kingdom Hearts experience was with them.
Kingdom Hearts: 258/2 Days
Now, that game we mentioned. Kingdom Hearts 358/2 days, a game that we were all waiting for after playing that prologue – Roxas’ story.
358/2 Days takes place just before Chain of Memories, during Chain of Memories and then the lead up to Kingdom Hearts 2. We get more about Roxas and his story, more incite into The Organisation and what they’re goals are, it’s such an interesting game to play through. We get to see more of The Organisation and each member and what they’re like as well as Roxas and his story.
There are two other main characters in 358/2 Days that we immediately fell in love with. Axel, who we met for the first time back in Chain of Memories and Xion who is introduced as “Organisation Member XIV.” The story kind of follows the three of them and the beautiful friendship that they create between them, it hurts because we know that Axel knows things the other two don’t, we see Xion and Roxas try and discover who they are, there are many breakdowns and many tears but 358/2 Days is one of the best, most emotional Kingdom Hearts games in the series and we’re sad that it can be overlooked sometimes.
Kingdom Hearts: Birth By Sleep.
Probably one of the most important games in the series, set ten years before the original Kingdom Hearts, Birth By Sleep follows three main characters; Terra, Ventus and Aqua. Birth By Sleep again is known as one of the best games in the series, a lot of people love it and rate it highly even though it was on the PSP which was not the most popular console. Though, especially when it was re released on PS3 and PS4, the love really took off.
We cannot lie to you, it’s a bit of a stressful game that has a lot of emotionally heavy story, creates a lot of questions that weren’t answered until Kingdom Hearts 3 and had characters that we all fell in love with for them to suffer. Birth By Sleep has amazing storytelling, you get to play through the story as all three of the characters and each character’s story is different from the last. It’s such an interesting way to play a game getting to see it through so many sets of eyes but it’s such a beautiful game.
We love these characters especially and also, we loved seeing Sora, Riku and Kiari as kids and seeing the reasons they can wield the keyblades as well as answering a valuable question about Roxas which we won’t spoil here.
Kingdom Hearts: Coded
Now, Coded is a bit more on the forgettable side when it comes to Kingdom Hearts and the story. It doesn’t tell a story that is as valuable to the main story as the others but, it is a fun game. We follow Sora in a different reality where all these blocks have appeared and we’re trying to get him through it and it’s fun and a bit more lighthearted.
The game was originally released on the DS as well as 358/2 days so wasn’t that well played and loved until it got re released on PS3 and PS4.
Kingdom Hearts: 3D Dream Drop Distance
One of the most loved Kingdom Hearts games in the series, Dream Drop Distance follows Sora and for the first time as a playable character, Riku. As Riku is one of the most loved characters in the entire series, everyone was so excited when it was revealed that Riku was going to be a playable character in this game and again, it is such a fun edition to the universe and has a lot of important story telling in it especially in the last hour or so. It was also an introduction to flow motion which was kind of important in Kingdom Hearts 3.
Also, there are some pretty fun cameos by the characters from another Square title – The World Ends With You. Through the Kingdom Hearts series, we have a lot of cameos from Final Fantasy characters so it was nice to kind of mix it up a bit and see a different game and it’s characters being featured.
We also love the dream eaters who you have as companions throughout this game and you can train them and play with them and they are just so, so cute.
Kingdom Hearts: 2.8 Final Chapter Prologue
The Final Chapter Prologue is just a two hour game where we follow Aqua in the fallout of what happened to her at the end of Birth By Sleep. It’s a very quick game to play through and is a good edition to the series because not only do we get Aqua as a playable character again but it also introduces us to the combat of Kingdom Hearts 3.
Kingdom Hearts: Union X
Union X is a prequel, it’s a mobile game available on IOS and Android that is set centuries before the first game, even before the Keyblade war took place which is an important story point in the series. It’s a game that not everyone plays and not everyone loves because of the fact it’s on mobile and isn’t as expansive as the others, as well as the gameplay, can be hard to get used to. But, if you want even more backstory to the series and for some things to be explained a little better, go for it.
We have a feeling some of the histories could be important in the upcoming titles.
Kingdom Hearts 3
Now, here we are, the latest game that was released in the franchise. We wanted thirteen years for this game, for the third mainline Kingdom Hearts game. For our questions to be answered. For our favourite characters to come back. It’s such an incredible game, the graphics are absolutely flawless, the Disney worlds are even better than before and the characters are just so well developed at this point and we are so in love with them and invested in their story that it’s so good seeing how the ending of this arc plays out.
A lot of people ask if they can start with Kingdom Hearts 3 and where, you absolutely can, you can do whatever you want to but we do not recommend it. You will be completely lost in the story and what is going on, you won’t know who any of the characters are or just what is going on. Trust us, even us hardcore Kingdom Hearts fans can be a little bit confused by what is actually going on in the story even when we have played all of the previous titles.
So yes, overall, Kingdom Hearts 3 is the wrap up of this long arc but with the ending, we are sure that the next one is going to be just as exciting.
That is the order to play the games in if you want to read them in release order. But, there is another main order that people can play them in and that is chronologically by events that happen. The only thing we will say about this order is that it is definitely a good way to play the games but, you could find yourself a little lost with the story but, if you prefer to do things in the order they happen then, go for it!
So if you want to use this order, it would be:
Kingdom Hearts: Union X
Kingdom Hearts: Birth By Sleep
Kingdom Hearts: Chain of Memories
Kingdom Hearts: 358/2 Days
Kingdom Hearts 2
Kingdom Hearts: Coded
Kingdom Hearts: Dream Drop Distance
Kingdom Hearts: 2.8 Final Prologue
Kingdom Hearts 3.
If you play them in this order, you’ll have a bit more backstory going into the first Kingdom Hearts game, a lot more backstory when it comes to Roxas and his story and just a few more bits of information of the world and how it works along with how Mickey is important to the story.
But yes, there you go, two different ways to play the Kingdom Hearts games.
Do you have a different order? Let us know by tweeting us @Fuzzable!