2022 has been an eventful year for Square Enix fans, with the celebration of Kingdom Hearts 20th anniversary, the announcement of Kingdom Hearts IV, and the upcoming Final Fantasy 25th Anniversary stream. A recent Game Informer interview with famed video game artist Tetsuya Nomura gives fans a closer look into the latest entry in Kingdom Hearts series, including his thoughts on the series’ future.
Kingdom Hearts IV’s announcement led to excitement, confusion, and speculation, leaving fans eager to learn more about its plot and lore. While there were no new lore revelations, Nomura briefly touched on the newest game’s antagonists. After the end of the series’ long-time villain Xehanort, Kingdom Hearts IV’s enemy resides in its next chapter: The Lost Master Arc. Nomura stated that “this new enemy has a lot to do with the masked characters that appear at the end of Kingdom Hearts III” and that they have already appeared within the series in Kingdom Hearts 2.8.
As for hints on Kingdom Hearts IV’s plot, Nomura mentioned one soon-to-be accessible source as a go-to for fans to get their inside scoop, a mobile game called Kingdom Hearts Missing Link. This new mobile game was announced alongside Kingdom Hearts IV, giving players the same free combat experience as in the console games. Nomura stated that Missing Link connects to Kingdom Hearts IV, with mysteries and figures tying back to the latest entry in the series. Since its closed beta is expected sometime this year, fans can expect more information to come.
Nomura also touched on game play, noting the possible return of the reaction command system from Kingdom Hearts II. After the less-than-stellar reception fans had given, they removed it from Kingdom Hearts III. However, the similar reception from its absence in Kingdom Hearts III had them reconsider that choice. Nomura stated that their newest challenge revolves around keeping that satisfying action experience when the footing isn’t very secure. Nomura hopes “that they can realize as an aspect of gameplay in Kingdom Hearts IV.”
The interview’s most insightful topic was Nomura’s comments on Disney and Final Fantasy worlds and representation within Kingdom Hearts IV. Considering how different the newest installment looks, fans have raised concerns about how things will remain. Despite its differences, Nomura stated that favorites like Disney worlds will still have their place. He noted that the improved graphic qualities give them access to more possibilities, but with the caveat of a limited number of worlds. When asked how integral Disney and Final Fantasy characters will be in Kingdom Hearts IV; Nomura explained that while those respective franchises contributed greatly to the Kingdom Hearts experience, it’s so much more than that. Nomura wishes to further explore original characters within Kingdom Hearts and that means trying to find that perfect balance.
Kingdom Hearts IV for many had already seemed like a major departure from its predecessors, most notably from its art direction. If nothing else, it’s comforting to hear that while Kingdom Hearts IV has its striking differences, the people behind it are striking a balance to keep its long-established fan base coming back. The full interview can be read on Game Informer’s official site.