If you’re one of the many people who have enjoyed this classic series of video games, you might be wondering what order to play them in and why? What impact does it have on the storyline, on the gameplay and on your own experience? If that sounds like you, then this article will be perfect for you!
The Kingdom Hearts series of video games, released over 20 years, chronicles the adventures of Sora as he travels to different Disney worlds, collecting friends and foes along the way. There are six main games in the series, including multiple spin-offs and remakes, with numerous additional content packs available as downloadable content (DLC). No matter what Kingdom Hearts game you’re playing or how far you’ve progressed through it, there’s always something new to discover in the world of Kingdom Hearts – and if you play it in the right order, those discoveries can be all the more meaningful.
What is the order to play Kingdom Hearts?
- Kingdom Hearts I
- Kingdom Hearts: Re: Chain of Memories
- Kingdom Hearts II
- Kingdom Hearts: Re:coded
- Kingdom Hearts: 358/2 Days
- Kingdom Hearts: Birth by Sleep
- Kingdom Hearts: Dream Drop Distance
- Kingdom Hearts 0.2 Birth by Sleep -A fragmentary passage-
- Kingdom Hearts: X Back Cover
- Kingdom Hearts 3
Kingdom Hearts I
Kingdom Hearts 1 is the first game of the series, and it started it all. Though players take on the role of Sora who must venture through various Disney themed worlds (some which were remakes from previous games) to seal Kingdom hearts from the forces of darkness.
In this first installment, you will find all sorts of Disney movies are represented. For example, if you want to go with a more traditional Mickey Mouse experience, visit Neverland for Pirates of the Caribbean or Wonderland for Alice in Wonderland.
Kingdom Hearts: Re: Chain of Memories
In terms of having an understanding of the franchise, there is no better place to start than at the beginning. Kingdom Hearts was released for PlayStation 2 in 2002 and introduced Disney’s Princesses as well as popular Final Fantasy characters such as Squall Leonheart from Final Fantasy VIII and Cloud Strife from Final Fantasy VII. The game begins with main character Sora being separated from his friends Kairi and Riku. Sora spends most of the game looking for his friends and defeating a series of villains, notably King Mickey Mouse in order to help find their way back home. Kingdom Hearts II was released for PlayStation 2 in 2005 which picks up right where the first one left off, picking up right where Sora’s story left off.
Kingdom Hearts II
If you start with Kingdom Hearts II, you will be familiar with the story and understand what is going on in later games. The world is more open-ended with interactive gameplay, as opposed to just watching the story unfold. Plus, if you’re a completionist and intend on playing all of them, it’s best that you start off from KH2 and work your way back.
If you haven’t played any of them yet and have time before III releases (or are only interested in playing one or two), then I recommend starting from 1 or 2 first and seeing where things go from there. You can always skip around if needed!
Kingdom Hearts: Re:coded
As one of the lesser-known entries in the series, Re:coded has aged poorly. The gameplay is slow and boring. And don’t bother with the final battle, which takes a long time to complete without any help from an AI partner. Still, if you’re going to try playing the game for yourself then this is the way I would recommend going about it. You’ll want to start with KH1, as that will give you more context for KH2’s storyline. Then move on to KH2 followed by Chain of Memories. After that go back and play Re:Coded (and be sure not to play the final battle) before finally finishing out with KH3D .
Kingdom Hearts: 358/2 Days
I thought about whether or not I should include 358/2 Days in my top five list. There are some things that this game does better than any other game in the series and so I had a difficult time placing it at number four and bumped it up to number one. To give you a little background information on the game, it is set during the events of Chain of Memories. The whole story is told through Roxas’ perspective. He’s basically filling in what happened after Sora took the original Keyblade and fell into the Realm of Darkness. The game also follows several Disney movies such as Hercules, Aladdin, Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl and Pinocchio.
Kingdom Hearts: Birth by Sleep
Birth by Sleep was originally released for the PSP in 2010. It is a prequel to the events of all other Kingdom-Hearts games, and tells the story of three characters: Terra, Ventus and Aqua. If you have never played any Kingdom-Hearts game before, it is highly recommended that you play this one first before moving on.
Kingdom Hearts: Dream Drop Distance
Dream Drop Distance is the third, and last, Kingdom Hearts game that was originally on Nintendo 3DS. But now it is available for the PlayStation 4 so more people can enjoy this truly phenomenal series of games. Even if you’ve never played any of the other games, you can get started with Dream Drop Distance and still enjoy a satisfying experience. The storyline in Dream Drop Distance picks up after a major event that occurs in Kingdom Hearts 3D: Dream Drop Distance. I don’t want to spoil too much but Sora, Riku and Kairi are involved with a special apprenticeship program called ‘the truth seeker’. Of course they are joined by their friend Mickey Mouse and later characters like Aqua who round out the main characters nicely!
Kingdom Hearts 0.2 Birth by Sleep -A fragmentary passage-
Kingdom Hearts 0.2 Birth by Sleep -A fragmentary passage- features Aqua, who has lost her memories and the keyblade from the previous game in this game. However, the graphics are improved and there are new elements such as swimming in deep waters and some weapons introduced that weren’t present before. Also, players can play as Aqua for more than 3 hours instead of 1 hour like they had with Aqua in Kingdom Hearts: Birth By Sleep Final Mix.
Kingdom Hearts: X Back Cover
This game is the last in the numbered Kingdom Hearts series. It acts as a prequel for the entire saga, and follows members of Organization XIII before their original hearts had been destroyed by darkness. This includes presenting Sora’s birth and how he came into contact with Master Xehanort. If you’ve never played any of the other games in this franchise, then I recommend playing this one before tackling what has already come out on mobile devices and Nintendo 3DS. This will offer more clarity to some elements from the other games that might not be clear without doing some outside research on minor characters or story points that are only briefly touched on in future titles. The title of this game is fitting because it acts as a cover for events before they unfold later in the timeline.
Kingdom Hearts 3
Kingdom Hearts 3 releases January 29th 2019, but some of the backstory in the previous games may be confusing to players who are trying to jump in for the first time. There are plenty of places you can start with this epic saga, and some would say that the most optimal order is when each installment was released. This way you can have a great understanding of what happens at every step along the way. The following series is ranked by release date, so please keep in mind that newer games will have spoilers for older ones! When starting your journey on Kingdom Hearts: Birth by Sleep make sure you take your time and enjoy all three story chapters- Terra’s coming-of-age story, Ventus’s mystical adventure, and Aqua’s quest for vengeance. Read more for these of blogs.