Kingdom Hearts 3 is releasing on 29 January 2019 and it will mark the end of the Dark Keeper Saga as Sora and the wielders of light finally have their showdown against the evil Xehanort and his Organization. It has been a story in the making since the original game back in 2002 and the story is one of the series’ greatest feats. However, with Kingdom Hearts 3 looming in the distance, you may or may not have caught up with everything that has happened so far.
This is where we come in. There is a lot to digest in the Dark Keeper Saga but we have you covered. In this special feature, we will be breaking down the Kingdom Hearts story for you to catch up on the events that have led up to the final showdown.
This feature contains major spoilers spanning across the entire Kingdom Hearts series. Proceed at your own risk.
Before it all Began
In the ancient times, before Sora, Organization XIII and the Heartless, a band of six Keyblade apprentices protected the world from Darkness. It was a peaceful time where Kingdom Hearts existed alongside the legendary x-blade. However, peace did not last long as a strange man known as the Master of Masters warned these apprentices about a prophecy that could destroy the world.
The Keyblade Graveyard where the Keyblade War took place
He told them that in order to prevent this great cataclysm that they would need to form Unions and gather fighters to wield Keyblades in preparation for the great battle. However, his prophecy was a lie and instead the prediction that the great battle would begin was actually the Keyblade War that was caused by these six Unions fighting it out over a difference of opinions.
The massive battle took place and hundreds of thousands of keyblade warriors were lost during the war. The grounds where the battle took place is now known as the Keyblade Graveyard. However, one Union called the Dandelions and led by Ava survived as they did not participate in the war. This, after the Master of Masters instructed heer to form this Union and escape rather than take part in the battle.
A few of the Dandelion Union members
Dandelions were the only last living Keyblade warriors and over time the Keyblade War become more of a legend. Who the Master of Masters was is still a mystery today.
Xehanort – Master of Darkness
It all starts way before Sora, Kairi and Riku were even in the picture. Xehanort, a young man from Destiny Islands, always dreamt of leaving his home and finding other worlds scattered across the universe. One day he manages to depart from his island by unknown means and make his way to the Land of Departure where he became a Keyblade Wielder under his master, Eraques.
During their time together, Xehanort and Eraques become good friends and form a brotherhood but their views on the world are different and cause a rift in their friendship. Xehanort believes that Darkness should exist alongside Light as it can be controlled with enough power and training. Eraques, on the other hand, believes that Darkness should be vanquished.
Regardless of their beliefs, the two manage to pass the Mark of Mastery exam which is a test for those who wield a Keyblade to become a Keyblade Master. Those who pass the test can either then become a teacher and take on their own apprentices or go out on their own adventure and explore the many worlds as guardians of peace.
Eraques decides to stay in The Land of Departure and train upcoming Keyblade Wielders and Xehanort decides to leave. The main reasons why Xehanort wants to leave The Land of Departure are;
- During his training to become a Keyblade Master, Xehanort learns of the Keyblade War and Kingdom Hearts.
- Keyblade War – An epic battle of Keyblade Wielders hundreds of years ago over the x-blade.
- Kingdom Hearts – The heart of all worlds and the ultimate source of power and wisdom
- He learns that in order to control Kingdom Hearts he must recreate the most powerful Keyblade, the x-blade.
- x-blade – The most powerful and perfect Keyblade. The protector of Kingdom Hearts. After the Keyblade War, the blade shattered into twenty pieces. Thirteen of darkness and seven of light (now protected by the seven princesses of light)
Kingdom Hearts: Birth By Sleep
Xehanort is an old man at this time and in order for him to live for longer he must find a young boy to transfer his heart into. A vessel if you may. He finds Ventus, his apprentice and fellow Keyblade Wielder but the boy is too weak for a heart so purely evil. Instead, Xehanort used Ventus to try to recreate the x-blade by extracting the Darkness from his heart and creating a double of him known as Vanitas. Ventus, fragile and without any memory due to the ordeal goes to train with Eraqus along with two new apprentices, Terra and Aqua.
So begins the events of Kingdom Hearts: Birth By Sleep. The game is set four years after the Darkness is extracted from Ventus. The three apprentices (Ventus, Aqua and Terra), are now ready for their Mark of Mastery exam at The Land of Departure. However, during the four years leading up to the exam, Xehanort has been manipulating Terra into using the Darkness.
From left to right – Aquae, Terra and Ventus
During the exam, Terra lets the Darkness out and fails, leaving The Land of Departure in a huff. Aqua passes the test while Ventus was not ready for it yet. Xehanort’s plans are coming into full swing now as this whole time he has been grooming Terra has the vessel to hold his heart after Ventus failed to do so four years ago. During the game, we learn that Terra meets Maleficent who tricks him into gathering the Seven Princesses of Heart which contain the seven pieces of the x-blade.
The entire time Xehanort provokes Terra into using the Darkness as his power. His two fellow apprentices, Aqua and Ventus are searching the worlds for Terra and finally meet him at Radiant Gardens where they realize the Darkness is taking over his heart. Terra escapes and arrives at Destiny Islands, Xehanort’s homeworld and the home of Sora and Riku. Terra then appoints Riku as his successor so that one day he would be able to wield the Keyblade too.
Ventus, Aqua and Terra prepare to fight Xehanort
Master Eraqus learns about Xehanort’s plans and that in order for him to create the x-blade he would need to merge Ventus and Vanitas back together. The only way to stop this from happening would be to kill Ventus which Eraqus tries to do. Terra stops him in an epic fight but Xehanort deals the final blow to Eraqus right in from of Aqua’s eyes. It is all revealed that Xehanort plans to use Terra as a vessel to carry his heart so that he may survive another generation to fulfil his plans.
Master Eraqus fighting the now-corrupted Terra
After Terra learns about Xehanort’s true plans and faces off against Vanitas, Ventus’ dark clone, Terra swears to end Xehanort. He then chases him to the Keyblade Graveyard, the battlefield where the Keyblade Wars took place all those years ago.
Vanitas (the dark clone of Vantus) and Xehanort
The epic showdown between the three Keyblade Wielders and Master Xehanort takes place at this Keyblade Graveyard. Terra ultimately loses his fight against Xehanort and his body is taken over by him. During all this, Ventus is faced with fighting is dark ego Vanitas. He defeats him but it does a lot of damage to his heart. Aqua saves his unconscious body and places him safely in a place called Castle Oblivion.
Aqua tracks down Terra who is now completely possessed by Xehanort and they have one final showdown in Radiant Garden. The battle leads to Terra regaining control of his body and striking himself with his Keyblade which gives him amnesia. Just before Terra is about to fall into the Realm of Darkness, Aqua sacrifices herself and gets trapped in the realm instead. Terra, who is now without memory is then found by a man named Ansem the Wise.
Ventus sleeping in Castle Oblivion after losing his heart which is now in Sora
Ventus, who is now in slumber in the former Land of Departure, now known as Castle Oblivion, stores his heart in a boy named Sora.
The prequel to the series makes up much of the Kingdom hearts story. Sure, a lot happens in the rest of the games but how Xehanort came to be and the foundations for the Dark Seeker Saga all came from Birth by Sleep.
Kingdom Hearts follows the story of Sora, Riku and Kairi as they long to leave Destiny Islands. The game is set 14 years after the events of Birth by Sleep but during and before the game, a load of things happen. The gist of the story is that Sora gets whisked away during a freak storm on the island one day and on his way to find his friends Riku and Kairi, befriends Donald and Goofy and they set off on a quest to find them.
Sora visits a load of Disney worlds during his adventure and had the power to defeat the Heartless that infest them thanks to the Keyblade he wields. Keep in mind that Ventus’ heart is sleeping inside Sora’s so the Keyblade is not actually his, rather he can wield it thanks to Ventus.
Sora, Donald and Goofy
Along the way, Riku, who Sora has been searching for finds Maleficent who tricks Riku into kidnapping the Seven Princesses of Light and enhances his control over the Darkness. Everyone finds their way to Hallow Bastion, formerly known as Radiant Garden where Sora, Donald and Goofy fight Maleficent, find Riku and discover that Ansem is behind the darkness being born into Heartless. Sora also discovers that Kairi’s heart was actually inside his the whole time and in order free it, he needs to unlock his heart using his Keyblade. Sora turns himself into a Heartless in the process.
Ansem, Xehanort’s Heartless
Sora’s body is finally restored with the help of Kairi and the group set off to fight Ansem. Ansem is then destroyed as he opens the door to light, an objective he has had the entire game. The light inside kills him but in order to close the door, Riku and Sora need to split up to seal it. After it closes, the worlds that were destroyed by Darkness reconstruct and Sora, Kairi and Riku are all split up as the gateway between these worlds is closed. So ends Kingdom Hearts
So who was Ansem and where did he come from? Well…
After Xehanort was found by Ansem the Wise at the end of Birth by Sleep, he starts to regain his memory a year after the epic battle against Aqua. It is here where Xehanort begins to manipulate Ansem the Wise into experimenting with hearts. Xehanort’s main goal is to create Heartless, creatures extracted from the darkness in one’s heart. Ansem refuses to participate in this experiments and he is banished to the Realm of Nothingness. Xehanort then steals Ansem’s name and regains his all his memories.
The real Ansem the Wise – DiZ
All the researchers that worked alongside Ansem the Wise are then used as experiments as Xehanort (now Ansem) tampers with their hearts to create Heartless. After their hearts are taken away they are then turned into Nobodies, beings without a heart.
At the end of it all, thirteen people are affected by evil Ansem’s experiments and lose their hearts. Thus creating Organization XIII, a group of Nobodies led by Ansem’s Nobody called Xemnas, seeking to restore their hearts. Ansem then begins his control of the worlds which leads to Destiny Islands being struck by Heartless and Sora separating from it, finding Donald and Goofy and kicking off the story of Kingdom Hearts.
Kingdom Hearts: Chain of Memories
After Sora closed the Door to Light and separated from Riku, he found Castle Oblivion on his mission to find him again. Inhabited by Organization XIII members, Sora ventures through this castle in hopes to find Riku. What Sora finds, however, is a girl named Namine who, while she does not know it, is actually Kairi’s Nobody that was created when Sora unlocked his heart at the end of Kingdom Hearts.
Castle Oblivion – Once known as The Land of Departure. Where Ventus slumbers
Namine is being controlled by Organization XIII to steal Sora’s memories and recreate them they way they want. Basically, Namine replaces Kairi in all his memories in order to get Sora to turn to Organization XIII for assistance. Along the way, Sora meets a few of these members namely Axel and Marluxia who lead the project.
In the end, Sora beats them and Namine promises to restore his memories but Sora, Donald and Goofy need to go into a memory pod and sleep in order for her to do so.
Namine – Kairi’s Nobody
Soon after, Riku enters Castle Oblivion too and during his time fights the darkness in his heart that is growing ever stronger after his altercation with Maleficent in the first game. In the end, Riku decides that in order to stop Organization XIII he may need to embrace the darkness and become part of the organization.
Kingdom Hearts: 358/2 Days
Now when Sora unlocked his heart in order to save Kairi at the end of Kingdom Hearts, his Nobody was created named Roxas. Remember, Namine was also created too? Organization XIII found Roxas and with his ability to wield a Keyblade thanks to Sora being able to wield one too, they try and utilize him in order to create the perfect Nobody called Xion.
Xion is a Nobody created by the organization with the plan of her becoming a replica of Sora and with the power of him, she would be able to gather enough hearts by defeating Heartless to create an artificial Kingdom Hearts. During Kingdom Hearts: 358/2 Days, Xion and Roxas form a friendship and she develops a personality which gets out of control. Roxas is then forced to defeat her destroying all the organization’s plans to build their own Kingdom Hearts.
Left to right – Axel (Lea), Roxus (Sora’s Nobody), Xion (Nobody created by Organization XIII)
The end of this game sees Riku, who is now undercover as an Organization XIII fight Roxas as instructed by Xemnas. Riku had to in order to prove his loyalty to the organization. Roxas is then knocked out, his memories wiped and taken to a fake Twilight Town where Ansem the Wise and Riku plan to use him to help speed up Sora’s recovery.
Kingdom Hearts 2
Kingdom Hearts 2 is all about Organization XIII and their plans to recreate Kingdom Hearts. After their failed attempt with Xion, they are reformed in an attempt to try one last time. Led by Xehanort’s Nobody, Xemnas, Organization XIII’s true goal is to take control of Kingdom Hearts so they can become whole again.
The game kicks off in the fake Twilight Town where Ansem the Wise and Riku are manipulating Roxas in order to get Sora’s memories back. Roxas finally merges with Sora after a lot of confusion and realizing that he is indeed his Nobody and Sora awakens along with Donald and Goofy as if nothing ever happened.
Sora’s last memory was defeating Ansem and he has no idea who Namine or Roxas is. He does not even know what Organization XIII is. Sora travels to many Disney worlds during Kingdom Hearts 2 as he tries to fight off the Heartless. This time, Nobodies are also causing problems throughout the worlds.
Sora is also searching to Riku as the last time he saw him was before they closed the Door to Light at the end of Kingdom Hearts. Kairi, now much older leaves Destiny Islands to find Sora too which leaves all three friends running around these worlds.
Kingdom Hearts 2 reveals that Xehanort was actually the bad guy all along and Sora only just defeated his Heartless, Ansem and Xemnas, his Nobody was the leader of Organization XIII and they had to stop him.
Xemnas – Xehanort’s Nobody, Leader of Organization XIII
At the end of the game, Ansem the Wise, who was calling himself DiZ for undercover reasons, works with Riku to try to destroy Kingdom Hearts so that the organization could not use it. He kills himself in the process and damages Kingdom Hearts. Sora is reunited with Riku and Kairi and they take on Xemnas together. Xemnas is then defeated which ends the plans of the Organization and finally brings peace to the worlds. Or does it?
Kingdom Hearts: Dream Drop Distance
After the events of Kingdom Hearts 2, the worlds were at peace for a while and it was finally time for Sora and Riku to take their Mark of Mastery exam. This would finally make them Keyblade Masters. The game sees them travel across sleeping worlds to save them from the Darkness.
Throughout their journey, they are confronted by a young Xehanort but it is not until the end of the game that everything comes together. Young Xehanort is actually Master Xehanort from the past that has led Sora to a world called Castle That Never Was. The man reveals that he was given the ability to travel through time by Ansem in order to gather all the different versions of Xehanort together across all time and space.
Young Xehanort who travelled through time
You see, throughout the entire Kingdom Hearts series, Master Xehanort has placed a part of himself into various people spreading himself through thirteen vessels known as 13 Seekers of Darkness. This plan has been Xehanort’s ultimate goal since before Birth By Sleep and he almost successfully completed this in Dream Drop Distance by placing his last fragment into Sora. However, his attempt failed as he was stopped by Mickey, Axel and Riku.
Xehanort was then forced to send all his vessels back to their original time and world but promised that they will all meet again one day in a specific place at a specific time. By doing that, the vessels could all prepare for this battle. You see, in Kingdom Hearts, in order for you to travel through time you need to know where you will be at what time and place in the future. The vessels all know this now so they can return when the time comes.
Lea revealed as a Keyblade Wielder
The last moments of the game show Axel, now called Lea as he is no longer a Nobody, revealed to be a Keyblade Wielder and Yen Sid and Mickey Mouse decide to bring Kairi to Yen’s Mysterious Tower to also train as a Keyblade Wielder.
Kingdom Hearts: A Fragmentary Passage
But there is one more story to add to this and it is the last one before Kingdom Hearts 3. In Kingdom Hearts 0.2 A Fragmentary Passage, you play as Aqua. You will remember way back at the start of this that Aqua sacrificed herself to save Terra and fell into the Realm of Darkness. Well, this game follows her adventure through the Realm of Darkness as she tries to escape.
Aqua lost in the Realm of Darkness
This game is set during the events of the original game and reveals that Aqua and Mickey actually helped close the Door to Light after the fight with Ansem. Doing so locked Aqua inside the Realm of Darkness. Mickey has known about this the whole time but in an attempt to keep Sora and Riku from saving her and perhaps failing in doing so, he did not say anything.
The game ends at the latest time with Yen Sid instructing Sora to go and train for the final battle against Master Xehanort and learn how to retrieve lost hearts, and Riku and Mickey head to the Realm of Darkness to find Aqua. At the same time, it is revealed that Sora has been stripped of his power thanks to Xehanort’s attempt to use him as a vessel.
The game ends where Kingdom Hearts 3 will begin. Sora, Donald and Goofy are headed towards Mount Olympus to train with Hercules for the final battle against the Darkness.
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