This articles contains spoilers for the entirety of the Kingdom Hearts franchise, INCLUDING Kingdom Hearts III’s plot and secret endings.
It’s hard to believe that after all these years of waiting, Kingdom Hearts III has been released, concluding the Xehanort Saga that started way back in 2002. While the ending to Kingdom Hearts III is quite satisfying for the most part, it certainly leaves a rather big door open for future installments. After 17 years of Xehanort’s Wild Ride, I think it’s about time we talked about where Kingdom Hearts 4 could go.
Shibuya and Lucis
I don’t think many of us expected Sora to seemingly die offscreen at the end of Kingdom Hearts III, especially since everything seemed pretty happy towards the end. Even less expected was the secret ending’s twist, which has Sora wake up in what seems to be Shibuya. Not the real world location of Shibuya, mind you, rather the setting of Tetsuya Nomura’s classic DS RPG, The World Ends With You. You may recognize the series from Kingdom Hearts: Dream Drop Distance, where the majority of The World Ends With You’s main cast made a prominent appearance.
At the end of his time with Sora, Neku says that Sora should visit him in Shibuya sometime. It seems like that was no empty gesture, as Sora is shown to be visibly confused as he looks at the flashing signs and lights of Shibuya that surround him. The World Ends With You revolves around death, and escaping death/returning to life through “The Reaper’s Game”, which Sora seems to now be a part of. My theory is that Sora, after over-exerting himself through using the Power of Waking to save Kairi, “died”, and found himself in Shibuya as a result of the “wild card” that Luxord gave Sora after their final duel. Now Neku and co. will be able to repay Sora for his actions in Dream Drop Distance by helping him win/escape the Reaper’s Game, which will bring him back to life.
Riku’s secret ending is a whole different story, especially since he didn’t seem to die or disappear at the end of Kingdom Hearts III. Despite his seemingly happy ending, Riku’s secret ending shows him wake up in the world of Verum Rex, the video game world seen in Toy Story’s Toy Box world. What we saw of Verum Rex is incredibly reminiscent of Final Fantasy Versus XIII, which was Nomura’s big project prior to Kingdom Hearts III. After years of development with little released to the public, Nomura would leave Versus XIII, which would undergo major changes to eventually become Final Fantasy XV.
The reason I’m mentioning all this is because of how important Verum Rex may be to Kingdom Hearts 4. Since Kingdom Hearts III established that video games are worlds of their own, it seems to me that Riku may start the next game in Verum Rex, and go on to visit other games in place of, or in addition to, your standard Disney worlds. This would tie-in to Sora’s visit to Shibuya, which could actually be Sora visiting The World Ends With You as a game. The obvious parallel between The World Ends With You and Versus XIII is Nomura’s major role in development, which makes me think that Square Enix games, and Nomura-directed games in particular, may be the focus of Kingdom Hearts 4. Which means…
Square Enix Worlds
I’ve hoped for a Final Fantasy or Dragon Quest world since first playing Kingdom Hearts, and now it finally seems like a possibility. If Kingdom Hearts 4 does indeed focus on video game worlds, I have no doubt that they would put special time and care into worlds based on their own franchises.(Or at least their major franchises. I don’t see The Bouncer getting a world anytime soon.)
I described the possibilities of a Final Fantasy-based world in a post about possible DLC, so I’ll focus more on the other possible worlds in this piece. I think Dragon Quest is pretty likely, since it has a very upbeat and colorful atmosphere that would suit Kingdom Hearts quite well (not to mention the series is a financial titan in the Japan’s gaming market.) The looser narratives of the Dragon Quest games make them more accessible, meaning Square has a lot of freedom in adapting specific characters or stories. And hey, Sora appeared in World of Final Fantasy, so maybe that will be retroactively made canon. When it comes to setting the plot of Kingdom Hearts, you never know what Square will do next.
Another Day, Another Black Cloak
So, as one would expect, a cloaked figure appears in the secret ending, watching things from afar. Most of the Organization is gone, and Xigbar/Luxu is probably not the figure (based on build/appearance), leaving only the Master of Masters as the likely culprit. If you don’t know who the Master of Masters is, he’s more-or-less the the most powerful/important figure in Kingdom Hearts lore. Most of what we know about him comes from Back Cover, the movie portion of the 2.8 Collection that ties-in to Kingdom Hearts Union Cross, which provides the universe with a metric ton of lore.
The Master of Masters, and by association, Luxu, seem to be major figures in the next arc of Kingdom Hearts, though their motives are still somewhat unclear. We know that Luxu was gunning for the No Name keyblade throughout the Xehanort Saga, and that he summoned the Foretellers (sans Ava) to the Keyblade Graveyard in the present, but that’s about it. Maybe it ties into the mysterious girl that Lea and Isa so repeatedly mention throughout Kingdom Hearts III, or maybe it all ties into Shibuya. It’s hard to tell at this point in time, but it’s fair to say that both figures will be incredibly important going forward.
And those are some of the storylines that I think Kingdom Hearts 4 will follow. What are your ideas? Comment them below, and stick around for more Kingdom Hearts III content!