Now that Kingdom Hearts III has finally released, you may be wondering which games are worth playing to help you understand the story.
Kingdom Hearts has one of the most convoluted stories in gaming today, and there are some real stinkers in this series.
Let’s take a look at the games you should avoid first, as not every game in the series is critically acclaimed. Below we are ranking Kingdom Hearts games from worst to best:
Table of Contents
- 10. Kingdom Hearts X
- 9. Kingdom Hearts Re:Coded
- 8. Kingdom Hearts 358/2 Days
- 7. Kingdom Hearts
- 6. Kingdom Hearts: Chain of Memories
- 5. Kingdom Hearts: Dream Drop Distance
- 4. Kingdom Hearts: Birth By Sleep
- 3. Kingdom Hearts 0.2: Birth by Sleep – A Fragmentary Passage
- 2. Kingdom Hearts III
- 1. Kingdom Hearts II
Kingdom Hearts X is a mobile game that takes place after the ancient Keyblade war. Players can crate their own Keyblade wielder and join one of five unions. Many of the chapters in the game are set in Disney worlds visited by the main series in the past.
It’s a mobile game, so it’s definitely not the best Kingdom Hearts story experience. I would say you shouldn’t play this one at all unless you’ve at least played through the main three titles in the series.
The game is complicated and adds new story stuff spread through hundreds of chapters, making the lore even more confusing to follow.
Kingdom Hearts Re:Coded debuted at E3 in 2010 for the Nintendo DS. Most fans dislike the game because the story has no bearing on the main games. Unlike the other games that are interconnected and weave a tale of Sora’s travels through many Disney Kingdoms, Re:Coded just doesn’t matter.
In the grand scheme of things, new gamers who have never played a Kingdom Hearts game before can definitely skip this one.
Nothing of note happens in the story that makes the excruciating gameplay worth experiencing. Every world featured in the game is just copied from earlier Kingdom Hearts games that are worth experiencing.
Other Kingdom Hearts games tell a better story, with better gameplay mechanics, and this one is completely skippable.
Kingdom Hearts 358/2 Days is another portable title in the Kingdom Hearts series that is pretty skippable. It was also released on Nintendo DS in 2009 and introduced a new protagonist called Roxas.
Roxas is the new Nobody that was created after Sora transformed into Heartless during the first game. Roxas also features briefly in Kingdom Hearts II, and the story is the best aspect of this game. It details the time Roxas spent in Organization XIII and the time spend with Xion and Axel.
The actual gameplay of Kingdom Hearts 358/2 Days is where this game falls apart. Square Enix included all the cutscenes from it in the recent Kingdom Hearts 1.5 Remix, so you don’t even have to play it to know the story. It’s utterly skippable if you have the Remix version ready to play.
The original game is a great entry point for the series, but the gameplay doesn’t hold up as well as later entries.
The story in Kingdom Hearts is fun and easy to follow, even for small children. The one sticking point I have with this game is how dated the combat system feels.
It is especially a chore to play again after you have gotten used to some of the improvements in later games.
Play this one for the story and the introduction to the characters and realize the sluggish combat will get better as the series progresses.
Chain of Memories is a sequel to the first game that debuted on Gameboy Advance. It feels like a watered down Kingdom Hearts experience, down to the card-based combat that feels drastically different.
While there is some strategy involved in making the most of the card system, the worlds included in Chains of Memories feel tiny compared to the first game. The story takes a backseat to the new card-based combat, making this a less compelling entry in the series.
Dream Drop Distance released on the 3DS, but Square Enix did an HD remake for PS4 that was included in 2.8 Final Chapter Prologue.
The game is the best portable Kingdom Hearts game on the list so far. The story is enjoyable if stilted, especially with the introduction of time travel in the game.
The time traveling aspect only serves to make the story more confusing at points, but it is still enjoyable if you pay attention.
The game has you play through each world twice, once with Sora and once with Riku. It keeps things interesting while exploring, and it shows Riku has grown as a character.
What makes this game stand out against other mobile games is the gameplay. The Command Deck system from Birth By Sleep returns for this game, but it is not as well implemented as Birth By Sleep.
Kingdom Hearts: Birth By Sleep is the one portable Kingdom Hearts title you should play on this list, even if you play none of the others. It serves as a prequel to the main series and introduces an engaging story, amazing gameplay, and tons of beloved Disney characters to visit along the way.
Many fans regard Birth By Sleep as having the best story in the entire franchise, and that’s a hard point to argue. It’s the first game to feature three playable characters, but they’re juggled in such a way to make their stories interwoven and engaging.
Customizing your Command Deck to find the best setup for your characters is one of the most engaging parts of the game. Both Dream Drop Distance and Re: Coded borrowed the mechanic again, but Birth By Sleep is where it shines.
3. Kingdom Hearts 0.2: Birth by Sleep – A Fragmentary Passage
This bite-sized game was released as part of the Kingdom Hearts 2.8 collection and served as a demo for Kingdom Hearts III. It’s not really a full-fledged game since you can finish it within an hour or two.
Fragmentary Passage showcases the upgraded graphics and gameplay mechanics in store for Kingdom Hearts III players. Players assume the role of Aqua from Birth By Sleep, which is a fan favorite character. Playing this before leading into Kingdom Hearts III will set you up perfectly for continuing the story.
Kingdom Hearts III is the most recent title on this list, with fans waiting almost 15 years to get their hands on the game. The best feature of Kingdom Hearts III is how action-oriented the combat system is without feeling sluggish. Square Enix took their time to get this one right.
The only complaint most fans have about Kingdom Hearts III is that only seven Disney worlds were included to explore. However, the worlds are so vast and filled with such a variety of mini-games and collectibles that it is still a joy to play.
Kingdom Hearts III may be the most recent title on the list, but it still doesn’t beat out Kingdom Hearts II for the best game title.
Kingdom Hearts II expands on the first game by improving the combat and creating a more engaging story. Roxas returns as the starting character, which should be familiar to those who played the portable games.
You’ll finally find out the meaning behind Organization XIII, and the game features a great mix of new and returning worlds. New worlds from movies like Mulan, Pirates of the Caribbean, and Beauty and the Beast are included. Fans who love exploring new Disney worlds will love Kingdom Hearts II.