No other game is really all that similar to Kingdom Hearts III. Frankly, Kingdom Hearts is quite a different beast to Kingdom Hearts III. Admittedly, that is not the most reassuring note to open this article, but Square Enix and Disney’s collaboration is undeniably unique. This is the franchise that stemmed from Square seeking to put together a crossover capable of competing on the same level as Super Smash Bros, at least on a marketability level. Funnily enough, Nintendo’s massive fighting franchise has otherwise nothing in common with Kingdom Hearts.
This article will focus on action-RPGs that offer a combination of fast-paced combat, fantastical storylines, and some degree of exploration. Not all these ingredients will be present in each entry, but they should scratch the itch left by Kingdom Hearts III.
10 Ni No Kuni II: Revenant Kingdom
While Ni no Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch is the better game, its sequel’s revamped combat is a better fit for Kingdom Hearts III. Revenant Kingdom’s story follows the young heir to the throne of Ding Dong Bell, Evan Pettiwhisker Tildrum, who is forced into hiding after an assassination plot takes out the king.
With three active party members at a time, the real-time combat focuses heavily on melee attacks, although there are also a decent magical system and unique creatures that can be taken into battles called Higgledies. Exploration arrives in the form of a world map that is packed with towns and dungeons to visit. Similarly to Kingdom Hearts III, Revenant Kingdom’s enemies barely put up much of a fight at launch, but a later patch raised the difficulty considerably.
9 Tales of Vesperia: Definitive Edition
Quite a number of the more recent “Tales of” games were in contention for a spot on this list, with Tales of Vesperia: Definitive Edition ultimately winning out. Tales of Vesperia’s Evolved Flex-Range Linear Motion Battle System offers a substantial amount of customization and tactical options.
Along with permitting an active team of up to four characters; new weapons, armor, and Artes (attacks that range from basic strikes to explosive magical attacks) can be equipped to all the playable characters. Tales of Vesperia’s battle system seems deceptively simple but grows into something truly special after a dozen so hours.
8 Final Fantasy XV
Arguably the most obvious entry on this list, and that is not only because both games were made by Square Enix, went through development hell, and feature somewhat poorly paced storylines. An argument can be made that Final Fantasy XV’s battle system was partially inspired by Kingdom Hearts II’s system. The Active Cross Battle system is quite simplistic, limiting Noctis to basic attacks, parrying, warping, and items.
Similarly to Kingdom Hearts III, Final Fantasy XV’s battle system is only as complex as the player wants it to be, as depth can be found through the mastering of special moves like Blindside and finding the right items to create special Elemancy items. Cooperative attacks, magic techniques, and a variety of weapons further improve the combat.
Final Fantasy XV lets the player enjoy the open world during the first half of the campaign, permitting Noctis and the gang to freely cook, explore, and discover everything this universe has to offer.
7 Devil May Cry 5
DmC: Devil May Cry is also an option, but Capcom's 2019 entry takes the cake for simply being one of the best action games of the current decade. Devil May Cry 5 features three playable characters, 21 main missions, a robust hack and slash battle system with various unlockable moves, and enough style to fuel a Paris fashion exhibition.
While the missions themselves are quite linear, Devil May Cry 5's combat is all about experimenting with the different ways to execute effective but stylish combos. Compared to Kingdom Hearts III, DMC V is fairly difficult and comes with a learning curve.
6 NieR: Automata
Published by Square Enix and developed by PlatinumGames, NieR: Automata’s philosophical and often depressing narrative could not be further removed from Kingdom Hearts III’s Disneytastic adventure. Directed by Yoko Taro, NieR: Automata’s themes and characters are defined by ambiguity, which is also reflected by the gorgeous but largely desolate setting. It is completely unlike Kingdom Hearts’ earnest nature.
After all that, why is NieR: Automata recommended to fans of Kingdom Hearts III? Well, it all comes down to the gameplay. PlatinumGames brought its trademark hack and slash combat to Yoko Taro’s post-apocalyptic universe, and it is a match made in heaven. Automata is somewhat less forgiving than Kingdom Hearts III, as mastering dodging is paramount to overcoming the action-RPG’s many challenges and boss fights. The progression system is also comparable, allowing for chips to be implemented to unlock new abilities and benefits.
5 Ys VIII: Lacrimosa of Dana
Ys is a long-running action-RPG franchise that has always been known for fantastic combat and, typically, outdated visuals. Released in 2016, Lacrimosa of Dana is the most recent version to be published in Western countries and comfortably ranks among the license's greatest achievements.
After a shipwreck leaves Adol and a group of survivors stranded on the Isle of Seiren, they must come together to solve the mysteries of this strange location, while fighting off various huge and dangerous monsters. Lacrimosa of Dana's six playable characters all have their own playing styles, along with upgradeable weapons and armor pieces. With plenty of side-quests and a decent open-world to explore, Ys VIII is closer to a traditional JRPG than Kingdom Hearts III, but the splendid real-time combat should hit the spot.
4 Dark Cloud 2
Taking a trip back in time to the PlayStation 2 era, Dark Cloud 2 is among the best JRPGs available on that console, a claim that is not made lightly. Turn-based combat was still popular during the sixth generation of gaming, but Level-5 colorful adventure boasts real-time combat that - similar to Kingdom Hearts III - is reminiscent of hack and slash titles.
Admittedly, the gameplay is relatively simplistic, but further depth is added through an engaging weapon upgrade system that enables items to be attached to grant specific benefits. Although only two characters are playable, certain NPCs can accompany the protagonists, with each having their own special abilities.
3 The World Ends With You
Here is another game that - on the surface - holds precious little in common with Kingdom Hearts III. Developed by Square Enix and Jupiter, The World Ends with You was originally released on the Nintendo DS, but a Switch version was published in 2018. Taking place in a district in Tokyo, The World Ends with You centers around the Reapers' Game, a competition that pits the deceased against each other to determine who could come back to life or transcend to a higher plane.
The combat is brilliant but quite unique, and the story is considerably darker than Kingdom Hearts III. Despite all these similarities, both titles deliver a sense of wonder absent in most games.
2 Fable II
Lionhead Studios' Fable II is a predominantly comedic adventure that fine-tunes its predecessor's rough-around-the-edges gameplay and streamlines some of its less successful ideas. Kingdom Hearts III opted for fewer but larger worlds, an element reflected by Fable II's quality over quantity approach to world-building.
Albion is a lively kingdom packed with expansive and detailed areas to explore, many of which are quite different from each other. Fable II's morality system is somewhat rudimentary, but the combat and progression systems are a highlight.
1 Hyrule Warriors
Super Smash Bros might have nothing in common with Kingdom Hearts, but the same cannot be said for another highly-regarded Nintendo property. Musou games are their own subgenre, as the screen is packed with potentially hundreds of fodder enemies who are just waiting to be blasted off into oblivion.
Kingdom Hearts III's explosive combat reduces most enemies to little more than moving targets, even if they put up more of a challenge than the average opponent in Hyrule Warriors. Still, for those looking to just feel like a powerhouse while delivering flashy moves, Hyrule Warriors is the game for you.