A recap of the entire Kingdom Hearts series – starting with the one that’s confused the entire fanbase.

As the release of Kingdom Hearts III looms on the horizon, we at GGS realised that people may be… more than a tad confused. To put it mildly. Kingdom Hearts has tons of content, and with a lore backlog spanning well over a decade, the “third,” game isn’t wholly accessible to newcomers. Thankfully you have me, the resident nerd, who’s here to explain it all, as clearly as I can, so all of you that are taken by the beautiful graphics and the bizarre Disney/Final Fantasy mashup might have a hope in hell of even slightly following Kingdom Hearts III. We’re starting with Kingdom Hearts χ[chi], the broswer game turned mobile title, and how the Keyblade War shaped the story into what it is today.

Origins of origins: How Chi came to be

Originally a browser game released exclusively in Japan back in 2013 (titled Kingdom Hearts χ[chi]), its plot then concluded in 2015, when a remake was announced for iOS and Android, which, a year later, did make it overseas. A further update came along in 2017, rebranding the game Kingdom Hearts Union χ, adding a slew of features (multiplayer, Theatre Mode, Tutorial Mode, and a handful of gameplay changes). A big selling point of Kingdom Hearts HD 2.8 Final Chapter Prologue was that it featured a full length animated movie detailing the events of Chi, which was supposed to help catch players up. Unfortunately, only a handful of scenes from the point of view of the Foretellers were shown, so the idea of bringing people up to speed wasn’t best realised – it actually makes more sense if you’ve followed the mobile game. And that’s probably why you’re here. So, to save you reading a 5,000 word essay, we’re starting with χ[chi]’s events, and moving on to Union χ in the next post.

As this game covers the Keyblade War, you’re not limited to a handful of blue-eyed protagonists this time around; you pick and build your own character, and gradually unlock more customisation options as you earn more medals or clear certain quests/events. Once you’ve built your Keybearer, you’re asked to choose between five different Unions – Anguis, Leopardos, Unicornis, Ursus, or Vulpes. The player grabs their Keyblade, and is immediately hurled into a fight with a huge Darkside in Daybreak Town (a new, original world, that so far has only appeared in games related to Chi/Union Cross), and is subsequently rescued by the Foreteller who leads their union. Depending on your choice, it’ll either be Ira, Aced, Invi, Ava, or Gula.

You’re also introduced to your own personal Chirithy, a cute little cat-like creature, who assists each player while they train. They also explain a little more – as a wielder, you’ll be fighting off the encroaching darkness that threatens to swallow the world, and also collect Lux (light), in competition with the other four unions, whilst working together in a team with your own one. Chirithy also tells the story of the Masters of Masters, and your union leaders, the Foretellers.

The Master of Masters, who is most definitely not a sketchy guy wearing a sketchy cloak (oh wait, yes he is), gave each of the five Foretellers a Book of Prophecies, which contains (to no one’s surprise) a prophecy about the great Keyblade War, a different job for each Foreteller, and a shared duty to prevent the worlds from being lost to darkness.

The Foretellers began using the power of the “medals,” which are the medals the players can equip and use in battle. Though all the Foretellers want the same thing, their personalities and ambitions differ greatly. A few missions later, the player helps out a kid called Ephemer, from a different union to their own: somewhat of a big deal, considering the fierce competition. This newcomer has a secret – the Disney worlds we’re all visiting? Yeah, they’re all holograms, created (he suspects) by the Book of Prophecies, thanks to the Foretellers, so you’re able to collect their light without leaving the safety of Daybreak Town.

Dreams, Dandelions, and Towers

Interesting stuff – especially, as a few nights previously, the player has had a weird dream where they see the Master of Masters talking to the Foretellers in a strange room, so of course they decide to explore and see if they can find it. Just before they get there, Ephemer hesistates, says perhaps they should go back the next day, and to meet at the fountain square. That night, we’re shown a scene of Ephemer apologising, then heading in alone. He never shows up the next day. We then jump to a conversation between Ava, the leader of the Vulpes Union, and Ephemer, talking casually, and he mentions that he made a friend from another union, and how Ava wants to leave a legacy to kids like him. Suddenly, Ephemer meets up with the player, wanting to go on their adventure, but then says we aren’t ready, and that he’ll be waiting for us, before disappearing, most notably in a cloud of dandelions.

We then wake up, because Ephemer was never really there, and is still missing, with Chirithy dissuading you from searching the tower, as it does belong to the Foretellers, and they’ve been fighting a lot lately… so of course, we go and do it anyway.

You run into Master Ava, whom you tell that you’re looking for Ephemer, and that you had a weird dream about it. Ava inexplicably draws her Keyblade, challenging them to a fight, and eventually saying that they “need to let their sadness go,” or it’ll turn to darkness. Basically, forget about Ephemer, because the last the game shows of him is him seeing a shadowy figure in the tower, and Ava revealing to your Chirithy that Ephemer is in an “unchained state,” in another realm, and he’s trying to contact you, hence the odd dream. This is also the point that Chirithy is revealed to be a Dream Eater (yes, the same ones from DDD), and that they’ll need to protect the player from nightmares, so they can escape.

Image sourced from the KH Wiki.

Tensions are running high – players are being urged to join the side of Light, and rivalries are springing up all over the place – no one wants to be friends with someone from a different union. Thankfully, a new girl called Skuld shows up, seeking friendship since you’re all fighting for the same goal, and says she used to be in the same party as Ephemer. She’s also been getting weird dreams about him, saying he told her to find the player. As you share your dreams, you both figure that Ava must not want you in the tower for a reason, and go back to searching for Ephemer there. Before you can do that – a fight breaks out. And this time, it’s between two of the Foretellers, Aced and Invi. Upon seeing this, Skuld casually remarks that in the dream, Ephemer told her that the end of the world is coming, and the world will disappear, much like he did.

And on that cheerful note, you set off for the tower.

As you go there, you suddenly run into three strange beings called “Darklings,” who, much like Heartless, are seeking Lux. Another Chirithy appears, only this time, it’s a dark purple colour as opposed to its usual grey fur. Its been tainted by darkness, and taking away everyone’s Lux; those Darklings used to be wielders, fallen to the darkness, and can no longer use the medals. Demands to find out whose Chirithy this is go unanswered – but they’re “closer than we think.” Finally, we get to the tower, and are caught by Ira, who tells us that he caught another Keyblade wielder in here the other day, and Ephemer is now “gone,” which of course, sparks a fight between him and the player. After it’s over, Ira transforms into Ava – this was an illusion, to test our strength, because she needs the strongest fighters to form a new Union – the Dandelions, that will survive after the world indeed does end, and who will be spared from fighting in the inevitable Keyblade War. She’s chosen Ephemer to be their leader because he went looking for the truth, and he’s waiting for them, unharmed, and will eventually replace Ava as leader.

“All of you who are the seeds of hope.”

She only wants wielders with a strong resistance to darkness, and wants Player and Skuld to join; the latter accepts immediately, but Player hesitates, wanting to think it over, as you don’t like how the ones left behind will be forced to fight. Skuld, on the other hand, wants to properly repay Ephemer by joining up, and explains that they used to be friends and worked together in the same party, before he left. Meanwhile, Ava gives a rousing speech to the Dandelions – train hard, and flee to the world outside when the Keyblade War rages.

Even this isn’t enough to stop the fighting between unions – now they’re accusing each other of stealing Lux, and while the player is breaking it up, they’re forced to fight Foreteller Aced. Ira breaks it up and gets Aced to leave, but he says something interesting on the way out – he’s also collecting wielders for his own union. Ira is much less optimistic – he tells the player and Skuld that the war is now inevitable, and to seek out Master Gula, as he might know how to avert it. They hope.

Image sourced from the KH Wiki.

They find Gula, but he’s not a lot of help – the only one who can stop the war is The Master of Masters, and he’s long vanished, along with the sixth apprentice, Luxu. Luckily, Ava’s off looking for him, and Luxu’s been busy carrying out his “role,” that the Master of Masters gave him, which is to watch the future unfold, after discovering a Lost Page in the Book of Prophecies. He also tells Ava the truth about what’s going on, and who the traitor in their midst is (which is what all the Foretellers have been fighting about), but this is revealed offscreen, so as of the time of writing, all of us are still in the dark. Angry, Ava attacks him, striking the bell of the clock, that marks the beginning of the war, as the Book of Prophecies says. Skuld goes to join the Dandelions, and the player encounters the Nightmare Chirithy again, who is defeated, but says they’ll meet again.

Then, the Keyblade War begins. And it’s ugly.

Side effects may include violent hallucinations and confusion.

The player fights four Foretellers in turn, before collapsing, exhausted and near death. Thousands of hearts are being released, and the battleground is rapidly becoming studded with hundreds upon hundreds of Keyblades – we now know it as the Keyblade Graveyard. The player loses consciousness, but sees Ephemer, Skuld, and their Chirithy before doing so, with Ephemer uttering oddly familiar words – “We’ll go together.”

Then they wake up in a simulated Enchanted Dominion, along with Chirithy, who explains that the war they’d just experienced was… a dream? An apparent side effect of turning down the offer to join the Dandelions. A little further away, Maleficent (yes, the one from Sleeping Beauty) is nearby, cheerful about something she’s done, and we’re lead to think she’s found a Book of Prophecies. This world apparently has great potential, since Sora can’t interfere.

So, totally confused? I don’t blame you. In order to properly understand this full saga, there’s unfortunately more explanation needed – what’s going on in the Back Cover movie, and the second half of the story, which picks up when the game was rebooted into a mobile game, known as Kingdom Hearts Unchained χ. For the sake of length, these will be their own post, but in the meantime, let me know what you think in the comments, and please forgive me for any glaring inaccuracies. Because let’s face it, Kingdom Hearts might have Metal Gear Solid beat in terms of Kudzu Plot.