Sora, face to face with an enormous keyhole (bigger than his head), with a question mark above his head, and the Keyblade - a comparably enormous key - in his hand.

That’s a big keyhole. would be very handy if someone had a giant key.

It turned out that to progress the plot I had to go back to the starting area and talk to the shopkeeper again. That was not clearly signposted. Anyway a Very Cool Man with a leather jacket and a scar and a (extremely practical!) 💀gunsword💀 has decided he wants my keyblade so, that’s a thing. I think he might be from one of the Final Fantasy games?

OK no, this is Leon, the guy who Donald and Goofy are looking… ok a couple of cutscenes later we get confirmation that this is Squall from Final Fantasy uh… idk, the one with the gunswords, 9 maybe? Or 8? Between 7 and 10, at least. And he’s accompanied by Yuffie, who I think is another Final Fantasy character. And Donald and Goofy just ran into… is that Aerith or whatever her name is, the one who famously dies in 7? Forget Beach Sephiroth, maybe there’s an actual Sephiroth wandering around here somewhere. (I’ve never played a Final Fantasy game beyond the first couple of chapters for the record).

Squall looks incredibly out of place beside Sora. Likewise Aerith (I think) with Donald and Goofy. I guess I should be used to it by now, but the protags are, comparatively proportioned something like a disney character. Or, well, they have giant feet at least.

Sora’s a ‘chosen one’, who the sword picked out because of his heart. I think ‘heart’ means more in this game than most. Everyone else seems to know more about this situation than I do, but it’s time for a huge exposition dump.

So: Heartlesses. They’re super goth, and they’re ‘attracted to the darkness in peoples’ hearts’. Hence the heart-symbol motif. Sora’s heart is special because the keyblade likes it. The keyblade also attracts enemies so I guess we can expect mobs for the rest of the game. (hypothesis: keyblade feeds on blood of enemies?)

This could be a point where I try to draw out a connection between Dark Souls’s concept of Darkness/Humanity and this idea but it would be tenuous and clearly bullshit so let’s not.

Sora is rushing through the Refusal of the Call stage.

After the cutscene ends I accidentally trigger the room-leaving cutscene without thoroughly examining and looting it, so I fear I missed an item. But ah well.

A new kind of Heartless starts spawning, I meet up with Donald and Goofy (who don’t seem to be very good in a fight), and now, time for a new boss?

Sora leaning into the camera with his teeth bared in a sort of rictius grin.

I think I’ve seen screencaps of this. (ftr it’s supposed to look terrifying!)

Anyway now I’ve joined up with D&G (that’s Donald and Goofy, not Deleuze and Guattari), a cabal of mysterious villains make their entrance in silhouette. only… you can tell from the silhouettes that they’re disney villains. We have Jafar, Ursula, Hook, and a couple of others I don’t immediately recognise. Malificent is in charge. Damnit, I’m on the wrong side!

I unlock Dodge Roll. Awkwardly, it’s bound to the opposite button it is in Dark Souls. I may have to fix that in my emulator config.

Jiminy Cricket gives me access to backstories on the various characters. It turns out nearly every character in the game, except Sora himself and his two main friends, is from either Disney or Final Fantasy. Even the other three kids at the start are actually FF characters!

So we have a party, a spaceship, gear, a vague sort of goal - time for the plot proper to start. I am not entirely sure how this story will turn into the grandiose plot I glimpsed in the intro videos, but it’s at least so far been a fun, decently paced game.