Kingdom Hearts UX has finally ended, after getting three different rebrandings and a story drip-fed over the course of five years (in the west at least). While there are many players who would have hopped onto this journey at various points during its many years of content, it has come to a close, bringing big reveals but also a number of larger questions about where Kingdom Hearts will be going from here.
Kingdom Hearts III wrapped up the Xehanort Saga, and while UX and Dark Road did provide a bit more backstory on Xehanort, what it does more than anything is set up the future of the series in regards to the Master of Masters, the Foretellers, and the mystery of the box. Knowing that we're about to head into relatively unknown waters, it's worth taking a look at the ending for Kingdom Hearts UX to talk about some of the big reveals.
What Did We Learn From the Kingdom Hearts UX Finale?
Why does Xehanort have memories of the Keyblade Wars and Daybreak Town that don't belong to him?
For years now, the joke has been that everyone in Kingdom Hearts is Xehanort, and whoever isn't Xehanort is Sora. The ending of Kingdom Hearts UX flips this concept, revealing that when the player character "died," they can either choose to sleep or for their heart to be joined with another. The player tells their Chirithy that they want to continue living, and because of that, the player character's heart joins... Xehanort. Yup, you heard me right, everyone playing through this five-year story has ended up becoming a part of Xehanort.
Do I think that the influence of your player character will ever come up in some kind of way to alter a future choice of Xehanort's? No. Is it pretty funny that Tetsuya Nomura pulled the ultimate bait and switch as now instead of "You are Xehanort," we're getting "Xehanort is you"? Hysterically so.
This does explain why Xehanort has all of these memories of the events of UX without having been there though: they're YOUR memories that he's learning about. Much like how Sora being a part of Roxas, even though the circumstances were different, led to Sora's memories bleeding into Roxas with the help of Namine, this is Xehanort tapping into the memories of a heart he isn't even aware that he's harboring.
What happened to all of the Chirithy that used to watch over the Keyblade Wielders?
Here's the really dark part of the story. While the player chooses not to sleep, a lot of the other Keyblade Wielders decide that they do want to sleep. We see the Wielders slowly fading away and their Chirithy transform into Dream Eaters—that's right, the same Dream Eaters that we spend time raising and collecting in Kingdom Hearts: Dream Drop Distance are the Chirithy/Keyblade Wielders from the events of Kingdom Hearts UX. This brings up some pretty weird repercussions as it redefines a lot of that adventure as you're hanging out with the reincarnations of dead children... but it also makes some of the scenes a bit more heartwarming.
After Sora has been recovered from the darkness, he heads back into Traverse Town, where he greets all of the different Dream Eater friends—now with the added context that we know he's helped save the world all these tragic lives have been stuck in. It's also sweet that this scene transitions to a sleeping Ventus smiling, as if he knows all of those people that he spent time with in Daybreak Town are now safe and happy. This also paves the way for Dream Eaters to be linked in Kingdom Hearts III, calling upon the Keyblade Wielders of old, and even more so when all of the Keyblade Wielders return to help Sora fight the Demon Tide.
Who founded Scala Ad Caelum, the city of the ancient Keyblade Masters?
After the events of Union Cross, we now know that Ephemer was the one who started Scala Ad Caelum. This city was mostly shrouded in mystery at the end of Kingdom Hearts III, and while we got to explore it a bit more in the Re:Mind DLC, there are still plenty of mysteries there. Another thing we learned about Scala Ad Caelum is that this is where Xehanort was born, to a woman who looks surprisingly like Skuld too.
We know from the ending of Melody of Memories that Yen Sid has tasked Mickey with learning more about the world of unreality/fiction, and he's to start investigating in Scala Ad Caelum. Chances are the next time we see Mickey will be when we begin to learn a lot more about the strange city.
How did Ventus get from Daybreak Town in the past to the Keyblade Graveyard in time for Birth By Sleep?
Ever since Kingdom Hearts X got rebranded as Kingdom Hearts Unchained X and the Keyblade War was rewritten, fans have been confused by the introduction of Ventus as a character. In this finale, we finally saw Ventus take one of the Arc pods into the future to escape the impending doom. Ventus took his pod and wound up unconscious in the Keyblade Graveyard, where we know Master Xehanort picked him up and began trying to turn him into the X-Blade. The Arc Pods are also the reason that Lauriam and Elrena, who later become Marluxia and Larxene respectively, wind up in the present day.
What was the Master of Masters' goal?
The Master of Masters was aware of the darkness and how it split itself into 13 different pieces when it lost its physical form; once again the theme of 13 darknesses is brought up. It was the Master's plan to use the Keyblade Wars to create a group of strong Keyblade Wielders who could trap these pieces of darkness within themselves and be strong enough to keep them trapped. We know of those darknesses, there's one for the Master of Masters, six for the foretellers, five for the future Union Leaders, and one to get left behind in the past. One of these parts of darkness we've already met in the form of Vanitas; this is how he was able to create the Unversed as beings of pure darkness.
Where each of these portions of Darkness is in the present day is a completely different story though, and what the Master of Masters has been up to since Daybreak Town that has us most recently seeing him in the world of fiction, Quadratum, is another question for another day.
What Questions Does This Bring Up About the Future of Kingdom Hearts?
Is Darkness the next antagonist for the series going forward?
After many years of Sora and his friends fighting the idea of humans taken over by darkness or the Heartless/Nobodies that were creations of darkness, there has been a development. Now we're talking about Darkness with a capital D. First introduced in UX and also briefly mentioned in Kingdom Hearts III, it seems the next story will begin to rotate around the relationship between the Master of Masters and Darkness. In the past, Darkness had a physical form; understanding the fragility of that, Darkness shed this form. This means that Darkness needs to infect others in order to carry out its will. We know that the time of Xehanort is over, so the next step in the logical progression seems to be that Kingdom Hearts IV (or whatever subtitle they want to give the next game) will begin to delve into how Sora can put an end to the origins of all darkness.
Who is it that brought Xehanort to Destiny Islands?
As a baby, we saw Xehanort get handed off to a hooded figure wearing a large blue robe. Not dissimilar to the brown robe that the formless time-traveling version of Xehanort wore at the very beginning of Kingdom Hearts. We don't get any idea of who it is under the hood, just that they brought Xehanort from Scala Ad Caelum to Destiny Islands, and from there as time passed he seemed to die. Could this be a different future character, could it be an elderly Ephemer, could it be Xehanort himself? We have no clue, but we're sure that it's going to be a crucial part of the plot... one day.
What important role will Laurium and Elrena play going forward? Who is Demyx in this?
We know that Laurium and Elrena were important parts of the past and that while they were Nobodies, they weren't turned into True Organization XIII members, but these members were different from the rest of the original Organization as they didn't have any direct connection to Ansem the Wise. It was teased in Kingdom Hearts III by Xemnas that Larxene, Marluxia, Demyx, and Luxord would reveal a secret about the Keyblade legacy that slumbered within them. Being from UX, we already know that they have the ability to wield a Keyblade, but how this might wrap up into a larger scheme, especially now that Xehanort is gone, is entirely up in the air.
Demyx and Luxord add an extra level of mystery too, as we know at least about two of their histories, but we know absolutely nothing about Demyx before he became a Nobody.
How is ANYONE meant to keep track of this all?
This is going to be the biggest question for anyone going forward. Kingdom Hearts has a track record of "there are no side games," and UX absolutely contains massive story points that we know are going to be explored going forward. With the depreciation of the mobile game, the app is going to become a theater mode allowing you to view all of the cutscenes without worrying about energy or going out on missions. That still leaves hours and hours and HOURS of cutscenes for you to slowly tap your way through to understand what's going on.
With so many important events happening, how is this going to get delivered to players who haven't bought into the mobile game yet? While I'd still be hoping for a console game that tells an abbreviated version of the story, maybe only keeping main plot points while skimming through the stories of the different worlds, what I'm expecting will happen is that this information gets drip-fed into future games. These story drips will be refreshers to those who played the mobile game, or will be large reveals for those who didn't.
Knowing Nomura and how so much of Dream Drop Distance was recontextualized with the revelation of the origins of Dream Eaters, I would love to see these events also somehow recontextualized. Not only will returning players be reminded of what they already know, but they might learn a bit more or even understand a different side of events that have already transpired. Maybe this is what will come of whatever secret Laurium and the others have within them?
What did you think of the ending of Kingdom Hearts UX? Are there any mind-blowing revelations that you think I missed out on? What do you think of my thoughts on the future of Kingdom Hearts?