Making Sense of the Kingdom Hearts Timeline
I LOVE Kingdom Hearts. Love it to pieces. Ever since I picked up the first one way back in college, I’ve done my best to try and play every single one. But that’s not easy with the insane cross platform releases. Some on the Game Boy, some on the PSP, and hey what about the one that was only available on Japanese mobile phones? That’s got to be an easy one to nab right? (Well, actually yea.) But even if you got them all, what order do all these go in? It’s clear they’re not chronological right? Well, with the announcement of Kingdom Hearts 2.8 Final Chapter Prologue (A weird and long title that is at least more descriptive than Ground Zeroes) set to be released on the Playstation 4 sometime in 2016, I figured I’d do a quick little handy right up for folks like me who are trying to figure out what order all these things come in.
0: Kingdom Hearts χ & Back Cover – Set before the events of the Keyblade War, the Chi games tell the story of the events that lead up to the War and the beginnings of the struggle between Light and Dark.
0.1: Birth by Sleep – Surrounding the adventures of three Keyblade Knights, the generation of wielders before Sora. Their adventures set the stage for the main games and explain the backstory for several series main characters & villains.
0.2: Birth by Sleep: A Fragmentary Passage – A short episode that takes places immediately following the events of the Birth By Sleep Secret Ending. Told through the framing device of Mickey telling the tale post-Dream Drop Distance.
1: Kingdom Hearts – The first game in the main ‘numbered’ series. The story of Sora, Donald, and Goofy trying to defeat the Heartless and find their friends.
1.5 – Chain of Memories & 358/2 Days – These two are occurring roughly simultaneously as the events of Chain of Memories are referenced as happening at the moment in 358/2 Days. Chain of Memories follows Sora & Riku and sets up the situation for Kingdom Hearts II, while 358/2 Days does the same but for the villains of that story: Organization XIII.
2: Kingdom Hearts II – Sora’s second grand adventure introduces us properly to the concept of the Nobodies and the battle against Organization XIII.
2.25: Re:Coded – Explores and is connected to several of the concepts from throughout the series: The fates of the characters from Birth By Sleep and their relationship to Sora, the Book of Prophecies from Chi, and sets up the beginning of Sora and Riku’s journey to become Keyblade Masters. It’s recommended to view the KH2.5 HD ReMix version of Re:Coded as it includes several important story scenes that are only available in this version.
2.5: Dream Drop Distance – Details the trials of Sora and Riku trying to earn their Master’s Marks to become Keyblade Masters, and dives more into Ansem’s plans and the true purpose of the Organization.
3: Kingdom Hearts III – Set to be released some day, this has been quoted by Nomura as the final chapter of Sora’s story in the Kingdom Hearts universe.
Now I’m just going to say that playing all of these games in chronological order may not be the best idea for new comers to the series. There’s a lot of these titles that will reference concepts or characters introduced in other games that technically take place later in the series. For example, Birth By Sleep was originally released after Kingdom Hearts II. So it is written and presented in a way that assumes some level of familiarity with Kingdoms Hearts 1, 2, Chain of Memories and 358/2 Days. However for those who are familiar with the series and want to see how the story unfolds in order, or don’t mind being confused for a couple of games as things start to snap together, this should prove to be about as interesting as coming to the Star Wars Saga fresh and watching them in order. In short: enlightening if nothing else.
Unfortunately such a grand experiment will have to wait until Kingdom Hearts 2.8 Final Chapter Prologue comes out next year. Hopefully it will be released with enough time between it and Kingdom Hearts III that we can play all 9 other installments in order before then.