As excited as fans are for Kingdom Hearts IV, not everyone is on board with Sora’s new, more realistic appearance. His hair isn’t as spiky, he’s traded his large shoes for normal footwear, and he simply lacks any of the cartoonish Disney elements that helped make his design appealing to begin with.
Director Tetsuya Nomura has explained that this change is due to Sora being sent to the world of Quadratum, which is meant to resemble the real world. However, in an interview with Famitsu (translated by VGC), he suggested that Sora’s new look may not be permanent.
“All the real worlds before the title display [in the trailer] are all Quadratum segments and Sora will look realistic, but if he can return to the original world, he will look like Donald and Goofy with shaders like Donald and Goofy,” says Nomura.
Nomura obviously didn’t confirm that Sora will return to his original world, since that’s a key part of the story, but the possibility now exists. So, don’t worry, Sora may not have hung up his big yellow shoes permanently. Nomura also reiterated Quadratum’s status as an “underworld” and a “fictional world” for Sora. But, for its citizens, Quadratum is reality, while the Kingdom Hearts world to them would be the fictional world. What’s more, as many figured out from the trailer, Donald and Goofy are seeking clues to help them find Sora.
Other parts of the interview, translated by xenosaga7 on Twitter, reveal other minor but interesting details about Kingdom Hearts IV’s setting and mechanics. For example, the apartment Sora wakes up in the trailer will serve as a base for the early parts of the game. This could mean that we’ll be limited to Quadratum at first, but we’ll eventually gain the ability to visit other worlds.
Nomura also addressed Quadratum’s resemblance to the real world city of Shibuya in Japan, explaining that this Shibuya is but a part of Quadratum. In disappointing news for The World Ends With You fans, this Shibuya is unrelated to that game’s Shibuya, which seems to rule out any cameo appearances from The World Ends With You characters.
Lastly, Nomura confirmed that reaction commands will return in Kingdom Hearts IV, with the drill attack Sora performs in the trailer being one of them. Reaction commands are basically QTEs that Sora can trigger mid-combat. They were introduced in Kingdom Hearts II but were absent from Kingdom Hearts III. They’ve been brought back for Kingdom Hearts IV because of fan demand.