Tetsuya Nomura chose to make Kingdom Hearts IV over Verum Rex for Sora’s sake

Today’s announcement of Kingdom Hearts IV has come as quite a surprise to many - an all-new KH sequel, so soon, and while series boss Tetsuya Nomura is busy on quite a number of other projects - but it turns out it wasn’t even the only potential major Kingdom Hearts related title that could’ve gone into development at this time.

In comments made during the same Kingdom Hearts 20th anniversary event where KH4 was revealed to the world, Tetsuya Nomura revealed that for this all-new game he was torn between creating a game based on the ‘Verum Rex’ world presented in Kingdom Hearts III, and a fully-fledged Kingdom Hearts IV.

In the end, KH4 won out because working on two major console games at the same time would be too hectic - and Nomura knew many fans were concerned about the fate of Sora, whose whereabouts were left uncertain at the end of KH3.

The comments were reported by Twitter users like @toto_cocoron0te, a prominent influencer with a history of specializing in Kingdom Hearts content, and @aibo_ac7, a Japanese Final Fantasy fan site owner. They spent the day reporting on many elements of the KH 20th anniversary event directly - including several more comments made by Nomura.

The comments around Verum Rex are particularly interesting, because fans left KH3 unsure as to what Verum Rex was. Within KH3, Verum Rex is a Square Enix video game that’s being sold in the toy store featured in the Toy Story level. At a point, Sora ends up sucked inside the game.

The more interesting wrinkle, however, is that Verum Rex is clearly based on the ideas for Final Fantasy Versus XIII that were removed from the project when it became Final Fantasy XV. In fact, the Verum Rex trailer in KH3 bears a striking resemblance to much of the Versus XIII footage. KH3's ending sequel-bait teases prominently featured the world of Verum Rex and its protagonist, Noctis-alike Yozora, who was also a mega-boss in KH3's DLC expansion. If you're not convinced by the Versus XIII and FF15 connection, Yozora quite literally means 'Night Sky', and Noctis was referred to as the 'Night Sky Prince' in Versus promotional materials.

Many people felt this appeared to be Nomura's way to revisit these concepts - and though the KH4 footage also looks a little Versus-like, it's clear he views Verum Rex as a different project entirely.

A screenshot of Kingdom Hearts IV; Sora battles a large Heartless.

Beyond the revelations about Verum Rex, the main thing people will want to know about is that Nomura confirms that we won’t be seeing KH4 for a while after this reveal.

He says the next wave of information will “take some time”, and won’t be around the E3 period over the summer. In fact, the game was only revealed so early in order to avoid its existence leaking - which had actually already happened, with KH4 appearing in an Nvidia database leak last year alongside things like a PC version of Final Fantasy XVI, a Tactics Ogre Remaster, and a Final Fantasy IX remake. Which is all very exciting. If nothing else, KH4's appearance in that database at the very least suggests this game is targetting PC as a release platform. 

The comments reported by the same user see Nomura noting that the change of the logo style is because the ‘Dark Seeker Arc’ covered in the main games and spin-offs from KH through KH3 is now over; the changes to the logo represent a fresh arc and new direction. 

Nomura also promises to “cram stuff into” the worlds that appear in KH4, and teases that the narrators heard in the trailers for both KH4 and new spin-off Missing-Link are characters we’ve met before earlier in the series, not newcomers.

As we reported in the main announcement, today’s footage of KH4 was rendered using Unreal Engine 4 - but development will eventually move to Unreal Engine 5.

That likely means the game is some time away; it may be years before we play this adventure - and that means more years still until we ever see a playable version of Verum Rex. Nomura is a busy man.