Preview | Kingdom Hearts: Melody of Memory
The Kingdom Hearts: Melody of Memory demo is now available, so in anticipation of the upcoming rhythm spinoff, we decided to give it a try. Melody of Memory falls in line with the Theatrhythm series of games like Theatrhythm Final Fantasy and Theatrhythm Dragon Quest. While it doesn’t share the name, it becomes obvious that Melody of Memory takes cues from the rhythm series. The biggest different here is that this game will include actual new story content. Yes, that means a rhythm game is actually an integral part of the plot. Despite this, does that make it worth picking up for fans of the series?
Kingdom Hearts: Melody of Memory puts players in control of up to three characters as they run along a music track. For the demo, there are four tracks to try out, all of which deliver the standard battle gameplay. We know there are boss tracks that change the gameplay a bit. Unfortunately, none of them are available to demo here. For the gameplay, your characters will run along a track, and you’ll have to attack enemies as they approach. There are three buttons for attacks, which includes one face button (X, B, A depending on your platform of choice), and both the shoulder buttons. Individual enemies will only need the push of one of the buttons, but some will come in groups that require the push of two or even all three.
On top of standard attacks, players will also have abilities that they activate with crystals. Pressing the top face button will activate the ability and attack stronger enemies. Finally, there’s the jump command, which players can do at any time. The game will warn you with arrows to let you know when to jump to dodge a projectile, and it will also be used to signal attacking an airborne enemy. There will even be floating notes that players will have to jump and glide to collect as they move along the path. As players approach these enemies and signals, the game will have a marker that gets smaller. Hitting the buttons at just the right time can give you an excellent note. If you’re just slightly too fast or slow, you’ll earn a “good” note. Miss completely and you’ll take damage, ending the song if you run out of HP.
Given that this game is based on memories, it lets players explore older games through their music. As such, the characters, usually Sora, Donald, and Goofy, will sport their looks from the first game. That means the older engine rather than the beautiful use of Unreal Engine in Kingdom Hearts III. Of the included tracks, there’s “Welcome to Wonderland” and “Hand in Hand” from the original Kingdom Hearts, “The Rustling Forest” from Birth by Sleep, and “Wave of Darkness I” from 0.2 Birth by Sleep -A fragmentary passage-. All of these tracks offer different challenge levels on their own, but Melody of Memory gives players several options to customize their experience.
For starters, Kingdom Hearts: Melody of Memory offers three difficulty levels: Beginner, Standard, and Proud. While Beginner mode can be a breeze, things get much trickier when you move up the ladder in difficulty. This includes more enemies to attack, more multitasking, and faster succession in beats. Going even deeper, the game offers style options as well. For the standard level of gameplay, there’s Basic. If you want to simplify the game and focus on the rhythm, you can use One Button style. For those that are rhythm masochists, the Performer style is waiting for you. Performer adds special button targets that really push you to the limits, and can quickly cause rhythm chaos.
Another new element that separates this game from the Theatrhyhm series is the addition of co-op mutliplayer. The demo offers two extra songs to try out the co-op, and it’s actually quite fun. Working together with a friend, players will control Sora and Riku as they play their individual parts while also syncing up with their partner. This mode even adds the ability to heal with ability crystals, but you’ll be healing your partner rather than yourself. The songs here include Kingdom Hearts II’s “Sinister Shadows” and Dream Drop Distance’s “All For One”. Being that the Kingdom Hearts series doesn’t often have multiplayer modes, this is a rare opportunity for friends to enjoy the game together.
Overall, the demo definitely provides a good enough experience to know if you’ll enjoy the game. Even though it doesn’t touch on any of the story elements, players will be able to test their rhythm muscles to see if they’re up for the task. If you’re intrigued by the concept of a Kingdom Hearts rhythm game, go ahead and give the demo a shot. For those that prefer to just watch the cutscenes on YouTube, that option will likely be available shortly after the November 13th launch. Kingdom Hearts; Melody of Memory will launch on PlayStation 4, Xbox One and Nintendo Switch. It will also be compatible with PlayStation 5, Xbox Series S, and Xbox Series X.