Kingdom Hearts: Melody of Memory Preview — Timing is Key
Kingdom Hearts: Melody of Memory does a great job in mixing the beloved music of the franchise with fun, engaging, and replayable gameplay.
The Kingdom Hearts franchise has some of the most beloved music in gaming and for years now fans of the series, including myself, have been clamoring to get a musical experience similar to the Theatrhythm titles back on the 3DS. Kingdom Hearts: Melody of Memory is aiming to scratch that itch by bringing engaging combat and high replayability. After playing a small portion in the demo set to release later this month, there is plenty to look forward to.
Playing through the demo for Melody of Memory showed me that while being a game centered around music, it still has the raw DNA of Kingdom Hearts gameplay and naturally, it welcomes you with the best version of “Dearly Beloved.” There are only six songs featured in the demo, four in single player and two in co-op. Even with the lack of tracks, I already found there to be a high amount of replayability. Being able to play through each track numerous times on different difficulties can present a challenge, especially for those hardcore players looking to complete a perfect run.
Even as a scrolling rhythmic title, Melody of Memory feels like a Kingdom Hearts game as it implements the traditional hack and slash combat while bringing in other features that the franchise is known for. Magical abilities like Thundaga will defeat enemies from afar while physical ones like Ars Arcanum take down gigantic enemies in your path. I only worry about the amount of variety that will be included the more the game progresses. Co-op brings a new experience where you have a partner to rely on to help you pass a song. While I found it arguably easier to have a friend take over as it allowed for breaks from time to time, it is a welcome mode that will seemingly have its own exclusive set of tracks, which I could see upsetting some fans if true.
Despite the fun time I had with the demo, there are still some questions that I currently have. Melody of Memory is said to have over 140 songs, but there is no way to tell right now whether or not the co-op song list will be different from the quickplay and what you will experience in the “World Tour” story mode.
One of the biggest criticisms I have heard since the announcement of Melody of Memory is its $59.99 price tag. After getting a taste of what is to come, I can confidently that the value seems to be there. There are so many ways to play each track, and that’s judging from quickplay alone. The thing I worry about most going into the full game is how rhythmic-friendly it will be to players. Even though I have a musical background, there is no cue-in feature or sense of tempo before the song begins to the point that I could see major fans, even those who have heard these tracks countless times, struggle. At the end of the day, this is a rhythm game and there are some relatively important aspects that a game of its kind should have.
Kingdom Hearts: Melody of Memory is shaping up to be a great new entry for the series and a perfect way to reminisce on all the whimsical, dark, and epic music throughout the history of the franchise. Taking place directly after the events of Kingdom Hearts III we will get to see Kairi in the spotlight for the very first time. That said, don’t expect to learn anything new from the story until the game officially releases next month.
The same demo that I have played will be available for free later this month with the full release coming on November 13 on PS4, Xbox One, and Nintendo Switch. Until then, you can pre-order the PS4 and Switch versions right now on Amazon. You can also read our interview with Director Masanobu Suzui and Producer Ichirou Hazama to learn more about the making of Kingdom Hearts: Melody of Memory.