Melody of Memory is a game that looked pretty fun when it came out. I didn’t end up getting it day 1 but I’ve gotten low key a bit more into these rhythm type games. I like testing my reaction times and how quickly I can hit the objects at the right time. This looked like it would be a fairly high budget version of that and the game doesn’t disappoint. If you’re going to get a rhythm game then you really can’t do much better than this one. Every part of the game from presentation to gameplay is on point.
The game is effectively Kairi recounting the events from the entire series. This goes from the very first game in the series all the way to Kingdom Hearts III. Additionally at the very end of the game we also get to see some events after 3 which was a lot of fun. They put in a good amount of plot development here which feels like a nice treat after going through all of the recaps.
So why does the game work so well? Part of it is just because of how polished it all is. Right when you launch the game you’re greeted with a lot of great music, top notch visuals, and everything feels very user friendly. You can immediately tell what you have to do and you can also look around in free roam to quickly see how long the game is. There are just so many great tools right at your finger tips and there is a ton of replay value here. Even after beating all of the levels, you can play on different difficulty levels and earn some PS4 trophies.
Obtaining the platinum trophy here would definitely take a very long time but at the same time it feels very doable. It’s not the kind of platinum that ever feels impossible, it would just take a lot of effort. I could see myself going for it someday but right now the game is long enough where I wouldn’t be putting that as one of my higher priorities. The normal game length is already rather solid as it is.
So for the gameplay, it’s classic rhythm style. You have to press buttons at the right time in order to score points and keep moving forward. If you completely miss by pressing the button too quickly or too slowly then you will lose your chain as well as some health. Do this too often and you will lose the level. On both easy and standard difficulties you probably won’t have to worry about losing very much but once you hit critical mode then that starts to be a real concern. I tried to do one level in critical mode and lost quite a few times.
Note that you don’t need to touch critical mode in order to beat the game although if your skills are good enough it can speed things up. See, each level grants you up to 3 stars if you can complete the level while meeting certain conditions. There are a lot of gates that block your way based on the amount of stars that you have. So the more you can 3/3 complete a stage, the less stages you actually have to play in order to complete the game. For example, there were a number of stages I didn’t have to play because I always tried to maximize my stars right from the start.
They don’t start asking you to beat the levels on critical mode until near the end. I mainly stuck with standard so towards the end I had to play almost all of the levels. It’s always a good idea to check what the stars are for before you play the stage. That way you can plan out which stars you want to aim for and which ones you will just bypass instead. There are also different kinds of stages. Most are the standard levels but then you have some boss levels. These add 2 new buttons to worry about which are the analog sticks. You will have to move them in different directions all while pressing the various buttons. The timing really gets tough.
But it gets tough in a fun way. Part of what works about this game is that the difficulty level can be intense but each level isn’t long so replaying it isn’t bad. The series also has a lot of great tracks throughout and so you don’t feel bad about having to get in there several times. It also feels fair even when it’s being very difficult. Like you know that you had a chance and just didn’t capitalize on it.
As you play through the game you’ll find out what works for you and what the most efficient way to land your combos is. For me I liked to just use the X button for all 3 sides when I could and then when 2 buttons were needed I would use L1 if opponents were on the left and R1 for the right. Some may like to keep this a bit more strict and always use L1 for the left to increase muscle memory. It’s all strategy that you can decide on your own since the game really leaves you to your own devices. Again, the levels are short so feel free to experiment and if it doesn’t work out you can just try the stage again.
Overall, Melody of Memory is a very great game. It really was nice that they used the climax as a way to continue the story and we got a cool battle cutscene out of it. Reliving the memories of the other games was also a lot of fun. The only change I would have made would be to have had some of the actual dialogue there instead of Kairi just narrating it all but I suppose that could have taken away a bit from her being the main character. It still made sense to me but that’s probably why they made that move. If you haven’t bought this game yet, I would definitely recommend changing that asap!