Even for fervent enthusiasts, the convoluted narrative and development of the Kingdom Hearts series can be rather difficult to follow. The newly-announced Kingdom Hearts: Melody of Memory will then serve as a reprieve from all the mainline action, ditching its signature action RPG elements for a rhythmic experience.
Slated for release on the PS4, Xbox One, and Nintendo Switch later this year, the game is set to feature the returning cast of Kingdom Hearts characters, as well as four play modes – including online battles. Accompanying the news is a fresh sub-two minute Japanese trailer, showcasing gameplay that bears similarities to Square Enix’s Theatrhythm: Final Fantasy.
A brief synopsis in the video translation reads (thanks to Gematsu for the translation), “Many characters from the Kingdom Hearts series appear as playable characters! Depending on the sage, Disney characters will appear as guests and lend you their strength. The game features a massive catalogue of over 140 songs, including music from the Kingdom Hearts series, Disney, and more. Enjoy rhythm-based action through unforgettable music.”
From the look of things, it seems players will have to guide their favourite characters along a straight path by hitting button commands in time to the music beats. That doesn’t mean that the Kingdom Hearts hallamark is entirely eradicated, however, for the likes of Sora, Donald Duck, Goofy, and friends are able to run, jump, and attack enemies as they progress along.
With Kingdom Hearts III supposedly closing the final chapter of Sora’s journey, Square Enix appears to be taking on a different route for the remaining stories. Apart from this, there’s also the Kingdom Hearts Dark Road mobile game, which has been delayed due to the COVID-19 outbreak.
Still, it’s not entirely a surprise that the Japanese game giant has opted for the rhythmic approach. While rhythm titles have always catered to a niche market, the popularity of Kingdom Hearts should prove useful in bringing over an existing fanbase. Besides, Melody of Memory looks to be a continuation of sorts with Kairi exploring Sora’s past – an established trope that has been used in Chain of Memories and Coded –so there should be sufficient experience for the team to draw on.
Si Jia is a casual geek at heart – or as casual as someone with Sephiroth’s theme on her Spotify playlist can get. A fan of movies, games, and Japanese culture, Si Jia’s greatest weakness is the Steam Summer Sale. Or any Steam sale, really.