Kingdom Hearts is one of the most loved and most incomprehensible game series in existence, even before Melody of Memory’s release last week. This is a universe where the main character exists in at least four different forms at any given time while the main villain can possess people across space and time for generally nefarious reasons.
But that was the past. With Kingdom Hearts III, which released in 2019, we got the close of that chapter of the plot and the opening of a new and exciting series of adventures for Sora, Donald, and Goofy. But before we get to that, we need to find a way to recap the game’s history up to this point. And that’s where Kingdom Hearts Melody of Memory comes in.
Not sure if this game is for you? Well, here is what you need to keep in mind before you pick it up.
Kingdom Hearts Melody of Memory: What you Need to Know
It’s a Sequel to Everything
Kingdom Hearts has had entries on numerous consoles through the years, from the Playstation to the Gameboy Advance to a web browser game that didn’t get released outside of Japan until 2016. Each of these games ties into the overall plot of Kingdom Hearts, and Melody of Memory is no different. Though it is obstinately a recap of the jumbled mess of lore that the series has become known for, it is also set after the events of Kingdom Hearts III: Re Mind, with cutscenes at the end that build off of that DLC and set things up for future instalments.
Does this mean you need to play all thirteen previous games to understand what is going on? Honestly, it might help. If the series hadn’t had several rereleases, with the games from the far flung consoles that the game has appeared having remasters along the way for the PS3 and PS4, I’d suggest otherwise, but we’re lucky enough that it isn’t too difficult to play even the ancient GBA entry.
Its Recap Time
After thirteen games, any series will become a bit dense when it comes to lore. Melody of Memory seeks to help with this, by offering the chance to view the series’ cutscenes in isolation without having to sink hundreds of hours of gameplay into getting there. And considering that Kingdom Hearts III is actually the thirteenth game in the series, this sort of interactive recap is sorely needed.
I don’t expect that the game will make the plot and lore any less dense and incomprehensible for those who haven’t played Kingdom Hearts already, but for fans it should give a reminder of what has happened already.
Celebrating the Music
Melody of Memory might have a significant place in the series lore and history, but it is also a rhythm game that seeks to celebrate the music of Kingdom Hearts. Fans will instantly recognise themes, whether it is the sound of walking around a specific world or the swell of battle music during an iconic boss fight. The music of Kingdom Hearts is likely the most consistent part of the series, with Yoko Shimomura having taken on composer duties since the first game’s release in 2002.
Few composers get to work on a single body of work for twenty years, so there is something very special about having some of the most loved and epic tracks available on one game. The rhythm are really just an excuse to get to take in the sounds and themes. There are some Disney classics in there, of course, but for the most part this is about the original music of the games. If you are going in expecting to hear a Disney Greatest Hits you might be in for disappointment. Still, it looks like it will cover my all time favourite scene in the series, so I’m happy.
Kingdom Hearts: Melody of Memory released 13 November 2020 worldwide for the PS4, Xbox One, and Switch.