One of the most important aspects of any video game, in my opinion, lies in its ability to create a unique universe and fill it with interesting characters. A game can be an absolute slog and grind, but if the world you inhabit is captivating enough, the gameplay oddly enough becomes secondary – which is a sign of a perfect game. Song of Memories is sadly not an example of this, but it does certainly have its merits.
I think my main problem with Song Of Memories is its inability to present anything new. The characters are a cliché blend of anime stereotypes, each of which has been presented in countless animes throughout the years. You’ve the perverted, best friend character in Makoto. The mysterious and stern character in Satsuki, and the shy girl who will undoubtedly be revealed to have supernatural abilities in Kanon. From the first moment you meet each character, you’ll instantly be able to tell their personality and how their story will develop, their predictability makes it difficult to ever truly connect with the characters presented in this world.
And let’s discuss the world: You live in the city of Utanami, a quiet city that is slowly but surely making a name for itself in Japan…or at least that’s how it’s described. You’re never shown any examples of the city being alive – the background images are always generic and dull cityscapes, hospital rooms or parks, it never feels like you’re in a city or even a small town. There’s no life to the city. In games like Dream Daddy, while the environments are quieter and more scenic, the very nature of the plot explains this away – you’ve moved to a quiet countryside town, it’s supposed to be a quiet and idyllic town.
Song of Memories doesn’t redeem itself with its plot either. You play as Minato Kamishiro, a student who after losing his parents at a young age lives alone with his younger sister, Fuuka Kamishiro. You follow their lives as they reconnect and home their childhood friend Kanon, who after similarly losing her parents is hospitalised for many years.
But wait, there’s more. The true ‘meat’ of the game, I guess, is that it’s a dating sim of sorts – Minato is presented with numerous single and attractive women who you can woo, or dismiss as you wish. But wait, there’s more. Song of Memories takes place at the dawn of an apocalypse – a deadly virus is spreading the world transforming citizens into horrifying and deadly monsters. But wait, there’s even more. Minato comes across a mysterious device housing ‘Dream 4 You’ – a small band of girls who’s singing has mystical abilities and have dedicated their lives to protecting Minato.
It’s a lot to take in, and it sadly doesn’t manage to impress on any level. The dating sim aspect is lacklustre as player choices are few and far between, and when you are presented with a choice, it’s over something menial and doesn’t have much impact. The ‘apocalypse’ plotline is essentially spelt out to you within the first ten minutes, making the plot predictable and lacking suspense. And the introduction of ‘Dream 4 You’ is odd and seems out of place given the rest of the game.
It’s not all bad though, the ‘Dream 4 You’ minigame that you’re presented with during enemy fights takes the shape of a basic rhythm game. You have to tap your controls in time to ‘Dream 4 You’s singing and follow prompts on the screen – a combination that is hard to get wrong. But, the only fun aspect of this game appears rarely, appearing only once within the first two hours of the game, which only highlights the monotonous and boring nature of the rest of the game.
It’s a shame that Song of Memories doesn’t have more to offer. After playing Nairi: The Tower of Shiri I’ve been excited to sink my teeth into more linear gaming experiences, but Song of Memories does very little to meet my expectations – I guess it’s time for me to buy Dream Daddy on PS4!
*Code kindly provided by the publisher for review*