Song of Memories is the latest visual novel to be published by PQube. It’s a romantic visual novel so much of your time will be spent trying to form a relationship with at least one of the gorgeously buxom beauties.
You’re placed in the shoes of protagonist Minato Kamishiro, a second-year student at Ouka Acadamy. He’s an orphan who lives alone with his sister Fuuka in a small Japanese city. You get to influence how the story progresses by picking who to hang out with in-between classes.
The artwork in the game is really beautiful. The ladies are all well drawn, even though they do have fairly ridiculous proportions. Unlike the static 2D portraits that you normally get in visual novels, everyone moves about, fidgets, and physically reacts to what’s being said. It makes the game feel much more animated and holds your attention well in this text heavy game. Although it is hard to completely maintain focus on the text when certain aspects of their anatomy are so… bouncy.
Song of Memories has an awful lot of fan service in it and while you might expect that in this sort of game there is one aspect of it that feels a little bit too sketchy. You are told quite early on in the game that your sister is adopted and then, just a few scenes later, she’s sitting on your bed with her legs apart and her crotch in full view while trying to hit you with a pillow. I don’t consider myself to be a prude and I do enjoy a bit of fan service, but it turns out that incest is where I draw the line. I know that she’s not actually related to you by blood, but it still feels really icky.
Five Girls, One Device
Thankfully, there is slightly more to the storyline than just ogling your sister. A childhood friend, Kanon, who has been recovering from an illness in hospital, is finally well enough to leave. So, being the nice guy that you are, you invite her to come and live with you and your sister. While you’re helping to unpack her things, you find a strange device that looks a bit like a smartphone. When you switch it on you discover that it contains five super intelligent AI ladies.
These mysterious ladies are far smarter than a simple Alexa-style program. They all have their own distinctive personalities as well as a unique power. By using the power of their singing voices, they can heal people as well as defeat monsters.
“Monsters?” I hear you ask, yup, this is a romance game with a unique twist. The game is a rather strange mix of romance novel set in high school, with a side-helping of monster apocalypse. After some fairly relaxed opening chapters, the tone of the game shifts drastically. There’s a strange virus on the loose which, when it infects people, causes them to go berserk. Thankfully you have the power of the device on hand.
Combat is a rhythm-based mini-game, you’ll need to press the correct buttons in time to the music. Unfortunately, this isn’t as fun as you might expect. It gets repetitive really quickly and even though you unlock new songs as you level up it still just feels like there’s no variety to it and that the fights drag on for far too long.
If you suck at rhythm games and just want to listen to the songs then you have the option to auto-play the fights. You can also just skip the combat altogether, this is a very nice option when you’re just replaying the game to get different endings and don’t want to sit through the same tedious mini-game.
The pacing of the opening chapters is a little slow, so when the story suddenly switches it’s a very surprising but welcome change. Although the rhythm game falls a little flat the direction the story takes is fun and exciting. It’s just so completely different to the slow, plodding high school stuff that came before it that you can’t help but be a little bit entranced by it.
It’s still a romance game at heart, so depending on decisions you make earlier in the game you’ll end up getting to face the apocalypse with a different potential love interest (or your sister). Pretty much all of the characters are stereotypes that you’ve met a million times before. You have the energetic gymnast, a sweet but sickly childhood friend, and the frosty tsundere, to name just a few.
A good visual novel should have characters that you can really connect and empathize with, but I found it really difficult to care about any of them. There was no real depth to any of their personalities and they all just come across as incredibly generic.
While the apocalyptic theme is interesting, depending on the ending you get, you’re likely to be left slightly in the dark about many of the mysteries that the story raises. Thankfully, there is a very handy chart on hand that helps you keep track of what decisions you’ve made so far. You can also use this to jump back to specific parts of the story so that you can try to get a different romance or a different ending.
Song of Memories is just such a bizarre game. It tries really hard to be different with it’s sudden and drastic tonal shifts in storyline, but it’s not a game that is going to be held up as one of the greats of its genre. Its sluggish early pacing, forgettable characters, and dull rhythm mini-game means that this can only really be recommended to the most die-hard of fans.
Song of Memories review code provided by publisher. Version 1.00 reviewed on a standard PlayStation 4. For more information on scoring, please read our Review Policy here.