Song of Memories Review
Platforms: PC, PS4
Developer: Future Tech Lab Co.
Publisher: PQube (PS4)
Release: 1st February 2019 (PS4)
Wow, I´m finally getting up to speed again, I think? My review backlog for February is gigantic, so I´ll try to get them out as soon as possible in the coming days! Then, let´s talk about Song of Memories, a visual novel that may have caught your interest simply by being a tinier title that makes full use of animated 2D drawings for its sprites, which is really great if done properly. On the other hand, it promises a dark and captivating second half and has some really nice promo artwork. And here we are, in a realm between a good time and irritating technical aspects.
However, one thing after another. Song of Memories tells the story of our nameless (or the name we give him) protagonist, who lives with his sister and their friends in Japan and all have a good time. One of the girls just got out of hospital and the rest have the usual cliché-y group problems of japanese school girls. Yet, in the outside world, there´s actually a dangerous virus going around, infecting millions and killing just as many.
At least that´s what you´re told or so. In reality, a huge part of this story will mostly be a very grounded, unsurprising slice-of-life tale with a way too dark lore, at least that´s what I thought. Really, for around a dozen or so hours, there will not happen a lot more than the main protagonist, who´s often as self-insert as it gets, living an often quite mundane life. One day he spends the day with his sister and accidentally sees her panties, the next day he´s witnessing one of the heated discussions between his friend and girls he always spies on, you get the idea.
However, you can actually
Still, as I said, the whole thing just felt way too standard for my taste … until the second part, where it became … something else? In short, the latter half, which is only accessible if you follow one of the six character routes, is pretty much a weird mix between a magical girl adventure and dark, brutal story. Yes, it´s weird and the fact it also has rhythm game segments makes this whole thing even more confusing.
Okay, one thing after another. On the one hand, this darker end is way more interesting, focusing on the actual unique aspects of the setting like the virus and some sort of aliens I think. It tries to tell a drama based on the connections you formed previously, a plan that doesn´t quite work out in my opinion if you never offered any characterization apart from “this girl´s a cliché, cute and also sexy”. SO, this side often fell flat,
On the other hand, there are also battles, yes, fought by playing a very simply rhythm game where you simply hit slow button prompts without much variation, great sync to audio or well anything else that let´s it stand out. It´s okay I guess but the option to skip those segments was quickly made use of and I never regretted it. Also, it recycles songs and footages too often for my taste.
Last but not least the visuals. Initially drawing me in with rather appealing screenshot and the fact everything was animated in Live2D (or an equivalent) made Song of Memories a really high effort production. Now I can confirm, yes, it is indeed a very high quality feeling visual novel, with some really nice lewd CG, boobs and artstyle I can certainly get behind in combination with the coming darker story. Surely the proportions tend to be a bit too off in certain drawings or characters but I like the overall female designs for the clichés they represent, honestly.
Unfortunately, I can´t be that kind to the “animations” because, well, they simply seemed off for me during most moments. It seems like every single movement is just too animated, if you get what I mean. A girl shakes her head, her boobs begin to wildly juggle, as well as her hair, hips and whole body. Okay, maybe not to an extreme extent but I constantly had the impression there was simply too much going on with every sprite, especially when all of the move at the same moment on screen. The fact one of the few animations is played at nearly every new line doesn´t help at letting it look somehow off.
All in all, Song of Memories isn´t a title you should expect more than a decent experience from. It has an interesting concept and some neat moments but ultimately suffers from weird animations and too standard first half for its own good. Still, if you´re in the mood for exactly that, it´s certainly an worthwhile investment for a lower price.
[A Review Code was provided by PQube]