The demo for the upcoming Kingdom Hearts rhythm game is live today for PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and Switch. Based on what I’ve played, it’s the most straightforward game the series has ever seen, so simple you can play it with just one button.
In Kingdom Hearts: Melody of Memory’s Field Battles, which are the focus of the demo, a trio of characters travels along set paths, smacking familiar enemies to the rhythm of music from the series’ long and storied history. The full game, due out November 13, includes character-specific Memory Dive stages as well as Boss Battles, with playable characters from different Kingdom Hearts games as well as Disney guest characters. The demo gives us the original trio of Sora, Goofy, and Donald playing through four of the more than 140 songs available in the full release.
In single-player mode, the player characters automatically run along a track as the music plays. Enemies appear and must be dispatched in time with the rhythm. There are three attack buttons, any of which can be hit to dispatch an enemy in range. Should two or three enemies appear at once, you’ll hit either two or all three buttons at once. There’s a jump button, which can be held down during sequences in which the centre character hovers and follows note paths left and right. Special attacks show up on the track occasionally, with their own special button to activate them. Missing enemies or notes drains the party’s hit points. Should they drain completely, the song is failed.
It’s a pretty rudimentary control scheme for a rhythm game. If it sounds too simple, there’s a Performer mode that sprinkles extra optional button presses throughout each tune, which can help you rack up higher scores without taking away hit points if the extra bits are missed. And then there’s Single Button mode: One button attacks. That same button jumps and activates skills. The characters on the left and right attack automatically. During hover sections your character moves back and forth automatically — you don’t even have to press left and right.
So each song has three increasingly complex ways to play along, as well as three different difficulty levels, Beginner, Standard, and Proud. Here’s a video of me playing “Welcome to Wonderland” from the first Kingdom Hearts in Standard style and difficulty.
Simple. Clean. I like it. It’s the sort of rhythm game that’s very approachable to beginners. If you’re a Kingdom Hearts fan who is worried about the rhythm game format, give this demo a try. There’s bound to be a combination of styles and difficulty that’s right for you, and you won’t have to miss out on the tasty scraps of series-spanning lore that will be doled out in the full game’s World Tour single-player campaign.