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Kamen Rider: Memory of Heroez (PS4)

When Kamen Rider: Memory of Heroez was announced earlier last year, we were excited to have a new story-based action-adventure based on the long-running Kamen Rider franchise after years of flip-flopping between musou-style games and arena fighters. The switch to a linear, level-based romp is a breath of fresh air, even if it isn’t the most original idea ever. It has two of the most popular riders from the Heisei era and the Reiwa era’s first one getting top billing here. Even with all that to help propel the game, it falls short in some areas, which we hope can be further improved should they keep this format moving forward.

Memory of Heroez’s premise is rather simple, Kamen Rider W, Shotaro Hidari, is called to an experimental research facility called Sector City in search of a missing person of interest. Things get all sorts of dicey from the onset and it’s up to him to get to the bottom of the overarching mystery enveloping the entire island. As he delves deeper into the mysteries of the island, he’ll team up with the other starring riders, with some additions along the way that we won’t spoil here.

Of course, what’s a Kamen Rider game if you can’t go around fighting evil in the name of justice? If there’s a way to describe how the combat works in Memory of Heroez, I’d put my money on “Baby’s First Character Action Game”. You’ve got weak and strong attacks, a stamina gauge to govern sprinting and special moves, and an EX gauge for finishers and final form transformations. On the defensive side, there’s a Bayonetta-style “perfect dodge” that gives you the opportunity to hit back with a highly damaging counterattack and restore some HP in the process. Generally, stiff animation dulls the experience a tad but is made up for in terms of impact and the overall joy of switching forms just like they would on TV.

Speaking of transformations, Memory of Heroez’ main combat hook is the Form Chain system, which lets you switch between any of the riders’ various forms using the L1 button and the left analog stick. Think of it as a weapon wheel seen in first-person shooters, but this time you’re switching between rider forms, each with its own unique move sets. As mentioned earlier, the final forms are tied to the EX Gauge, which needs to be filled up in order to be used. It’s a smart move, considering how insanely overpowered they can get. They are also fittingly given full-on transformation sequences and are spaced out between uses that seeing Kamen Rider Zero-One power up into Kamen Rider Zero-Two is always a welcome sign that things are about to get serious.

There’s some light character progression in the form of upgrades that you earn at the end of each combat encounter. Keeping your rating up is easy and using form chains is a huge help here. Not that it’s mandatory, I’ve seen my rating stay at SSS even after taking a few hits in a fight, again further reinforcing that this was something designed with a much younger audience in mind.

Outside of combat, you have the occasional light exploration challenges that make use of either W or OOO’s gadgets from their respective shows. Completing these will net you items called Accelerators that power up your riders in a variety of ways, making way for a bit of customization in how you want to tackle each encounter. The differences aren’t as substantial as we’d like, but the ability to prioritize certain aspects of your character is always appreciated.

Graphically, Kamen Rider: Memory Of Heroez isn’t all that much to look at. Playable characters and enemies all enjoy a serviceable level of detail, still giving off that “dude in a suit” vibe we all love the tokusatsu genre for in the first place. However, it’s in the environments where the game totally stumbles. You’re either given open spaces that are a little too wide open with very little interesting landscaping or bland interiors. There’s the occasional boss arena with a little more to it, but they’re too few and far between.

If you happen to be a Kamen Rider fan, especially of the main two featured here, you’re in for a treat. Memory of Heroez feels like the closest we can get to a playable Movie War crossover. The campaign can be completed in about four hours… without cutscenes. But let’s be real, you’re here to see these characters interact with each other, especially when Zero-One joins the fray and frustrates everyone with puns. The game is built under the assumption that players already know what happened in each rider’s respective show, as it’s obviously set well after each series’ events.

For those looking for a challenge or found the game too easy, you unlock a harder difficulty level once you’ve completed the story the first time through. Partway through your first playthrough, a
survival mode gets unlocked where you’re tasked with fighting through 10 waves of enemies with the occasional boss thrown in. Completing runs here will net you accelerators that you can take with you into story mode.

The one real sore spot here is Kamen Rider Zero-One feeling like an afterthought in terms of his involvement in the plot, which is a shame since he’s incredibly fun to play despite having the fewest forms out of the three main riders. Still, I’m glad he’s in there and playable.

Kamen Rider: Memory of Heroez is one of the better games based on the venerable superhero franchise to come out in years. To be honest, the bar wasn’t that high, to begin with. Still, there’s some promise here. I love the Kamen Rider series and would definitely like to see it given more love in the games department.