Memoria Review

Memoria very quickly establishes the two themes at the heart of its plot, with love and selfish ambition both primary driving forces for many of its characters. Yet with just these two simple motivations, it creates an intricate depth and realism to its cast, one which would work well, even away from a fantasy setting.

The two lead protagonists are Geron, a bird catcher with a hidden magical talent whose story continues from The Chains of Satinav, and from over 450 years before, Princess Sadja, a particularly ambitious woman who will stop at practically nothing to make her mark on history.

Except that she is entirely forgotten, and the first Geron hears of her name is as he hunts for a transformation spell to restore Nuri to her original form as a fairy. Having discovered a travelling merchant who mysteriously has access to this spell, he is tasked with solving a riddle which is hidden within a memory to earn it, and is thrown back in time to witness the events of Sadja’s life.

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At the heart of the mystery is what happened to this young woman, and how it is that she seemingly disappeared from time. As you play as her, you quickly see how utterly determined she is. She’s happy to make deals which have her seemingly in a tight spot, and unlikely to succeed.

Her willingness to make a deal with a psychic staff, before breaking out of a sealed tomb, or travel with a shady-looking Ferkina warrior. As Geron gradually uncovers more of her story, mysterious events start to unfold nearby, and he and the city of Andergast get wrapped up ever deeper in the mystery.

Each twist and turn of the plot had me quite wrapped up in where it was taking me. The manner in which the past was coming to meet the present, for example, had me guessing one way, before pulling the rug out from underneath and heading off in another.

Flight

The artwork in Memoria is fantastic.

As a point and click adventure, a lot rides on the calibre of the story, and I feel that this was particularly well accomplished here. The visual stylings were similarly sublime, with every scene lovingly crafted as a digital painting, beautifully realising the world of Aventuria.

As it switches between Geron’s trials in Andergast, and snippets of Sadja’s long and arduous journey to Drakonia, it takes you to a large variety of settings, from the highest, coldest mountain pass, to something as simple as a local tavern.

My only criticism would be of the level of animation we see. Though a city like Andergast should be bustling with people, there’s hardly anyone on the streets, and many background characters have only very limited or no motion, less so than I would have expected. Other quite central characters walk in a very stiff fashion – the trainee wizard Bryda, in particular – and when the game shifts to close up shots of character faces for dialogue, there’s a noticeably low number of frames used for the animations that try to match the words being said.

There have been efforts made to animate the individual parts of a character, so that their chest moves as they breath, and they can blink, all independently, but the mouths in particular don’t match up with what is being said. I really don’t feel that it gets in the way of the story, though, and it’s actually nice to see what certain characters look like, up close. It’s just a slight shame that in doing so it really highlights such a flaw.

Flight

A tavern at the heart of a city, but sadly lacking in motion.

It’s a flaw which goes hand in hand with some of the puzzles in the Memoria, making this feel like a game from the genre’s heyday. Even at the second attempt, where I could generally remember what I was meant to do, a handful of puzzles were a little too much like guesswork for my liking.

Getting lost in a forest and using berries to mark your path was simply not to my tastes, whilst there wasn’t enough nuance in one or two of the dialogue puzzles to really suggest at the direction I needed to take, and other conversation puzzles will seemingly let you proceed no matter what you choose.

That section in the woods is clearly a weak point, since I was given the option to skip to the next real plot point. Similarly, when the hints system struggles to do much beyond telling you the answer, the puzzle is probably a bit too obscure. However, aside from these momentary missteps, I actually enjoyed a lot of the puzzles, combining on-screen references and the ability to recall certain knowledge of spells in order to mentally connect the dots between clues and progress to the next area.

As the climactic plot twists and revelations unfolded during the final chapters, with the world hanging in the balance, it’s those two themes I mentioned at the start which shine through. Love and selfish ambition push all the characters to their eventual destinations, and do so in a surprisingly bitter-sweet, poignant fashion.

What’s Good:

  • The excellently interwoven and compelling story.
  • Delightful art direction.
  • The majority of the puzzles had the right amount of challenge for me.

What’s Bad:

  • A handful of difficulty spikes, thanks to obtuse puzzle.
  • It feels like it doesn’t matter what options you pick in other dialogue puzzles.
  • Some animation work leaves much to be desired.

Memoria is a fine example of what the point & click adventure formula can still achieve, especially in terms of storytelling. This certainly won’t revolutionize the genre, and has a few noticeable flaws with the puzzles and production values, but I thoroughly enjoyed playing the game and seeing the story unfold.

Score: 7/10

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4 Comments

  1. Looks like my kind of game with the artwork and story. Will be buying it later in the month perhaps.

  2. Shame it’s only on pc.

    • I think Daedalic have said that they would be quite interested in doing console games, but if they did that, then they would be designed from the ground up to accommodate. Maybe how Telltale’s games have you taking direct control of the characters, rather than clicking, but we’ll see!

      On the plus side, it’s a game which should be quite easy on most PCs from the last 4-5 years, so there’s no real barriers, should people want to play it.

      • Cheers for the feedback! :)

        Redesigning is all well and good, but I wouldn’t mind some clickage on the ps3/4.

        I personally loathe playing games on pc (mac in my instance) so that won’t be an option no matter what, though.

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