Full disclosure- when I began my play through of Memoria, I also began a play through of Saints Row IV. The reason this is worth mentioning is because there couldn’t be two titles that better reflect the ever changing paradox that is gaming. Whereas Saints Row represents the modern world, one with nonexistent patience, one that requires every moment be brought to the absolute maximum level of craziness, Memoria is the polar opposite; and while critics and gaming enthusiasts want to argue the merits of gaming as an art form, demanding that story come first, the big games, the ones like Saints Row, are the ones that millions of people will play. So when a developer wants to make an artistic game they have to understand their audience and craft something truly unique and enthralling to succeed.
Now I’ll get off my pedestal and say that Saints Row is a hell of a fun game, and while I thoroughly enjoyed playing it, the kind of enjoyment it delivers seems temporary and fleeting compared to what Dadaelic has been delivering with its recent stretch of adventure games. I quite enjoyed several of Daedalic’s previous games, the Deponia series being a prime example, but Memoria represents disappointing diminishing returns on the adventure genre Daedalic has come to master. They’ve always played to a niche audience, but Memoria takes it to another level.
Whether you will enjoy Memoria or not is a matter of what you are looking to glean from a game. If you gain satisfaction from hours of slow thought and consideration, this game might be for you. Lets examine other factors that will help you determine whether this game is for you.
Memoria is a sequel (something that’s not immediately apparent from the marketing) to Chains of Satinav, a game based on the German pen and paper game The Dark Eye. I didn’t play the first game, and I’ve never heard of The Dark Eye. The game does an adequate job catching the player up with the story though. You play as Goren, a mage who is trying to help his love Nuri get turned back into a human, because…she’s a bird now. This story is interwoven with one that takes place in the past, which you also play, as the wannabe hero Sadja who finds a talking staff and wants to become a war hero.
Maybe the lore is deeper and easier to relate to than it seems here, but coming into this game blind it seems heavy handed and at times illogical. Worse still, it comes off as extremely generic fantasy. None of the characters are particularly likable and the voice acting ranges from passable to laughable.
Memoria also suffers from an unreliable logic system. Several of the puzzles involving the spells and abilities the characters have are pretty ingenious, there are however several puzzles in Memoria that simply make no sense whatsoever. You will have to click through your inventory combining everything you have until something works. Being the resident Daedalic reviewer at GHN though, I knew that coming into this game, and you probably know that too if this games for you.
The visuals in Memoria are another mixed bag. Sometimes the game can be quite striking, evoking the emotions and feelings of the characters successfully, and at other times it reminds me of the visuals of the Zelda games for Phillips CD-I. I’m not joking either.
Review scores are like Saints Row. They are bite sized, easy to digest, and give an impatient internet reader the 2 second rush of satisfaction without leaving them with too much to consider. If you are the kind of person who plays a game based on scrolling through a page until you reach the score, or just check metacritic, Memoria is probably not a game for you. In this spirit, I present the following venn diagram in lieu of a review. Not that you can’t find any enjoyment in this game otherwise, but if you fall into the area where all of these circles intersect, this game is most definitely for you.
While we all yearn for deeper experience that require patience and careful thought, it takes a deft hand to deliver it well. Daedalic has shown they’re capable of doing it in a way that appeals to all point and click fans, for this time though, I think I’ll just go back to Saints Row.