Memoria is a point-and-click adventure from Germanic company Daedalic Entertainment originally released in August of 2013 for the PC and Mac. It is the second game in a series based off the popular The Dark Eye, a role-playing game in Germany that was so popular that it continues to outsell Dungeons and Dragons in the country. The fact that it was a sequel to another of Daedalic’s point-and-click adventures was unknown to me when I first started playing it, which is important later. The reason I didn’t know it was a sequel was because I had done no research before playing; I wanted to go in with a no spoilers or bias.
Now I know what you’re thinking and until I played this game I was in the same boat: Point-and-click perfection was achieved in 1990 with The Secret of Monkey Island (never mind the blasphemous bastard sequels that came afterward) but saying that was the same thing as complaining about today’s music being crap and telling those pesky kids to get the hell off my lawn. I swear this will be the third-to-last-time I mention Monkey Island.
Sorry, I’m getting off topic.
The game opens with our hero, Geron, wandering lost though a forest, searching for a campsite where sits a man that will, possibly, provide him with a way to turn his faerie-turned-raven girlfriend Nuri back into a human. Once you pass a test you are admitted to see Fahi and he tells you that the key to transforming Nuri back into her old faerie self is to answer the riddle that’s wrapped in the story of a young girl named Sadja that lived several hundred years before.
By the by, if you want to see something funny, tell Fahi that you don’t like riddles.
What struck me as the most entertaining aspect of the story was that it seemed like I had stumbled into the afterword of an epic and great adventure. Geron, once the hero of Andergast, has settled into the life of a bird catcher and really only has a few minor loose ends to tie up and instead of getting a neat and tidy ending he’s plunged into another adventure that he seems, at times, reluctant to continue on. Only because of the desire to help his girlfriend Nuri does he shoulder on, trying to find the answer to the riddle that will change her back.
This is, of course, before I realized that there was another game that came out before this one, Chains of Satinav. Once I figured out there was another game I learned two things: Playing a game without any foreknowledge will make for an interesting experience as you interpret events with limited knowledge and playing a game WITH foreknowledge doesn’t make the game any less enjoyable and you tend to understand the references a little bit better.
Either way, honestly, works well, but at the very least visit the game designer’s website before playing. They won’t spoil anything, I promise.
The graphics are beautiful and the scenery is crisp, well drawn and very easy on the eye. The animation is a bit clunky and there is some lag between completely a puzzle and the resulting cinematic / animation but I’m perfectly willing to admit that it may be due to the fact that I played the game on a laptop that is two years old and is primarily used for work.
Where gameplay and controls are concerned (can they be concerned?), I enjoyed Memoria for several new (to me, having not played a point-and-click since The Secret of Monkey Island and Gabriel Knight: Sins of the Fathers) gaming options. The first was the ability to see what items can be interacted with by pressing the space bar. A white start will appear over items but no hint is give as to what they do. This is a welcome change from the “click every square inch of the screen” method or the “swing the mouse around ‘til you see the cursor change” method that I employed in my youth. Neither was very effective and trying to figure out what do to in certain areas meant a lucky click or a walkthrough to one side. When holding the space bar in Memoria you might not know right off the bat what to do, but at least you won’t have to click anywhere.
That being said, most of the time the game drops obvious hints and there is a quest menu that will allow you to remind yourself just what you need to be doing.
The second bit of gameplay that I really enjoyed was the ability to skip one of the longer and more tedious walking puzzles found in chapter 3. Sadja has to wander through a forest in order to locate Rachwan, her guide, in order to continue on her journey. This involves navigating through a forest and leaving berry branches, found at the start of the maze, at the mouth of the multiple exits to each scene in order to tell where you haven’t been. After a time the game realizes that maybe this isn’t something you want to spend the rest of your life doing and allows you to fast forward to the end of the forest puzzle.
Keep doing it for an hour and they give you an achievement for your troubles.
As someone that remembers the walking puzzle from The Secret of Monkey Island being the most annoyingly tedious part of the game, the ability to skip this one made me happy to no end.
Memoria is a good game if you have three or four hours (or more if you’re like me and haven’t used your puzzle-solving skills since the fifth grade) to kill and you are a fan of the point-and-click style games. I found myself in the last half of the game, when I actually had a length of time to play, engrossed and trying to solve the puzzles as fast as I could so I could get to the next bit of the story (being a full time worker, father and student means that my free time usually comes in fifteen minute chunks). The game does progress faster toward the end, but not in an “oh god we’re running out of ideas” kind of way; instead the pacing speeds up just as it does in a good novel when all the characters have been fleshed out and all that’s left is for everything to come to a climax.
Give it a play.