Review: Memoria

think too hard, get stuck, take a break then see the obvious solution…

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It’s been a fair while since I played a proper, traditional point and click adventure game. Sure I enjoyed my way through The Walking Dead, but with that being console oriented it didn’t hold the same “what the hell do I do now” values that these games hold so dear to their hearts. So with Memoria, a gorgeous looking game from the pointy clicky experts at Daedelic I grabbed my mouse, made a bucket of coffee and set to work.

There’s quite a decent story chugging along behind Memoria, all linked to an ancient magic mask and two people’s stories which run hundreds of years apart. While the story of Sadja, a woman who is desperate to join a world-changing battle and become a name remembered through the ages, is one of desperation and determination to reach her goal it’s a stark contrast to the more recent journey carried out by Geron. His journey is one of intrigue and discovery, and as a simple birdcatcher his initial aim is to do nothing more than transform his friend Nuri from a bird back to her original form as a fairy. But his task leads into a parallel story, following Sadja’s quest to figure out the meaning of a magical mask and why she was so determined to go to war.

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You jump between the stories throughout the game, and with Sadja’s tale often being based on a third person’s memories and journal records, there are some fascinating gaps in the story as you play, quiet conversations or internal thoughts that a person looking in from the outside wouldn’t have heard or been able to record. It’s an interesting technique to use, and one which really pushes home the idea that you’re not quite getting the full story. Both stories are well told though, and there’s a regular intrigue which makes you want to play on further to see where the story will turn next.

But games like this live or die on their puzzles, and Memoria does everything it can to give a mix between brain-bending and accessible. Small touches help out less experienced puzzlers, such as holding the space bar to highlight areas that you can click on or making it slightly more obvious which items in your inventory can be used or combined with other things, but despite that little extra guidance some of the tasks will still baffle most people. An early task of escaping from a locked room had me totally braindead after half an hour of random clicking, only for me to come back after an hour away from the game and figure it out straight away. And that’s often how it works – think too hard, get stuck, take a break then see the obvious solution. You can even skip part of the game – a hugely frustrating maze through a forest – giving you the opportunity to carry on through the more traditional parts of the game instead of wandering round a forest for hours, forgetting why you dropped some berries on one path and not another. There’s some decent magic to be used too, the highlight of which is Sadja’s ability to combine various elements in the area to embed thoughts into other characters’ heads. It’s confusing at first, but pretty soon being able to make people change their opinion of other things or people becomes a vital skill to make progress.

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Visually Memoria is a treat, with some beautifully created locations for you to travel through and generally well created character models. Voice acting is generally pretty good too, which is quite a relief after an opening few moments where you experience one character which enjoys some of the worst voiceover work I’ve ever heard – thankfully she’s a character who never returns, and most others are far more successful in their execution.

It’s a big game too; you’ll easily sink a lot of time into this without realising how long you’ve been sat at your PC, and with the storyline so enjoyable and the puzzles hitting the right balance between difficult and achievable, there are only a few areas of frustration that will put a spanner in the works. There were still a few “click everywhere and hope for the best” moments, but on the whole fans of the genre will be pleased with what Memoria has to offer. Really rather good indeed.

Reviewed on PC

Memoria
Memoria
Date published: 2013-09-23
8 / 10
 
 

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