The human mind has an innate ability to organize memories into stories... and then ask if someone else is authoring the story instead. Stories within stories and their authors inside them are common themes in various metafictional novels and films but have not appeared very often in games. Memoria builds an interesting, labyrinthian tale from themes of imagination, memory and myth that pleases the senses as well as the mind.
Memoria picks up where Chains of Satinav left off, with the bird-catcher Geron once again leading the cast. Since playing the previous title is all but necessary I will not discuss any plot details from either. As a general description it can be said that the story takes place in two completely different times and places and accordingly on two different levels which mix in various interesting ways as events unfold. Unfortunately the story inside the main story, the one detailing Sadja, a princess in an Arabian-like kingdom, begins on the wrong foot. I have rarely seen a more cold-blooded and merciless exposition beginning to a story as the one for Sadja. To make things even worse her quest is a rather abstract one making it difficult to become immediately involved. Sadja herself is odd company: ambitious to the brink of ruthlessness with an odd sense of a grand fate awaiting her. As such she is as unusual creative choice but in the end does fit into the overall themes and design.
The writing in general is more concerned with the whole than the parts which I found pleasing. There are no quotable one-liners nor amusing banter but given the fairytale surroundings this austerity may indeed be better than any rhetorical flower arrangements. The somewhat weak beginning is the only major flaw and offset by the very impressive ending. The many layers of mythology logic seen throughout the story are also unusual and take the place of any everyday realism. In this case the high fantasy works since the whole is kept to an economical length are there are no larger-than-life emotional outbursts.
While the writing takes some time to draw the player in this cannot be said from the sensory stimulation. The hand-drawn environments are both lucid and vivid and could not have been done better. One of the key strengths with Chains of Satinav was the bittersweet orchestral soundtrack and while Memoria does not reach the same heights it does an admirable job of setting the mood. A true weakness in the presentation are once again the animations. Slight ruggedness during adventures is somewhat easy to ignore but becomes difficult indeed during moments of dialogue. When the only part of the face moving is the mouth the effect is jarring to say the least.
As the puzzles require fantasy logic to solve some of them may be problematic but I did not see any insurmountable ones. The number of items, hotspots and screens needed for a major puzzle are kept to reasonable limits. The game also has a questlog to remind you of the current task as well as lore reminders of the things you have learned. Should you lose hope on a puzzle there is even a hint system for the desperate. Chains of Satinav introduced limited spellcasting into the otherwise traditional pointing-and-clicking. Geron only had one ability at his disposal in that game but now he has two in addition to Sadja's three. Not all of these are used very much so some editing could have been useful but on the other hand this system lessens the clunky "bottomless pockets" inventory-based problems of many other adventure games.
Memoria's ultimate strength is perhaps a strong sense of identity. The developers did their very best with the indie resources available and cleary love the genre and the game as much as the adventure game audience does. Memoria will not conquer the world any more than any other contemporary adventure will but for those willing to appreciate its quiet appeal there is much pleasure to be discovered within these ten hours.
Αναρτήθηκε: 6 Ιουνίου 2014