411mania’s Marc Morrison points and clicks in this retro-style adventure game. See if it measures up to the games of old inside!
Publisher: Daedalic Entertainment
Developer: Daedalic Entertainment
Genre: Adventure Game
Players: 1 Player
Memoria is a game that is almost out of time with itself. If you remove the updated graphics and voice work, this game could have existed almost 15 years ago, if not 20. Playing it, it almost feels like it comes from a world in which Sierra didn’t go under and just kept cranking away on King’s Quest games past the late 90’s. I kept thinking that they could have called the game “King’s Quest 17: Memoria” and had no issues with it. While it is a good throwback to those types of games, the same types of issues pop up as well, but it is a nice reminder of where adventure games came from and how they’ve changed so much.
Memoria is an adventure game in the classic sense of the genre. You see your character on screen, use your mouse to point and click where you want them to go; they walk over and fulfill your action, and so on. The action isn’t as rudimentary as something like King’s Quest 1 or 2, but is on par with the type of gameplay in King’s Quest 6, or Police Quest: Open Season.
You accrue an inventory and have to solve basic to perplexing puzzles. Some of them you are able to parse out on your own, but a few in the later chapters are maddening to deal with, especially a certain forest maze in chapter 3 that is beyond impossible. You’ll have to occasionally combine inventory items like combining some honey and wax to form a mold for a key later on. You can also just use the items themselves, like using the dagger to cut into a tent or using several items to trap a rabbit for food.
In the game you play as two different characters, who alternate based on what is going on in the story. You start off as Geron, a bird watcher/mage, and the other character is Sadja, a princess that was alive 450 years ago. There is a bit of time travel in this game, but it’s all relegated to dreams, and reliving Sadja’s memories, so it is actually fine. Each character plays the same, but they have different spells that can affect gameplay and help you with puzzle solving.
Geron has two abilities, once he starts with, and the other he gets later on. His first ability is he can “Repair/Destruct” certain items in the game. One of the earliest puzzles has you trying to fix a toy, but in order to do so, you need to spread glass around it, and repair the both, causing the toy to be encased in a bottle. His other ability that he acquires later on is “Odem Arcanum”, which gives you a form of magic sight, able to track down magical trails, and items.
Sadja has three powers at her disposal which you acquire during her story. The first is “Activate”, which lets her turn on/off magical things in the environment. Things like golems, crystals, and lights you can flick on or off at your whim. The second is “Send Vision”. This lets you place a vision in a target’s head which you manipulate. You have to cast it on an item they own, but the game will task you with picking out three objects in an environment which causes an association to form within the person, and hopefully they’ll do what you want. The last is “Petrify”, which lets you transform small objects (then later big ones) into various rocks.
The spell casting doesn’t happen all the time, and isn’t really used as a crutch in the game play. You can only do spells in certain situations in the game, so they are really more like modifiers to the environment or inventory items themselves. Still, it does break up some of the monotony and add to the puzzle solving aspects.
The story for the game, with the inter-connected nature of both character’s quests, and the overall plot is actually pretty solid. Both characters have believable motivations with what they are trying to do and it doesn’t get too silly with the momentum of the game. Between the two, I probably enjoyed Sadja’s quest more, but that’s because I somewhat had a problem with Geron’s quest.
Memoria is the sequel to a game called “The Dark Eye: Chains of Satinav” on Steam. I didn’t know this going on which left me a bit clueless. Memoria assumes you have played this game and if you haven’t, you are almost completely out of luck. Memoria starts you off with Geron taking care of a fairy turned into a crow, named Nuri. The game literally just drops you into this quest and expects you to know/care about Geron, Nuri, and what has come before. I didn’t, and I expect other people might not as well. You can pick it up over time, but by doing this, it makes Sadja’s quest inherently more emotional since you can follow along a lot better.
I actually think that the biggest problem of this game is the obtuse nature of puzzle solving and of combining items together. This is a problem of those old adventure games also, but other games in the genre (especially now) have tried to make it have at least a little logic. One of the last puzzles in the game has you combining different weapons to make a bridge to a walkway. One of the item combinations is “Longsword + Shuriken”. In what logical way does a Shuriken help you get across a gap, or even combine with a sword to make it a more stable thing to walk on? An earlier dialog quest had Nuri asking Geron what was a happy memory (presumably from the earlier game), but I had no clue. I just kept clicking on things till it went away.
There were three other small issues I had with the game. You can press space bar to see what can be interacted with/explored during gameplay, but you can’t just keep it on. I damn near wore out the space bar because I kept clicking on it to see what I could do. Another issue is the walking/game speed in general. Walking around takes a while in the game and is kind of plodding. You can skip some of it (transitions between scenes), but if your character has to walk between one area and another, it can take up to 45 seconds. Lastly, as mentioned above, the forest maze is terrible. It thankfully gives you a “Skip this puzzle” option after about 4 or 5 minutes of fumbling around in that place. If not for that, I might still be there banging my head against it.
Grapically, the game looks great, except for some of the character work. The backgrounds are absolutely astounding, and some of the environmental and detail work is superb. However, you can kind of clearly see that the character models don’t completely mesh with the levels they are in. It’s not as bad as something like Resident Evil 2, but you can notice it, if you try. Even when they go into a movie sequence, the people can look odd in spots, but they do still have nice detail about them.
The in game audio is serviceable, for the most part. Music is subdued but does fit into the fantasy vibe well enough. Strangely, there aren’t as many sound effects/ambient noise as I would think there should be, but what is there works fairly well. The voice acting (the game is entirely voiced) is for the most part good. From what I can gather, most of the voice actors are either British, or German based, so that gives the game a more European flavor. A character says “Din-esty” instead of “Die-nesty” (Dynasty) for example. I couldn’t find information on a lot of the voice actors in the game, but most of them did a good enough job.
Lasting appeal might be an issue with the game. There are 8 chapters to go through that have varying lengths. Chapter 5 will take about an hour or so, while chapter 6 can be done in around 15 minutes, if you figure it out quickly enough. The game is extremely linear up until chapter 8, where you have a few different ways to end, which leads to multiple endings, if you save before a few key choices. It might take you 10 minutes to go through this, if that. And once you’re done with the game, that is kind of about it.
Story is good with the intertwining nature between two characters
Some puzzles are creative, especially with spells
The game looks like a cartoon come to life
Characters walk too slowly around environments
Other puzzles are frustrating and have no logical basis
No background information on Geron or the game before
Memoria is a nice trip down memory lane for people who like old-school adventure games. It doesn’t have a lot of the new features that games tend to have now, but it is innately familiar if you’ve played an adventure game before. It can be dense at times, but it provides a pleasant 6 to 8 hour experience, if you give it a chance.
Note: The game requires 10gb to install. This is the same size as Saints Row 4. This is beyond crazy.
A tad bit limited technically, but beautiful to look at. It’s kind of like a Don Bluth film come to games.
The maze aside, the logic is spotty but figuring out how to do quests is good. Magic is a nice interesting twist.
The sound effects/ambiance are a little quiet, and the music is alright but the voice acting is decent enough. It’s all European sounding but that gives it a good flavor for the world.
There is at least one branch of a multiple ending and possibly more. There are achievements but some seem weirdly hard to accomplish.
I had fun with this game but almost for a lot of nostalgic purposes. It’s a solid game but you have to be in the right mindset to play it, I think.