on January 21, 2014
Memoria is the direct sequel to Chains of Satinav, and one of the latest installments in the long-running "The Dark Eye" series. The position of main character is split between the previous title's main character (sarcastic but loyal Geron the bird-catcher) and a newly introduced heroine (spirited, strong, and kind-of-annoying Princess Sadja). Geron's tale takes place in the present, where he continues to get glimpses and insight into Sadja's long-past journey.
As a long-time fan of point-and-click adventure games (from the time I was too young to work a computer and my parents played King's Quest for me), this game reminded me why I love them so much. No grinding for hours trying to level up, no trying to decide which piece of equipment is best, no skill trees to navigate, no enormous world with a million and two things to do to decide between... Not all of those things are bad--no, not at all!--it's just that sometimes I want a game to be simple. While Memoria's story-line is definitely not "simple," its gameplay might be described as such.
Memoria is a puzzle game, and you can pretty much expect that once you've gained control (after the cutscenes), you're going to need to solve a puzzle. You gather as much information as you can about everything around you, grab any items left unattended (and some that aren't), and then... THINK. "What am I trying to accomplish?" "What would I normally need to do that?" "Do I have any items that will work as an alternative?" This is a thinking man's game, people, and that's a breath of fresh air to me. The spells that Geron and Sadja can use were also a welcome addition to this paradigm.
Now for the bad: Some of these puzzles are HARD. I mean like slamming-your-head-against-your-desk, screaming-at-any-family-members-who-happen-to-talk-to-you, oh-my-God-what-is-the-freaking-solution! hard. OK, that might be a little extreme, but it can definitely get frustrating, especially the maze. The mere thought makes me want to curl into the fetal position... Fortunately, this unwarranted difficulty is only the case with a handful of the many puzzles in the whole game.
I have to admit that I don't tend to pay a whole lot of attention to in-game music. I've been trying to get better about that, but that's a work in progress. What I can tell you is that the title music is lovely and soothing, and I really liked it. The rest... must not have stood out to me very much, since I don't remember any of it. Voices are so-so. An all British cast to a German game is a little weird, and a pet peeve of mine. I understand the medieval quality of British voices for games set in this kind of era (the swords, shields, and staves era), but there are a lot of accents out there to choose from; why is it always British? It's worth noting that every word of exposition and conversation is read aloud, which is nice, but can also be annoying if the voices get to you, because there is A LOT of talking.
They're just awesome. Detailed and beautiful, I have nothing bad to say except that mouth movements and expressions can be a bit awkward at times.
The story is... good. Geron is looking for a way to restore his girlfriend to her original body (a plotline that is directly related to the previous title), and Sadja is trying to... do something so remarkable that no one will ever forget her? I guess that's the just of it. Throw in a garden that is hidden from the guy who writes the tapestry of time, and therefore does not actually exist, even though... it does. Yeah, confusing. Repeated references to the previous game (which I had not, at that point, played) added to the confusion. They were not "game-breakingly" confusing, but they didn't help.
This isn't a game for everyone. This is for people who can deal with a lot of listening and observing and who enjoy a good, hard thinking session and the satisfaction that comes with solving a riddle. Despite some faults, it is an overall enjoyable game, and I liked it enough to pick up the previous title and complete that as well (and I'm a person who doesn't usually "complete" things). An undiscovered gem, it's definitely worth a try.