Memoria is an odd beast: it works wonderfully as a story but falls on its face as a game. This is common among point-and-click adventures. I don’t replay Indiana Jones and the Fate of Atlantis because I yearn for the old days of moving my mouse cursor around the screen and using inventory objects. I replay it because I enjoy the story, the atmosphere and the characters. Memoria succeeds in this respect.
Geron and Sadja, the two player characters, are both engaging. Their individual stories are interesting, and the interplay between the two is more than enough to keep things moving forward. I wanted to see Geron, a bird-catcher, succeed in his quest to save Nuri from the spell that has transformed her from a Faerie into a raven. I wanted to see Princess Sadja win her historic battle. And more than anything I wanted to know more about the shopkeeper in Geron’s time, who hungers to know more about Sadja’s exploits.
Geron and Sadja both inhabit beautiful worlds. Backgrounds look hand-crafted, are very detailed, and evoke the locales I imagine when reading old fairy tales. It’s clear that a lot of time and care went into creating each environment.
Memoria would make a wonderful animated film. If it ever gets converted, I will be first in line to see it. What it isn’t, however, is a very good game, because the nuts and bolts just don’t work well. Memoria channels old Sierra adventure games in that items can be used at the wrong time and are then gone forever, forcing the player to reload and old save or start the entire game over again. This is horrible game design; allowing the player to get into an unwinnable state and then save should be avoided at all costs. In a game like Memoria, my entertainment comes from experiencing the narrative, and forcing me to restart keeps me from experiencing more of that story.
When Memoria isn’t allowing you to paint yourself in a corner and forcing a save reload, it’s busy being obtuse about puzzles and their solutions. Things that should and do have multiple solutions in the real world have one and only one solution in Memoria, and the game offers little beyond a character saying “no” or “I’d rather not” when you haven’t stumbled upon the intended solution. A dynamic hint system or tutorial pop-up would have been greatly appreciated, because sitting at my computer wondering what I’m doing wrong is keeping me from the entertaining story.
Daedalic has created a stunning world full of great characters. I just wish that the surrounding mechanics were better, because right now, creating a barrier to the plot is the last thing a point-and-click adventure game needs.
Pros: Beautifully-crafted world, interesting characters, strong story
Cons: Unintuitive puzzles, mis-use of consumable items allowed