I’ve been privately delighted by the recent revival of the point-and-click adventure genre, having been raised on a steady diet of LucasArts adventure games like The Curse of Monkey Island and Indiana Jones and the Fate of Atlantis. Though streamlined for a modern audience and sexed-up with gorgeous, high-definition graphics, Memoria feels very much like a game in their vein. At the same time, its setting is a step backwards through time: its sort-of folkloric fantasy world feels appropriately reminiscent of German fairy tales, and the presence of magic and fairies in dungeons and forests does little to shake that impression.
Two distinct narratives run throughout the game. The first is that of Geron, a bird catcher who secretly studies magic in the hopes of restoring his companion Nuri – a fairy trapped in a raven’s body – to her original form. The second is of a princess and would-be legendary hero called Sadja, tasked with delivering an ancient artefact to a far-away land to prevent a demon invasion. The two narratives are separated by hundreds of years, but are gracefully intertwined to build a detailed universe from which it’s tough to withdraw; Memoria sucked me in for hours at a time.
Point-and-click adventure games typically trump other genres in their capacity for story development; the dialogue-driven nature of these games begets a need for convincing conversations, and Memoria appears to deliver on that front. Though the preview build I played was only partly localised, with occasionally iffy subtitles accompanying (admittedly charming) German language voice-overs, Geron and Sadja’s interactions with other characters seem well-orchestrated. There are only a few casual, world-building conversation paths alongside the plot-related dialogue, but the main characters still come across as genuinely likeable and interesting. That works in Sadja’s favour especially: both Geron’s exploration of her history and the player’s experience of it becomes compelling, driven by the mystery of her fate.
Unfortunately, Memoria has flaws, too. The puzzles on which the game thrives occasionally eschew logic and feature totally bizarre solutions, forcing me to discover the way forward through trial-and-error instead of true puzzle-solving. This is disappointing; some of the game’s puzzles are ingenious, but they’re held back by the more frustratingly obscure ones. There are plain tedious segments, too – there’s very little fun in navigating through section after section of dense, disorienting forest. My experience was also plagued by performance issues, which I hope will be sorted before launch; there was a pervasive lag, and a decisive clunkiness to the controls.
On the whole, however, I’ve enjoyed my time with Memoria. The plot seems to keep a good pace and the game is truly better for the astonishing visual detail in its environments as well as its charming characters. There’s definitely something here for fans of both the fantasy and adventure genres, and I’ve little doubt that I’ll recommend Memoria once it launches later this month.