Memoria Review: Beautiful, Engrossing, Slightly Flawed
Running two stories simultaneously in a video game can be perilous, because at any point, a switch between two characters can steal the spotlight from one, grind pacing to a halt, and ruin climactic moments.
On the other hand, a deftly executed game with two parallel stories uses each to strengthen the other, leaving players with cliffhangers in one tale while moving forward and answering questions with the other. In Daedalic Entertainment’s Memoria, two stories running parallel — one occurring hundreds of years before the other — often serve to inform the events of both. Both stories are different enough from one another to be interesting on their own merits, and they eventually tie together to create a strong conclusion for both.
But it’s not a flawless victory. While Memoria, one of Daedalic’s point-and-click adventure game fare, manages to tell two strong stories in a way that keeps them both engaging, it also feels as though it sometimes glosses important information, and the result is a climax that’s less powerful and meaningful than the journey to reach it.
Platforms: PC (reviewed)
Developer: Daedalic Entertainment
Publisher: Daedalic Entertainment
Released: Aug. 29, 2013
Memoria is set in the universe of The Dark Eye, a fantasy world that originated with a pen and paper game of the same name. You could consider it a German equivalent of Dungeons & Dragons, and it’s comparable both in immense popularity and in depth of lore. The world of Memoria bears that history well, feeling like a snapshot of a universe in two different times that is lush and full of stories happening just out of sight. You don’t need to know all about The Dark Eye to understand Memoria, but you still get the benefit of what feels like a well-established universe the game inhabits.
What you do need to know is what’s going on with Geron, the game’s primary protagonist. Geron is the star of a previous game in The Dark Eye universe, called Chains of Satinav, and in fact, Memoria is a direct sequel to that game. It’s possible to enjoy Memoria without having played its predecessor, but it is a bit easy to get lost; the gist of the conflict, however, is that Geron’s love, Nuri, was formerly a fairy and has been changed into a raven. In order to change her back to her natural form, Geron has sought the help of a traveler from a distant land. The price for the magic that can save Nuri from a life of birdhood is the solving of a riddle.
That riddle comes Geron’s way through stories told to him, and later dreamed, about a woman called Sadja. A princess who lived hundreds of years earlier, Sadja set out to find an ancient weapon that could help in a coming war between humans and demons that was about to take place in her world. Her goal was to become a hero remembered through the ages, but at some point, her memory all but vanished from the world.