There are many different ways to tell a story in a game; whether it be through dialogue or text, we need those strands of plot to ground us and absorb us into the game world. This is an absolutely obvious point, and unless you’ve been playing sports sims all your life, this is something you’ll definitely know. What doesn’t happen as often is when we’re actively told a story. There’s something rather lovely about a narrator telling us his or her tale and us taking part in that person’s narrative. This is something that removes us as players from being the center of attention as the character and lets someone else do the work while we sort of play along. This sort of narrative is the core of My Memory of Us and I’m really enjoying the experience of being along for the ride.
I’ve been looking for a good adjective to use that best describes this beautiful puzzle game. I think the best one that’s come to mind thus far is charming. This is a game about adventure, but more importantly, it’s a story of connections and friendship, the sort of friendship that can only be truly experienced by children. This particular tale begins with a young girl who walks into a bookshop looking for something new to read. She meets the cheerful, elderly owner who decides to tell her a story of his own.
We go with our narrator back to his youth. In his younger days he was alone and very good at getting himself into trouble. In an untimely encounter with the local authorities, he falls from a roof into a dustbin in the alley below. This is where he is found by the girl. She saves him and the two become firm friends. The children are taken care of by the girl’s kindly grandfather and from here, in a world on the verge of war, the two step forward on an adventure that they can only experience together.
The war that I’m referencing is World War II but done in a steampunk setting. Remove Nazis and replace them will evil robots and this is the invasion and occupation of Poland. In the game groups of people are turned red. The red folk are marginalized and mistreated and, in another parallel, moved into ghettos.
The girl and her grandfather are both turned red, so the boy sets out to save them and the story goes from there. There is a basis on very real events and people in My Memory of Us. The way the story is told and the nature of the game removes the violence of war very cleverly while still showing us the hardships and adversity of it in a very real way. This is something that I find to be one of the game’s most interesting assets.
My Memory of Us is in it’s most basic sense a puzzle game. To continue the story you need to use the two children, either alone or in tandem, to complete a variety of tasks. The boy has the ability to hide and to sneak, the girl on the other hand can run. When the two hold hands – a necessary mechanic in the game – the leading child grants their skill to the follower. This mechanic also adds to the child-like feel of the game which is great.
Something I love about My Memory of Us is the nature of the puzzles. My Memory of Us takes from a mix of different puzzling styles. This game is part point and click adventure part action puzzler. You will need to find and manipulation objects to clear certain areas so there’s a flavour here of games such as Day of the Tentacle. On the other hand you will also find yourself having to escape guards and sneak through dangerous areas. These are children, not heavily armed marines so they need to use their guile and skills to survive.
The overall difficulty level of this title is really well balanced. The puzzles aren’t too hard if you stop and think about what you’re doing. Most of the solutions come down to timing, common sense or a mix of the two. As this is a story driven game, the plot is all important so making the puzzles too hard would spoil the flow.
Within the main levels you will also find what I can only describe as mini-games. These are smaller puzzles that must be solved to allow you to gain certain items or progress into new areas. Again, none of these are too difficult but if you want all of your trophies you will have to complete them whilst meeting certain conditions.
The graphic style is something I really like in My Memory of Us. They’ve adopted a well drawn comic style which is very fitting for the game’s child-like nature. This is mostly black and white with hints of color, most notably red for obvious reasons. Control wise this game is easy to pick up and play. This isn’t a tense game or one that requires frantic button control so a simple control set fits really well.
Having said that, some areas require precision and really accurate timing. My only real complaint is that sometimes when I had to switch between the two children on a dime the mechanic felt a bit clunky and awkward, this led to me having to repeat a few areas. This isn’t game breaking by any means but fluidity is important and it didn’t always feel 100% there.
Also worth noting is the sound design. Most of the dialogue is nonsensical “simlish” with speech bubbles representing what characters are saying. This isn’t off putting, especially when the narrative is done so well. This isn’t at all surprising when you realize the voice over is done by Sir Patrick Stewart. It’s really obviously him too. I didn’t research that little nugget of information, merely verified what I already knew. The story telling is brilliant and is something that really makes this game stand out.
To be perfectly honest I can’t really think of much to complain about with regard to My Memory of Us. It’s well written, looks lovely and plays great. This isn’t so much a game you play, rather than one you experience. I have to say it’s an experience well worth having just for the story alone. If you’re a puzzle fan the fact that the brain-teasers are enthralling and enjoyable is actually just and added plus. Pretty much full marks all around it has to be said.
This review is based on a retail copy of the game provided by the publisher.
Through the eyes of children
Story - 10/10
Look and feel - 9/10
Challenge - 8/10
Originality - 8/10
Control - 8/10
This is a really beautifully written, well narrated story. My Memory of Us is a game that hooks you in a way that any well thought out novel should and on top of this you have some really fun puzzles. All in all if you want to play something that you can just sit down and thoroughly immerse yourself in and enjoy this may well be the game for you.