What would you do for the one you loved? Would you fight against the people of your town? Would you consider dancing with the dark knowledge that is magic? Or would you simply do what had to be done in order to help them? In Memoria, the next installment of The Dark Eye series, you take the role of Geron, a bird catcher with a mild gift of magic facing the same dilemma. The woman he loves Nuri, a fairy, is stuck inside the body of a raven after the events of the previous game. After exhausting his options he turns to the aid of a shady merchant that promises to turn Nuri back into a fairy if he can answer a riddle correctly. Sounds pretty simple right? As this is an adventure game from Daedalic Entertainment, you’d be quite off the mark.
Memoria picks up where Chains of Satinav left off inside of a well-established role playing game world. Geron ends up tracing the footsteps of Princess Sadja to try to solve the riddle imposed upon him by the merchant. As Geron discovers clues and pieces together the story of Sadja, who had lived over five centuries prior to Geron’s existence in Andergast the story unfolds. You end up reliving Sadja’s adventures
on her way to fight the terrors of her world in order to make a name for herself, while jumping back and forth to Geron who is trying to unravel the mystery surrounding her to help his soul mate.
To say that Memoria has a strong grasp of storytelling is about as subtle as a brick to the forehead. There are so many layers of story and narrative working around the world of these leading characters that you cannot help but push forward into their journey. Geron wants to create as little wake behind him in his life, only doing what he must in order to survive and protect those he loves. Sadja on the other hand is almost brash in her actions, doing everything she can for her own interests. You cannot help but wonder how these characters will evolve by the end of the tale. Critical junctures exist for you to influence the outcome of the story. Happy or heart wrenching decisions sit on the horizon for any person that plays Memoria to the end.
In addition to a great story, there are strong characters in the game to boot. Geron is a man humbled by his experience of being a hero, but still shaken and worried about things in his everyday life. As he pushes forward in his quest to resort Nuri to her rightful form, you want to sympathize with his plight. He knows at every turn he is vulnerable and in danger, but it doesn’t stop him for going on for the sake of love. Even in a town full of people who are distrustful, Geron can’t help but reach out to befriend those around him or at least not rub everyone the wrong way. Sadja on the other hand is about a tough as they come. She is prepared, crafty, and daring, but still isn’t afraid to roll the dice and trust someone. Her trust isn’t
always placed in the correct people, but she is far from naive. In fact, she prides herself in always having a backup plan. Nuri isn’t the best example of a great female character though. I think this was done on purpose as not to draw away from two lead characters already. Unlike previous Daedalic games, one doesn’t need to pour through all of the dialogue choices between characters in order to move on to the next point. For those familiar with games like Night of the Rabbit this will be a bit of relief. No longer do you have to try and remember if you went through every option available two conversations back in order to progress. Night of the Rabbit fans will also get a nice little hat tip at a point in the game, but I won’t spoil it for you.
The art style of Memoria is one of the more appealing features of the game. With the looks of a refined digital painting technique, every character has a depth and smoothness to them that makes them worth studying during dialogue. Even when characters shift to a 3D model mixing with a 2D backdrop, the developers of the game still make it so the player doesn’t feel like they are looking at something out of place. Everything flows so nicely that you can’t help but be in awe of what was accomplished with such simple animation.
If there are any items to pick apart within the game, it would have to be the maze puzzle during one of Sadja’s story parts. While the puzzle aspect isn’t a bad way to go about this section of the story, it feels drawn out for the intent. Instead of trying to reconnect with a character that has done you wrong, you end up placing berries and stumbling back and forth in the woods. Thankfully after a certain period of time passes Memoria gives you an option to move forward out of the maze with all of the items you needed to collect inside. I really like that this option was included as wandering the forest really derails your experience by playing. Should this section be filmed for a movie adaptation of the game, it would most likely end up on the cutting room floor. As Memoria ranges from a 7 to 10 hour experience for the average gamer, you don’t want to spend precious story moments fumbling around.
Memoria is wonderful, plain and simple. Geron and Sadja have a wonderful story laid out for them that is fulfilling and harkening. Daedalic has done this twice to me now, taking a story that I was mildly interesting and pushing it into a story that I couldn’t help but devour in as few sittings as possible. Memoria offers you a chance to visit a land of magic and mystery, but also allows you to delve deep into its past due to The Dark Eye’s wealth of tabletop lore. One doesn’t need to be familiar with that lore to embark on the incredible digital journey. If you have any love for storytelling in the video games media, don’t hesitate to snatch up Memoria.
Game provided by company for review.