A fantastical tale of two characters separated by hundreds of years.
Daedalic Entertainment, who are perhaps best known for their quirky and comical point and click adventures such as the Deponia series and Edna & Harvey, have ventured into the realms of high fantasy for their latest offering, Memoria, the sequel of sorts to the popular The Dark Eye: Chains of Satinav. Things may be a lot more serious in this Daedalic adventure, but that doesn’t make it any less adventurous.
Players are returned to Aventuria and, for at least part of the game, the life of Geron the bird-catcher, from the first game. In a story that has been seen in other games, the love of Geron’s life has been transformed and a cure must be found before the transformation is complete. In this particular case, Geron’s love happens to be the fairy Nuri who has been transformed into a Raven. Reversing this transformation before Nuri loses all memory of her fairy life is something that a mysterious traveling merchant is capable of. But before the merchant will help, Geron has to solve a riddle that is some 500 years old.
The riddle involves our second playable character, Princess Sadja. And so it is that these two characters, separated by hundreds of years, become involved in an intertwined story that contains fantasy of the highest order, with wizards, golems, gods, magic and a mysterious threat. Play alternates between Geron and Sadja as they each go about their quests inadvertently moving the other along.
Daedalic know their way around a point and click adventure, and the all-important puzzles in Memoria show off that skill. As is commonplace, many of the puzzles will revolve around items that have been gathered and placed in the inventory. Other puzzles might involve enlisting the help of an NPC from the game, or using magic. Geron and Sadja can learn a selection of spells through the game with differing effects, such as breaking items, activating switches or changing the minds of people. Whatever the type of puzzle, the solution will be logical. There are none of the random solutions that may be found in other point and click adventures, and even if the puzzle doesn’t appear to make sense, or be easily solved, the solution will result in a knowing nod once it is found.
Aventuria itself is beautifully recreated in Memoria, with stunning painted backdrops and well animated inhabitants. Players will find themselves spending a fair amount of time within each of the areas, and thus can enjoy the gorgeous look of the game. It really is beautiful and reminiscent of the finest fantasy artwork. Of the inhabitants in Aventuria, they are well varied and give the impression of an untrusting fantasy world filled with danger and adventure. The audio in the game is a mixed bag, with a wonderful soundtrack lessened by the wooden dialogue delivery. It is not all bad, considering that English is not the first language of the game, but could have been a lot better. Another side effect of the game starting out in another language is that the lip syncing of the characters can go a bit awry, but it is nothing too distracting.
The high fantasy setting for Memoria will not appeal to everyone, but as the game is more aimed at players who enjoyed Chains Of Satinav, it may not be a problem. That is not to say that players who missed out on Chains Of Satinav would not be able to enjoy Memoria, but there are a lot of instances where prior knowledge of Aventuria and its lore would enhance the game. Much of this knowledge could be taken from the original European pen and paper RPG on which the game is based, but playing Chains Of Satinav first would be the best way for gamers. Playing Memoria without having played Chains Of Satinav will make the game difficult to invest in at the beginning, and it may feel a bit forced, but it won’t take long for the lovely world and interesting characters to become familiar and welcome.
The Dark Eye: Memoria is a beautiful looking game which manages to weave an intricate tale of high fantasy with some interesting concepts. The game is far less casual than most other Daedalic adventures, which will narrow the audience. But if high fantasy is your thing, Memoria will take you on a memorable adventure that will leave you wanting more.