Memoranda (PC) Review

By Adam Riley 31.01.2017 1

Review for Memoranda on PC

Sometimes companies can get stuck in a rut, churning out identikit titles repeatedly, unable to spice things up due to genre exhaustion and lack of ideas. In the point-and-click adventure realm the core remains the same, so unless something drastic is done to reinvent the wheel - which is not always a good thing - the innovation has to come from the theme and presentation side. For Memoranda, which received backing via a successful Kickstarter campaign, the twist is that the story stems from Japanese short stories, and there is a classic art style used. Is this enough to grab the attention of adventure fans, though?

An intriguing premise does not a fantastic experience make, and that really does apply to Memoranda. One of its heavily advertised points is how the story is inspired by short tales from best-selling Japanese author, Haruki Murakami. If that is meaningless to you, then do not worry as you are not alone - chances are that a lot of gamers will not have heard of him and honestly not see it as a selling point. How faithful the concept of a girl losing her memory and identity is to Murakami's works, anyway, is unknown, but it is an interesting thread that runs throughout the adventure. Has she lost her memory, or is something else at play? Well, Mizuki - yes, strangely enough she is actually named despite the idea of her losing her title - lives in a quiet town and, for some bizarre reason, must not only go in search of her memory, but also help strange half-human, half-animal beings along the way. Yes, she must help that with their transition from one form to another. Using a special camera. Without any specific reason other than "well, it's bizarre, so let's roll with it!"

Screenshot for Memoranda on PC

Oddball themes are all well and good, but they need to have some sort of purpose and, better yet, actually be tied in with the puzzles to make the whole affair feel satisfying. In Memoranda, though, that is not exactly the case. There is plenty of aimless wandering around (the 'memoranda' - in other words, 'notes' - made in Mizuki's scrapbook help to a degree, but not always in terms of where to go next), lots of carrying out mundane tasks (get ready for choosing an object and using it against every other inventory item on a regular basis to create another tool!), obtuse objectives (randomly jiggling kidney bean in a tin used as a distraction by throwing into a jar, anyone?), extremely dissatisfactory missions (finding various sounds could be exciting, right? Except it is simply solved by visiting one person that creates them all quickly), or even illogical moments that rely heavily on specific triggers (see a small hole and try to make it bigger…only to get a response of 'No reason to!' and then, shortly after a certain trigger, it becomes possible; or another issue where people appear/disappear from a café without any obvious pattern other than "an event has passed, go check again"). Dissatisfaction is the feeling not long after the start, right the way through to the finish.

The artwork is beautiful, but the animation is stiff and lifeless; the voice acting has its bright moments, but is then filled with some awkward/clipped speech pacing from the lead character that makes conversations sound strange; the puzzles always seem to have promise, but never really hit home; and the story is intriguing to start with, but ends up being so obscure that even by the time the ending arrives, there is not much in the way of clarity provided. It all falls flat and misses the mark on too many occasions. It is not awful, by any means, but the fact that it feels like there is great potential here gets hopes high, only for them to be repeatedly dashed, leaving a rather dull, numb feeling by the end.

Screenshot for Memoranda on PC

Cubed3 Rating

4/10
Rated 4 out of 10

Subpar

Memoranda had so much going for it, but in the end it misses the mark on too many occasions and lacks that gripping nature that the best point-and-click adventures have. From the story that really does not make much sense or give any real sense of satisfaction at the end, to the awkward voice acting of the lead character, and the disappointing nature of most puzzles, what seemed like a great concept fades away from the memory quite soon after completion.

Developer

Bit Byterz

Publisher

Digital Dragon

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  4/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  0 (0 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date Out now   Australian release date Out now   

Comments

Another confusing element seemed to be various unfinished threads - a cat that needed to be returned to its owner, a dog blocking a passageway, certain characters that had no closure...with all those things just being replaced by some weird, random occurrences towards the end. A real mish-mash of a game, as if it had been done in small chunks by different people and pieced at the end. I wanted to love it, but it fought hard against me...

Adam Riley [ Director :: Cubed3 ]

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