In Daedalic We Trust: A Review Of Memoria

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Being a music consumer in the mid-1990s was a study in how to be a fanatic. It was a time before the internet had come to many a small town, including mine, and a time when it still took work to find obscure records. It was a treasure hunt.

It took me about a year to find a place that was my record shop, and soon that quaint little store in Oberlin, Ohio turned into a weekly haunt. A friend and I used to go there because they specialized in rare imports from the United Kingdom, like early Oasis singles, records by The Sugarcubes, and all the Pulp you could stand. But soon I found something that transcended cool and became important—Belle & Sebastian.

Once I found Belle & Sebastian, not only did I understand what “twee” meant, but I started to really learn about the power of record labels. I learned that a good record label is more like a museum, and the right people will curate their label with great care. Belle & Sebastian were on a label called Jeepster, which over the course of two or three years became home to several releases I enjoyed immensely. While some of the releases were Belle & Sebastian side projects, to me it only reinforced the fact that a well-run label can give listeners a sense of comfort, trust, and family.

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We’re starting to see the same thing with developers, too. The world of video games doesn’t have to just be EA and Bethesda, because now we’re seeing individuals and smaller groups creating impressive catalogs of games. Video game production is an art that takes time to perfect, and players are starting to see the fruits of that labor in a very big way.

In Hamburg, Germany, Daedalic Entertainment has steadily built up a roster of over a dozen fantastic adventure games. Ranging from the comedic offerings of Deopnia to the rapturous enchantment of The Night of The Rabbit, their particular brand of narrative-driven fantasy games might not be for everyone, but then again, neither is every offering by a boutique record label.

In the same way that mid-1990s Jeepster, early-2000s Sub Pop, and mid-2000s Fueled By Ramen were all blanket recommendations for certain types of music, Daedalic Entertainment has easily become my top recommendation for players—a veritable one-stop shop for loads of inexpensive games of superb quality.

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As with their previous titles, the beautiful artwork and engaging story take center stage in the developer’s newest game, Memoria. The tale is rich, walking the line between a two-character juggle and a framed narrative, which serves it well and keeps progression fresh and interesting. It’s a different storytelling device that’s not often employed, but is certainly used to great effect here.

Memoria evokes an element of mystery, as well; its individual puzzles all build toward solving a larger whodunit, of sorts. The intrigue that surrounds the two interweaving stories–and specifically what connects them–was something that felt refreshing to me, as well. While the expressed purpose of games like The Raven or Cognition is to build up a gritty mystery, Memoria takes the same approach in a world of magic, giving the overall tone of noir mysteries a much needed shift and sense of wonder.

While the interplay between individual characters and their dialogue is sometimes rushed (other times clunky), the end result is simply one of the most engaging stories of the year in any medium.

Not all adventure games are created equally, so it’s difficult to describe something by saying, “Oh, you know… it’s an adventure game.” But if you change that to “It’s an adventure game from Daedalic,” it becomes an entirely new story. Suddenly, the scope is narrowed, and it’s very clear what kind of game you’re talking about. It means you’re talking an extraordinarily well-crafted adventure with a fantastic, memorable story and wonderfully detailed artwork, made by people clearly passionate about the genre. It means you’re talking about a game like Memoria.