Memoria review
The Good:

Beautiful hand-drawn artwork; unique cast of characters; expanded magic system breathes new life into puzzles; familiar dark fantasy atmosphere enhanced with new locations; decent length.

The Bad:

Clumsy voice acting; awkward animations; ambitious plot feels rushed and leaves little room for character development.

Our Verdict:

Memoria is an alluring journey nestled in a beautiful setting, but lacks the character depth and narrative focus necessary for true greatness.

Daedalic Entertainment has garnered much respect these past few years. With numerous releases ranging in style but always maintaining a certain standard of quality, the German developer has justifiably become a driving force in the adventure genre. Their most recent release, Memoria, looks to expand on the events of 2012’s The Dark Eye: Chains of Satinav, offering players a second trip into the striking but unsettling, gloomy world of Aventuria. It's once again held back from greatness by awkward voice acting and hurried storytelling at times, but within the strange yet stunning fantastical settings, another dark story filled with personal sacrifice unfolds. And this time around the sequel expands on its predecessor's gameplay, including the use of new magic spells that impart a unique flavor on the experience.

Returning players partly reprise the role of the young bird-catcher Geron. A meeting with a travelling merchant named Fahi ignites Geron's search for answers to his one unending question: Will his beloved Nuri ever be the same after the dramatic events of their previous adventure? But Memoria's story is unique in its approach, telling a dual tale that spans centuries and hundreds of miles. On the opposite end, we’re introduced to Sadja, a seemingly cold, decisive, and hard-nosed princess from a much earlier time in the land of Fasar. Underneath her city lie ancient ruins said to contain the "Mask of Malakkar," an ancient artifact that will help her defeat the threatening demonic army of Borbarad. By Geron's time, the tale of Sadja simply recounts her disappearing suddenly, never to be heard from again, and in return for helping Nuri, Fahi charges Geron with solving a riddle that will reveal the truth behind the princess's fate.

In terms of story, Memoria is certainly more ambitious than Satinav, revealing bits and pieces of Sadja's own tale as Geron progresses in "present day." Geron is the vehicle for the telling of Sadja's personal journey, as he's granted the ability to witness the same events Fahi sees nightly in his dreams. The two-tiered story spans multiple settings, from the ruins underneath Fasar to a flying fortress. Geron revisits some familiar places, including the local marketplace and the Academy of Combat Magic, as well as new areas such as the Clothier’s district, the surrounding wilderness, and a surreal garden.

Each character has their share of obstacles to overcome. Geron must solve mysterious events in his home town: villagers being turned into stone pillars, the theft of a merchant’s gems, and the unnerving fate of the magic Academy’s headmaster make up some of the challenges he faces. He is constantly at the mercy of the mysterious entity responsible for acts of theft and murder, while Sadja is tested by a shady travelling companion and undermined by the adepts of the flying fortress Keshal Rhi. The warrior princess’s main goal is to serve in the holy army and make her mark in the history books, all the while a demonic army threatens the fate of her kingdom and its people.

While it's interesting to explore two such distinct storylines, there seems to be a tug-of-war between the tales of the two main characters, and the balance is sometimes tilted in favour of Sadja. I do like the concept of multiple characters separately yet cooperatively forming a whole story, but the flow from scene-to-scene is not always consistent, and at times all the mandatory switching back and forth denies the story the clarity of a single perspective. The seemingly disparate perspectives of Geron's and Sadja's stories do come together at the end, though Sadja's conclusion lacks much emotional impact.

The supporting cast in Memoria is memorable, but largely under-utilized. Returning from Satinav are the likes of the strange fairy scholar and the headmaster of the Academy. But many new characters are added as well, including Bryda, the prized novice of the Academy, and a magical wooden staff that accompanies Sadja on her journey. The variety and distinctiveness of these secondary personalities is welcome, but it's also what makes the quick entrance and exit of some of them somewhat disappointing. Daedalic has a knack for creating colorful characters, but in Memoria exposition often takes precedence over character development.

The protagonists themselves are hit-and-miss. Geron is slightly more believable this time around as a hero in love, but he's still somewhat lacking in conviction. Sadja is supposedly callous, but later events confused me when clashing interpretations emerged, her intended personality of a strong, motivated princess somewhat deflated by the conclusion of the game. By the end I felt like I'd lost sight of the character she was meant to be, buried among the many story elements requiring resolution. We’ve had one full game to learn about Geron and Nuri, but Sadja’s characterization is compromised here by the focus on multiple characters. By the end, I felt her personality had been redefined in a way that wasn't particularly justified by the story.

The bigger problem that hinders Memoria's characters is the unconvincing, awkward voice acting, which seems to be an issue with many localized Daedalic adventures. One of the first characters we meet, Fahi’s young daughter, sounds like she's simply reciting her lines, but other children are far worse – a particular disappointment considering Daedalic's own The Night of the Rabbit starred a strong voice actor in a youthful role. Geron’s original voice actor returns, but while he occasionally raises his voice, for the most part his performance is flat and disconnected. Fahi turns in one of the more authentic performances in a suitably Middle Eastern accent, but overall the cast suffers from a lack of voice direction.

Dialogues show characters fairly close-up at times, and the lip-sync animations are off as well. Some movements cut out, or don’t show at all. As I progressed I got used to it, and the highly detailed character drawings help atone for the jittery animation. Fortunately, the script itself works well for the most part, and I didn’t find the translation at all problematic.

Continued on the next page...



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Game Info

Memoria

Platform:
Mac, PC

Genre:
Fantasy

Developer:
Daedalic Entertainment


Game Page »

Digital August 30 2013 Daedalic Entertainment

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Memoria

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User Score

Average based on 26 ratings

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User Reviews

Posted by gray pierce on Sep 23, 2013

Though not perfect still a huge improvement

Spent an entire weekend playing this game and I have to say I really, really liked it. It's a darker more mature game than Chains of Satinav... Read the review »

Posted by Bonsai on Sep 3, 2013

Great Game, Not a Classic

I enjoyed this game. The use of inventory, magic and dialog gave me an RPG feeling without the combat. The story progressed smoothly with... Read the review »

Posted by Bobbles on Aug 31, 2013

One of the very best adventure games

I played the German version of Memoria and was blown away by great voice acting (quite honestly, the best I've ever heard), very well... Read the review »



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About the Author
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Matt Donatelli
Staff Writer, Game Data Coordinator

Comments

darthmaul
Sep 6, 2013

Anyone know if this will be released DRM free like their previous games?

Zifnab Zifnab
Sep 8, 2013

Another excellent review, very informative without being overly critical or generous. If you weren’t thrilled by Chains of Satinav it’s best to skip this one. I didn’t think technical limitations were what held the game back. When it comes to production values Daedelic is among the best but it sometimes suffers from formulaic stories and characters. Night of the Rabbit improved in this area and it was disappointing to see the standard drop back down with Memoria. Puzzles were, as always with Daedelic, nothing you haven’t solved before in a hundred other adventures.

One thing I’m interested in is how the German voices compare to the English version. I agree with the reviewer that the English voice acting was lackluster.

PadanFain
Sep 8, 2013

I think the rating is missing a star somewhere, as this game definitely deserves a 4.5.

It’s sad though, the game receiving a lesser rating to the VASTLY inferior Night of the Rabbit.

But, ‘tis no surprise. It’s been kind of fun guessing Adventure Gamers’ ratings in advance, before a review is up. Unfortunately, or maybe uncannily, I am rarely wrong.

Majsan Majsan
Sep 8, 2013

I REALLY liked this game and have already played it twice. So, in my book this game gets more stars… Like PandanFain I liked this game more than Night of the Rabbit.

Schneckchen ^.^ Schneckchen ^.^
Sep 9, 2013

It’s sad to see that just as with its predecessor, this game is again unfairly criticised for its animations. They should be in “The Good” category, not “The Bad”.

Yes some of the animations are not completely smooth but AT LEAST THEY’RE THERE. That is the point that no review site seems to get.

No other adventure game bothers actually showing you every interaction in a realistic way. Only this series does and I hate seeing it being criticised over and over for putting more effort into animations than other games.

efka526 efka526
Sep 9, 2013

3.5 stars? This game is great. They improved a lot of things after Chains of Satinav. Smoother animations and the story is now more embedded into the world of the Dark Eye. The Dark Eye (or short DSA for Das Schwarze Auge) is the oldest pen and paper system in Germany. 29 years ago the first version has been published by some guys who could not afford the license fees to publish the German translation for the US Dungeons and Dragons.

Almost 100 novels, dozens of boxes about regions and special rules, over 150 adventure modules later this is the 2nd point and click adventure in this world. But the 10th game or so in general.

The story is not just better imbedded in the world, it brings a darker twist with the second plot line that plays 450 years before Geron. This was a dark time in Aventurien, the time of the first clash between the demon hordes of the dark magician Borbarad and the forces of light. DSA veteran Hadmar von Wieser helped the team to make a more “aventuric” game and I think the whole feeling is more “aventurian”. The characters are very aventuric.

This is not an unidimensional product. It sits within the whole 30 year old canon of DSA and it really does a good job. 3.5 stars is a joke. Even without being a DSA fan (playing the system now for 20 years, having read over 50 of the novels, owning every module etc) I would definitely give it a 4.5.

And please…. BAVARIAN? WTF? Bavaria is just ONE state in the south of Germany. One. From 16 states that form the federal republic of Germany! Medieval cities looked like Andergast everywhere in Europe. Not just in Bavaria. It is like calling every US city “texan”... 90% of German people do not dance in Lederhosen to Polka music, only bavarian rednecks do that Wink And Bavaria does not have many medieval sites, except the tourist traps most foreign tourists are kidnapped to Wink

@Zifnab (awesome nick, I love the Weis/Hickman-stuff) the German version uses a lot of well known voice actors. Real professionals, some working in the field for decades. Voice actors that are known from movie dubs, audio plays and games. I think I should switch the language in the game to hear if the english version is so unprofessional as I have read on the net.

cheers,
Frank

PadanFain
Sep 9, 2013

@Frank

The English version sounds perfectly fine. I would say it’s actually very good, with a few mismatched voices here and there. Since I played the first game in English, I thought I’d continue with this one as well.

Once it’s time for a re-play, I’ll try out the German voiceovers.

Zifnab Zifnab
Sep 10, 2013

efka526 - 3.5 stars is a good score, meaning the reviewer liked it. Try to understand that for 4.5 stars a game needs to really stand out. This game doesn’t. We get half a dozen games like Memoria each year, filled with stock puzzles, thinly drawn characters and all the standard cliches - these include the Secret Files, Black Mirror 2 and 3, Chronicles of Zerzura. If they all received high scores there would be no room for the exceptional games like GK1, The Longest Journey, BS1, or Grim Fandango which really do deserve 4.5 stars or more. And if we do hold up Memoria as the pinnacle of adventure gaming, that would be a sad thing because we can do better (and have done).

PersnickityMonk
Sep 10, 2013

This is one of the most entertaining, engaging, and well paced adventure games that I’ve played in years, and reminded me of the enjoyment I had playing the King’s Quest games growing up.

Though I enjoyed Chains of Satinav, without question, Memoria improved upon the original game in nearly every way.  That said, if you disliked Chains of Satinav, you will likely dislike the sequel as well.

In regards to the English voice acting, it may not be the best I’ve heard, but mostly fitting nonetheless.

I would rate the game as nothing less than 4.5 stars, as I didn’t want to put it down.

efka526 efka526
Sep 10, 2013

Sorry, old forgetful wizard ;-), but I think that there is too much glorification of old adventure gaming times in that statement, like “Oh, in the old days there were great adventure games”, although of course there were some great games. 3.5 would be justified for Chains of Satinav. But not for this game.

Just look at this thread. Well, most high rating users seem to be German, too. And perhaps this is why we love this game so much, cause for us the world is so well known for now 29 years. Which reminds me to pack my bag and dice for tomorrows Das schwarze Auge Pen and Paper session ;-)

Sure, five points would be too much. Does not leave a lot of room for exceptionally good games. But this game is just great and even some German major gaming magazines gave 90%, which is very rare nowadays. Cause although some people think that Germany is a paradise for adventure gaming, it is more or less the favourite genre of people my age. I am 37 and play adventures for 30 years now.

Even Book of unwritten Tales or Whispered World are on the same level imho. And Deponia of course. Substracting my DSA nerdism I would still give four stars.

But hey, every reviewer is entitled to his or her own opinion. And with different backgrounds, especially in this case when lacking aventurian lore. Stupid to argue, but that is what these threads are for ;-) and the average user ratings. Which is 4.5 stars ;-)

I am really happy that the game sells well, especially in foreign countries. It gives hope for a few other DSA adventures. Two RPGs are already on their way. Because young Germans are not digging adventure games anymore, international sales are very important. Thank you for supporting solid German gaming engineering ;-)

And hey, Black Mirror 1-3 were awesome. Except the endings of every part, my wife is still upset because of it. She is a long time adventure gaming veteran, too. Good thing that you can play adventure games pretty well with multiple players.

Iznogood Iznogood
Sep 10, 2013

This is a GREAT game and in my humble opinion the best AG that has been released in several years.

Sure you can always find things to criticize and it is not without flaws, like the (english) voice acting and the lib-syncing, but the story, the visuals, the script and the puzzle design more than compensate for these flaws, and it all comes together as a great game.

A thing like greatness is of course a subjective opinion, and the game might not be to everybody’s taste, but it is exactly the kind of AG I prefer and it really shines in the areas that matters most to me.

One small detail that I really liked about it, is that there are two different descriptions for everything, one for left clicking on an item, and another, usually more comprehensive, for when you right click on an item.
And as Bobbles wrote in the user review, a lot of background information and characterisation of Sadja lies in these descriptions.

After much consideration I will give this a perfect 5 out of 5 stars.
(At least compared to what other games have been given a 5 star rating here)

BTW: I’m a bit surprised the reviewer had to skip the maze, as there is a trick to navigate it, apart from the berries, that actually makes it quite easy, but I guess if you miss the trick ....

PadanFain
Sep 10, 2013

“We get half a dozen games like Memoria each year, filled with stock puzzles, thinly drawn characters and all the standard cliches - these include the Secret Files, Black Mirror 2 and 3, Chronicles of Zerzura”

The only thing is, Memoria isn’t filled with thinly drawn characters and the standard cliches. Honestly, it’s like you’re talking without even having played the game. There is a BIG difference between cliches and tropes. Memoria utilizes genre tropes, but without resorting to cliches.

Jackal Jackal
Sep 11, 2013

They’re tropes to you, PadanFain, and cliches to him. There’s nothing contradictory about that, and neither of you is right nor the other wrong, no matter how often you protest to the contrary.

efka526, it’s great that Memoria offers so much Dark Eye fan service, but as you noted, that’s really irrelevant to anyone unfamiliar with the series (which is most of the world). Daedalic had to know going in that it would be a lot more meaningful to Germans than anyone else.

Schneckchen, “because it’s there” is the reason to climb a mountain, not to praise a game. Wink Is poor voice acting better than no voice acting? Ditto animations. Adding more animations is no substitute for fixing the spotty animation you started with. It’s not a deal-breaker, but a reviewer can’t ignore it either.

PadanFain
Sep 11, 2013

“They’re tropes to you, PadanFain, and cliches to him. There’s nothing contradictory about that, and neither of you is right nor the other wrong, no matter how often you protest to the contrary.”

Sorry, but that’s like saying: ‘That’s a cat to you, but a dog to him. You are both right.’

Jackal Jackal
Sep 11, 2013

No, it’s not like like that at all. Bad enough you were trying to elevate your own perception above others’, but now you’re demanding that the label that best suits your perception is the only one that qualifies. Doesn’t work that way.

We get it: you love the game. Newsflash: others love it less, and their opinions are just as valid as yours. And that will be the end of that.

efka526 efka526
Sep 11, 2013

Jackal is partly right. Tastes are different. And that is a good thing. Otherwise our life would be very monochrome and without stuff that really triggers emotions and passion. But that is also why a single review like the review above can never be a more or less “objective” (well Objectivity is an illusion anyway) opinion. That is why there is the possibility here to rate in the user rating. Which gives a much broader picture.

And yes, of course the game offers more to people who know the background and grew up with it. And recognize a lot of elements which another person without the information would never recognize. That is some of the hard stuff that comes if you develop games that are part of such a huge and old universe. Take eg a DnD game without knowing anything about the world. Would take a lot of the vibe.

I noticed something similar with Shadowrun Returns. People who are into the pen and paper game loved it, rated it very high. People without any knowledge of the world and the system did not really get it and missed the whole very accurate vibe and very accurate (according to the official SR lore) story.

The average of many opinions is much nearer towards the unreachable “objective judgement” than a single opinion. Which does not mean that a single opinion is irrelevant. Every man and woman has the right to speak and write what he or she wants as long she or he respects this right for other persons, too. Every one who ever wrote a review knows that and hey, it would be boring if we would agree all the time.

And discussions are a good thing, too. Everyone who reads the review will read this thread and think “Hey there are people out there dedicated to the game, perhaps, even with these 3.5 stars in the official review I should give it a try” Grin Ha, democracy, I love it Wink

But I still would give it a 4 to 4.5 Wink

My Dune
Sep 11, 2013

Very nice game, but pretty easy. Specially for the die hard adventure gamers like me.
Still I really loved to play this one. I liked the story, sounds and grafics a lot. Of all the adventure games I have played lately, this one is absolutely in my top 5.  I played many many adventure games and in all of them I saw glitches and other faults. Memoria was no exception.

I would give Memoria a 4 rating and would play a sequal right away.

Keep up the good work Daedalic. I can’t wait what you come up with next, but please make it a bit more challenging.

Danaroth
Sep 14, 2013

Just to chime in as a person non passionate about fantasy settings and who thought that Chains of Satinav was mediocre at best, but still enjoyed the rich narrative of Memoria. This is the kind of game that starts pretty slowly and requires a lot of focus, since most elements aren’t exactly obvious when introduced but fall satisfyingly in place as the game goes on. It also features a stunning ending, which was usually not a strong point in Daedalic games.

bai_ganyo
Sep 15, 2013

I usually don’t post comments. But this has been one of the most enjoyable adventure games of the last years for me and probably Daedalic’s best (next to Deponia 1&2), definitely way better than the predecessor and way way better than Night of the Rabbit.

Though the art is alway very attracitve, animations have never been a strong side of Daedalic’s. I was actually appalled by the animations of The Whispered World, which are described as “colorful, exaggerated, and wonderfully nuanced” by Adventure Gamers. The game had a narrative that was unusually strong and dense for an adventure game, stretched a very nice arch throughout the whole game without being predicitve at all and had me excited up to the very end of the game.
Also I have to take the side of PadanFain concerning cliches. Fantasy is a genre with very strict and rigid patterns of behaviour, characterization and ethics. So yes, as a psychological drama, Memoria probably wouldn’t score very high. But I would definitely not call any part of this game a cliche.
I played Memoria in English and actually did like the voice acting. So that’s that.

incometrader
Sep 28, 2013

Really loved this game, as good or better than Chains of Satinav.
My only nitpick was I wish the Geron part of the story was as good as the Sadja’s.

A solid 4 out of 5

gover79
Sep 29, 2013

Like several previus posters, I’m surprised about the 3.5 star rating. I would have expected to see 4 stars, possibly 4.5.

Of course I understant this is all very subjective…

SamuelGordon SamuelGordon
Oct 2, 2013

The review is spot on! Just finished it and i enjoyed Chains of Satinav much more (doesn’t mean it’s better, it just loved the locations & quests more). It’s really sad that they used the majority of the first game’s village locations for Geron, really bummed about that one. I expected he would travel to the locations of the princess (old vs new comparison or somehing like that). Choppy animations, the voice acting was alright imo.

The quests were too easy, the first game had much better ones (and more fun!). I really really loved the spells though, the vision sending had much potential and the others too, at first i thought the princess was a villain and you could do some evil stuff (disappointment!). No, no evil protagonist here:(.  The story had potential and an interesting mythology but they didn’t do much with it (fell flat).  The ending was a mess, lame villain and a disappointing conclusion for both parties.

I give it a 3,5 stars, not better than Satinav and ultimately a forgetful experience. I do want to see another game in this universe with harder quests.



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