First Look: Memoria – the Adventure Game from the Glory Days, Fun and All

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The glory days of LucasArts point-and-click adventures were great days to be gaming. I personally cut my teeth on Maniac Mansion, and after that the rest was history. Games with puzzles, wit and humor were the norm. The Monkey Island’s of yesteryear now reduced to Kickstarters and episodes.

But Daedalic Entertainment hasn’t forgotten. With just a sneak peak at its classically-designed adventure game Memoria, it is very clear that this game has packed everything that made the oldies great into a modern package.

The female heroine, Sadja, tells her sentient staff companion her life goal.

The female heroine, Sadja, tells her sentient staff companion her life goal.

Memoria is an adventure game, plain and simple. In a fashion similar to the recent Kickstarter by Tim Schafer, Memoria features the adventures of two different main characters. The first, Geron, is working in the present to return his lover to her human form. The second, Sadja, is on a quest to become the greatest hero of all time – 500 years in the past.

The player controls the actions of both in the classic control scheme with some much-needed updates. Hovering, pointing, clicking, and dragging are back; what’s new is the spacebar, which reveals, via glowing stars, all the important things on the screen that can be interacted with. Gone are the days of dragging the mouse around looking for obscure clues.

Holding the spacebar reveals the wondrous mouse targets of the forest.

Holding the spacebar reveals the wondrous mouse targets of the forest.

Replacing the hide-and-seek minigame inherently designed in all adventure games is the strong focus on puzzles and logic. Item combinations make a comeback, but the reasons to do so make sense. Need glue? Sadja says this substance is sticky, but she won’t touch it with her hands. Make it happen.

The world and characters are richly illustrated with a variety of color pallettes and motions. Nothing seems cheaply animated, and the world seems like it could come to life at any moment. (A useful quality, as this literally happens several times in the demo alone.)

Quality voice acting finishes this polished title off. Every single time a character opens their mouth, a live voice is there to give life to the words. While conversations can seem to run into each other as though the voice tracks were cutting themselves off too soon, these moments are few and far between.

The inventory and quest log stay hidden unless you mouse over them, keeping the player immersed in the world.

The inventory and quest log stay hidden unless you mouse over them, keeping the player immersed in the world.

The demo primarily covers part of Sadja’s story, opening with an introduction of Geron. The so-called hero of his time, he is found seeking a transformation spell from a travelling merchant. Simply gaining entrance to the merchant’s tent involves a small tutorial explaining the game’s controls and an introductory puzzle.

Part of said puzzle involves the use of Geron’s unique brand of magic; Sadja also learns a unique skill that becomes invaluable in working through the game’s mysteries. Geron’s is the ability to destroy and repair any object, and Sadja acquires the ability to turn on and off lights and activate magical golems.

As a point of importance, Sadja’s ability comes not from within but from a pact made with a sentient staff found in the burial chamber of an ancient mage. Said staff quickly establishes himself as hilarious, witty, and sharp – and Sadja plays off him perfectly.

Trapped, Sadja must use her newfound ability to escape.

Trapped, Sadja must use her newfound ability to escape.

For this reason alone I would want to play the full game, but based on what I’ve seen – the polish, the writing, the art, the modern enhancements, the puzzles – there are innumerable incentives to do so.

Memoria promises to be a fantastic adventure game for those looking for a great interactive story with puzzles – and for anyone who wants to recall the truly laugh-out-loud days of Monkey Island and Grim Fandango.

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