Despite having probably the most generic & redundant game title in history, what initially made me interested in Amnesia: Memories wasn’t anything in the game itself. Rather, it was the anime series that it spawned. Although I found the initial episodes dull, I couldn’t help but be grabbed by the beautiful art style. And after reading comments that the game was better because the main character wasn’t as dull as she’s portrayed in the anime, I decided to check the game out if it went on sale. Was it worth it?
In Amnesia: Memories you play as a college-aged girl who has, shockingly, lost her memories. But in comparison to most games where this happens, the reason is pretty unique: a spirit has lodged itself into your soul. This spirit, Orion’s, consciousness has sort of forced your memories out. And while he’s not sure why this happened, at least he offers to help you regain them. But you can’t tell anyone about it, because you’ll sound crazy & likely be locked up, which will cause your mental state to deteriorate. Thus you and Orion must try to covertly figure out your previous life while living it on top of figuring out why you lost your memory in the first place. And that would be difficult enough without the whole world seemingly trying to kill you.
At first glance, Amnesia: Memories appears to be a dating sim. There are five potential love interests for the Heroine to develop feelings for. But I think calling it a “visual novel” is more accurate. The story revolves less around you going on dates as it does playing through the story. A big part of this is because your love interest is set depending on which world you choose to enter (Heart, Spade, Clover, Diamond or Joker). Your choices affect the strength of your relationship and ultimately how the story turns out. Because of this, there isn’t much in the way of control schemes. You simply select dialogue options & try not to die.
Narrative: What impresses me most about Amnesia: Memories is that each world has a unique narrative. Whereas with most dating sims you have the same starting point that branches off depending on which partner you favor, each world plays completely different from the very beginning. I also liked that the characters reoccur in every world, but their roles vary. In one world the Heroine may be very familiar with a character, but in another they’re strangers. For example, in one world the Heroine may have never met the eccentric leader of a fan club before the end of the story, but in another they’re best friends. It helps each story stand on its own. I should also point out, without spoiling much, that these worlds are not individual stories but part of a larger story. Which brings me to the ultimate ending of the game… it’s pretty confusing. I got the gist, as anyone familiar with the multiverse theory would, but I couldn’t help feeling it sort of undoes all the other stories. Like they don’t matter, & only the final ending matters. It’s not necessarily bad, but it seems to be a common thing in dating sim/visual novel games. The characters were interesting, though nothing anyone who’s spent time with anime hasn’t seen before. But there’s something to suit everyone’s preferences. That being said, the game seems to suffer from the same flaw as the show, in that I felt the Heroine didn’t have a coherent personality in any of the stories. This is probably a personal gripe against dating sims as a genre, but I hate feeling like I’m conforming myself (or my character, I guess) to meet the guy’s preferences. What’s the point of even giving me options if only one route is the “most correct”? Almost every option I would naturally pick led to a Bad End. Maybe that explains why I’ve never made it past three dates before… Anyways, that probably speaks more to an inherent character flaw in myself than the game’s fault. What I can blame on the game, however, is some of the bizarre logic the characters display. I don’t know if it’s a Japanese culture thing, but I found it creepy how every single partner, at some point in the story, warned me about doing things that would make it hard for them to “resist.” Do men normally tell that to their partners, at least in a serious manner? That sounds pretty rapey to me. And also, I won’t say which world it was in, but one of the worlds should’ve had a different Perfect End. I know it has to do with anime tropes, but I was like, “It’s sweet that you wanted to protect me, but you could’ve just told me instead of, I don’t know– locking me in a cage!” It did not deserve that sappy ending. But overall, the stories themselves are fun, the characters are a lot of fun, & I enjoyed solving the mystery. Though people easily annoyed by anime tropes will likely not enjoy it. Score: 4
Mechanics: There’s not much to say here. You just click the option you want during dialogue to progress the story. There’s nothing else to the gameplay. That being said, I really appreciated that if you’re playing through a section of story for the second time, you can choose the Skip options to make the game speed through all the dialogue you’ve previously seen, stopping only when you reach new dialogue or you have to make a choice. It makes replaying worlds so much easier. Score: 3
Aesthetics: This is a beautiful game. The characters are all so unique and detailed. I especially love the coloring for the eyes. The detailed design really pops against the stark background, which are beautiful in their own right. Of course, the designs are clearly based in anime, with even the characters’ everyday clothes being outlandish. This is especially funny during some of the scenes that clearly show everyone else wearing standard jeans & t-shirts. It’s a shame that most of the game is spent staring at stills with all the character talking just standing on screen, only their expressions changing appropriately during dialogue. There isn’t much animation, & the special scenes are just beautifully-drawn images. But this is standard with visual novels. The music is okay, with only a few tracks, but they’re appropriate to the scenes. The voiceacting is okay as well, though it’s in Japanese. Overall, though sparse, the designs are truly stunning never get old staring at for hours on end. Score: 4
Replay Value: Fairly high. Each world has multiple endings (Perfect, Normal & 2 Bad Ends). To unlock the final world you have to get Perfect Ends on the first four, and that world has a Perfect, Good and 7 Bad Ends. Plus, getting a Perfect End unlocks a bonus story for each character. So if you want to experience everything, there’s plenty of value. I think each world takes about 3-4 hours a piece to complete. Score: 4
Overall Score: 4
Recommended for: fans of otome & visual novel games, those curious in that genre, or people who just like to stare at pretty boys. Is a good example of this genre & has some fun elements.
Not recommended for: most other gamers, especially those who hate anime. Not enough actual “game” to it.
-GamerDameTitle: Amnesia: Memories
Console: PC, PSVita
Developer: Idea Factory
Release Date: August 25, 2015