My Memory of Us
Reviewed by Josh Brant
Developed By: Juggler Games
Published By: Crunching Koalas
Category: Adventure, Puzzle
Release Date: January 24, 2018
My Memory of Us, from developer Juggler Games, tells a somber story that may hit close to home for those with any interest in World War II. There has been no shortage of media that has kept alive the horrors of the war, especially the atrocities of the Holocaust. Told through the eyes of two young children, a boy and a girl, you learn how their friendship carries them through this trying time, but also how they are deeply scarred during a time like this. While the puzzles and animation are satisfying, this does not pay a successful tribute to World War II that I would have liked to see.
In My Memory of Us, the story is told by an elderly man, magnificently voiced by Patrick Stewart, recounting his childhood during the time the “Robot King” invaded and caused hardship and devastation to his community. It focuses on the events that took place in Warsaw Poland in 1939, and ends in 1943 at the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising. As a young boy, he meets a girl and their friendship blossoms and you will be trying to work together to thwart the evil Robot King and his army. A tall task nonetheless, but one that sees the children escape the harsh reality in order to find true happiness. The narrative is somewhat shallow, but is successful in telling a fantastical story that will keep you engaged until the end.
The world you inhabit is beautiful to behold with a monochromatic grayscale color palette, highlighted by red outfits and points of interest. While this may seem like a boring and drab arty style to pursue, the Steampunk influence and immaculate attention to detail with effective use of contrast make My Memory of Us stick out from other adventure titles. Presentation-wise, it successfully encapsulates the early 20th century, while also portraying what it might feel like living in the darkness of the Nazi regime. I especially thought the music stood out providing a foreboding tone, similar to how the great World War II movie The Pianist gripped me.
I could see how some may argue that these fantasy elements are out of place in a game about the Holocaust, but I frankly disagree. My Memory of Us is a child’s version of the events – something you might actually use to teach a kid about this horrible period in human history, much like what Valiant Hearts portrayed with the horrors of World War I. My only gripe with the style the developer chose is that Nazi’s are presented as robots only there to follow orders. Also, I couldn’t help but feel a darker tone would have done wonders for conveying their situation accurately and would have been more appropriate.
Where gameplay is concerned, the puzzles are of the hit-and-miss variety and never truly excel. There are a variety of unrelated mini-games, including tile-shifting, rewiring, riddles, and maze puzzles, which range from fun to figure out to tedious and unenjoyable to solve. Most are very easy to solve and I guess were mean’t for a more younger audience, which is fine but some difficulty options would have been nice. Luckily, My Memory of Us utilizes a collectable system where items can be found hidden or earned throughout the world and unlock relevant historical facts about the invasion. I love it when a developer gives you worthwhile collectables, and it’s always great to learn more about an important time in our history.
While the puzzle sections are offer a nice diversion occasionally, the same can’t be said for the action segments. The controls are imprecise and stiff, and it can be frustrating when I child doesn’t move fast enough or performs an action in a way you did not mean. Taking part in theses driving sequences and chase encounters helps to diversify the gameplay, but still never controls completely right and the clunkiness was an issue, albeit not a deal-breaker.
Unfortunately, when you fail at a task it is instant and oftentimes not as convenient as starting right from where you left off. You’ll be repeating some sections over and over again, just try to get back to where you were. It’s tarnished by how easy most of the game is with some very frustrating moments. With the rudimentary gameplay mixed in with hit-and-miss puzzles, I can see how some would rather not go through the same dull sections multiple times.
Overall, the developers of My Memory of Us have their hearts in the right place, but they come up short in offering a long-lasting impact. While the art style and story are worthwhile to experience, the game misses the mark in providing a clear glimpse into this trying time with puzzles and gameplay that feel like an afterthought. That being said, I did enjoy my time and hope the developer get another chance to build on this formula to provide a more successful depiction of the bravery and persistence of the human spirit.