Take a trip through space, time, and…relationship management?
Take a minute, and think about your romantic history in terms of dating. Who have you dated? How long was the relationship? Were the memories good or bad? Surely the answers change, whether slightly or greatly, from one individual to the next. Regardless of the answer that you may provide, it would be relatively safe to assume one thing; there was at least one point in time you asked yourself “what if”? What if I had gone for that other person? What if I had acted differently in that situation? The questions may differ, but they all stem from doubt, and curiosity of the unknown. Surely many of those asking “what if” would love to experience those events differently if given the chance, if just to slate curiosity. It is this desire to experience each potential path that drives Idea Factory International’s first ever visual novel title, Amnesia: Memories.
Amnesia: Memories takes place through the eyes of a college-age heroine as she strives to recover her lost memories and do her best to maintain her relationship with her boyfriend, Kent. Or was it Shin? Ikki? Toma? Oh, yeah, oops; you have amnesia (as the title so implies)! What to do?
The game begins a bit strangely, with you (as the heroine) waking up in a very colorful void. Before you even have time to think about where you are or what happened, a magical, albeit strange boy appears and begins talking to you. He introduces himself as Orion, and explains that he -somehow- collided into you while on a business trip to earth and managed to get himself stuck inside of your conscious thus taking up space and knocking all of your memories right out of your head. Not surprisingly, the only way to send your house guest packing is to recover your lost memories. Fortunately, Orion can open the door back to your reality. Unfortunately, there are four doors leading to four parallel universes; Heart, Diamond, Clover, and Spade. Orion then goes on to explain that it matters not which you choose because the world in which you enter will intrinsically sort itself out and put you where you belong. Besides, you can’t remember old what’s-his-name anyway, so you really have nothing to lose.
Rather than getting to know each potential husbando and build relationships with each of them, your love interest is actually predetermined on which of the doors you decided to open. While Amnesia: Memories had the potential to keep the story the same across every world, changing nothing but the male protagonist, it did no such thing. Rather, every world is unique, and follows its own path spectacularly thanks to the game’s superb writing, with only core storyline landmarks such as your place if employment and apartment location being identical between each world. Locations you visit, activities you participate in, even relationships with others aside from your boyfriend are quite dynamic; so much so that it is quite easy to play through each scenario with little to nothing feeling stale. Of course, your significant other is the biggest change. Each of the potential love interests are quite vibrant in one way or another, and each carry with them a story that promises to be compelling, thought-provoking and, if you play your cards right, pretty adorable at times, each in their own way.
With Amnesia: Memories being a visual novel, the game mechanics are quite simple. As the term “visual novel” may imply, much of the game involves merely reading the chosen story as it develops. The stories do not have a set route nor a set ending, however. Scattered abundantly throughout each story are dialogue choices that you as the protagonist must make. They very in intensity and importance, from which tea to drink to (minor spoiler) figuring out a murder mystery (end spoiler) and almost never overlap from one world to another, making each decision feel fresh and exciting. These plentiful choices made throughout the journey also have an impact on emotional states known as Parameters. These Parameters detail your feelings for each other, your partner’s suspicion in regards to your amnesia, and more, and are very important to keep track of. Every choice has the potential to change your Parameters, so do not choose answers carelessly!
The visuals of the game are very colorful and expressive, and only serves to make the game a more enjoyable experience. The backgrounds are generally shaded in comforting hues of various colors, and the character portraits themselves are quite well-done. Each character is detailed quite well, and it is always rewarding eliciting as many different expressions out of them as possible.
The audio side of Amnesia: Memories, was done well, also. The background music was well-done, and helped to keep up whatever atmosphere that the stories would provoke. While they were nothing to fawn over, they certainly were acceptable. The voice acting, though in Japanese, was enjoyable as well. Even with no knowledge of the Japanese language whatsoever it was very evident that the voice actors were giving it their all, and they sure had a lot to give.
Amnesia: Memories may have been Idea Factory International’s first attempt at a visual novel, but the game is so well done that IFI could fool just about anyone into thinking that they have been making games within this genre for a long time. Between the writing, the art, and the voice acting, this game is certainly packed to the brim with satisfying content If you like visual novels, or games involving romance, this Amnesia: Memories is definitely something to pick up as soon as possible. Even if visual novels are not your thing, the game is good enough to at least warrant still some looking into. There has never been a better time to have Amnesia.
Final Verdict: 4.5 / 5
Available on: Vita, PC (reviewed); Publisher: Idea Factory International; Developer: Design Factory; Players: 1; Released: August 25, 2015 ; ESRB: T for Teen ; MSRP: $29.99
Full disclosure: This review is based on a review copy of Amnesia: Memories provided by the game’s publisher, Idea Factory International.