My Memory of Us is a game that, at first glance, appears to be something unique and distinct. Unfortunately, the end result makes for something far less involved. Now, I want to give credit where credit is due, because the theme and the underlying message within is one that’s deep and very meaningful, but this core concept isn’t upheld very well by the game’s functionality. My Memory of Us is set during World War II, however the Nazi occupation has been traded with a robotic uprising to somewhat lessen the severity.
During the confines of this dark time, players take on the role of a young boy and girl, two individuals whose lives have been thrown into turmoil due to the tyranny of the aforementioned threat. The plot is relayed to the player through the narration of Sir Patrick Stewart, who for the most part, does a stellar job at ensuring that the game hits all the right marks as far as its theme’s delivery is concerned. I’ll also commend the game’s visuals, which go hand in glove with Stewart’s performance to relay a serious, yet oddly playful backbone.
My Memory of Us is a 2.5D puzzle platformer, one that, if anything, had heaps of potential. The aforementioned robot uprising has invaded the homes of our two protagonists. The game’s story toys with oppression, dictatorship and separation. You can expect to see concentration camp-like settings, ruthless soldiers patrolling the streets, and similar sorts of themes throughout. The game does a pretty good job at emphasizing how serious its material is, without ever crossing into a spectrum that’s too much or too heavy handed.
What’s immediately captivating is the game’s visual design choice. Here, everything is black and white, with a few shades of red thrown in to give some strong contrast and identity. Each and every character and section of the game remains well detailed from the get-go, with special mention going to the game’s several distinct and interesting environments. My Memory of Us shares a design that’s not too dissimilar to cartoons that were standard to the era that the game adopts, and does so with a great deal of care and attention to detail.
It’s a shame, then, that the most important aspects of the game are far less exciting nor innovative. Taking on the role of the young boy and girl, each of which offer a few distinct abilities, players will move through a series of levels that rely on little more than tried and tested (and very tired) gameplay. There’s collectibles hidden throughout each level, which once collected, will allow you to read individual stories of real-life heroes and legends. It’s a nice touch to say the least. One can hardly scoff at additions that pay well deserved tributes.
Starting out, one thing that struck me in particular is how slow the game is. That’s not a negativity by any means, but be warned, the pace is very drawn out. The flow of the game sees you controlling each character – in turn – as you move through a range of environmental puzzles, stealth sections and some more direct brain twisters. You’re free to swap between the girl and the boy at any given time, which is oftentimes necessary to overcome whatever obstacle sits in your path. Again, each character offers a unique ability.
The girl has the ability to use a slingshot and can run faster, whereas the boy can creep stealthily and temporarily blind characters via reflecting a shining light. These abilities will spread to the altering character if you’re holding their hand. For example, if you’re playing as the boy and are holding the girls hand, she will follow your lead and will stealthily crawl whenever you do, and vice versa girl to boy. It’s an interesting choice and does admittedly allow for some decent moments of play, but that’s about as far as I will stretch any credit.
The general crux of play has you tackling a wide series of scenarios that lean on the above format, but sadly fails to ultimately evolve throughout. The puzzles, for the most part, are far too easy to suss out and never really provide much of a challenge. The few that do stand out as tougher than the rest, take little more than some light thinking outside of the box to overcome; push a crate here, hit that switch with the slingshot, pick up this item to use on that item, and so forth. The lack of depth only highlights the slow pace, which isn’t very fun.
The same can be said about the few stealth sections within, which consist of nothing more than hiding in a dark hole until an enemy patrol has moved on by. There’s a few moments in which you’ll be faced with the occasional direct puzzle, such as finding the correct key combination or aligning some wiring, but again, this is far from difficult and doesn’t really take a great deal of effort to fulfill. This fluidity, intentional or not, only serves to hold the game back from its potential, which is a shame, because this could have been much more.
There’s also the occasional technical issue to contend with, such as fluctuating framerates on specific levels and a bug that sees the camera panning too far to the left that you cant see your characters and need to force a level restart. Don’t get me wrong, I have no doubt whatsoever that My Memory of Us will please those that it appeals to, but for me, I enjoy my puzzle games to be just that, a puzzle. Here, you’ll do pretty much the same thing, over and over, until you hit the end, with little to stand in your way or test your brain’s might.
My Memory of Us, despite its stellar narration and its wonderful visual design, is a game that’s far too simplistic for its own good. The game’s puzzles rely on tired concepts that take little more than common sense to overcome, with added stealth elements that remain equal to that. The end result makes for a journey that aims to be both deep and emotional, but ultimately fails to meet its intentions.
This game was tested and reviewed on Xbox One. All of the opinions and insights here are subject to that version.