It has been fascinating to watch the medium of games evolve over the decades I’ve been able to experience them. From the early days where they were pure escapism, to their early adulthood where they danced on the edge of being mainstream to today where they now sit alongside all other mediums. This has also seen the content within games grow and diversify, no longer a world of pure escapism the games of today are now often intertwined with the real world lives and experiences of those who create them. These more personal experiences are something that Annapurna Interactive excels at putting forward and A Memoir Blue, a lightly biographical retelling of the creative director Shelly Chen’s experiences, is another testament to their expertise in this area.

There you are, you’ve made it. The life you’ve led dedicated to honing your abilities in the water has led to the athlete’s dream: you’ve won gold. But the victory doesn’t bring you much joy, instead you flinch at every camera flash and only seek to find solace by yourself, back at your apartment. Returning home you’re greeted with the tributes to your success: walls filled with trophies, a view over a metropolitan city and all the trappings that come along with the fame and stardom of being at the top of your game. Among all of this is your old radio and, at the moment where you seem to question the reason as to why you’d arrived at this point in your life, an old song plays that transports you back to your childhood, beckoning you to explore the events that led you up to this moment.

A Memoir Blue straddles two distinct visual styles: the stylized 3D world which we could take to be the “real” world and the hand animated land of the character’s main memories. The contrast is rather stark between the two, your real world character moving in a somewhat stilted and robotic fashion whilst your memories moving and flowing with soft grace. At first I was going to chide the developer for haphazardly mixing the two together but I can see now that it was deliberate: the current “you” not being comfortable in who they are, being so far detached from what they remember themselves as. All this being said though the 2D animation is absolutely wonderful so hats off to the animators who worked on this one.

Mechanically the game is very simple, a kind of light adventure game where you’re mostly just clicking around to figure out which parts of the world to reveal or interact with so you can proceed to the next section of the level. Some of the puzzles can be a little awkward to get past as the hit detection and interactions aren’t exactly smooth, but that’s not something that’ll hold you up for too long. It’s likely an artefact of the game being released for a large number of platforms all at once and the controls just needing a little more polish to make them seamless. For a game like this though the mechanics are very much secondary to the narrative that the game wants to tell.

The game follows the formative years of the main character, some of which directly reflect the experiences that the creative director went through as a child. It’s all done without a single line of dialogue, taking the mantra of “show, don’t tell” to the nth degree. The themes it explores are something that I think will resonate for a lot of us and the cultural elements, whilst not initially obvious, certainly start to pick up later in the piece. Whilst it might not hit the emotional highs that I think the developers were hoping to achieve it’s certainly a heartwarming story about accepting your past so you can move forward.

A Memoir Blue is a solid first title from Cloisters Interactive, showing that they can put together a well crafted game that tells a personal story. Like many first run titles from a new studio there’s lots of room from improvement, but the fondation they’ve built with this title shows that they’ve definitely got the ability to tackle a more ambitious sophomore release. Whichever direction they choose to go I’m sure there’ll be a good number of fans wanting to see where they go.

Rating 8.0/10

A Memoir Blue is available on PC, Playstation 4 and 5, Xbox One and Series X/S and Nintendo Switch right now for $11.50, Game was played on the PC with a total of 53 minutes play time and 20% of the achievements unlocked.

About the Author

David Klemke

David is an avid gamer and technology enthusiast in Australia. He got his first taste for both of those passions when his father, a radio engineer from the University of Melbourne, gave him an old DOS box to play games on.

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