Memory loss is a staple of the JRPG genre, but it can also work in adventure games like Bit Byterz‘ Memoranda.
Games can be a wonderful medium to convey surrealism, as can be seen in Kentucky Route Zero: Act I and Kentucky Route Zero: Act II which had a dream-like quality to them with the help of its use of warm colors, expressionist backgrounds, and light acoustic guitar soundtrack.
Memoranda also plays with the perception of reality by asking the player to talk to people in weird places or even animals like an elephant who wants to become human. The idea of amnesia is handled in a more subtle manner than in the JRPG genre, as the main protagonist’s not remembering her name isn’t simply a narrative device to explain the hero’s or heroine’s place in the world, but it’s a way to show how fragile people’s minds are and how hard it is to cope with this illness.
The game’s story is inspired by the work of author Haruki Murakami. Even if I haven’t read his short stories, it seems that the topics of loneliness and insanity are reflected in the small town the female lead traverses in and its strange inhabitants she tries to help out. Puzzle solving could be quite obscure, but just like in The Cat Lady, this could actually work to emphasize the weird atmosphere. Needless to say that the hand-painted backgrounds and characters are a joy to behold, while the voice acting sounds as great as the musical accompaniment.
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