The Dark Eye: Memoria, a port of the 2013 game released at the same time as the port of 2012’s Chains of Satinav, follows on directly from the events in that game. These are the earliest games in The Dark Eye universe from Daedalic Entertainment, both solid point-and-click adventures that don’t deviate too much from the long-established formula. Once again, it’s worth noting The Dark Eye: Memoria is the same game as the PC version – all the useful player assists intact – but with an updated control scheme and a few quality-of-life features for console players. If you’ve played and enjoyed these games on PC, there’s no new story content on offer here.
Just like Chains of Satinav port, the hand-painted visual style holds up on modern UHDTVs but Memoria offers more diverse and fluid animations.
Without spoiling too much of the prior game, The Dark Eye: Memoria kicks off with the bird-catcher Geron – the now unrecognised hero of Andergast – on a quest to restore the fairy Nuri to her original form. Geron seeks the counsel of a mysterious merchant named Fahi, who can offer him a powerful restoration spell. However, Geron first has to help Fahi unravel a 450-year-old mystery surrounding the heroic princess Sadja, whose actions have somehow been forgotten. The characters remain likeable, and the writing both humorous and witty, but The Dark Eye: Memoria covers far more introspective topics and is a darker game than its predecessor.
Chains of Satinav already moved at a brisk pace, with cutscenes and narration filling in the gaps between important playable events, but this story-within-a-story structure keeps The Dark Eye: Memoria feeling fresher still, as you frequently shift from controlling Geron in the present and Sadja in the past. Sadja also makes for a great complementary protagonist, initially arrogant about her abilities and saddled with a snarky talking staff, while Geron has gained some confidence, but remains unsure and reserved in his approach to problems.
While Geron spends most of his time in and around Andergast, Sadje’s adventures take the player to far more exotic locales.
As with the prior game, The Dark Eye: Memoria is packed with multi-layered puzzles to an almost absurd degree. The first act you take control of Sadja, which requires you to escape from a tomb using the magic abilities of her newfound staff companion, will test your perseverance from the outset. In comparison to the brief opening as Geron – which at least offers a few tutorial hints this time – the puzzling complexity is immediately ramped up to 10. Each new area typically requires you to solve multiple smaller puzzles to circumvent a major puzzle blocking your progression.
The solutions always make sense in the end, however, it’s often the order of events that can confuse the player. Companion dialogue, Sadje’s talking staff, and item descriptions will point the way, and you need to remember both Geron and Sadje have spells that can be used on both the environment and objects. This makes some puzzles feel unnecessarily elaborate, but there are no fail-states and you can get by with brute force if you’re desperate to avoid consulting a guide (which I’d recommend if you get stuck, so as not to ruin the narrative momentum).
The simple interaction interface for console players still feels a little clunky at times, but it doesn’t take long to feel intuitive.
To help you through the tougher puzzles and avoid pixel-hunting, the console port has all the player assists from the PC release. Coupled with the decent gamepad control scheme, it doesn’t take long to get comfortable while sitting in front of a TV. Movement is tied to the left analogue stick, while “hotspots” in the environment are highlighted when you’re close (and are easy to flick between with a bumper). The inventory can be accessed from a classic grid view or a quick toggle at the bottom of the screen. Interactions, such as activating objects, observing them for details, or using the selected inventory item, are bound to different face buttons.
A single button press will highlight all interactive objects and area-transition paths, a much-needed addition in a game that can have a dozen on a single screen. Player assists can change the colour of object names – in both the world and inventory – indicating if you’ve exhausted all interactions or they can still be combined with another object. As The Dark Eye: Memoria tends to move you to new areas in each act, you’ll rarely be confused by an object that can only be used later in the game. Once again, moving towards hotspots on the edge of a scene can sometimes trigger an area transition, but it’s a minor annoyance.
The ability to highlight “hotspots” and interactive objects – as well as changing text colour based on further interactions – is a must, especially for scenes where the character is trying to solve a puzzle from afar.
The Dark Eye: Memoria still looks good, thanks to the highly-detailed handpainted backdrops, much more fluid animations (for both characters and scene elements), and high-resolution 3D character models that blend into the backdrop. Excellent ambient audio and the atmospheric soundtrack work with the visual designs to brings each location to life. The quality of writing and voice-work is even better than Chains of Satinav, still witty and often humorous despite the darker story, but the delivery is much better. More fluid facial animations and flowing dialogue drastically improve character interactions.
The Dark Eye: Memoria is a refinement of Daedalic Entertainment’s first attempt, despite following the same basic gameplay loop. It’s a surprisingly well-ported point-and-click adventure, with solid gamepad controls, great characters, and witty writing. It helps the animations and dialogue feel so much more fluid and natural. If you’re a fan of point-and-click adventures, and you enjoyed Chains of Satinav (which I recommend you play first to keep up with the story), The Dark Eye: Memoria is an even better experience.
The Dark Eye: Memoria is developed and Published by Daedalic Entertainment
The Dark Eye: Memoria is available on the following Platforms: Xbox One, PC, Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4
This review is based on the Xbox version of the Game
You can purchase this version of the game here for £17.99.
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