While memories may be real, they are also subjective. You can share a memory with someone yet have different recollections than them. As time goes on, certain aspects of a memory can fade away. Sometimes your brain will try to fill them in, and then that becomes a valid part of the memory, for you anyway. Of course, this can be a great trick in storytelling. Filmmaker Christopher Nolan has almost made a career out of films that focus on memories (Memento, Inception) and unreliable narrators (The Prestige). It’s also an interesting area for a video game narrative to explore. That is what Polish developer Juggler Games touches on in its debut game, My Memory of Us.
At its core, My Memory of Us is a 2.5D puzzle adventure game. It begins with a young girl walking into a book store. She finds the elderly shopkeeper’s old scrapbook, and he tells her some of the stories from it. What follows is an allegorical tale about the second World War, fascism, and the Holocaust. This may sound massively depressing, but through the art style — and the replacement of Nazis with robots — this is quite a joyful game.
The first masterstroke is the narration. The team at Juggler Games clearly realized how important this was and got Sir Patrick Stewart to be the narrator. His voice lends a natural gravitas to whatever he says. It is his delivery, though, that really helps sell the story. It’s like being read a story by your favorite grandad. His is the only voice in the game as the characters in the game communicate through grunts and other sounds. This works because the subtitles for these communications are done through images and allow you to follow what is going on.
The art style for the game is simplistic and has a kind of sketch-like style. It’s similar to the brilliant Guns, Gore, and Cannoli. The visuals here though are mainly monochromatic. Everything is in grayscale apart from specific points of interest, which are red. This immediately draws your eye to these objects and interaction points that you will need to progress through the level. You’ll also find certain people colored red later in the game, and this interestingly adds to the level of empathy that you feel for these characters.
Of course, having good narration and a great art style would be pointless if the gameplay didn’t work. Fortunately, the game holds up in this area as well. You are in control of a pair of characters, a boy and a girl. You can control them together (by having them hold hands) or separately (by splitting them up). The girl character has the ability to run and can shoot a catapult. The boy has the ability to crouch and be stealthier. Just these abilities alone add lots of gameplay options and give you numerous puzzles to solve. These include things like getting past a group of soldiers/robots or gaining access to an area that appears unreachable.
As well as these basic puzzles, there are more complicated challenges. This could be as part of your regular gameplay or in a standalone mini-game. It can often take a lot of lateral thinking (or hunting to find a code) to get past some of these. Challenges will have you decipher a code, find your way through a maze of tunnels, activate some switches, or any number of other things. The variety of puzzles was nice, and some really had me scratching my head.
I have to say, I really enjoyed My Memory of Us. It manages to tell a challenging story that reflects the Holocaust and concentration camps, all while maintaining a youthful innocence and focusing on the fun the characters are having together. The music is great and the narration is top-notch. It’s a game that has stayed with me for the last couple of days since I completed it. I will certainly be keeping an eye on Juggler Games to see what they do in the future.
A review code was provided by the publisher.