I recently finished Daedalic Entertainment’s point-and-click adventure, Memoria. I was planning on writing a review, but this article is going to be something different. If you want a review, here it is: The gameplay is pretty standard for a point-and-click. You interact with your environment in a variety of ways, including through dialogue and magic. If you like point-and-clicks, you’ll like this one. If you don’t, this isn’t the game for you. With that “review” out of the way, I want to write about how this game affected me.
What really grabbed me about Memoria was its beautiful story and powerful themes. The story follows Geron, a bird catcher who finds himself caught up in a mysterious series of events as he tries to restore his beloved Nuri, a raven, to her original human form. As he does so, he learns of a hero from another time, the princess Sadja. Through Geron’s dreams, you play through Sadja’s story as well. These two storylines intertwine in unexpected ways, and through these stories and characters, a thought-provoking tale emerges.
The crux of the story is a place called the Garden of Oblivion. This garden is hidden from time and reality. This means that nothing that happens in the garden actually happened as far as the rest of the world is concerned. If you break a twig inside the garden, when you take the twig out, it will not be broken. Your breaking of the twig “never happened.” Once outside, you can talk about what happened in the garden, and you will convince Time that it actually happened. However, this creates a loophole. You can say that something happened in the garden even if it never actually did. You could go into the garden, take a twig, then walk out and say that you broke it, and it would be broken.
Already, an interesting theme begins to emerge. What is real? What is merely story? In this game, sometimes story can trump reality. A convincing story can persuade Time itself that a particular event happened. But is the garden the only way this phenomenon can occur? In our world, can story be more “real” than reality?
This theme is expanded on as we learn more about Sadja, the princess from the past. You learn her story from the perspective of her traveling companion, a magical staff. Since the story is told from his point of view, there are a few gaps, and he acts as somewhat of an unreliable narrator. As you delve more into Sadja’s story, you learn that she was not actually a princess at all. She was a peasant girl who wanted to live on forever through stories. She wanted to achieve greatness so that people would speak her name through the generations. She understood that who she really was didn’t matter--what really mattered to her is who people remembered her as. If she could be remembered as a heroic princess, then she would be a heroic princess forever.
The final incident of the game reinforces this idea. At the end of the game, you receive access to the magic that will restore Nuri to her human form, but it will destroy her memory. You have to choose whether you would rather have her stay in her raven form while retaining her memories of her and Geron’s time together, or if you want her to regain her human form but to forget all those memories. If she becomes human again, those experiences that she had with Geron will exist to her only as stories.
This theme really got me thinking, and I’ve been mulling about this for the past few days. What is reality but the way it is perceived and remembered? History is a collection of stories told by a series of unreliable narrators. Even our own realities. If we fail to tell our own stories, they become forgotten. This is why storytelling is important today. For example, Victor Hugo’s Les Miserables is perhaps just as “real” or important as many real events from French history. Fairy tales, legends, myths, novels, comic books, movies--these stories, these characters, these lessons are a real part of our culture. If we are going to learn and remember, we have to keep telling stories.