The Dark Eye: Memoria, returns us to the world of Aventuria for, nominally, an adventure with our hero from the last game, Chains of Satinav.  Geron of Andergast returns with his fairy Nuri to continue his story from the first game. Luckily, for those who haven’t played the first, you don’t really need to know anything about it to play the game or get immersed in the story.  At the same time you’re progressing through Geron’s story, you are learning the story of Sadja, an ancient and long lost princess.  Geron hears about her story through diary entries and other pieces of lore as he attempts to find out what happened to her.  As he learns about her, the player gets to control her, lending a rich setup to Memoria.  The player gets to control two different people in two totally different, yet interwoven stories.

As a point and click adventure, Memoria takes the player through intricate and beautifully detailed landscapes as they progress through the story.  Every time I entered a new screen and new part of the world, I was amazed at how lovely everything was.  It really helps to set the mood and helps to drag you into the setting.  The animations for the game were pretty well done as well; there were some stiff movements on the characters part, but I didn’t see any excessive clipping or horribly disjointed limbs that occasionally plague computer games.  And the voice acting was pretty well handled as well, with each of the characters seeming as if they belonged in the setting.  I didn’t hear a voice or piece of dialogue and immediately get taken out of the setting.

And the setting and backgrounds helps to add to the story.  I was very interested to find out what was happening with the characters involved.  I wanted to unravel their stories and find out everything I could about them.  Interestingly enough, I was more interested in Sadja than Geron.  Out of the two of them, Sadja had the most interesting story going on over the course of the game.

Whenever I played a section with her, I found myself leaning forward on my seat and paying more attention to the screen as I tried to find out what was going to happen.  Geron’s story wasn’t as compelling and I’m sorry to say that I was only interested because what he was doing was helping me learn more about Sadja.  And after playing the game to its conclusion, I have to say that the story really isn’t even about Geron. It’s about her. And playing through to the very end and coming to that conclusion was a very satisfying and fulfilling way to finish it all.  I actually liked being surprised at the depth of how much more important she was than him, and I can say that without revealing exactly why Sadja’s so much central to the game than Geron.

Memoria also had a fairly decent way of solving puzzles for the game.  Each character had various magic spells that they could use in addition to the random items they’d pick up over the course of the game.  I was afraid that once a spell was introduced it might only be used once or twice and then forgotten about in favor of some other mechanic.  However, they made good use of the spells in the game and made sure to utilize them over the course of the story.

That being said, the puzzles in a few areas of the game were some of the worst things the developers could have done to the players.  One of the puzzles is a giant forest maze that you somehow have to make your way out of.  At some point while wandering around, if you’ve been doing it for too long, you get a pop up option that stays on your screen and allows you to skip the maze if it’s been too long since you entered.  Whenever a game gives me the option to skip or partially skip their puzzles, it tells me two things. One, the developers knew it was going to be an unnecessarily obnoxious puzzle and they put it in anyway. And two, they couldn’t think of anything more appropriate to put in its place.

Now there’s a time honored tradition of point and click adventure games putting in difficult and mind scratching puzzles.  But I have a strong objection to puzzles with no actual clues as to how to complete them, even if the clue is obscure.  Memoria features a few puzzles with no discernable clue to their completion.  As a matter of fact, some of the puzzles basically require the player to spend an excessive amount of time playing a guessing game and serve no purpose other than to frustrate.  At a certain point, going online and pulling up a walkthrough is probably your best option; the puzzles are only in the way of getting to the rest of the awesome story at that point.  And the story is definitely worth making your way through the whole game, frustrating puzzles and all.

The Dark Eye: Memoria is a great game.  The setting and backgrounds are gorgeous, the mechanics are well done and the story itself is meaty enough to make a vegetarian want to sink their teeth in and take a huge bite. No offense to any vegetarians intended.  Ahem. Now go pick up the game, sit back and enjoy.  Keep a walkthrough open for the difficult parts, but have fun trying all the puzzles yourself.  This game is worth pushing through.

This game was reviewed on Steam with a code provided by the publisher.