Amnesia: Memories has been a difficult one to review as I have mixed feelings towards it but after mulling it over for a bit, I think I’m finally ready to write my review.
Being a visual novel, it’s important to me that the story is engrossing with engaging characters that push me to continue reading and whilst I managed to storm through my first route pretty quickly, I wasn’t too interested in returning to it afterwards. I’ll admit now that I never got the true end which insisted that I play through the game multiple times with minimal differences bar who you choose to date but, playing as a mute girl, many of candidates seem pretty paranoid and forceful and so I didn’t want to pursue any of them, honestly. I ended up picking Shin because he was your boyfriend before you got amnesia, leaving me to wonder what the main character really wants from a relationship.
Your amnesia was caused by an accident which nobody knows the truth behind, and so it’s up to you and your friends to revisit the crime scene to both try and get your memories back and to find out if somebody was intentionally trying to hurt or murder you. It sounds really interesting but the lack of focus on the murder mystery part of the game, with more focus being on the love section, leaves much to be desired as the characters aren’t engaging and whilst I wanted to know the truth behind the events, I wasn’t willing to play through the game multiple times when I wasn’t particularly interested in much of what happens, despite the great localisation.
Whilst the story didn’t grab me, the visuals proved to be much more stimulating. Being an otome game, which is part of a genre aimed specifically at women, you’ll mostly be seeing boys and CG events where they’re with the main character. Whilst there’s nothing overly exciting about it all, the art style used is detailed and the use of colours and shading are great. I like how environments are drawn in a way that they’re not intrusive but seem somewhat faded, almost as if they’re supposed to represent the main character and her missing memories – she’s able to see what’s directly in front of her but struggles to see past that, which is similar with her memories in how she can remember current day events fine but not the past. Or maybe I’m taking a bit of a stretch and the animators just liked the designs as they are!
There’s a cards theme to the whole game, with the main boys representing hearts, diamonds, clubs and spades which is incorporated into their clothing. There doesn’t seem to be much importance to this although it does seem to lend itself to a fantasy-like feeling, similar to how the environments do, and I’m not entirely sure why but I couldn’t help but think of Alice in Wonderland whilst playing it – perhaps due to a bit of a card emphasis that’s also prevalent in that tale.
I generally prefer English Dubs but I don’t mind Japanese voiceovers in the slightest, however, this game nagged me a little with one particular character – Orion. Orion lives inside your head whilst you have amnesia and whilst as a character he’s fine, I found his voice to grate on me every time he spoke – there’s just something about it I really disliked and found uncomfortable to listen to. Everyone else, however, sounded fine and I didn’t have a problem with them. There’s plenty of spoken dialogue so hopefully you find Orion easier to listen to as he speaks frequently! I was impressed with the OST and how soothing it was. There’s little action in the game and, until the later scenes, it’s all pretty calm and there’s no real sense of urgency to getting the main character’s memories back and so the game has plenty of soft piano tracks to accompany conversations. These were a joy to listen to and I’d happily listen to them in my spare time.
Amnesia: Memories plays fine and has fantastic visuals and audio which, especially the former, are vital to a visual novel but sadly the characters and plot fall flat for me. I’d love to have enjoyed it more but I can’t bring myself to play it several times to achieve the true ending and so the current endings I have will have to be enough for me. It’s nothing to do with it being an otome game, as I relate to a character and their experiences rather than their gender, and I don’t see women enjoying this much more than I have done. Maybe I’ll return to it someday but I’m not feeling particularly compelled to do so right now and it’s a shame as this could’ve been really good. Regardless, I thank Idea Factory for bringing more visual novels West as there aren’t many on consoles or handhelds, and I hope this performs well for them and I’d love to see them localise more in future.