Amnesia: Memories Review
For those paying attention to the genre, 2015 has been quite a year for visual novels. From Steins;Gate to DanganRonpa to XBlaze, there are more than enough of these stories to enjoy… and those are only the titles that have come out or are about to come out in the upcoming weeks.
Throughout the year there have been plenty of PC and Vita visual novels to enjoy, and Amnesia: Memories is another that adds itself to rather packed release schedule. Facing against visual novel series that carry a lot of acclaim, how well does Idea Factory's offering stand up?
Amnesia: Memories starts off with you, a female character that the player names, in an odd place. There you meet Orion, an otherworldly being that made a bit of an accident. While trying to fulfill his duties on Earth, he collided with the main character, and in the process joined with her body and caused her to lose her memories.
So, it's up to the two of them to go back into the real world and try to recover her memories to 'dislodge' Orion from her consciousness. But, is everyone trustworthy, or will the knowledge of the heroine's amnesia cause trouble for her?
Like most visual novels, Amnesia: Memories has no gameplay to speak of. Instead, players must make choices at integral moments that will change the course of the story. From this, a variety of endings are unlocked that range anywhere from the worst case scenario to the heroine recovering her memories and ending up with her one true love.
The game starts off with four 'worlds' to choose from, each focusing on a different male bachelor, with the fifth world only unlocking after obtaining the best possible ending in the other worlds.
As an otome title, the focus of Amnesia: Memories is mostly on the five male leads and learning more about them as you try to recover your memories. Each of them have vastly different personalities, and since each world has a completely separate story line that doesn't repeat itself like most visual novels would, it stops the game from getting too stale too quickly.
Undoubtedly players are going to like some characters and their stories more than others, but none of the paths are particularly badly written. Also, each of the four initial paths offer an over-arching mystery that is only solved in the final path… provided players pay attention, of course.
Overall, it's quite a good game, with wonderful art and a good storyline, but Amnesia suffers from one glaring flaw that really puts a damper on the entire experience.
It is extremely difficult to get the good endings in this title—and since the good ends are required to unlock the final path, it can become immensely frustrating to try and truly progress in this title. While it's not uncommon for visual novels' 'True Ends' to require some exacting choices, Amnesia: Memories takes it to an entirely new level.
In order to unlock the good end for each world, supposedly the heroine's parameters (which include trust, affection, and other vague stats) have to be within certain values. I say 'supposedly' because I'm frankly not sure if that is true, because these parameters are never explained, no hints are given about how they go up, and they appear to go up at random intervals.
In reality, what the good end requirements boil down to is making the exact right choice at specific times. Given that each path has a good 30 choices to make and it's sometimes impossible to tell if a choice you made was correct, this is a daunting task to accomplish blind.
For example, for one of the good end requirements in Heart World, the heroine is given three options on where to go for a date. None of these options look particularly offensive, and after choosing all three, there's no real difference between them. None of them unlock a CG of any sort (typically a good indicator of the player doing something right), and all of them reveal a little about the male character.
However, the only correct choice here is to go to the movies, which feels rather odd, especially when certain plot elements suggest that another option may be better. All of the worlds are riddled with ambiguous choices like this, and the only way to know what the correct sequence of options are is to check a guide.
It's a shame, because Amnesia: Memories has an interesting tale to tell. But without an English language guide, early players are going to quickly become frustrated, especially since the Japanese guide sometimes fails to show what the right choice is.
Once a brave player puts up a comprehensive ending guide, though, it's worth working through this nice-looking visual novel.