A year ago I wrote that My Memory of Us promised to tell us a beautiful, charmed, and dark story of friendship set in the midst of an allegory of the second World War.
One year later that promise seems even more likely to come true after now playing through three of the earliest levels of the game.
The levels which take place just before the invasion of the games fictional nation are wonderfully animated, with its shades of grey and black mixed with red, that though few and far between always casts off vibrantly drawn colors that capture the eyes.
The young girl and boy at the heart of the game are a joy whether they are trying to get a slice of cake only to learn that a general has taken it for himself and thus embarking on a grand journey to go capture it, or climbing through an old store in search for a book that unlocks the main larger narrative. My Memory of Us’ early levels offer up a distinctly different and more joyful air to the events of the game then the more somber tinged and sorrowful ones that are to come.
Every time a new gorgeously animated cinematic sprang up on screen after completion of each level I found myself with a huge smirk spreading across my face. This game just stirs emotions within you so well. A year ago it was My Memory of Us ability to craft a heartfelt and tragic story in its version of the Nazi occupation of Poland. Beautifully realized it told of the bravery of two children in the face of horror, its potential to deliver an important and much needed story about this crucial time in history felt palpable, they wanted to do it right.
Now a year later they have also shown that they have the capacity to also nail the more joyful and lighthearted moments that truly capture the fact that this is a game about two kids without losing the weight of what makes this games tale so promising.
Of note is My Memory’s puzzles and general gameplay, which while never a problem does definitely swing toward the rather easy side. Here, the games lack of dialogue via the main characters can also cause some hiccups and walking around that is reminiscent of classic adventure games of old, just perhaps not in the best way. Walking back and forth through areas and picking up anything you possibly can to see if it will help solve the puzzle is in full force in My Memory of Us.
There is nothing particularly special about the second to second gameplay of My Memory either, that is until a moment will strike, you’ll hold your breath, and the game will delight and wow you with its narrative punch being tied so wondrously into its gameplay. Among my favorite moments from my entire time with the game this week was when in the midst of solving a puzzle the young heroine climbed up on a dance hall stage and brought a couple together; laughing, singing, and falling in love as the music soars and you dance away the day.
On the whole though, My Memory remains an endlessly promising and exciting game. Even as political storms rain out across the world and very much find themselves embedded within the game, Juggler Games were insistent that this isn’t a story about hate, or war, or how evil the villains are or even about how the turmoil and events of the past have burst forth anew in the modern age. All of these things will be featured and discussed in the game, but above all else, My Memory of Us is a game about the love of friends, a love and a hope that could change lives even when things are at their very darkest, even when as the world as you’ve ever known it comes crashing down all around you. As fire and flames and darkness descends down in a suffocating grasp upon you. The game says to hold onto one another and love another, to value and empathize with your fellow person and if that’s not a message that is as needed and necessary now as during the time this game was inspired by then I simply don’t know what is.
So I play, I laugh, I smile, and I think of the impending doom just over the horizon, just lingering in a calm before the devastating storm and I hold the hand of my friend, I dance on a stage to make the crowd cheer, I go on after a slice of cake, I stop and do all I can to sqeeze every last drop of joy I can out of this life, to make just one more person filled with joy, before I may not be able to. And then I felt my spirits stir before my demo ends.