We might be mendacity if we pretended we hadn’t skilled spectacular video games revealed by Annapurna Interactive up to now; What Stays of Edith Finch, Outer Wilds, and Sayonara Wild Hearts are simply scratching the floor of the critically acclaimed titles which have handed via their avowed art-game doorways. The hit manufacturing facility although, akin to it’s, appears to be on a little bit of a stumble these days. The hotly-anticipated Twelve Minutes was the dampest of damp squibs, your mileage will completely differ with The Suave Escape and now we have got A Memoir Blue, a “interactive poem” (purple flag emoji) a few aggressive swimmer’s relationship along with her mom.
Is that too cynical? Maybe. We worry that these introspective video games — whereas actually having their place on this monumental, various, joyous interest — want to supply somewhat extra meat on the bone to be actually worthwhile. And we do not imply of their core gameplay, essentially; storywise, it is a flaccid expertise, on prime of being mechanically uninteresting. We will forgive one, however not each.
That is the true nail within the coffin of A Memoir Blue; if it had been a film, it might be an uninteresting one. The “gameplay” right here (oof, we put gameplay in scare quotes, that is by no means a great signal) consists of, primarily, fiddling round. Let’s look at the primary scene — you may see your character (Miriam) receiving a medal for a swimming competitors, and you will use the left stick and buttons to maneuver the assembled press’ microphones and take pictures. Miriam flinches on the digital camera flashes. May this presumably point out a discomfort with success!? Subsequent, you may be rifling via Miriam’s bag, receiving texts messages in an obscured, Wingdings-esque language. May this be one way or the other associated to points with communication? The subsequent section, during which you tune a radio which shows varied abstract-ish scenes slightly hammer this level residence. Sound a bit bland and apparent? You would be proper, nevertheless it’s okay — you are already nearly 10% of the best way via the sport.
Sure, on prime of being a slightly leaden, apparent piece of software program, A Memoir Blue is slightly below an hour lengthy. That is in all probability not the worst determination, all issues thought of, but when it fails to seize you in that brief time, there’s valuable little to advocate right here. We might say a few of the visible design is attention-grabbing — and there’s inarguable talent within the compositions — nevertheless it’s in service of one thing that simply did not hook us. There’s some good mixed-media stuff the place 2D animated flashbacks seem alongside the fully-CG Miriam, however they simply gave us the impression that they’d given up being esoteric and simply determined to indicate us what occurred as a substitute.
It will in all probability be held up as anti-intellectual ultimately, or a part of the group who scream each time they see a “strolling simulator” (a grossly reductive label), however actually, this simply is not good artwork. In fact that is subjective and positive, possibly you may be profoundly moved in a means that we did not expertise, however we might wager it is unlikely. It is a recreation that appears to coast alongside after which simply… fizzle out with no main revelation or actual hook. What’s a beneficiant phrase for that? Meditative. It is meditative. Actually meditative. Kind of like… sleeping.