A Memoir Blue | game review
A trip down memory lane can have some surprises.
Game summary: An interactive poem about a superstar athlete and the all-encompassing love between mother and daughter. (Xbox.com)
As the summary above says, A Memoir Blue is an 'interactive poem' rather than what might be considered a more 'normal' game - if there is such a thing - so be prepared for an experience that is far more about the characters and story, with the gameplay being left to a bare minimum. I'm pretty sure that knowledge alone will be enough to put plenty of people off of trying this out, which is a shame.
I'm not about to say that this is an overlooked classic or anything, but it's pretty cheap (and on Game Pass) and also fairly short, so it's not as if it outstays its welcome. The biggest plus point for me is the story, which is about a young woman named Miriam thinking about the changes in the relationship with her mother over the years, from fleeing an abusive home together to Miriam storming out by herself later on.
It's the kind of story that might just be used as a character's personal history in another, bigger game, but lacking the focus of the emotional impact such a history can have on a person. I'll freely admit to being really moved close to tearing up at one point, which I honestly wasn't expecting, as A Memoir Blue's 'gameplay' doesn't really do much to connect you to Miriam.
The interactivity revolves mainly around manipulating the environment and objects in it to trigger a memory or open the way to the next part of the story and is fairly simple. There is some extra fun to be had from trying to figure out what other manipulations can trigger the achievements, with some being cleverly hidden away - I think this is the first time that achievement hunting has ever struck me as a good thing because they add to the enjoyment of the game, rather than feeling tacked on as an afterthought.
A Memoir Blue is also a pretty good-looking title, with the highlight being Miriam seeing the younger version of herself with her mother as if they were 2D animated characters, and this blending of styles actually pays off too, rather than simply serving as a visual distinction between past and present. It's just yet another one of those little things to appreciate about this game.
Despite what I do like about it, I can't fully recommend A Memoir Blue because it feels more than most other games I've ever played that it depends entirely on the person playing it rather than the game. The controls are incredibly simple and there's little to no challenge, so anyone should be able to pick it up and play with ease, but I can't quite help thinking that there could've been just a little bit more asked of the player.
A Memoir Blue is enjoyable enough for what it is, but it really is important to recognise that even the developers don't consider this a 'traditional' game. It looks great, with a really well done blending of 2D and 3D animation, and the story covers ground that games rarely, if ever, do. It's certainly not going to be for everyone and I don't think it does quite enough to fully recommend.