A Memoir Blue (2022)
Developer: Cloisters Interactive
I'm making a conscious effort to play more games released in 2022, as I really like to have a comprehensive list of my best released games at the conclusion of the year. I've been wanting to pick up A Memoir Blue since it came out - I actually happened to play an old demo of this game not too long ago at a local game developer meet-up. A Memoir Blue is a point-and-click puzzle game telling the life of a professional swimmer and her relationship with her mother. A Memoir Blue tells a relatable and emotional story by taking you through a mysterious underwater world, but the gameplay is minimal enough to make the player feel uninvolved.
There's no dialogue in A Memoir Blue but you're given information using the environment and clues around you. You play as a woman who is seemingly an Olympic swimmer, one who was won several awards and trophies. She receives a phone call from a name we can't read and she begins to reminisce on her past. The journey to her memories are all seemingly connected to water in some way, making it seem as though being in water is something she's very comfortable and familiar with. She ends up on a train where you find what look like sketches of what her childhood was like. Her parents were fighting and split up, so she ended up moving away somewhere with just her mom. The travel with her mom seems cheery and hopeful, as if starting a new life. However, their relationship becomes strained as her mom works long hours to support her but isn't able to attend all of her swim competitions.
A Memoir Blue meshes two different art styles together to tell its story. The world and the main character are in a somewhat realistic 3D style, while her memories as a child are a sort of cartoony 2D style. The two come together and help explain the protagonist's feelings. I was surprised how well this worked, especially in the ending. The game stands apart visually especially in its underwater scenes, full of life and mystery. The soundtrack of A Memoir Blue together with the game itself could be described as a visual or video album. The music tells us some of the feelings of this story with the lyrical songs that are tied together in a sequential way. It's very different from Sayonara Wild Hearts but the cohesiveness of it felt similar. I really enjoyed the music and it can be listened to outside of the game as a pretty good album. It has this indie, melancholy feel that even reminds me a little of Life is Strange.
There's a few clever puzzles in this game, usually involving interacting with the environment in an interesting way to put the pieces of the story together for yourself. I enjoyed these, but a lot of there time there was no puzzle - there was just figuring out where to click on the screen. Playing this game on the Switch made me concerned at first, but then I realized the game had a nice feature of letting you move from item to item without having to drag a cursor across the screen. I really appreciated this, but it didn't change the fact that I just needed to click on any item on the screen in order to proceed.
Despite A Memoir Blue being pretty minimal on story details, I found myself very moved by the ending. I related strongly to the main character, as I too grew up with a single mom who had to work long days in order to support a family. Her story is different in that she became deeply invested and successful in a sport, letting that push her life forward and away from her family. However, I definitely understand the complex feelings you can have of guilt, resentment, and love for a parent when you try to move on with your life away from them.
A Memoir Blue tells its story in a very personal way, and yet it does feel relatable to the audience - at least it did to me. I really enjoyed the commitment to portray the protagonist's relationship with water as well as the excellent way in which the soundtrack was tied in to the game. However, I did feel a little bored with the gameplay that was sometimes solely used to click to the next piece of the story. It could have done more with gameplay but I still would recommend this game to anyone who likes story-based games, point-and-click adventures, and especially if you're into underwater-themed games.
A Memoir Blue is available on PC, Switch, PS4, PS5, Xbox One, and Xbox Series X|S
Played on: Switch
Playtime: 1 hr