A Memoir Blue is the latest interactive-narrative game to be released by publisher Annapurna Interactive and the debut release from indie development studio Cloisters Interactive. The game has promise and ambition. Visually it has appeal but the game suffers from insubstantial interactive elements and a frustratingly shallow plot. Despite its meagre one hour length, the game just feels tediously long and that is a great shame.
The plot of A Memoir Blue focuses around a champion swimmer who despite her achievements feels depressed. One rainy day, stuck at home, she sees an old photograph and from there we delve into her memories from childhood. Not a bad setup and if anyone saw the game’s trailer when it debuted in July 2021 can see the visual appeal of the game.
In the realm of interactive narratives A Memoir Blue unfortunately fails on its major features: the interactivity and the narrative. In the case of the interactive sections they suffer from forgettable – oft-feeling perfunctory – brevity which leaves you with a sensation akin to the Netflix-prompt to check if you are still watching. Usually the interactive sections just need one or two forgettable button presses before we are in the next sequence. We would have liked the game more if these sections which break up the narrative felt a bit more substantial and added more to our emotional engagement.
The other flaw to A Memoir Blue is that there isn’t really much story to feed the narrative. There are moments that imply things but time-skips just leave blanks instead of suggestions of what may have occurred in the interim and this drives a further wedge between the player and the emotional story that Cloisters wants us to experience. When we reach the emotional ending, it just looks nice but it left us cold.
On Switch, on which this game was tested, the game suffered from long loading screens and graphical glitches, accompanied by the occasional distracting artefact. Not too unusual for games that are downgraded to fit on the console but notable – and when it comes to the loading screens, really irritating.
A Memoir Blue isn’t a broken game and has some good things going for it. Its visual direction is splendid. The shift between a somewhat realistic viewpoint for our present-day character and the charmingly drawn version of herself as a child is well done. The shift between different environments as we dive deeper into her memories is great and the sound design definitely works well – although the use of the one song threaded through the narrative might have been better utilised in a manner that avoids it becoming distractingly repetitive as the story carries to its conclusion.
Cloisters Interactive has shown that they have ability to put a solid game together and hopefully their next game builds on the weaknesses of A Memoir Blue to really do their efforts justice – it’s just a shame that we can’t recommend their debut release.
A Memoir Blue is out now for Nintendo Switch, Xbox Series X|S, Xbox One, PlayStation 4 & 5, and Microsoft Windows. Nintendo Switch review code provided by Annapurna Interactive