Point-and-click adventure games have been around since the early days of video games. The simpler nature of the point-and-click gameplay means those games generally require less technology. That simplicity also makes it difficult to riff on gameplay concepts without blurring into another genre.
Memoranda, which released on PlayStation 4 and PlayStation 5 on Jan. 21, doesn’t venture far from a traditional point-and-click game in how it plays. However, its story does go some weird places and the voice acting and characters provide enough of a reason to finish the roughly three-hour experience.
Memoranda, the debut game for studio BitByterz, was partially funded on Kickstarter. It first released on PC back in 2017 and then on Xbox and Nintendo Switch this past November. Point-and-click games are best played with a mouse, but I played the newly released PlayStation 5 version. There were definitely some annoying moments using a joystick to maneuver a cursor on the screen, but the issues were minor. Sometimes the clickable objects didn’t always have a big area to interact with, which was tricky during a couple puzzles that featured keyboards or number pads.
All dialogue in the game is fully voiced and most of the time the voice actors deliver good performances. The main character, Mizuki, has an unusual accent, which gave the character a memorable quality. The game also breaks the fourth wall a few times to comedic effect.
The art is a set of scenes that are mostly static with a few slightly moving animations. Mizuki moves around as you click on an item to interact with it. The controls are simple. You click on an item to have her talk to a character or say something about an item. Items you gather in your inventory can be combined or used on things in the world. In that way, the game is standard point-and-click fare.
As Memoranda’s title card says, the story is “inspired by Haruki Murakami’s short stories.” I am unfamiliar with the Japanese author’s works, so any references went over my head, but the story has a number of mythical elements to it. A number of characters are crossing over from being humans to being animals and vice versa. On top of that, Mizuki is suffering from insomnia and amnesia. She is having trouble remembering her name, which is a driving force in the story.
The surreal characters bring some fun color to the world, especially because not all the characters are strange. Some are Mizuki’s totally normal friends, neighbors and family.
The story is enjoyable enough to endure some of the typical frustration with point-and-click puzzles, and more experienced players will probably have an easier time figuring out the game’s language. I ran into a few cases of having no idea how to progress and had to rely on a guide. A couple times I muttered to myself, “Why does that work and how was I supposed to figure that out?”
Some of the puzzles are interesting and feel good to solve. A couple are a bit obtuse in the solution, even with hints. A mixed bag of frustration and satisfaction.
However, the more I played, the more I understood what the game asks of you. There are clues everywhere and Memoranda does a great job of showing you the things you can interact with. Pressing a trigger or shoulder button highlights the “hotspots” that you can interact with. That’s super helpful because you don’t have to click around wondering what you can interact with.
Memoranda also does a nice job of giving you a to-do list. Mizuki takes notes in a journal which serves as a quest log of sorts. That’s helpful for reminding you where you left off if you take a few sittings to get through the game.
Overall, Memoranda is a relatively run of the mill point-and-click adventure. Its puzzles are nothing special, but it has a pleasant art style, good voice acting and a compelling enough story. If you like the genre, this could be an enjoyable few hours, but it won’t stand out.
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