A Memoir Blue Review (Switch eShop)

We would be lying if we pretended we hadn’t seen some amazing games published by Annapurna Interactive in the past; What Remains of Edith Finch, Outer Wilds and Sayonara Wild Hearts only scratch the surface of the critically acclaimed titles that have passed through their self-confessed art gaming doors. However, the hit factory as it is seems to have stumbled a bit lately. The highly anticipated Twelve Minutes was the wettest of all wet Squibs, your mileage will absolutely change with The Artful Escape, and now we have A Memoir Blue, an “interactive poem” (Red flag emoji) about a competitive swimmer’s relationship with her mother.

Is that too cynical? Maybe. We’re afraid these introspective games – while they certainly have their place in this massive, diverse, joyful hobby – need to offer a little more meat on the bone to be truly worthwhile. And we don’t necessarily mean their core game; Story-wise, this is a limp experience that’s beyond mechanically uninteresting. We can forgive one, but not both.

This is the real nail in the coffin of A Memoir Blue; If it were a movie, it would be an uninteresting one. The “gameplay” here (ugh, we put gameplay in scary quotes, that’s never a good sign) basically consists of fumbling around. Let’s examine the first scene – you’ll see your character (Miriam) receive a medal for a swimming competition, and you’ll use the left stick and buttons to move the assembled press’ microphones and take photos. Miriam flinches at the camera flashes. Could this possibly indicate an uneasiness about success!? Next, rummage through Miriam’s bag and receive text messages in covert, Wingdings-like language. Could that be related to it somehow? Communication problems? The next segment, where you tune in to a radio showing various abstract scenes, rather hammers that point home. Sounds a bit boring and obvious? You would be right, but it’s okay – you’re almost 10% through the game already.

Yes, A Memoir Blue is not only a rather leaden, obvious piece of software, but it’s also just under an hour long. All in all, this probably isn’t the worst decision, but if you can’t get the hang of it in the short amount of time, there’s precious little here to recommend. We’d say that some of the visual design is interesting – and there’s undeniable skill in the compositions – but it serves something that just didn’t grab us. There’s some nice mixed media stuff where 2D animated flashbacks appear alongside the fully CG Miriam, but they just gave us the impression that they’d given up on being esoteric and decided to be us instead show what happened.

This is likely to be viewed as anti-intellectual in some way, or part of the crowd screaming every time they see a “walking simulator” (a grossly reductive term), but really, that’s only fair is not good art. Of course, that’s subjective and sure, you might be deeply moved in a way we haven’t experienced, but we’d bet it’s unlikely. It’s a game that seems to float along and then just… fizzles out with little revelation or real hookup. What’s a generous word for it? Meditative. It’s meditative. Really meditative. Sort of like… sleeping. A Memoir Blue Review (Switch eShop)

Fry Electronics Team

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