Mothers and fathers consistently fail in parenting. It’s probably part of the job description, and mostly just because raising a kid is so damn hard.
This isn’t obvious to your kids, who either don’t realize it or feel they’ve been treated harshly. Here we meet Miriam, the character in A Memoir Blue, a deeply personal piece of interactive fiction by New York game maker Shelley Chen.
Based on Chen’s strained relationship with her mother, it lightheartedly sketches a poignant adult story of Miriam reminiscing about her unhappy childhood and how it propelled her to become a world-class swimmer.
Calling it a game would be stretching the definition, but there’s something more to it than just a series of vignettes depicting Miriam’s gradual estrangement from the single mother working to keep a roof over her head. Interactions are limited to the occasional swipe and tap that drives the narrative along. They have little sense, however, that these movements have a strong connection to the unfolding story, except perhaps for a few brief moments where you tap to add notes to the plaintive soundtrack.
The transition from depression to possible redemption is drawn very roughly, without a word of dialogue, but with an impressive mix of 3D and 2D art. Therefore, it’s possible to miss the subtle messages encoded in looks and scene changes if you’re not careful.
The universality of the story gives it a certain relevance – who hasn’t had a falling out with their parents at some point? But with a gameplay of perhaps an hour – which is partly taken up by regularly searching for interactive objects on the screen – A Memoir Blue doesn’t allow us to get close enough to the characters for its emotional impact to really resonate.
However, the €8 price tag (and free with Xbox Game Pass) admits so much, and we need more of these tender explorations of human relationships as gaming grows.
https://www.independent.ie/entertainment/games/a-memoir-blue-review-the-mother-of-all-problems-41559607.html A Memoir Blue Review: The Mother of All Problems