Game: Emma: Lost in Memories
Genre: 2D, Platform, Puzzle
System: Nintendo Switch (also on Mobile, Steam, PS4 and PS Vita)
Developer|Publisher: SandBloom Studio | JunduSoft
Age Rating: EU 7+ | US Everyone
Price: UK £7.00 | EU 7.99 | AU $12.00 | CA $10.49 | US $7.99
Release Date: 15th May 2020
With many thanks to Jandusoft for providing us with a code
Down the Owl Hole
If fiction and media has taught us anything it is that if you see a rabbit wearing a waistcoat it’s best not to follow it. Not unless you fancy a crazy adventure into a weird world. When I was younger I lived near some woods and whenever I would see a fox or a dear I would run to try to catch up to it. But sadly no fun adventures for me. But I did discover my love for animals and the outdoors from these experiences.
Emma: Lost in Memories challenges you to the chase the owl, but the question is what will you discover? Let’s find out.
Emma is about a young girl who leaves her home to after seeing an Owl outside. She then insists on chasing it, as you do. As you progress through the game you soon discover some of the deeper elements of the plot which cover memory loss. What was very clever is how this theme is incorporated into the games level design. The game is a platform puzzler, once you tap ‘A’ Emma is in constant motion. As she moves the platforms she comes into contact with disappear. You’ll need quick reflexes and a lot of concentration to conquer each level.
You begin the game with a few abilities like a double jump, slide and climb. Interestingly as the game progresses you actually loose access to these abilities. A brave design choice since most games opt to give you abilities as you progress rather than take them away. Linking this to the games underline themes of memory loss felt like a smart design choice.
The controls are very simple and easy to use. Emma is quite a tricky platformer. I was surprised to hit a few gamer walls (quite literally) early on in the game. Some levels were cluttered with platforms and I found it quite hard to strategize how to progress. Often I just set Emma into motion and pushed through by trial and error. The action just went a bit too fast for my eyes and unfortunately there are no options to adjust difficulty or the games speed. The difficulty varies through the campaign, once I got through the difficult second chapter I found things generally more manageable. With persistence I managed to get through the main story quite comfortably.
Hold on to a Memory
Each level has an optional feather to collect, which usually involves some clever thinking on the fly. Collecting these unlocks new art to enjoy, as well as further insight into the games plot. I often avoided these as it led to some gamer rage moments.
Once you finish the campaign you unlock a ‘memory chest’ a collection of new, easy, medium and hard levels. A nice reward but it felt like it should have been available from the start. Especially since the easy levels would have been helpful for people struggling with the campaign. The main campaign took me around 4 hours of dipping in and out to finish but with the extra levels and all those feathers to find there’s plenty of incentive to attempt to collect everything. Provided you don’t get too stressed. For me definitely a game to enjoy in small bursts.
The graphics are simple, hand drawn accompanied by some relaxing melodies. The game has 50 levels in its main campaign. The themes are your typical gamer environments, caves, forests, the ice place etc. The single screen designs consist of basic platform designs loaded with dreaded spikes. There’s nothing that particularly stands out. But chasing that owl and finding out what was going on with the plot was enough to see me through to it’s conclusion.
I ended up liking Emma more than I expected. Once I overcame some initial challenges I began to appreciate its design and message. With no difficulty option in the main story it’s hard to recommend this to everyone. This game does require some pretty precise platforming and attention which may frustrate some. But if you can get through it the message at the heart of this game is quite sweet.
Final Verdict: I liked it