Genre: Puzzle, Adventure
System: Nintendo Switch (Also on Steam (Windows, Mac) and Google Play)
Developer | Publisher: StickyStoneStudio
Age Rating: US Everyone | EU 3+
Price: US $19.99 | UK £17.99 | EU € 19,99
Release Date: January 13th, 2023
Review code used, with many thanks to StickyStoneStudio.
After its original release on PC 3 years ago, Memorrha has made its way to the Nintendo Switch. It’s a first-person puzzle adventure, set in a beautifully crafted 3D world.
So what kind of lasting impression will Memorrha leave?
An Unknown World
As with a lot of puzzle adventures, you don’t know what you are trying to achieve when you launch the game. However, you just hope that the game will give you the necessary guidance as you progress. Memorrha starts by giving lots of on-screen tips, on how to move, how to look around, and which buttons to press. You start in a small area, with only a crystal, a door and a button to press, and it’s easy to understand what to do. As you progress you learn how to scan, how to project images, what the symbols mean and how to use and create pixel plates.
I definitely like the gentle introduction to the game.
After learning some of the basics, you enter a bright, colourful section, with lots of puzzle walls to solve and secrets to unlock. It’s clear that this area is giving you the chance to practise your understanding of the symbols and pixel plates. However, as there is only a limited number of options with each puzzle wall, trial and error will also work!
The key to the game is knowing Boolean logic. One of the symbols will only transfer the pixel if both plates have it. One symbol merges the pixel plate images together and the other symbol will only transfer the pixel if it’s unique. There is also a symbol which will transpose the pixels.
Throughout your journey, there are various pictograms to scan. Some are storytelling, some confirm the mechanics, but some give clues.
I wasn’t necessarily sure which was which, and to my dismay, I missed some of the helpful, yet subtle hints.
The Temple Area
The journey to the temple area is really enjoyable – the puzzles are challenging, but doable even without understanding the logic. There are elevators to use, swamps to jump around and secrets to find. The swamp parkour isn’t too extreme, but it would have been great to make more of a maze with the moving platforms instead.
The scenery and location settings are diverse and a delight to travel through. Clearly, a lot of thought has gone into creating this mysterious world you are playing in.
My enjoyment of Memorrha changed as I was working through the four puzzle rooms in the temple area.
Two of the rooms are straightforward enough, although slightly excessive in the number of times you have to complete a similar puzzle. The mixing of potions in the third room relies heavily on the pixel transfer mechanism. But it was the foundry which really confused me. You have to create a block which fits into a 3D void, but it’s quite difficult to see what shape it is. As the options to create blocks are basically limitless, there is no trial-and-error solution.
Eventually, I solved the puzzles, but I was left feeling disheartened. Granted, the solution to one of the puzzles is brilliant. It tests your spatial awareness and abilities in 3D, but when I have to use LEGO to help me, I thought it was out of keeping with the rest of the game. Another annoyance was, after completing the foundry, I had to redo an earlier puzzle to get it to work.
Surprisingly, the temple area is only halfway through the game. Unlocking the hidden sanctum leads to a whole new subterranean area to work through. Here you discover more of the story, get to ride around in mine carts, teleport between areas and use routing plates to transport the crystals. I nearly ended my game prematurely by wrongly trying to transport a pixel plate in a cart. It fell off and got stuck behind a wall. Luckily, with some careful movement, I managed to grab it through the closed door.
However, everything underground felt tedious, the mine cart trips were too long, and so fast you couldn’t see the amazing scenery, routing the crystal trucks was repetitive and you need to go back and forth to the temple area to forge additional items and make more potions.
Unfortunately, after 10 hours of play (about 75% complete) my save game became corrupt. I’m not sure if the cause was the game or the user. Either way, it meant I had to restart if I wanted to solve the mystery of Memorrha.
Mapping the World
When it’s open, the map will fill in as you wander around, although it resets when you leave that area. It shows your current position, crystals, pictograms, pixel plates and so on. Sadly, I couldn’t scroll around the map to see previous areas.
There are lots of achievements, even though most are complete by just progressing through the game. Only a handful of the uncompleted achievements detail what is required, the rest are just question marks. The good news is that the achievements are per user, not per game – so you can add to your accomplishments if you replay the game.
Although the controls are on the options page, there are some omissions and errors. The jump key isn’t correct and there are commands missing, especially for the image projection (I had to start a new game to recap the process). It would be useful to have detailed help pages.
In handheld mode, you can use the touch screen functionality to press the machine buttons, but only if they are already highlighted (done via the control sticks). You can also move between the scanner functions and minimise it to the left side via touch.
The on-screen help text is large enough to read in handheld mode, but the achievement list and controls page text is a little small.
Memorrha does have an autosave function, but it only saves at major completion points and those aren’t that often. Luckily, there is a manual save. Both save modes do take a long time to complete though.
The movement is not as smooth as it could be. I sometimes put my head through the walls, got stuck in gaps and would often drop carried items, as I went through doors.
Unfortunately, the biggest problem is performance. What I thought was the autosave process, kept appearing every few steps once in the temple area. Then any kind of interaction became a stop/start nightmare. It really ruined the gameplay experience, but only once did it actually crash the game.
Memorrha is a game of two halves. A fantastic start, with a steady flow of puzzles (which can be solved with logic or trial and error). In addition, there are some amazing locations to travel through and enjoy. The second part, still featuring marvellous graphics and clever puzzles become a little too repetitive. That, combined with performance issues, didn’t make it enjoyable.
I wish Memorrha had ended at the hidden sanctum and left me wanting more. Instead, it continued and fell short of my expectation.
Final Verdict: I’m Not Sure