Developed by Idea Factory under its Otome game brand Otomate, Amnesia: Memories is among one of the companies pioneering titles that finally gets a western release. And while Otoge or Otome games are meant to cater specifically toward a female audience, a male audience can also partake of them. The story puts players into the shoes of an unnamed female protagonist that has lost her memories after a strange incident. With help of mysterious young boy named Orion, the two work together to help make sense of the heroine’s past life, while trying not raise suspicion from friends and a boyfriend she never knew existed.
Title: Amnesia: Memories
Genre: Visual Novel, Otome
Developer: Ideal Factory, Otomate
System: PSVITA, PSTV, Steam, (coming to mobile soon)
Length: 30-35 hrs
Release Date: 08-25-2015 (NA)
With Amnesia: Memories actually being my first Otome game and looking that is from the perspective of a newcomer, I do think that first timers like myself or those completely new to visual novels in general will be able to navigate it easily. For one, before you even start to meet the eligible bachelors, you will be able to choose who you want to interact with from the start by choosing a world – each holding a symbolic card corresponding to that person. You have the aloof Shin of the “Heart” world, playboy Ikki of the “Spade” world, his logical best friend Kent of “Club” world, and the big brother figure Toma of “Diamnond” world. There is a fifth guy and the route that puts all this into perspective, but needs to be unlocked by completing the others. Not only do each the routes play out differently depending on the world, but also changes how certain people will treat you. For instance, Waka, the manager at the place the herione works at is very nice in the “Heart” route, but his personality does shift greatly in others – going from docile to abrasive. This does apply to the other characters you meet as well to varying degrees, and serves as a nice change of pace to see how each route differs despite the feature being nothing new to visual novels.
Even though the main love interest and their personalities play into the typical paradigm most shoujo anime seems to reach for, I did honestly enjoy exploring the backstories of the guys I did go after. My favorite character would have to be the titular Shin, learning the reason behind his distant attitude that stems from a past event with his father. The writing is very simple in many ways and not that great when it comes to giving the story some interesting twist and turns, but still okay in its own right. The individual routes are fine on their own, but overall does fall short of being particularly great. That’s all I can offer on the subject without spoiling it. By the same admission, the characters themselves also aren’t as detailed as they could be, but still found them interesting. Especially in the case of Toma. Yup, very… fascinating personality shift for that guy.
Getting back to gameplay, the same orthodox process of reading text and making decisions at certain points become the norm like most visual novels, with one exception. Keeping with the theme of trying to piece together your life without letting your boyfriend be any wiser, the choices you make do have implications on 3 values: “Affection”, “Trust”, and “Suspicion”. The goal of is to ideally get a “Good” or “Normal” ending by keeping your Affection and Trust values high and Suspicion low. Again, depending on the choices, these values will fluctuate, so it is important to be mindful of what choices you make and keep tabs on your parameter menu frequently. Often or not, it is pretty easy to know how to response, yet can abuse the system by saving your game and seeing how a certain choice goes. In the event that you do have your Suspicion high, the game will continue, but will be able to get a bad ending more easily from making a wrong choice or simply getting the normal ending for that route if you happen to make it through successfully. Since replay value is a big part of games of this nature, it doesn’t hurt and obvious that making multiple saves will offer some assistance.
When you tire of trying to get through the story or even completed the game, besides viewing the CG library for illustrations, listening to tracks, or keeping track of the endings you received, the game does have two mini-games you can play at anytime: Rock-paper-scissors and Air hockey. There not the most interesting thing in the world, but it’s there if you need it as a brief diversion. I would like to detail this section, but since I never actually won a game, I will leave the outcome of what happens (if anything) to be a surprise.
On the aesthetic side of things, the artwork and animation for the game is very impressive. In a lot ways, the color scheme and style used kind of reminds me of that found in Steins;Gate, despite not having the same exact appearance or as drab. Animations are crisp and lively, and actually show off a lot of technical muscle such as changing the characters sprite angles (seeing them from the side or back) that really makes them come alive without having to go toward excess. My favorite animation would have to be of Ikki holding his signature sunglasses and smoothly slipping them on in the same scene almost like it was in one movement. The musical score is very genteel and well-done, piano pieces being the most prominent holding up the sentimental mood – that admittedly, tends get lost at various times. By the time you get through half of the routes it will become droning, yet mildly tolerable.
With visual novels gaining more acceptance and familiarity in the West, I do believe titles like Amnesia: Memories will be great boon for its biggest supporters. It definitely isn’t the cream of crop, especially when it comes to the overall writing, but still fairly remarkable in other areas like presentation and making that presentation work for it during the course of the game. While it won’t be for a couple of months until see Idea Factory’s other Otome offerings, Amnesia is a pretty pleasant harbinger of what to expect and do think this one will keep most fans satisfied for the time being.
Pros: Quality of presentation, adjustable controls (Steam version), cast of characters are very entertaining, lots variety in the character routes.
Cons: Standard controls for keyboard are awkward (Steam version), writing is a bit too simplistic, balancing parameters for some routes can be trickier than others.
Disclaimer: In no way, shape, or form was I compensated for the composition or publication of this review. This by my own volition. A review copy of the game was kindly provided by Ideal Factory International. All images and rights to them belong to Ideal Factory International/Otomate/Design Factory and only for review purposes.