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Memento Mori 2 (PC) artwork

Memento Mori 2 (PC) review

"A depressingly lacking port for an adventurous adventure game."

Early on in the game, youíre trying to find out more information on a ship that sunk almost a century ago. Recently, some historic goods were recovered from the wreck by a museum, and then were promptly stolen, so you want to question whoever the original owners might be. You go to the docks; that seems like a good idea and the shorthand version of this cautionary tale would be that you stroll into an office, mention the shipís name and the old guy, seconds later, has a hundred year old file that he happened to have on hand. You can count your blessing on this extraordinary long shot paying off or you can take a second to reflect on how the guyís voice is clearly done by a younger man putting on a comedic old man voice in what is supposed to be a serious setting. He stops just short of shaking his fist and complaining about young Ďuns on his lawn (which beloved HG writer Rob is no doubt doing right now) probably because heís busy selling off junk scattered around his office he doesnít want and you have no way of knowing youíll need. A cigar cutter sits unused on an office desk, covered in a fine film of dust. You casually mention it seems to be of good quality and the old guy says itís not his, but you have it for two - no - three hundred. You agree to this. After pointing out that you donít smoke cigars either. No one will ever understand way this transaction was undertaken.

The entire scene is a collection of errors. For the first time in the game, the spoken text doesnít match up with the subtitles. Iím not talking about the odd word dropped here and there; Iím talking about the two mediums being at complete odds with each other. The voice actor will say something about how he doesnít care if you take the shipping manifest he found as it doesnít belong to him and you should take it from the table while the subtitles note that your money has already swayed him. About half of what transpires in the confines of that grimy dockside cabin follows the same route. It all feels incredibly amateurish.

You then have to complete a puzzle wherein you have pieces of paper from the manifest, and you have to place them together in a meaningful way to extract the information you need. This means a lot of trial and error and you turn and flip them about to try and find how they fit together. Not only is the method employed incredibly clumsy , but after every single mouse click -- every single one -- your characterís monotone drawl repeats over and over:

ďThose pages apparently belong to each other. But itís impossible to read anything useful from them because they show through the paper. Iím going to have to do something about that first.Ē

Yes. I know. I knew without that being said because I can see thatís the issue. I still knew it the second time. I sure as hell knew the thirtieth time. I still know now that I hear that poorly delivered line echoing round my head for what I fear with be all eternity. The fact is, the puzzle isnít all that hard; itís been done before in adventure games, and will be done again. But with the relentless repetition of that line, I had to leave things cold for a few hours while I desperately searched for reasons not to have to return.

This doesnít strike me as an especially marketable selling point. I had to come back; itís kind of my job. Very few other people have that kind of responsibility.

Went back I did, though, and completed the puzzle, which then lead to the old man reading his lines out of order and then repeating them all while the wrong text scrolled. It was about this time I decided to hit up Youtube and discovered the Momento Mori 2 is not so much a bad game as it is a very poorly handled port.

Quick history lesson: Momento Mori 2 been kicking around Germany (and was shortly after fan translated into Russian) since 2012, and was critically acclaimed in those regions for the strengths of its presentation. Most of this is well deserved: itís scored extremely well, exhibits a graphical sheen few of its peers can compete with and is a very bravely constructed tale that walks a line between grizzly murders and attacks against faith. Itís odd then that in the two years its taken to be ported to English that such a shoddy, half-hearted job has been undertaken.

The first act is by far the most palpable offender, but the game regularly presents little bubbles of damning brilliance. The best parts are when Mori 2 throws regular adventure game logic out the window and instead becomes a crime solving caper where youíre marked on how logical and effective your investigation are. Survive the first act, and youíll find the majority of the second taking place in a private investigation office where, when youíre not dealing with a paper jam that had no right to be as enjoyable to solve as it was, youíre aiming a laser pointer at a projector screen and trying to make sense of a murder scene. Correctly assessing the scene, or correcting colleagueís incorrect interjections all cause your case ratings to sneak up, which will have some slight effect on your ending.

Other puzzles have you take documented photographs of a crime scene, then use those snapshots as a way to reconstruct how the crime went down. But only after youíre allowed to search the area with a UV lamp in order to follow blood trails and seek out forensic evidence. Shortly after this, youíre faced with a very cumbersome puzzle where you have to match numbers scored in a dilapidated restaurantís tables to an old seating plan, then offer these up to a calendar in the hopes of obtaining a four letter code. Sometimes, the puzzles feel over stretched and complex for the sake of complexity and are more fiddly than they need to be. If the table puzzle drove me slightly mad (and it did) then trying to match a broken crossís shadow with previous photos by making minute adjustments to the spotlight behind it made me scream in frustration several times.

For the most part, though, Momento Mori 2 is satisfyingly logical, and once I was sure the shoddiness of the opening act was behind me, I learnt to really enjoy my time with the game. In this, getting the best of it is an investment that means you have to get the worst out of the way early to a place where the inferior voice actors no longer exist, to see inventory based puzzles not so much as relegated but presented side by side with crime scene investigation and stand alone puzzles. Iím not sure Iíd have hung around to come to this conclusion had the prospect of a nagging editor not been a future promise, but Iím kind of glad it was.


EmP's avatar
Staff review by Gary Hartley (May 26, 2014)

Gary Hartley arbitrarily arrives, leaves a review for a game no one has heard of, then retreats to his 17th century castle in rural England to feed whatever lives in the moat and complain about you.

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