Amnesia: Memories Review

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Title: Amnesia Memories
Developer: Design Factory, Idea Factory International
Game Type: PlayStation Vita
Download: 2.0 GB
NA Availability: 
Digital Download

EU Availability: Digital Download
PSTV Support: Yes

Visual Novels have a lot of different breeds and types in Japan.  If you’re an anime fan, you may also know what some of these types are.  Specifically,  are you familiar with the otome and harem genres?  The latter is pretty common in anime, normally having a story starring a male protagonist around romantic relations with a multitude of females that are either infatuated with him or grow to like him as the story progresses.

An Otome is a bit of a backwards flop of that.  Otome are primarily video games and more targeted towards the female audience.  In an otome, you generally control a female character and pursue relations, be it friendly or romantic, with one of many possible male characters.  Naturally,  it’s a genre that I have never had the chance to play.  At least, until now.

Not that long ago, Idea Factory International, the publishers behind the Hyperdimension Neptunia franchise, agreed to localize an Otome game created by the developer Design Factory.  Being in very good relations with IFI, I agreed to play through the game and write up a review.  Without further delay, here is my official review of Amnesia: Memories!

Story

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The story of Amnesia is centered on a nameless female protagonist and a spirit named Orion.  Orion was traveling from the world of the heavens to the human realm when he accidentally crash-landed into the mind of the protagonist.  As a result, the space in her mind he took refuge in forced out virtually all of her memories, leaving her with an abnormal case of amnesia.  To atone, he agrees to assist her in investigating her life and allowing her to reclaim her memories.

The storyline goes in many different branches, but primarily focuses on the protagonist’s past relations with 5 different men in her life.  When you play the game, you have a choice of which “World” you go into, each with its own background information and different character backgrounds for who you interact with as well as what endings you get.  The story compensates by noting that these worlds are different realities and dimensions where your life is slightly different from the other.

The story, itself, is give or take.  Obviously, this is geared more towards the female crowd, given that romantic relations is a pretty big part of any branch’s ending sequences.  Regardless, if you give any path a bit of time to develop, you’ll encounter some surprising and interesting stories that are weaved together.  This game isn’t just a “Get all lovey with your chosen husband”, but actually has a good story behind it with the amnesia and developing every part of the protagonist’s life while leading up to the romance.

Gameplay

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Amnesia: Memories is a visual novel in nature and it’s a pretty simple one at that.  When you go through the game, you’ll be taken from story scene to story scene and there’s not a whole lot of interaction to go along with it.  If you recall the PS Mobile VN called Fragment’s Note, then you’ve already got a good idea about what sort of interaction I’m talking about.

First of all, you have access to Story Mode, but you also have Mini-Games you can play outside of this.  During mini-games, you choose an opponent and hold your Vita in portrait mode, using the touch screen to play small games that have nothing to do with the story.  These are games like Rock-Paper-Scissors or Air Hockey.  Just something to pass the time if you’ve had enough story for one day.

When you go through the game, you will be going through the various story scenes in your chosen path.  Interaction will come up when you get to dialogue choices.  There are several instances in the game where you must choose something to do or something to say.  These are all important because some will lead to some endings and others will lead to others.  The good thing is that when you replay the game, it highlights choices you’ve already made so you can go for different outcomes later on.

The only other interaction you have is pulling up the menu to show off parameters, which is also linked to choices.  You have various parameters like trust, suspicion, and other emotions you have towards the person you’re interacting with.  Modifying these will also affect what ending you get, particularly the good endings or the bad endings.  It’s a good idea to save often and check these parameters, especially if you don’t want to get one of the jaw-dropping Bad Ending paths, like I got my first time through.

The game has over a dozen different possible endings, so it will take you a long time to play through the game.  Getting all endings will likely take you 35 hours, if not longer.  A single ending I would wager more around the 4-5 hour mark.  Regardless, there’s a lot to do for a Visual Novel or otome fan.

Controls

The controls of the game aren’t hard to use, but I wouldn’t say they’re easy either.  First off, you can use touch controls to advance dialogue or pick choices, but these can be used with the buttons.  What can’t be used with the buttons are the touch controls for the mini-games.  As such, playing these is very awkward on the PlayStation TV, and the fact that it still loads in portrait mode, making you crane your neck just to see it correctly.

Moving through your choices is done with the D-Pad and you can select options with the X button.  Now we get to the more tricky controls.  Triangle can open the menu so you can manage parameters and save data and Square can toggle the skip features.

Why is this tricky?  Since the game doesn’t tell you how to do any of this, you will likely go through a large portion of the game without even knowing you can save your game or skip dialogue.  There’s nothing anywhere to tell you what to do, so if you don’t experiment around with buttons, you’ll be completely oblivious to these features.

Presentation

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As far as the visuals go, it’s not something you’d expect, but it still looks good.  All of the 2D artwork models look excellent.  It’s the background that will catch your eyes the most.  It has a very different type of art style than you’d expect from a Visual Novel.  It has a simplistic yet colorfully artistic feel to it.  I can’t quite put a term to it, but it looks very unique compared to most other VNs.

The rest of the presentation is good.  The load times are extremely short and there aren’t any technical problems.  It’s pretty obvious that a VN wouldn’t have any technical problems, but Hatoful Boyfriend’s PS Vita version proved that assumption incorrect.  Thankfully, Amnesia runs very well on the Vita and PSTV both, savor the PSTV’s awkwardness with the mini-games.

Summary

Amnesia: Memories is the western debut of Otome games on the PlayStation Vita (outside of PSP games).  On the downside, a lot of the controls aren’t explained to you, leaving you oblivious to many features.  Outside of this is a visual novel with enough story elements to make it stand out as more than just a dating simulator for female gamers

9/10

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