Review: “Amnesia: Memories”

So since there was a serendipitous overlap of a) me being wretchedly sick and b) #DatingSiMonth, I finally got motivated to finish off a game that’s been sitting in my queue for some time–Idea Factory’s “Amnesia:  Memories.”

The Setup:

In “Amnesia,” you play a protagonist who’s had the misfortune of colliding with a spirit named Orion, who is now stuck in you.  Even worse, Orion has managed to displace most of your memories (memories have mass?) so all you have left is your name and knowledge of activities of daily living.  Starting off in a limbo-like state, Orion tells you to choose one of four world (Heart, Spade, Club, or Diamond) states which in turn determines the storyline and romance you get.

Once you begin, Orion, in a nice display of paranoia, advises you against telling anyone you have amnesia unless you absolutely trust them, because it would otherwise only result in them either locking you away in a hospital where you’d slowly go insane from sharing your mind too long, or taking advantage of your lack of memories for their own personal gain.  The only way you can get back to normal is by having experiences that remind you of things–the influx of memories will have the effect of pushing out Orion and achieving separation.

Because the main person you end up interacting with is your romance interest (sometimes he starts off as your boyfriend, sometimes not,) there are generally three parameters you can track to see how well you’re accomplishing your charade of a relationship:  Affection, Trust, and Suspicion.  Ultimate failure at any one of the three generally leads to a Bad End, of which there are several per route.

[SPOILERS FOR PLOT CONTENT BELOW]

The Story:

Each of the four routes ends up representing a different genre:  Mystery, Fantasy, Romantic Comedy, and Horror, with an additional route only revealed after finishing all the others.  In general, the beginning of each one deals with the heroine trying to figure out the mechanics of her life–where she works and goes to school and what her relationships are.  Interestingly enough, although the player is free to choose to play the suits in any order, I found that playing them in the order listed actually made the most sense in terms of how they introduced these things.  For example:  In each world the heroine works at the same Maid Cafe.  In the Heart route, a significant amount of time is spent with one character introducing the concept to the heroine and training her beforehand in what she needs to do there.  In the Spade route, they show her having some problems and getting help at the workplace.  In the Club route, it just shows her mastering her work by getting the manual and reading it at home, and by the last two routes there’s hardly any mention of her learning anything about it–she seems as familiar with it as the player is, by that time.  There are also specific character relationships and pathologies that are revealed in both the Heart and Spade worlds that play important roles in the Diamond world.  The Club world is largely stand-alone.

The Characters:

The major character, and the one that’s around you almost all the time, is Orion.  I found Orion hilarious, in large part to the voice work by Hiromi Igarashi.  Although the dialogue is all in Japanese with English subtitles, Igarashi is so animated and Orion so histrionic that in a lot of instances you hardly need the translation to get his reaction.  Although sometimes of very little help and periodically a source of really bad advice, Orion is completely devoted to helping the player get back her memories, and is a fierce advocate for her in situations where he perceives she’s being treated unfairly.

Tell us what you really think, Orion.
Tell us what you really think, Orion.

The rest of the characters are pretty much the same in each storyline, although they change in their relationships to the heroine.  One might be a boyfriend in one world, then an advisor in the next.  Or a brother-figure in one world, and a boyfriend in another.  Or a creepy stalker in one world, and…a creepy stalker in a few of them, actually.

I love this expression on Orion.
I love this expression on Orion.

While I haven’t had too much experience with otome games and their various conventions, the boyfriends in this game appear to have a lot of common characteristics found in this genre.  Most of them have a touch of the tsundere about them, except for the ones that go full-blown yandere, which justifies the heroine’s mistrust of them until late in the game.  For those unprepared, I can imagine that this might completely turn them off on all of the guys as each one has moments where they are, at best, rude and hypercritical of the heroine, and at worst, kinda rapey.  Of the five, Ikkyu (Spade) and Kent (Club) come off the best as at least they are shown to each have a rationale for their behavior by the end.

Ending Thoughts:

[SUPER SPOILERS FOR THE DIAMOND END.  DON’T EVEN, IF YOU’RE GOING TO PLAY IT AND HAVEN’T FINISHED.]

So if I was going to rank the different stories, I would probably go Club, Spade, Heart, Joker, and Diamond.  This is largely based on both the appeal of the romantic interest and the ability of the story to hold up under the amount of repetition required to get all the endings.  I have a fair amount of gaming OCD where I need to get all the endings and in some instances, that was a pretty grueling process.

The Heart route probably had the most involved plotting, although it was hard for me to take it all in, given that it was the first one I played and I don’t think I had a clear idea on what the end goal was supposed to be.  My approach to these games is that I would play through once completely blind, and then go back with a walkthrough to get the specific endings I missed.  As a general rule, I almost always ended up with the Normal ending when I answered on my own–these tended to be a result of the heroine never evidencing a sufficient level of trust in their guy, causing a end where the couple separates, but has hope of reuniting in the future.  To me, the amount of support you had to show for the Good End towards guys who were often treating you pretty bad was fairly extreme, but maybe that’s why some of us were not naturally created to be otome heroines.

Orion speaks for me.
Orion speaks for me.

Kent’s story was most appealing to me, in part because at his worst he just seemed kind of stiff and unemotional as opposed to the full-blown psychosis some of the others demonstrated, but also because his route was relatively free of the unifying sub-plot that confusingly peeks into every world but is only explained in the last, secret route.

My least favorite world was Diamond–I found this one absolutely frustrating on a number of different levels.  In the first place, it was the last one (of the cardinal four) I played, so some of the parts that seemed like they were supposed to be big mysteries were pretty apparent from the beginning, if you were familiar with all the characters from the other routes.  In the second place, to get all the different endings in most of the others, you generally had to save and start from different points in the story, making different decisions or saying different things to move the story into a different direction.

In Diamond, literally the only difference between some of the routes was a couple of different choices close to the beginning, and then the rest of the game was identical, except for the ending.  This means you had to play through almost the same game like four different times to get all the endings.  Maybe this wouldn’t have been so bad except that you actually spend most of this world confined and totally passive (so passive that at one point Orion starts playing another video game just to pass the time) and…

Dude is a complete psychopath!  Almost from the beginning, it’s obvious that he’s lying to you, and it just progresses from there to basically putting you under house arrest, then drugging you, then locking you up in a dog cage.

Toma, no.
Toma, no.

For some reason, Orion constantly gives you the worst advice possible in this one, and you’re not even given any options that make sense half the time.  When you have access to your phone you don’t have the option to call for help, and when you get out, you’re never able to try to head anywhere but right back to where Toma is likely to catch you again.

The real finisher is the endings.  A bad ending is where Toma winds up keeping you in the cage as a sex slave for, I guess, the rest of your life, while you get brain damaged from having Orion in your head for too long.  This is despite the fact that at least one of your friends knows he’s keeping you in his place!  WTH, Shin?!

You saw he was keeping us there Shin! You didn't get curious when we never saw the light of day again?
You saw he was keeping us there Shin! You didn’t get curious when we never saw the light of day again?

The Normal end is where Toma actually tries to rape you, but you manage to escape and run out into the street in your underwear.  You get rescued, but Toma leaves town and you are sad for the rest of your life because you never see him again, and apparently Stockholm Syndrome is a thing.

So at this point, I figure the Good end must be totally different right?  WRONG, back in the cage again.  The only difference between the Good end and the Normal end is that this time, when Toma tries to rape you, he accidentally reads your diary where you wrote that you were in love with him, and suddenly everything is cool and you just start kissing?  The epilogue is that you wander off with him promising that you’ll stay with him forever, and he notes that you have the worst taste in men, and at least one of those two things is perfectly true.

Orion's face throughout most of Toma's route.
Orion’s face throughout most of Toma’s route.

The absolute kicker, however, is that when you get to the secret/Joker end, there is actually one part where Ukyo (your other psychotic future-telling boyfriend) warns you against oversharing with Toma.  If you ignore that and make friendly conversation with him…SURPRISE!  Back in the cage for the rest of your life again!  At this point, you’ve spent so much time in the cage, it’s like you lived it real time with the heroine.

Toma aside, however, I actually did like this game quite a bit.  The art was beautiful and just listening to the Japanese voice work made me crack up, even not understanding most of it.  I would play at least half of it again once the immediate knowledge of it dies off…just not the Diamond world.

Rating:  8/10

Advertisements

Teen Wolf, S6E9: “Memory Found”

Are you watching this show? Do you wish someone would watch along with you because everyone else you know thinks it’s dumb?  Here is what I was saying while I was watching it–I WILL WATCH WITH YOU.

Spoiler Thoughts:

  • Sheriff, this seems like it would be more surprising if we hadn’t already verified that everyone in Beacon Hills had been taken last week?
  • How, In All That Is Holy, is Theo going to help them against the Ghost Riders?
  • What makes anyone think they can possibly stop Theo with bullets when he inevitably goes rogue?
  • A whole roomful of you couldn’t deal with one Ghost Rider.  I think you might be a little optimistic, Liam.
  • Well that could have gone better.
  • I feel like taking yourself to the brink of death to solve your problems is starting to be a habit with them.
  • Oh, no wonder Theo wasn’t a fan of going back to the hospital.
  • It sounds weird for Lydia to refer to their school as “the high school.”
  • Virtually every high school student would, I think, refer to their school either by name or just as “school.”
  • This heart-to-heart with Liam is making Theo nostalgic for his looping Ringu Vine again.
  • Ok, there’s a lot I’m not understanding about this remembering process.
  • For one thing, if Scott’s too cold, why don’t they just back off the temperature dials some on that refrigerator coffin?
  • For another, it seems like they all remember Stiles pretty well now, given that they can all quote stuff he said recently, so maybe that’s not the issue?
  • Pretty harsh for Malia to have one of her handful of memories be Stiles in love with someone else.
  • Lydia hypnotizes pretty easy.
  • Wait, you can hatchet the Ghost Riders but not shoot them?
  • Ok, I believe I asked a couple weeks ago why we didn’t think their own guns would work against them.
  • Hope Theo’s prepared for the warm reception he’ll probably get from Stiles and everyone else in the train station.
  • Look!  It’s Jesus!  Or possibly Stiles!

Teen Wolf, S6E8: “blitzkrieg”

...And then there were five. And Theo.
…And then there were five. And Theo.
Are you watching this show? Do you wish someone would watch along with you because everyone else you know thinks it’s dumb?  Here is what I was saying while I was watching it–I WILL WATCH WITH YOU.

Spoiler Thoughts:

  • Man, Nazis!  In America!  Who would have thought?
  • Well, on the one hand, Mr. Douglas is a Nazi, and on the other hand, he just minused the number of Nazis in the room by one, so kind of a wash.
  • Poor Noah Stilinski, still wondering why he never noticed all those boarded up windows on that one side of his house before.
  • Ok, I don’t know anything about string theory except in cinema shorthand it usually means someone’s headed to CrazyTown, but I feel like even the crazys have some rationale for where they put the pins and the strings.
  • Peter, always a Helper.
  • Now if Malia is disappointed in her Dad by this time, she has only her own ill-founded expectations to blame.
  • Maybe Melissa could have gone for the gun at that point?
  • Theo!  I trust him.
  • Liam, this is maybe not a decision you should make unilaterally.
  • Plus, it’s not even your sword.
  • You have to admit, the Nazis had a wide range of interests.
  • Grenadier Able is beginning to realize that he may have backed the wrong horse.
  • How did they even get Parrish?  Last we saw, he went for a walk in the woods.
  • What if someone grabbed the Ghost Rider’s gun and whip?  Then he couldn’t take anyone, although I guess he could still mop the floor with them.
  • What if they shot him with his own gun?  Then some poor shlep has to sit on the same bench with a Ghost Rider for all eternity in the train station.
  • Hayden couldn’t just untangle herself from the whips while Liam was holding them?
  • Poor Noah.  Never catching a break.
  • Nazis are pretty black and white.
  • Here’s a question:  If Douglas has been in a tank since the 1940s, how did he get out and immediately have a California accent?
  • Well, on the other hand, if the Ghost Riders take everyone, that gets them through the rift, too.
  • Wait, I thought Noah missed his wife’s death because that night he was with Malia’s dying family in the car?  Or am I confusing everyone by now?
  • Peter’s redemption.
  • Banshees are so creepy, even the Ghost Riders don’t want them in their train station.
  • So this is apparently the “Empire Strikes Back” moment for our gang.
  • OH MY GOD
  • MICHISLAV
  • STILES IS MICHISLAV
  • WHY WOULD YOU NAME YOUR KID MICHISLAV

Teen Wolf, S6E7: “Heartless”

“…Because you loved him.”
Are you watching this show? Do you wish someone would watch along with you because everyone else you know thinks it’s dumb?  Here is what I was saying while I was watching it–I WILL WATCH WITH YOU.

Spoiler Thoughts:

  • Theo’s sister, showing the “Once Upon A Time” folks what it really looks like to rip out a heart.
  • This part was never all that clear to me:  So Theo killed his sister so…the Dread Doctors could give him her heart?  So he could become a chimera?
  • It always kind of seemed like this was Theo doing it the hard way.
  • Theo’s not having a great Groundhog Day.
  • “It’s ok.  You don’t have to stop.”  OH OK, *rip*.
  • Malia not so much for forgiveness.
  • Scott letting the babby take the wheel.
  • Meanwhile, the sheriff is doing a little home renovation.
  • Claudia showing a lack of nonplussedness at finding a hidden room in her own house.
  • Ugh.  If I was Theo, I’d rather go back to getting my heart ripped out than watch Liam and Hayden PDA.
  • What was that with his sister, anyway?  Was it Theo hallucinating while Malia beat him up?
  • Look, if you’re going to analyze each idea to see if it’s bad, Stiles would never get anything done.
  • Given that Peter has gotten better from worse burns than this, and actually from death, I’m not sure why he should be all that concerned.
  • Fun fact:  Just because a medication works topically, it doesn’t necessarily follow that it works injected into the heart.
  • Glad Peter not only recovered all his skin and hair, but also his stylish stubble.
  • I get the feeling Mrs. Martin still doesn’t get the whole “being a hero” thing.
  • Really?  They never tried closing the doors to the cage before starting this whole debacle?
  • Given that the Ghost Rider kind of clearly has his mouth sewn shut, I’m not sure chatting is on the menu.
  • Poor Parrish is never privy to any of the plans, but always gets called in at the last minute to burn his shirt off.
  • I also still don’t get why Lenore didn’t just move to a different town?
  • Like, if everyone in my neighborhood disappeared, I’d either move, or take over everyone’s property by squatter’s rights and be a millionaire.
  • Evil or not, Peter is always the only guy in Beacon Hills who ever looks like he’s having fun.
  • I like how after awhile, anyone can talk to the Ghost Rider and understand him.  Like Parrish was just the catalyst.
  • Parrish must have to buy shirts by the dozen.
  • Man, don’t you hate it when the Ghost Riders hypnotize your Hellhound?
  • Maybe they should try grabbing him around his pelvis, since apparently that part never catches fire?
  • Mr. Douglas came by, presumably to start singing “Tomorrow Belongs to Me.”
  • I feel like Malia didn’t have her plan all that well worked out.
  • Here’s a thought:  Why doesn’t Theo remake the barrier as soon as Douglas goes through, thereby trapping both of them in there?
  • Parrish going off for some alone time?
  • Wow, the Ghost Riders have an enormous pineal gland.  No wonder Douglas was so anxious to munch on one.
  • Peter finds himself small fry for once.
  • Meanwhile, Corey’s all “wonder where everyone else went to?”
  • Mr. Douglas wanted to disappear an invisible guy with a magical whip for a long time?
  • That was a very specific longing.
  • Mason never gets a break.

Teen Wolf, S6E6: “Ghosted”

Spoiler Thoughts:

  • Man, worst Canaan Day block party ever.
  • I love the guy who is trying to skateboard away from the Ghost Riders.
  • I guess the reason no one gets in their car to drive away from the Ghost Riders is because cars are generally faster than horses and it would make for a pretty short story.
  • Good thing Canaan is like next door to Beacon Hills.
  • How do they think they’re going to do surgery on Argent without getting a consent?
  • Theo!  Well, hard to trust him by now.
  • Oh hey, hi creepy pineal gland eating guy.
  • You know, Liam, this dude might not, strictly speaking, be trustworthy.
  • “Go after him!”  That’s right Scott, tell the one person who has no supernatural speed and is wearing heels to go chase the kid down.
  • Guess what?  Virtually every medication Melissa probably gives in the hospital will also probably kill you if dosed incorrectly.
  • It’s probably the least amount of pressure she could be under.
  • I feel like maybe Argent could have given the recipe before he started passing out.
  • How is trapping a Ghost Rider going to help us?  It doesn’t seem like they are big talkers.
  • Liam, maybe you should consider having more than one idea.
  • This lady super loves living in Canaan.
  • It has been so long since Scott werewolfed, he forgot how?
  • Hope Caleb doesn’t wish us into the cornfield.
  • I’m not so sure we needed a date on the video to know that Caleb was different.
  • Oh, banshee convention in Canaan.
  • TAMLYN.
  • If I had a choice, I’d totally bring back Kira’s Mom over Kira too.
  • Hope Kira isn’t needing her sword wherever she is, because her Mom snagged it.
  • Maybe you should wait until Scott gets back and discuss this, Liam?
  • Tamlyn beating tracks out of there, once again showing superior survival skills to everyone else in Beacon Hills.
  • Finally SOMEONE was persuaded to put on the werewolf makeup again.
  • Banshee fight!
  • I feel as if watching the same scene over again would have been more effective if we didn’t already know what Ghost Riders looked like?
  • “You can kill whoever you want” seems like a bad promise to make to Theo.
  • “Where’s Scott?  Where’s Stiles?”  Theo frantically looking for anyone with a brain.
  • So the Ghost Hunters brought back her dead son?  Or did her banshee-ness bring him back?
  • Scott is beginning to think it was a bad idea to give Liam his housekey.
  • Well I think the difference between Lydia and Lenore is that Lydia could conceivably move to Los Angeles after everyone gets taken, instead of just staying in Beacon Hills like a crazy person.
  • Apparently Sheriff Stalinski hasn’t been told about Claudia’s affection for that piece of wallpaper.

Teen Wolf, S6E5: “Radio Silence”

“Stiles. Why did it have to be Stiles.”

Spoiler Thoughts:

  • Stiles!  In what appears to be the transit station I accidentally visited in Manhattan one time.
  • Ah Stiles–always the malcontent.
  • Peter!
  • Now Stiles is the crazy guy in the station that keeps trying to talk to people who are just waiting for their train.
  • Why is it that the guy in the flashback scenes in Eichen House doesn’t…err…look that much like Peter?
  • Eichen House to Train Station is kind of a lateral move for Peter.
  • I do love Ian Bohen, but this scene would be so awesome with Tyler Hoechlin.
  • What are these guys doing, carrying around $150 in cash?  On a good day, I have enough to pay for ramen.
  • If this dude knows so much about how to navigate train station limbo, why is he still here?
  • As they say in Japanese, “itai.”
  • Peter has spent his whole life vacillating between being helpful and being a total dick.
  • “Whose side are you on?”  Choose wisely, Scott.
  • We are going full throttle into Stydia country, folks.
  • I guess the alternative is that you just wait a bit and then everyone you know from Beacon Hills will wind up with you eventually.
  • I’m not totally sure I get what Peter was thinking during the lockdown flashbacks.  Was he thinking he was going to go back for Malia?  But how did he even know she was at Eichen House?
  • Being burnt to a crisp:  The Peter Hale Story.
  • So Malia remembers Peter, but not Stiles?
  • What, did they just leave Peter smoking out in the woods?
  • That’s amazing that the jeep turned over after all that time sitting there.
  • Like, that’s more than it usually did for Stiles.
  • Well like Peter said, it is kinda weird that the Ghost Riders just left a piece of equipment with which you could call your friends.

Teen Wolf, S6E4: “Relics”

Spoiler Thoughts:

  • Argent not looking like he’s all that excited about Melissa’s backup.
  • “Some kind of help is the kind of help that helping’s all about/Some kind of help is the kind of help we can all do without.”
  • Wow, Melissa, I’m not so sure she’s gonna be ok.
  • Well, good thing you brought those bandages.
  • Malia, still making friends and influencing people.
  • Scott not so sure Corey’s gonna be all that much help.
  • I’m sad that Mrs. Stilinski is probably totes evil when she makes the Sheriff so happy.
  • I feel like they have so many to protect at this point, they don’t need to worry about someone who doesn’t want protection.
  • “Mason, with Stiles and Lydia not here, you’ll be playing the part of the brains tonight.”
  • Mrs. Martin has made a lifestyle out of trusting exactly the wrong people.
  • I see Mrs. Martin is adopting the Scully “I’ve-seen-that-everything-abnormal-is-true-yet-I-will-continue-to-deny-it-because-the-writers-believe-this-is-how-smart-women-behave” methodology.
  • If she just said Claudia was her BFF from high school, I’m doubting her unbiased perspective.
  • Jayden is the weakest link.
  • Actually, most of Beacon Hills’ lacrosse games end in a free-for-all, TBH.
  • Parrish to the rescue!
  • Parrish is like “I trained so hard as a deputy, and everyone only cares about the Hellhound.”
  • Those are some pretty effective disappearing bullets.
  • It seems counter-intuitive that they keep letting everyone else get taken, and only seem to care about protecting the one person who actually wants to get taken.
  • HIPPA hates Melissa.
  • Man, one of the only Asian guys in Beacon Hills, and Nathan has to be a dick.
  • Parrish is all wishing they would have told him in advance not to wear his good uniform.
  • Oh, thank God he had flame-retardant shorts on.
  • Well Argent, maybe you should have shot him.
  • Kind of a defeat for the good guys tonight.
  • One good thing for Liam, I guess.
  • Hey, that is pretty friendly that Argent and Ms. McCall are getting.
  • The Next Gen that would have been.
  • ROSCO.