Memorrha in the test - crisp puzzle fun with technical weaknesses

Memorrha in the test - crisp puzzle fun with technical weaknesses

Games based on tricky puzzles have a special place in my gamer's heart. Having grown up on the adventures and mind-bending gimmicks of Professor Layton, I can claim to be able to think outside the box. For a long time, however, I had turned my back on the fun of puzzles. It wasn't until The Witness that I found a temporary liking for the genre again - Memorrha takes a similar stance, which of course means I have to check it out. Produced in Germany and with some rave reviews upon release for PC, I expected an interesting puzzle adventure. The puzzles are interesting and versatile, but technical problems ruined the atmosphere.

Old carvings remind of a long-gone history.

© StickyStoneStudio GmbH

Memorrha is a first-person puzzle game from StickyStoneStudio and was originally released for PC in 2019. An excellent and well-known comparison object would be the game The Witness already mentioned, as the premise is similar. You are in a world, more precisely in a kind of jungle. You explore the ruins of a lost civilization there. With the help of a scanner and a lot of mental work, you try to analyze the rise and fall of civilization.

This civilization was extremely advanced at its heyday - with technical and extraterrestrial elements. The plot is not told directly. You open your virtual eyes and are already standing in the middle of the ruins without comment. As you solve puzzles - which I'll get to in a moment - you'll keep finding symbols and paintings that you capture with your scanner. The more of these pictures you find, the clearer the development of this once great nation will become. Roughly summarized and if possible without too many spoilers: Civilization was able to gain energy from the fragments of a meteorite. Society used these fragments and their energy to create special constructions - but everything has its price. The price can be guessed at by the fact that you are in ruins.

The surroundings are designed in an interesting way. Breathed with elements that are reminiscent of past South American civilizations and convey a jungle feeling, you will make your way through the ruins, which are a mixture of old buildings and modern technology. This atmospheric environment is accompanied by the many sound effects composed of the classic noises we would expect to find in a jungle.

Hidden behind this wall There is a path, but the pattern used does not match.

© StickyStoneStudio GmbH

In the first-person perspective, you move through the 3D environment using the joystick. Very simple puzzles and a rudimentary tutorial are provided at the beginning of the game. Most puzzles work on a similar principle: place an item in the right place and then interact with the construction. This sounds like "simple" collection quests at first, but that's not entirely true: Although you collect items and interact with the environment, the lost civilization had a great weakness for codes, signs and combinations. Among other things, you have to attach plates with different drawings to one of several possible bases. Some sockets require multiple different plates, allowing you to experiment with specific combinations to solve specific puzzles. This idea of ​​collecting and combining objects is the basis for the entire game - only the objects to be combined change.

The game gets harder and harder. First, goals and simple combinations are used. As the adventure progresses, there are entire environments to interact with, or the combinations become more complex. Memorrha manages to challenge you, but not overwhelm you. Experimentation and patience are the key, which is used regularly. You have to use some constructions first in order to recognize their function. Correct conclusions can only be drawn if it is used incorrectly. But the scanner can also help to see through constructions. By scanning certain constructs, it's possible to gain new clues about how they work.

While the Ruins of Memorrha are linear, they also offer some side paths , which you should explore if you are interested in the fate of this society. With the help of the scanner, which you can activate by pressing a button, you not only scan various murals for your library, but also symbols that you can project at certain locations. Some buildings react to these projections and open up new paths and, above all, stories that need to be interpreted.

The concept fails because of the execution

Repetition and boredom are the biggest enemy in this genre, constantly lurking around every corner. Similar to The Witness , Memorrha tries again and again to create new types of puzzles and possibilities for interaction. By assembling puzzles, collecting and interpreting images using a scanner, the developers are able to create a multifaceted gaming experience. The rewards in the form of more pictures or advancing into a new world succeed and motivate you to descend deeper into the ruins. During my gameplay, there were also situations where I ran from one corner to the next, annoyed, because I couldn't immediately understand the surrounding puzzle. I also didn't always find some repetitions of puzzles appropriate. Doing the same type of puzzle more than three times, just with a little more difficulty, is a bit too much repetition for my liking.

A problem I think this production is having Research in the PC version also had to struggle at times is the frame rate. Unfortunately, this already fluctuated a lot at launch on the PC and despite the postponement of the version for the Nintendo Switch, this annoying disease is still there. The image repeatedly jerks, the movement feels uncomfortable and textures always look washed out. The background noise is not spared from this misery. Again and again the sound breaks off or becomes excessively loud in some places for no reason. The ruin atmosphere, which was built with great effort, gets a very bitter aftertaste from this problem. That's a real shame, because the developers' attention to detail is obvious, but it doesn't fully come into play due to these weaknesses. The problem that arises from this is frustration that is distracting. Distraction is another poison such puzzle games should fear. The game cannot do anything for the impatience of the player. But when another, avoidable factor is responsible for this frustration, it's just plain annoying.

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