There aren’t many games about the holocaust. It’s pretty obvious why of course. It’s not a subject that developers tend to approach due to its horrific nature. A huge stain on human history. It’s obviously extremely difficult to write an engaging and hopeful story within such a setting. Let me tell you that My Memory of Us does just that with a whole lot of heart, a whole lot of hope and an abundance of charm.
Juggler Games has created a game set in such a bleak time and reimagined it as a child’s memory of the events. You won’t see swastikas or S.S. uniforms, in fact, there is absolutely no Nazi imagery at all. Instead, fictional Poland is occupied by robots and the story that unfolds between our young protagonists is one of friendship, love and hope.
My Memory of Us is a puzzle platformer with the narrative front and centre. It plays like your usual puzzle platformer, solve logic puzzles, find the right items to correspond with the right objects and work your way past your robot adversaries without being detected. What makes this game different is your ability to switch between two characters, each with different abilities. This adds another layer of problem-solving trying to figure out who to put where in certain situations. There isn’t much more to the gameplay than that, the puzzles aren’t too difficult if you’re good at that sort of thing. The real heart is from the story and it is all narrated masterfully by the one and only Patrick Stewart.
Segregation is at the forefront of the story. Just like the Jewish people during World War II, certain citizens are shipped off to ghettos and camps. Rather than these people wearing badges, they have certain articles of clothing painted red. As the story rolls on we see that these people aren’t allowed in certain areas and are treated with ridicule by other citizens. These reds really pop against the monochrome backdrops, so it is obvious who has been tagged. It’s a reminder of the horrors of the past, simplified into a child’s perspective. A horrific time in human history told in storybook fashion.
Your characters can hold hands to move in tandem, or they can move on their own accord. It’s a charming way to inject friendship into a hopeless time. Movement isn’t completely without its hitches and stealth sections may seem unfair at times as you swear that you were far enough away when you were detected. There are many sections that require being quick off the draw and these can take time to get right but there’s nothing totally deal breaking.
Not only is the story great but the world that you inhabit is incredibly atmospheric. The monochrome hand-drawn graphics bring a lovely aesthetic to the war era streets. These streets are alive with the usual hustle and bustle of life. Walking through the streets near the beginning of the game and you walk past citizens going on with their lives. A casual conversation, a couple kissing and other general goings on happening around you until the bombs hit and now you’re plunged into solemn streets populated by grave looking citizens and evil robots. It’s a beautifully crafted world that feels lived in, even if it is hand-drawn.
My Memory of Us takes the darkest of subject matters and blasts it through the filter of a child’s mind. There are a lot of themes involved here from segregation to friendship and love. It’s all presented in a beautiful monochrome world where the puzzles are crafty and solving them carries a lovely sense of achievement. Mechanically, it’s not perfect but many of the issues can be overlooked as the rest of the package is just so damn charming. This is a game about facing up to your adversaries, and not only doing that but doing it hand in hand with a friend.
*Code kindly provided by the publisher for review*