By Tyler Trosper / February 18th, 2017
|Title||Memory’s Dogma CODE:01
|Release Date||November 4th, 2016|
When I backed Memory’s Dogma on Kickstarter for $20, I was intrigued by the concept. In the world of the game, technology has grown to the point where memories can be digitized. This scientific advancement comes with its share of problems and philosophical dilemmas. Deceased loved ones are brought back to life, in a sense, by replicating their memories within a digital avatar. But can you really say it is still the same person? It is that concept that originally intrigued me about Memory’s Dogma, but did it live up to its premise? Yes and no.
The story of Memory’s Dogma CODE:01 takes place in the year 2030. The main character, Hiroki Kusuhara, has become suicidal after his good friend, Sorano Mizunashi, was killed in an accident. After trying to slit his wrists, his other friend, Kakeru Amamiya, tries to convince Hiroki that he should go visit Sorano at the Connect Center, a place where the deceased’s memories are stored for exactly 49 days. What starts out as a way to get closure evolves into a conspiracy that will take the two friends through many hardships and deadly encounters.
And that’s where Memory’s Dogma has a bit of an identity issue. One moment you’ll learn extensively about the game’s advanced technology, the next it will have guys with giant blades for arms. And don’t get me started on Akane and Ema, two girls who look straight out of a fantasy anime for little to no reason. The game battles with itself over if it wants to be this philosophical debate over memories and existence or a typical, supernatural shoujo plot. However, Memory’s Dogma truly shines when it delves into the former.
An example of this in the backstory. In the game, before memory digitization was regulated by the government, an event occurred called the Nightmare Memory Incident. People would kidnap others, torture them, and then upload their victim’s memories online for everyone to view. It’s a terrifying idea, and I wish the game had touched more on topics like this.
But the plot isn’t necessarily bad. As mentioned, the story shines whenever it touches on memories. The main character’s dead friend, Sorano, is a large focus and her memories also play a big role. At one point, her collection of memories are put into an avatar to be brought up through the main character’s smart phone-like bracelet. The game poses the question of whether or not the avatar can be seen as the real Sorano since she is just a compilation of a dead girl’s memories.
However, several characters are introduced and merely fall out of the plot altogether. Granted, the game’s subtitle, CODE:01, indicates there will be more Memory’s Dogma in the future, but the first episode is still a self-contained plot. The game has pretty good characters, so it was a little disappointing to see a lot of them bow out of the story with little to no fanfare. I look forward to seeing these characters in future installments, though I do hope Akane and Ema are properly explained. Granted, I did only tackle the main route, so I’m not sure if there are any other routes in the game that explains the minor characters better.
In a different take than most visual novels, the choices you make throughout the game are timed. Some of the choices are minor, but some of them are life and death. If anything, it reminded me of the choice style in games like The Walking Dead. You are given a sufficient amount of time to make your decision, though I can see how it might be annoying for the indecisive or people flipping between a guide and the game. However, I didn’t mind it at all.
Another interesting feature are the Tips. Granted, it’s pretty much a database for all the terms that pop up in the game. Whenever a term is introduced or brought up later, the text is highlighted. Clicking on a term will take you to its definition. It’s really handy for learning more about the world of Memory’s Dogma. However, you’ll occasionally run into terms like “router” that are understandable without a dictionary entry, though I guess Liz-Arts wanted their bases covered in case their players weren’t familiar with some information.
The sound of Memory’s Dogma is the highlight of the game. There are several soft melodies, usually piano pieces. However, when things get intense, so does the music. Some action scenes even have dub step music playing, which was a bit jarring at first, but seemed to fit in a weird way. The voice acting is very well done, with characters giving solid performances. Overall, the soundtrack and voice acting are fantastic.
On another note, a visual novel wouldn’t be a visual novel without art. The characters are very well drawn, especially in the various CGs. However, I did notice during some of the darker scenes that some of the character sprites had white artifacts around them. It wasn’t a huge deal, and it doesn’t affect very many characters, but I couldn’t help being distracted by those rare instances when they appeared.
When I backed Memory’s Dogma on Kickstarter, I was immediately intrigued by the subject of digitized memories. Though that idea kind of takes a backseat later in the game, I did enjoy my time with Memory’s Dogma CODE:01. Though I was frustrated by characters falling out of the story left and right, the overall plot kept me going. Also, the soundtrack alone is worth a listen. The way the game ended, it’s really hard to imagine how a sequel will play out but I look forward to it all the same. Memory’s Dogma CODE:01 is $14.99 on Steam and took me nearly 40 hours to complete.
Review Copy Purchased by Author.
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