Point & Click adventures are based on the idea that we’re exploring the artwork and script of a highly imaginative mind. It is the case with most videogames, but no other genre gets this personal.
Memento Mori 2: Guardian of Immortality reminds us that a story can not only be used to tell but also to show. That is, to teach. For the unenlightened, Memento Mori is a phrase derived from Latin which can be translated as, “Remember you will die” or roughly, “Remember you are only mortal,” the latter interpretation being the main focus of the title. As a Point & Click Adventure game, Memento Mori 2 follows on the life of Interpol agent Lara Durant (one of the protagonists of the prequel to this title) as she and her husband leave for a vacation in Africa. The game’s constantly bringing the player to exotic locations such as this one, and we’re treated to pretty renditions of various locales ranging from plain old San Francisco to Lyon (France). Coupled with ambient background music specifically tailored for each place, Memento Mori 2 doesn’t fail to impress with its level of detail and succulent amounts of eye candy.
The story quickly takes on a dark tone after the first act (what did you expect with a title that suggests your eventual death?), whereupon Lara’s detective skills are put to the ultimate test to uncover the truth behind an awful conspiracy while at the same time trying to find information about her missing husband. A thriller story full of suspense that could give a good detective graphic-novel a run for its money is complemented by realistic characterization and dramatic backdrops.
Gameplay-wise, the game is very hard on the brain. I will admit to having consulted a guide about five times due to being stumped and the game being insanely vague about necessary items. To solve puzzles, you’re expected to basically become MacGyver to solve puzzles. Puzzles can be fun and clever, even those that are terribly hard, and others can take a frustratingly long time to complete since they demand such pin-point accuracy on screen that you may not realize the correct answer was half an inch away on the screen from your first attempt, resulting in more consecutive failed attempts.
The perspective switches as we get to play as different characters, but Lara is the main character of the story. It’s very well-conceived how each character interacts with the environment and has their own inner voice as well as their own personal approach to problem solving as well.
How Memento Mori 2 leaves an impression on us is not through exerting our brains with puzzles or trivial bits of information, like how much blood there is in the average adult male body. The story is about processing and interpreting information and questioning its meanings. One follows logic in order to arrive at a conclusion, but conclusions sometimes are devoid of what we know as reason. Does this mean an unreasonable conclusion is simply wrong? Is the logical path the only path we can see, or is there anything more that we can see if we open our minds? I can’t be too sure about being able to answer that one myself in less than 1,000 words, but Memento Mori 2 entertains the notion and that adds to its value as an imaginative production.
On the other hand, the game could have used a more thorough debug before release. Unfortunately, there are several visual glitches along the way, destroying a perfect score due to some nuisances like flickering textures or lighting problems at certain scenes. The subtitles and voice tracks require fine-tuning as well; I can’t tell how many times I’ve been thoroughly confused to the point of annoyance when a simple phrase or answer by someone made completely no sense, were absolutely (and objectively) out-of-context, or blatant contradictions to the subtexts. There were some audio loops as well, and at one point I had to restart my game due to a never-ending one. Memento Mori 2 excels at setting the mood, but these technical issues only serve to sabotage it.
The game utilizes a percentile scoring system to grade your performance during each act, affecting your outcome for the endings depending on how well you did. Several factors will determine the outcome of your journey, skill and beliefs being instrumental. Also influencing the outcome are certain dialogic choices that allow the player to shape the way Lara reacts to and perceives the world, which make me return to game’s title. Remember that you’re only mortal, and as such, there are certain things that are way beyond your grasp. But as a detective, what do you believe in first and foremost? Therein lay the plot’s conundrum, and how the player must decide. Faith or Reason? You have the choice.