By far, The Dark Eye Memoria has been one of the more demanding games to review of late. That’s not a detriment that relates to being a bad game; on the contrary, it’s very good. It’s just that it has taken longer than I had hoped to get this review done.
Following on from The Dark Eye: The Chains Of Satinav, both from Daedalic, we’re reacquainted with Geron the birdcatcher, only this story is experienced with assistance from the past, through visions and further problem-solving.
It’s almost as if the game was made back-to-back like The Lord Of The Rings as the two are seamless, but you do need to play the first, also available on the PS4/5. So, is it a worthy sequel, or should you stop at the first?
The Dark Eye Memoria PS5 Review
Where to begin? Perhaps a little exposition, as you won’t get that much with The Dark Eye Memoria. Why not give the gist of the first one, as you need to know what happened. It’s an easy read.
In the first game, birdcatcher Geron gets roped into an adventure to stop the evil Seer from enslaving the beloved people of his hometown, Andergast. In the process, he lures the help of a fairy, only to, well, fall for her.
As luck would have it, there is a conclusion to the first game, but you could argue it’s a bit of a cliffhanger as the two lovers are a bit in limbo. Nuri, the fairy, is no longer physically the same.
That doesn’t mean ‘she has a headache, not tonight’, but her form has changed, and the driving force of The Dark Eye Memoria is to undo that and return things to the way they were. Cue some brilliant storytelling that takes you back centuries before, where you share a connection with the princess, Sadja.
A Ripple In Time
The two protagonists’ worlds are very different. Playing the prequel back-to-back means that Geron was already a character I was familiar with, but in this second adventure, I warmed to him even more. He won’t be for everyone, but I like his nature if he comes across as indifferent.
The voice talent is equally good, if not better, as is the presentation. Taking a brief hiatus from the first game and making a dent in The Dark Eye Memoria makes you appreciate just how good the artists are in this game.
It’s essentially the same game, but on a bigger scale and more fantastical, such as when you enter the fairy realm in The Dark Eye: Chains Of Satinav. Again, the animation is a little janky where characters talk, but it’s forgivable. It can’t be an easy feat to sync up a game originally made in German, translated to English, while giving a hand-painted aesthetic. Like a Bob Ross art jam, for one.
A brief bit on the controls, as they don’t differ here either. They work as well as could be for a point and click using a controller, but you may end up playing The Dark Eye Memoria a few times if you want to 100% as you’ll either need to press R3 to highlight points of interest or position the characters at the right sweet spot. One of the trophies is to complete the game without using the R3 feature.
Riddle Me This
It all starts with a riddle. Geron stumbles upon a merchant who may or may not know how to return Nuri to her former self, and that answer is in a riddle. Easy; five-minute game, move on. Wrong.
What happens is you’re introduced to Indiana Sadja, a surly, fearsome adventurer who wants to leave her mark on history. While she couldn’t be more different to Geron – vocal, direct, confident and other archetypes – they both share anonymity as nobody truly knows the sacrifices they have made for ‘the greater good’.
With Sadja, she’s no-nonsense as she takes on a bit more wonderous quests, travelling a larger area and in tune with what one may define as fantasy. In short, she’s pretty incredible. Her surliness is refreshing and juxtaposed with Geron’s timidness, makes for a good balance.
The poor birdcatcher is reduced to the bleak medieval times of Andergast while his counterpart suns it, though I feel more at home with Geron. Besides having a penchant for birds and fairies, I relate to him a bit and the place he resides. We have fairies living in our garden.
Not As Deep Pockets
The Dark Eye Memoria PS5 has the same way of interacting and general setup, but the inventory doesn’t feel as cluttered as before, well, it wasn’t cluttered, but this sequel feels a bit more streamlined. The puzzles, however, are not.
One of the reasons for the later review is getting stuck on a few puzzles, which meant a few pauses, then returning to it afresh. Those breaks weren’t in frustration, more for a different outlook on the problem at hand, allowing for one of those cliche ‘out of the box’ moments.
Though Geron and Sadja don’t meet due to the age gap (no, he’s committed to Nuri, we’re talking around 450 years difference), their stories link well, though you shift to each character through progression rather than on command.
The Dark Eye Memoria is the better game, in my opinion, as it expands on all the good parts of the first but on a grander scale. Other than the lip-syncing, a handful of voices are awful. It didn’t help that the first character you meet feels like they’re reading it. Stick with it, though, as if you liked the first one, this is a step up. It makes a change for a sequel, at least in cinema terms.
The Dark Eye Memoria PS5 Review Summary
Like an Isle of Skye whisky, a decent adventure should be appreciated at a leisurely pace. With The Dark Eye Memoria, maybe it’s not so much a choice due to the challenges ahead, but they reward the player with an enjoyable story and associated puzzles. And, dare I say, characters you care about.