Memories: My Story, My Choice | Game Review
Memories: My Story, My Choice is the latest release from Indonesian Game Development company, Agate. Rather than one overarching story with multiple routes, Memories is a visual novel library hosting a collection of stories, each with a variety of player choices and endings.
Despite being a new release, there’s already a substantial selection of stories available – and Agate have said there are more on the way. Some of these visual novels are completed, while others are listed as ‘ongoing’ – which means there will be new chapters to come in future updates.
This is my first time playing an otome game in a ‘library’ style, and, to be honest, I wasn’t sure if I’d like it. I was concerned that having several different stories (in several different genres) would make it difficult to navigate the library and remember where I’m up to; however, it didn’t take me long to get used to the app’s layout, and the developers have incorporated several features to make browsing easier.
Any story you read, you can select as a ‘favourite’ – which moves it to the top of the list on your homepage – so it’s easy to keep track of whatever you’re currently reading. Furthermore, you can exit a chapter at any point, and when you select that chapter again, it will take you straight back to where you left off – so there’s no need to re-read the beginning of a chapter if you exit halfway through.
Note: I also liked that the author is listed for each visual novel. This makes it easier to find stories written by an author you already know you like, which will be only become more useful as the catalogue expands.
The general app layout and UI is fairly simple in its style, and it was easy to navigate after a little exploration. My only criticism is that the visuals for the ‘Specials’ page were a bit overwhelming for me, so I think having some negative space between them would help break up the vibrant graphics, and generally make the listings easier to read.
After giving this ‘library’ style a go, I can see the appeal. Having a diverse collection of visual novels within one app allows players to find a story that suits them, regardless of their preferences. There’s already a variety of visual novels available, so I’d recommend checking out Memories’ library to see if there’s a story for you.
Diamonds & Keys
Other than navigating the library and reading a story, the main gameplay features of Memories are related to two in-game resources: diamonds and keys.
Each time you unlock a new chapter, you’ll need to use a key. Keys are refreshed over time, up to a set maximum, but you can go over this limit if you acquire them through the store or log-in bonuses. As such, keys can be accumulated fairly easily for free – as long as you don’t mind waiting for them to refresh.
Diamonds, on the other hand, are more difficult to acquire. You will receive some through log-in bonuses, and there are ads to watch in exchange for more free diamonds; however, the amount you receive for watching these ads is significantly lower than the cost of ‘special choices’ in a story, so it will take some time to accumulate the amount you need via this method.
‘Special Choices’ require diamonds to select. The game shows a prompt prior to each ‘special choice’, which explains that you’ll receive a more romantic scene, as well as a ‘special illustration’ (CG) – although, it’s worth nothing that it’ll then cost further diamonds to save this CG to your in-game album.
During my playthrough of Vampire Sonata, I only selected these special choices, and I also paid the extra to save the CG to my album. I did this solely with the free diamonds I got when starting the game – as well as some bonus diamonds I got through a promo code – and I have to admit, I found myself running out of diamonds pretty quickly.
I’m still not entirely sure how much of a difference it makes to the story if you don’t select the special choices, but the CG moments were usually the highlight of each chapter, so I’m concerned that the non-special choices would provide a significantly less romantic experience. The choices also got more expensive as I went along, so it was difficult to gauge from the early chapters just how many diamonds I would need to complete the story.
I typically don’t mind mobile games and this ‘premium choice’ monetisation style, I was just a little put-off by having to spend more diamonds to save a CG to my album, after I already unlocked it in the scene. If a player spends diamonds to select a special choice, then, in my opinion, the CG should be included in that price, rather than thinking you unlocked it, only to be told you have to pay more to keep it.
It’s not too expensive to save the CG (and you can just take a screenshot, if you’re not worried about keeping it in your in-game album), but it felt a little bit cheeky. I would rather know up-front exactly what I’m getting for my money, and then make a choice based on that knowledge.
If you’re prepared to spend money, however, I’d recommend giving Memories a go. The scenes that followed special choices were often the most memorable parts of each chapter, and, despite the extra cost, I love the CG art I collected during my playthrough of Vampire Sonata.
So far, I’ve read the completed story, ‘Vampire Sonata’, which has a total length of ten chapters. There are two love interests, Edward and Aaron, and a protagonist whose name is customisable, with a default of ‘Evelyn’. You can also choose between three skin tones for the protagonist, but those are the only appearance-based customisations available at the start of the story.
Despite any complaints I had about the special choice system, I thoroughly enjoyed the story of Vampire Sonata. The protagonist was relatable, confident, and funny – and the plot was filled with juicy, action-packed drama that kept me on the edge of my seat, right from the opening scene.
I also loved the quantity and variety of player interactions – from the typical player-choice system, to creating nicknames for your phone contacts, to oddly-specific things, like your online username for a supernatural discussions forum.
At certain points in the story, you could even select your outfit for a date, concert, or music rehearsal. Not all of these choices have a significant impact on the story, but it’s still fun to have more input, even if it’s simply cosmetic.
Voicing: There isn’t any voice acting in Vampire Sonata, but there is background music and plenty of sound effects. As this story revolves heavily around music, I liked that there was so much attention paid to the BGM, as it always sounded beautiful, and appropriate for the scene.
I also liked that there was a variety of sound effects. Most of the time, they suited what was happening in the scene, but every now and then, a sound effect would occur at an odd moment, only for the relevant action to happen a click or two later – so the timing could be a little more polished. But, on the whole, the sound effects were accurate and enhanced the mood of each scene.
I won’t spoil any of the plot, but I was impressed at how action-packed this story was. Each chapter was fairly substantial, with around 30 minutes of playtime depending on the chapter and how fast you read, but I was never bored. The writer did a great job of slowly unravelling the mystery bit-by-bit, so I was kept intrigued the whole way through.
There were periods of downtime where the protagonist would go about her daily life, performing at the local restaurant, or having romantic encounters with Edward and Aaron – but, I felt they naturally occurred between particularly intense scenes, giving the reader a chance to pause and get comfortable, only for another dramatic moment to pop up and capture your attention all over again.
This fluctuation in pacing was well-balanced, with each type of scene enhancing the mood of the other, rather than taking over. For example, I was so captivated by Edward’s flirty date that I completely forgot about the drama of the previous chapter – until it popped up again (along with another hint at the overall mystery), drawing me back into the main plot with renewed interest, before I could get bored of the slower, easier pace.
Likewise, just as I reached a point where the drama risked becoming too intense or overwhelming, the story would shift to an ordinary, day-to-day scene that focused more on the romance. This gives readers a chance to relax and process the events that just unfolded, preventing ‘drama burnout’ that might otherwise cause a player to take a break from the game.
I also got the impression that the writer wants to encourage confidence in the reader. I selected a player choice at one point that made the protagonist sound insecure, and I received a motivational pop-up that told me not to give up or be too hard on myself. The game further rewards you for choosing confident options, so I liked that Vampire Sonata not only features a self-assured protagonist, but encourages the reader to be more sure of themselves, too.
I thoroughly enjoyed Vampire Sonata, and I’m curious to check out the other titles on offer. I like the idea of a visual novel library, as it allows players with all kinds of preferences to find a story that appeals to them, and Memories in particular has an intuitive layout that’s easy to navigate.
My only criticism is the cost of ‘special choices’, as it means it’s essentially impossible to play for free – and, as a new player, I’m not yet sure of exactly how much I’m willing to spend. There are some subscription options available, as an alternative to purchasing diamonds in one-off bundles, and I’m sure this will become a more appealing option once the library has expanded further.
Based on the difficulty acquiring diamonds for free, I wouldn’t recommend Memories for F2P otome fans. However, if you’re not worried about the cost, I’d absolutely recommend downloading Memories and checking out their current library. There’s already an interesting variety of genres and styles to choose from, and this collection will only grow over time.
Thank you to the team at Agate for providing us with in-game resources and sharing the news about your latest release.
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