Memory’s Dogma CODE:01
Memory’s Dogma CODE:01 opens with our protagonist, Hiroki, in hospital. The death of his friend, Sorano, has left him in a rather sorry state and sapped him of his own will to live. In fact, if it wasn’t for the intervention of his other friend, Kakeru, Hiroki might have succeeded in the suicide attempt that landed him in hospital. As the game is set in a future Japan, 2030 A.D to be precise, technology has evolved to the point where memories of the deceased can be digitized and archived. Friends and loved ones can then travel to special “Connect Centers” where they can communicate with the departed via these memories. However, all memories are deleted after a short while, which is why Hiroki finds himself convinced by Kakeru that they have to steal Sorano’s memories in order to discover the truth behind her mysterious demise. It is a rather somber way to open a visual novel and quite a departure from some of the lighthearted efforts that we’ve recently seen on PC.
Needless to say that after stealing Sorano’s memories things quickly spiral out of control for Hiroki and Kakeru. Not only do they find themselves on the run from the people behind the Connect Center, but they also become embroiled in some other trouble. While we can’t say too much without spoiling the storyline the game does begin to veer from its initial science-fiction path towards some fantasy elements, which feels a bit unusual. Nevertheless, the action quickly moves from one event to the next and rarely lets up until the credits are rolling. CODE:01 is only the first episode of what promises to be an episodic series, so not all the loose ends are tied up, but it also doesn’t leave players hanging too much.
What we really like about Memory’s Dogma is that a lot of effort has been put into creating an interesting gameworld for the characters to inhabit. Individually, most of the elements have been used before in other games or movies, but together they make for a compelling setting. Unfortunately, the same cannot really be said about the characters as they lack the charm of those found in truly great visual novels, such as Steins Gate. This is a pity, but maybe something that will be improved in subsequent episodes as the characters become more fleshed out.
Memory’s Dogma features some very nice high definition visuals, with detailed character sprites and good backgrounds. It doesn’t look like the budget could be stretched far enough to incorporate much animated elements, but this doesn’t detract too much from the experience. The dynamic looking CGs make up for the lack of animation and the character designs are really impressive as well. It has to be said that the cast is quite an eclectic one and it sometimes looks like they all wandered in from different games when seen together on-screen.
A big portion of the budget definitely went towards the audio side of the game though, as the Japanese voice acting is superlative. The entire cast is fully voiced and you don’t have to be able to understand Japanese to hear that they are all doing a great job. Seasoned Otaku should even be able to discern some big names behind the character voices. The same can be said about the diverse soundtrack, which covers a lot of genres. Just listen to the moving “Memory’s Dogma Theme” and “Tears of Sorrow” to more upbeat tracks like “Tactical Blow” or even the dubstep-like “Brave Darkness” for great examples. Completing the game unlocks a graphics gallery and jukebox section where you can replay your favorite tunes. While the sound effects are a little sparse, they all sound good.
Seeing as Memory’s Dogma is destined to be an episodic title, it also means that the story is fairly linear. The game tries to disguise this fact by presenting you with timed choices every now and then, but making the wrong decision only leads to a bad ending instead of a story branch. You don’t have to worry about constantly saving in order to avoid losing progress though, as the bad endings will automatically revert you to the story segment just before you made the wrong choice. The game throws a lot of technical terms and words at you to fit in with its futuristic setting, but luckily the “Tips” section offers a list of explanations to refresh your memory about what they all mean.
Although Memory’s Dogma ended being a little less thought provoking than we thought it would be based on the initial story elements, it still tells an interesting tale. Some fans will probably find the shift in tone and style at certain points a little jarring while the storyline also becomes a little too predictable. All in all it is a decent start though and we are definitely looking forward to seeing how events turn out in future episodes. While it might not be as engrossing or original as some of the top tier titles in the genre, it is a step up from all the fan-service oriented fluff that are taking over the genre these days.
- OS: Windows 7 or above
- Processor: 2.33GHz or faster x86-compatible processor
- Memory: 1 GB RAM
- Graphics: 128MB or more of graphics memory
- DirectX: Version 9.0c
- Storage: 7 GB available space
- Sound Card: Any audio output