I don’t often fall asleep while playing games, but Memento Mori 2 has the dubious honour of switching out my lights after about half an hour. Thankfully things do improve as you plunge deeper, but this is seriously one of the most tedious beginnings to a game since Assassin’s Creed 3.
One of the first unbreakable rules for writers is, hook ‘em in from page one. You don’t necessarily have to start with half of New York exploding, or a manic shoot-out in space between legions of killer space monkeys with space lasers, but there should be enough suspense to keep us intrigued and eager to continue. Sadly Memento Mori 2’s plot is about as gripping as a dead fish, at least for the first few hours, and I really had to force myself to keep playing.
The story initially concerns a break-in at a gallery, in a town where the first Memento Mori’s heroes, Lara and Max, just happen to be honeymooning. The gallery owner reckons the cops are massive work dodgers, having closed the case far too early, and Lara’s old agency gets in touch to see if she’ll look into it.
Sure enough, the cop in charge is swiftly revealed as a tardy git - within just a few minutes of investigating, you discover clues so blatant that even Mr Magoo would’ve spotted ‘em. This leads you to a cargo ship called the SS Maori, and then on to a global conspiracy that’s fraught with danger. That is, if you actually make it that far.
Memento Mori 2’s gameplay basically involves finding items and using them in the right situation to progress, while occasionally analysing a crime scene or solving a puzzle. Like most adventure games, this one’s completely linear, an inherent problem of the genre which we can happily overlook. What’s really frustrating with Memento Mori 2 is the schizophrenic puzzles, which leap between refreshingly smart and head-bashingly irritating with alarming regularity.
Occasionally you’ll stumble across a brainteaser that’s well thought out and fun to solve, and the CSI-style analysis/crime scene bits are quite entertaining, but a few of the puzzles, such as changing a printer paper jam, end up as menial tasks that we’d be loathe to complete in real life. When a game is less exciting than your day job, something’s gone seriously wrong.
And then there are moments that force your eyebrow right up to your scalp, such as handing over a thick wad of cash for a cigar cutter that you have no apparent use for, until later in the game when it’s suddenly essential to progress. That’s some serious psychic shenanigans right there.
Or the time you manage to convince a strict receptionist to break her employer’s rules, simply by presenting her with a box of chocolates. “You want me to leave these brand new security bars off the windows, just days after a horrific break-in where valuable items were stolen? Sure, no worries, and cheers for the turkish delight!”
That said, it’s refreshing that the puzzles don’t stray too much into surreal territory, and there’s an ever-helpful hotspot illuminator feature that means you’ll never miss an important object.
Presentation is another example of where Memento Mori 2 is horribly schizo. For instance, the game’s visuals are a real strong point, with nicely animated backdrops and characters, and environments packed with tons of detail. But the voice acting on the whole is absolutely dire, the kind of thing we’d expect from an indie game knocked up in someone’s bedroom. And occasionally the dialogue and the subtitles don’t even match up, which begs the question - could no one at all be bothered to sit through that turgid beginning to test the bloody game?
Dialogue is another sore point. We can almost forgive the voice actors for delivering their lines with all the enthusiasm of a dead badger, when the script is stuffed full with cringeworthy one-liners and cliches. It’s beyond B-movie at times, which is a real surprise given the clear time and effort spent on the visuals and other elements.
Memento Mori 2 verdict
While there’s plenty to admire in Memento Mori 2, including some slick visuals and the occasional enjoyable puzzle, there’s also plenty to lament. The plodding plot, awkward dialogue and irritating voice acting were real turn-offs, and overall we had to force ourselves to keep playing. Even hardcore adventure fans might want to skip this one.