Post-apocalyptic settings in games are very popular, often encasing wonderful stories and exciting gameplay into distorted versions of the world we inhabit. They’re often very loud, action-packed and maybe include elements of the supernatural in their speculative fictitious imaginings of a potential future. Some Distant Memory has the wasteland setting and the futuristic spin on the dystopic and post-apocalyptic genres, but takes a quiet look at a world buried in time and the bloom.
Some Distant Memory is set in a futuristic earth that has suffered great environmental changes after an event referred to only as ‘The Collapse’. The air outside of survivor compounds is entirely unbreathable, all plant-life seems to be entirely destroyed, and the former earth ‘The Sunken City’ is entirely underground and inaccessible. You play as archaeologist Professor Zay of the Ares colony as she uncovers the secrets of a pre-collapse era house, accompanied by ARORA – an ancient AI that can recreate human memories by scanning old items. It’s just you and your extremely intelligent human companion in this quiet, sensitive adventure. As you navigate the house and interact with different elements of the Baron household, you uncover secrets and stories of the people who once lived there through clues and reasoning.
Galvanic Games’ limited cast in Some Distant Memory is a strong selling point in creating this adventure. The long stretches of silence as you move from room to room underground, interacting with cracked picture frames and tattered notebooks, give the game a very particular ambience that is both soothing and chilling. The sense of adventure is tinged with a nostalgia, as the player notices parts of the world (often puns of real-life books, TV shows or newspapers) that are no longer a part of the future. The silence, only interrupted by a holographic projection of Commander Ti of another Colony and the AI ARORA’s analysis of the surroundings. The player is left mostly to their own thoughts as they take in the game’s world. With well-written characters, especially that of Rikin Baron and Mira, give the short game a life that seems to span far more than the game’s few our gameplay length. Without spoiling the game, there were several moments of story and character development that gave me chills and left me with a temporary feeling of anxiety as I connected with these people only to see their lives inevitably change and end. Unlike many mystery/apocalyptic games, Some Distant Memory does not give everything away, and this works well to create the very needed drama.
There isn’t a lot to do in the game, no puzzles to solve beyond finding entrances, keys and watching ARORA’s projected memories. Some Distant Memory has definitely used the adventure game to tell a strong story and impart a message more than focussing on gameplay elements. While the game is very text heavy, I do not think this is too much to its detriment. The gameplay could benefit from puzzles or more challenges to increase its length, replayability and challenge, as mostly the game is just a treasure hunt of sorts. The memories work through finding different objects to scan, leading to more dialogue and information. This title rivals Visual Novels in its focus on narrative and dialogue, so players who are averse to story-heavy games should be advised.
Some Distant Memory has a great atmosphere, the soft music that occasionally stops and the simple artwork really allows the story to shine through. My favourite touch was having the memories of the Baron family be shown through holographic orange line drawings, allowing a clear distinction between the old world and the new world of the game. Despite their simplicity, these characters were extremely expressive and the backgrounds/scene designs had just the right balance of preservation and decay to capture a post-apocalyptic event that would alter humanity.
Unfortunately, the game is so short because of its lack of involvement that three hours is all I could squeeze out of this title. For such a well written and constructed concept, the delivery of Some Distant Memory had me wanting more, but also to be finished with the story. The story is left unresolved, which matches the themes and tones of the game. Despite this, I wanted more from the game. Whether it be in length, or complexity – Some Distant Memory left me hungry for more of this world that had been ravaged by accident, or human error, or a combination of events leading to chaos and ‘The Collapse’.
This game is certainly comparable to Half Past Fate and Gone Home for its focusses on ambience and story, but does not do as well with these games at having enough to do within them for the quality of the story to shine brighter. It had a mystical, otherworldly feel that felt unfinished and half-baked. This game does not have much replay value and is instead a short adventure that one could enjoy in an afternoon on their Switch. Galvanic Games definitely have a knack for world-building and I can’t wait to see their future in game design.
REVIEW CODE: A complimentary Nintendo Switch code was provided to Bonus Stage for this review. Please send all review code enquiries to email@example.com.
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Some Distant Memory Review
Gameplay - 6/10
Graphics - 7/10
Sound - 7/10
Replay Value - 4/10
User Review( votes)
A short and haunting post-apocalyptic adventure. This quiet story into the world ‘Post-Collapse’ is a brief but detailed experience.
- A good, detailed story.
- 2D artwork is well designed.
- A great premise.
- Music can be repetitive.
- Short gameplay.
- Little replay value.