The Dark Eye: Memoria was originally released for PC back in 2013. A point and click adventure by Daedalic Entertainment which acted as a direct sequel to Chains of Satinav, Memoria along with its predecessor have now been made available to console users. Unfortunately, this does not mean that either are remastered, instead that they are simply available via each platforms’ online store, however for those who never experienced these in their original form you can now see what all the fuss is about on your platform of choice (in theory).

The Dark Eye universe started life as a classic role playing game akin to Dungeons and Dragons, later spawning a number of video games of differing genres. It is set in the realm of “Aventuria” and features your standard fantasy tropes – magic, elves, dwarves, etc. Memoria, while set after Chains of Satinav, is its own story, and as the PR team advised prior to receiving my Xbox One review code, does not need to be played in chronological order to understand what is going on. Memoria sees you take control of two characters, hopping back and forth in time to uncover more about the overarching narrative. Firstly we play as Geron, the character from predecessor Chains of Satinav, who is on a quest to restore his companion Nuri – a fairy turned crow – back to her original form. In order to do this he employs the help of a mysterious merchant named Fahi, who says he will restore Nuri if Geron helps him piece together a historical story and solve an ancient riddle. This historical story features our second playable character Sadja, who exists in a forgotten land hundreds of years ago. On a quest to fight in a great battle between mankind and demons and to make a name for herself, Sadja uncovers a magical sentient staff and sets off to the location of this battle. As you piece Sadja’s story together in the hopes of solving Geron’s troubles, the seemingly irrelevant history of Sadja becomes more prominent in Geron’s world, and the mystery unfolds.

Memoria is a point and click in the traditional sense. You explore areas by clicking via a few different functions – looking, interacting, and combining – and must solve situational and literal puzzles. Maybe your protagonist simply needs to gain access to an item or location, but there will be only one specific way of achieving it – you will talk to characters and examine objects for clues, find and combine items, and so on. It’s safe to say if you have played any point and click adventure of old, you will know what to expect, though thankfully for the most part Memoria avoids a lot of the more egregious ‘point and click logic’ scenarios. With this said, the essence of the game still involves experimenting with your items and making educated (or not so) guesses to link things together and figure out how to progress.

The world of Memoria makes this task an enjoyable one though, and the ‘old fantasy’ aesthetic is a backdrop that sweeps you up in its atmosphere. From exploring an ancient underground ruin to a bustling, dishevelled town street, each location has its interesting features – which is very important in a game essentially designed around clicking on things in the environment. It’s not about randomly clicking though, and you will need to use your brain to figure out combinations of actions to progress. For example, finding your way into a cordoned off area guarded by a couple of magicians means looking for a way to distract them; or making your way through a large forest utilising a trail of berries to mark your way so you don’t get lost. There’s a good variety of brain teasers and puzzling situations that I, at least, found to be very enjoyable to solve.

Geron and Sadja also have a couple of magical tricks up their sleeves which plays into the puzzling. Geron is capable of casting a spell to deconstruct and repair certain objects. Conveniently this is limited and so won’t work on absolutely everything, but sometimes when at an impasse you might try your magical hand on a few things and find yourself a hidden item or a way to get to your seemingly impossible objective. Sadja with her sentient staff has more in her arsenal, and can bring life to specific inanimate beings, influence peoples’ minds by creating associations with things in the environment, and later on even turn things to stone. It’s an interesting touch which makes you think a bit outside of the box.

Unfortunately, I did feel that the magic was somewhat underused throughout the game. Initially I was relieved as I felt this could have made the puzzling more complicated than it needed to be, but as far as unique gameplay gimmicks go, in hindsight I realise this is the only thing the game has, and could have been used to good effect. Another criticism I have regarding the gameplay is that Geron and Sadja don’t have the same stock of interesting dialogue that you might have found in a classic like Broken Sword. Observing items or objects in the environment produces simplistic comments designed to nudge you in the right direction, but not so much to provide a backstory or sense of place and character. Also in ‘thinking outside the box’ there was the opportunity for some comedy, either in the action or dialogue, whereas trying your spells in inappropriate ways simply invokes a repetitive line about ‘having to stay on track’ or it not making sense.

These are things that are vastly outweighed by the game’s genuinely intriguing story, though, and the intelligently designed puzzles. I said before that most of the game avoids that standard ‘point and click logic’ which plagues most games of this type, and it was only a few instances in the final three chapters that I needed to look up the answer to a puzzle and thought I would not have achieved it without doing so. Those later examples were pretty frustrating, but at the same time it is no ‘tied up goat’ puzzle (the notorious puzzle from the original Broken Sword) which seemed impossible but also made you feel stupid after the fact for not being able to figure it out.

Where the game does irk in an unforgivable manner, however, is with its technical performance. An area I expected more in from an older title re-releasing on modern platforms is in its performance and presentation. Unfortunately, Memoria is no remaster, and in some areas this port manages to be worse than it original. Sound quality took numerous dips in my play through, with the dialogue and music becoming scratchy and distorted. I have no idea what caused this, especially as the solution to sorting it out was a simple as pulling up the menu and going back into the game again, but the frequency of these sound quality issues was certainly bothersome. The game makes some efforts to make itself at home on consoles as well, however this is with mixed success. Instead of using your cursor to click and move around, you can move your character more naturally with the analogue sticks – also referring to an option that highlights interactable things in the environment, if you choose to use this. The problem is, the game clearly isn’t designed for this, and so ends up feeling clunkier than it might have otherwise. There were times where I would be stuck going in and out of a door because the direction/perspective changed, and even one instance where I genuinely thought I would not be able to progress any further – a scene where you must cross a makeshift bridge and click on an object from the other side, Geron simply would not interact with it, and I only succeeded after one reload and 10 or so extra attempts.

These issues seem simple, but they make the game feel like it hasn’t been play tested properly, and rather than a nice port of a solid adventure title, it feels like a half-hearted dumping in order to simply expand platform availability (maybe there is a related title in the works and they want the series to be fresh in people’s minds). I suppose the ultimate crux of this is that, while The Dark Eye: Memoria is a thoroughly enjoyable adventure at its core, with an interesting story, likeable characters and lovely art work, the port to Xbox (which is the version reviewed here) is certainly not the definitive version. It’s still worth it if you have never played the game and have no other option, but if you can choose PC or were looking to replay for nostalgia’s sake, I wouldn’t recommend this way of playing it.