The cover art of the game completely threw me off guard. Initially, without reading anything about My Memory of Us besides its title, I had thought it to be about a couple reliving their memories from the past — I was gloriously wrong and instead greeted with a story with much more depth, relevance, and with a devastatingly heartbreaking history lesson of state fascism.
On the surface, it is indeed about the memories of two childhood friends and their adventures presented in charming art styles. But the focus shifts instantly, from not just their friendship but also the turmoil of their adventures. The game takes us away from the normal romanticism of war present in mainstream video games; instead, it takes us to its terrible reality.
My Memory of Us is set at the heat of World War II, more specifically during the events of the Warsaw Uprising in 1944. As it was told from the perspective from the memories of a child, Nazi Soldiers were depicted as robots. The almost fantastical view, however, is represented rightly — robots as without hearts and tools of murder.
This platform, puzzler game is mostly in black and white with shades of red. I found this to be not just to represent the time and setting, but to view the citizens, as they should be: of the same skin. What hit me was how simple colors can become an impactful way of storytelling, as when the Nazi begins their occupation of Warsaw, people were being chosen by the robot soldiers and then painted with red.
The people whose clothes were forever painted in red were instantly discriminated by those who weren’t — all because of someone made them to be different.
Among those colored in red (also representing the color of the Polish flag) was one of our two heroes. The narrator of the story, states the outlandishness of the discrimination by pointing out how she still looked the same despite the color she wore.
As impactful as the use of color was, what was most striking was the respectable use and depiction of real-life heroes, such as the orphanage caretaker Dr. Janusz Korczak and the brave Irena Sendler who helped the children of the ghetto escape the war zone. The developers gave these people wonderful and beautiful immortalization in a video game, and with such class and childlike wonder do they make these heroes more memorable than ever to a new generation still learning about the war.
The puzzles in the game itself, however, were too easy for me. It was simply carrying tasks while using the character’s special skills and a little bit of sneaking around. Puzzles can be as simple as deliveries or tweaking robotic contraptions by sliding objects that are easily solvable by trial and error. Meanwhile, the length of the entire game is relatively short, that one may complete in 2-3 days straight if they are able.
Despite these shortcomings, I can understand how those were not the focus of the concept and idea — as again, it was about immortalizing people and introducing the audience a war through a child’s eye.
The developers —the Poland-based, Juggler Games— are taking a track of creating games that are unlike any other. They take relevancy, truth, and the power of perception into mind by building a game that can relive a real-life event without going as far as capitalizing to romanticizing the awfulness of the situation, such as what Metal Gear Solidor Call of Duty does.
It’s a unique take of using the child’s eye as the view of perception and then adding factual historical content. It’s a game that can fall under a breed of edutainment (education-entertainment). They also did not take lightly the loss through poverty and eventual genocide. Without explicitly showing death, they make it known, even as the young children from the orphanage were captured and taken away.
Such topics are heavy, even in a video game. I am glad that the writers took this to heart as well and presented it with the respect it deserved. I was crying by the end of the game because if you’re not living inside a cave and have picked up a history book or two, then you understand what I mean.
The pinnacle of praise must go to the game’s soundtrack by film and game composer, Patryk Scelina. Scelina’s music dominated My Memory of Us with its on-point moods and melodies that can range from haunting to exciting. I must admit to have immediately downloaded the soundtrack on Spotify because of how absolutely memorable it was to me.
The game may be simply played, but it is definitely the story and its accompanying music that makes it wonderful. I was glad to have experienced something like that because of its refreshing approach. I am excited to see what more Juggler Games are capable of giving to a growing audience of a genre like this.
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