Amnesia: Memories is the sort of otome game that might inspire skepticism. Part of the fun of a dating sim is the thrill of the hunt. Finding which bachelor most appeals to you, learning about him as you (virtually) fall in love and finally becoming his one and only as the ultimate reward.
This visual novel turns that formula on its head. Your heroine is in an established relationship as the game begins, locked into a route with one of the five eligible men after the introduction. The concept works, in part because this is one of the few titles in which you’ll be okay with another amnesiac protagonist.
Amnesia: Memories starts in a mysterious realm between worlds. Something has happened to a young woman, but we aren’t sure what. All we do know is that the incident has moved a spirit named Orion into her head. His existence has displaced her memories. They will return in time, pushing him out, but she’ll have to try and return to her ordinary life and hope daily experiences restore her recollections.
This is one of the few titles in which you’ll be okay with another amnesiac protagonist.
The thing is, Orion also isn’t exactly sure which world the heroine is from. The are five possibilities, all equally plausible. The choice is up to the player, and the decision made determines which character will be her boyfriend. Shin is in the Heart World, Toma in Diamond World, Ikki in Spade World, Kent in Clover World and Ukyo in the Joker World. The interesting thing is, all characters reside in all worlds, but fulfill different roles in each alternate reality.
Amnesia is an especially precarious problem for our heroine, due to its supernatural causes. The only way she can recover is by living her life and interacting with familiar people and places in the hopes the experiences restore her memories over a one-month period. If she were to be hospitalized, her condition would grow worse due to inactivity. (Of course, she finds herself in that very situation in some routes.) Which brings us to the game’s three most important parameters.
Amnesia: Memories is your typical visual novel. Players follow the heroine as she reacquaints herself with one of her five boyfriends and attempts to get back to a healthy mental state. There are many reaction prompts which shift the course of the story and influence her parameters. Depending on her responses, the Affection, Trust and Suspicion gauges will rise and fall. To get the best ending, she must fall in love with the route’s leading man, the two must completely trust one another and he must not suspect she’s suffering from amnesia.
Despite the natural desire to do your best, I would recommend going through two playthroughs with your favorite character. There are 24 save slots on the PC version, so you have the room. The first time, make the choices you feel are right. The boyfriends’ reactions are as entertaining and endearing when you’re “wrong” as they are when you’re “right.” Kent in particular amused me, but then he’s my favorite bachelor so there may be a bias. Even if you get a “bad” ending, it can be enlightening too.
It helps that Amnesia: Memories has an engaging story and wonderful translation. Idea Factory International has put a lot of care into its first otome localization. The story pulls you in, especially the supernatural elements, and it’s interesting to go through all five routes to piece together a larger chain of events. Perhaps it’s because the concept of alternate histories is interesting on its own, and the supernatural and romantic exploration of it here enhances the game.
The more you learn about the heroine, the more attractive Amnesia: Memories becomes.
I think that’s why it’s one of the few otome visual novels where people are going to want to play all of the routes, even if they aren’t fans of every character. The game focuses on relationships because it is a dating sim, but there’s more to it than that. It is a drama and mystery as well. Ties between tales appear. I’ve yet to beat the Ukyo route, but have gone through all of the others. By the time you “play” with the Joker, you start to see commonalities. Avoiding spoilers, I’d recommend dating Shin, Ikki, Kent and Toma in that order. The more you learn about the heroine, the more attractive Amnesia: Memories becomes.
It isn’t just the story that’s attractive. The people are pretty too. This is a gorgeous game with elegant characters, even if some of the characters are a little edgy for my tastes. (Once you realize Kent is essentially wearing a straitjacket, you’ll never see it as anything else.) Still, it’s very pretty and that helps pull a person in too.
Amnesia: Memories is a lovely game, and Idea Factory International made a wise decision when the company chose it as its first otome title. The game has such interesting storylines that I even think it could transcend gender and attract people who normally aren’t looking for a dating sim, as the supernatural storyline and inexplicable case of amnesia is fascinating. Make some new memories. You won’t regret it.