Indie developers and Metroidvania go hand in hand. Massive hits like 2017’s Hollow Knight and 2013’s Guacamelee spring to mind when I hear these two words together. A genre that is literally a mash-up of two of the greatest 2D games ever, there have been plenty of games trying to replicate the magic, some have succeeded, while others have failed miserably. Queue the launch of Endless Memories a game that initially popped up on Kickstarter, does this game follow in the footsteps of other greats in the genre or does it leave the player wanting more?
Endless Memories is now available on Steam for your regional pricing, and is set to release on Nintendo Switch in the future.
Story – Delve deeper into dreams
Rem awakens in a strange place. After a little tutorial, you find yourself in the Laboratory of Dreams. You seem to have lost your memory and must explore the minds of dreamers to discover your part in the puzzle that is Endless Memories. As you delve into the slumbers of the dreamers it becomes apparent that Rem has a bigger part to play here.
The story was a good means of exploring the dreams of other characters but it struggled to sink its teeth into me. The tale unravels slowly as you explore new levels but the dialogue between characters was poor and made it difficult for me to get invested in the story.
Gameplay – Hack, slash, loot
Endless Memories is a 2D Metroidvania with all the usual trappings, plenty of weapons, each with their own play style and randomly generated stats, new items that unlock previously unreachable areas, and some challenging boss fights. Its Kickstarter page claims that it is a mix of like Castlevania: Symphony of the Night and Dead Cells, and I could certainly see this inspiration.
Since Endless Memories at its core is a 2D Metroidvania then you know what you’re in for. You start your journey in Debbisland. The areas are extremely diverse. Across your adventure, you explore jungles, caves, haunted fortresses’ and underwater to mention a few. You never spend too much time in one area due to not being able to fully explore without your full array of abilities unlocked. Speaking of abilities, the variety here is great. I won’t spoil too many of them but you have a ground stomp to break the weak floor and a hook to reach new heights. All of these unlock previously unreachable areas and each area is filled with side areas to explore with upgrades to improve Rem’s health and other statistics.
Two things initially piqued my interest in this game; combat and graphics. Combat was advertised as an ARPG with randomized loot, and after the disappointment that was Torchlight 3, I was left searching for some loot. I’m happy to say that Endless Memories knocks this out of the park. You have 3 different tools to use in combat, melee, ranged, and magic, with melee being your main form of attack. The sheer amount of options here is quite staggering. I counted 13 different kinds of melee weapons, each type playing slightly different from the others. Take scythes, for example, they have a special ability that is activated by dodging then quickly attacking, unleashing a spinning attack that consumes your mana. I don’t have a count for ranged weapons and magic attacks but there was plenty to have me changing out new ones pretty often. There is a parry mechanic but it was definitely the worst part of the combat so I opted to not use it often.
Character progression and loot are the things that kept me coming back for more. Progression is handled similarly to Castlevania: Symphony of the Night. You get XP for killing enemies, which eventually improves your stats, and you upgrade mana and health through collecting 3 of their respective orbs in the world. There’s enough here to warrant going back to areas after you acquire new abilities. Loot is pretty standard fare for ARPGs. Chests that are littered around the world and random drops from enemies are how you get new weapons. Each weapon has its own rarity and stats. While you start with basic weapons, I got pretty lucky and built my character so I had a sword that inflicted curse on enemies and I also dealt more damage to cursed enemies. The power fantasy of exploring old areas with my new overpowered weapons was reminiscent of Alucard’s shield and Shield Rod combo in Symphony of the Night.
When a weapon drops you have the option to pick it up or break it to get some money, which can be used to buy weapons or upgrade items in the hub. Now the best part of the progression system is the upgrades. Every weapon has its own prefix and rarity; however, if you really like a weapon that is a common item, you can upgrade its level and rarity making your average weapon into a powerhouse. This system kept me going back to the hub for more.
Graphics and Audio – Simply fantastic
The graphics, holy shit, the graphics. I was blown away by how beautiful the game is from the trailer and the rest of the game doesn’t disappoint. From luscious jungles to gloomy prisons, each area in Endless Memories is an absolute delight to look at. Rem and the plethora of NPCs you encounter on your journey are all animated so fluidly. Now there are some issues with how much detail is presented. Now and again an enemy or a chest would blend into the background, leading to me almost missing some new loot or health upgrade. The main problem here is that some grappling hook points also blended into the background making for some frustrating points of trying to figure out where to go next.
The game audio here is perfectly fine. Weapons and enemy noises didn’t stand out one way or the other. Where Endless Memories excels is in its music. Just like the graphics, the music is fantastic. There’s a nice mixture of ambient tracks in areas like the prison that add a great level of atmosphere and some tracks that had me bobbing my head as I explored.
A Great 10-Hour Adventure Stretched Across Nearly 20 Hours
Here is the biggest problem with Endless Memories. It starts really strong, and I mean really strong. There was a great sense of progression and the boss fights in the early game begged me to master the game mechanics; however, there is a point in the game where the areas begin to fall apart. Before this point, exploring was fun and each level had plenty of side paths which led to shortcuts making backtracking an absolute breeze. But there were areas in the endgame that were clearly designed as one-way streets, meaning if you failed a platforming section, you fell to an area that meant you had to backtrack all the way through the area again to get to that section. The final few areas were plagued by these issues and it made the game outstay its welcome.
Endless Memories was reviewed on PC, a code was provided by Post Horn PR.