Some Distant Memory is a story-driven PC game focusing on post-collapse characters who discover a home from the 21st century. Set 300 years after Earth’s destruction, the Professor and the Commander use ARORA, a technological device, to explore what once occurred within this pre-collapse Houston home. Developed by Galvanic Games, and published by Way Down Deep, this Post-Apocalyptic Adventure game releases on November 14. It will be available on both Windows and Mac OS X. Before getting started, I want to clarify that this review is about more than Some Distant Memory‘s ability to entertain. It’s about how the developers incorporate art and philosophy in what seems like a simple video game.
You may be asking if this science-fiction PC game just another fantasy about an unforeseeable future? Or instead, is this a game with real-world concerns and potentially accurate predictions? Well, I believe in the latter statement. There’s something more to Some Distant Memory, and if you hang out for the whole review, you’ll see why.
Some Distant Memory will be available on November 14 for PC through Steam.
Well, since Some Distant Memory is more story, less action, I’m going to review the story with a simple synopsis. I’ll let you figure out the rest for yourself. Put simply, you play as the Professor and the Commander is your accomplice; oh, and ARORA, a new artificial intelligence creation is your friend as well. You and the Commander are both survivors of the few colonies remaining on earth. This is because a toxic algae, “bloom,” spawns from previous generations of pollution and environmental negligence. Your character, the Professor, believes that survivors must explore the past if they want to stop bloom.
After some dialogue exchanges, the Professor and the Commander stumble upon a sunken house. They quickly discover that this house is from the early 2000s. Using ARORA, they discover a family of four: a man and woman, their daughter, and their daughter’s son. By using ARORA’s Memory Reconstructive System, the characters uncover far more than simple familial conversations. They also find letters, poems, newspaper articles, stories, and research in relation to bloom and its causes. By uncovering the history that has led to the earth’s collapse, the Professor and Commander learn about greed and the 21st century’s lack of regard for this planet.
As an English Literature student, I must say that it isn’t difficult to tell that a real writer is behind the scripts and stories in this game. The poem’s structures are appropriate, and the dialogue and humor are on point. It is obvious that the developers aren’t just some kids messing around in their free time. Moreover, this story is not about shock value or entertainment alone; the story within Some Distant Memory is real, relatable, and includes great puns and relevant cultural references. If like me, you get emotional about environmental issues, art, and poetry, this game will jerk you to tears. However, if you think global warming is a hoax perpetrated by the media, well, the story’s uncertainty alone is still enough to keep your interest.
This game is incredibly easy to control. It implements the typical A, W, S, D character steering method, and uses E to select items. The only other key you’ll use is the TAB key. This key allows you to search the area for beneficial items. Aside from that, anything else you’ll need is available via pointing and clicking. In addition to the simple controls, your character moves smoothly, never glitching or stalling. Item interactions are quick and steady. The game’s loading times are excellent. Transitioning from room to room within the house is easy to do. In truth, this story-rich game does not neglect mechanics and it shows.
Interactions and Options
Object interactions are also simple and accessible. After interacting with a memory, you are able to go back and replay the memory as many times as you want or need to. You can do the same with any object interactions. There’s no forgetting anything in this game. No pun intended. As a result, puzzles and clues are not nearly as confusing as similar games might be. I believe this is a huge plus for this game, as you never feel the desire to give up on it. It’s not so easy that you get bored, but not so difficult that you want to ditch out on it. Speaking of puns, does the introduction paragraph of this review feel like some distant memory yet?
The gameplay does get confusing at times, as certain rooms seem to lack memory clues. This isn’t usually a big deal, but sometimes you may need to search for outside help. Additionally, there is a map that helps you see where you’ve been and where you cannot go. Unfortunately, though, you cannot zoom in or mark on the map, but it’s still helpful. Further, the game also offers the ability to save progress at almost any time, which is handy for those of us who don’t always have enough time to get from point A to point B.
There are some dark twists in this game, leading to less passive sections of gameplay. However, it still isn’t anything that makes you feel a time constraint. For the most part, the gameplay here is more emotional than it is anxiety-inducing. Although, there are parts of the game that may make you jump with fearful surprise.
Graphics and Audio
The graphics in Some Distant Memory are simple yet detailed. The game could easily pass as a cartoon show if the audience didn’t know better. When you scan the room, objects light up in bright colors such as purple and yellow. This graphical feature makes it easier to find important items. Additionally, the options menu includes many graphic options. For instance, changes can be applied to the screen resolution, and fullscreen can turn on or off. There are also options for v-sync and anti-aliasing. Furthermore, the red dialogue boxes and projections in the memories really stand out against the darker backgrounds. Unless you’re not wearing your glasses, you won’t have to strain to see text or important clues.
Much of this Some Distant Memory review highlights the game’s audio, and for good reasons. The game’s soundtrack enhances the already captivating story. The artist Toytree, otherwise known as Amos Roddy, composes the soundtrack. Toytree uses futuristic sound effects mixed with catchy beats to create tracks that feel unique to Some Distant Memory. As a result, you feel pulled further into the narrative. While these compositions sound similar to movie scores, they contain enough mellow tones to fit the game’s slow, gradual pace. The music fits the vibe perfectly. It amplifies the game’s mystery while picking up on its strange calmness. For example, both “Projections” and “Convergence” remind me of another favorite gaming soundtrack by ConcernedApe: Stardew Valley. You can feel a sense of danger, but even in the darkness, love and a sense of meaning prevail.
The game’s sound effects are equally beneficial to the story. Nothing is overbearingly loud, but you also won’t find yourself struggling to hear anything. The characters do not speak verbally in a specific language. Instead, unique sound effects are played along with dialogue boxes. Each character has their own little sound effect noise. This helps you use your imagination and opens the possibility of multiple dialects and languages. However, since the game makes it known that this story is set in Houston, Texas, I personally read the flashback dialogue in a Texan accent. Yeehaw, y’all! As far as our colonists are concerned, possible accent variations are more flexible, so that’s between you and your brain. Additional to dialogue sounds, there are also sounds played when scanning the room, and when memory simulators are ready.