You've probably played one or more of (a) a rhythm game, (b) a guitar or band game, or (c) a musical clicker game (i.e. Osu), but I bet you you haven't played one quite like this. Memody: Sindrel Song has its gameplay inscripted into an amalgam of words in its title — melody with memory. You're tapping six keys on your keyboard in imitation of the notes you're hearing one of the other characters produce with their various instruments. The notes are doubled through a modifier key in a second, darker scale. It doesn't seem like a lot, but somehow they combine into seven distinctive, memorable (luckily) pieces of music that you will become joyously intimate with in the around 5–10 hours it might take you to surmount all of them (largely depending on your ambitions as a computer-assisted musician).
Don't actually skip the tutorial on your first playthrough even though it implies you could! Afterwards, you get to simultaneously practise using the simple musical interface and enact Memody's coming to, during which she acknowledges both her name and her personal melody. Between our world and that of the Sindrels, despite the obvious male-female parallels, there are also many distinctions. Sindrels are born essentially fully mature, with a congenital hold on speech. Despite this, when Memody starts to interact with those of her kin, she starts to feel out of place due to haranguing negative thoughts and the awkward omissions she begins to discover in her starter kit.
Over the course of her story, she learns that the Sindrels living on the island are also out of place. Normally, this is a race for whom life is a mere six days spent bonding with the opposite sex and tending the chalises from which this ritual, and subsequent self-sacrifice, enable the upcoming generation of female Sindrels to arise (I don't remember whence emerge the males). Somehow, everyone here has survived this inexorable cycle and are, while unable to breed, also no longer at peril of death. This, it goes without saying, has a resonating impact on all their lives, like an enormously amplified Industrial Revolution; and yet everyone has a different way of reconciling the unexpected state they have found themselves in.
Themes of philosophy and psychology inform Memody's story. The depressive thoughts she has may seem overblown to comedic proportions. She thinks she's an imposter and dwells on every mishap, even imaginary ones. However, the developer is a psychology major AND apparently people suffering or having suffered from the condition have validated the depiction. Aside from this, the game revolves around coping with dying and the dark aspects of life, but also happiness or contentment. There are also many laughs to be had in moments of purposeful levity. And why should we not laugh at the absurdity of such confused cognition?
The author's unique fingerprints are visible everywhere. One subtle but typical example would be the way in which you delete a save file: you click on it and just hold the mouse until the delete bar has filled up. The cel-shaded esthetics is pleasing. Symbolism is utilized in the appearances of the seven characters, in their names too. One aspect of Tobias as a lone wolf game designer is his writing. I'd like to say we've established that on the grand scale, it performs prodigiously. However, you can fault it for being a little on-the-nose, and generic, on a micro level. Generic meaning the same tropes do repeat from game to game. This doesn't detract from the essence, I felt.
Despite there being a "casual" mode that doesn't place virtually any demands on your musical ability, it's unclear to me whether I can recommend the game to someone completely indifferent to music (You monster!), seeing as playing through the songs must turn into a chore. I could list a few other minuses, such as the inability to rewind a conversation, small glitches that happen during the songs, the keyboard lag (Is this just my basic keyboard? Does it have anything to do with how the game was coded?) that demands anticipating the notes by a jiff, and it's a bit difficult to follow the song lyrics as they are being sung. However, as you get better at the song itself it opens up the possibility of paying more attention to them, which could be seen to simulate the gradual building of a connection between the characters.
A bona fide underdog, deserving thumbs fully hoisted and a badge with "Top Dog" in capital letters!
TIWIKs: Things I wish I'd known.
- You CAN sing by yourself, in case you were wondering, by returning to the tent whenever it's not bobbing.
- You will want to practice everyone's melodies steadily throughout, or at least a few times before visiting your tent on day six. This will make the last bit more enjoyable.
- It says this in the tutorial, but don't forget you can pause or abort a song by hitting SPACE.
Reviewed by: LotBlind