Path to Mnemosyne
Switch version tested
Review code provided
Puzzle games come in all manner of styles. The ever-popular genre always finds a way to gift players with new concepts and unique gameplay elements. Path to Mnemosyne enters the fray offering a haunting soundscape to accompany its fantastic visual design. Mnemosyne for the uninitiated is the Greek Goddess of memory which is the core narrative thread of this game. You play a nameless heroine tasked with “unlocking” her memories.
Where are these memories locked? Deep inside her mind of course, but with this game, the developers have taken this concept to a new level. You are immediately treated to a striking black and white hand-drawn image of the protagonist and whisked into the world via her eye. This artistic style comes to life as you move in the four cardinal directions. The animation evokes that of an old flipbook as the pencil lines never quite lineup by design and offers a fluidity seen in old cartoons. The environments, however, are the star here. heavily inspired by the psychedelic surrealist movement I couldn’t help but think the designers had an Alex Grey book on hand to inspire them. The intricate geometric patterns blended with organic and macabre imagery seemingly breathe as you progress down the corridors. The effect comes off extremely well in docked mode as the visual design is given a much larger canvas in which to express itself. handheld pulls off the illusion just fine but has the added bonus of headphones.
Having a good set of headphones is a must for this title. Mnemosyne has a haunting soundtrack. Overly simplistic, yes, it adds a layer of creepiness that the visuals have already established on their own. Add to that disembodied moans and chatter and you have a sense ever impending doom as you move from switch to switch trying to ignite your blue memory flames. What story is here is delivered through what can only be described as a doctor of some sort. Always encouraging you to push on and free yourself up to unlocking the memories. Later in the game, a female voice also enters the game to add a new level of mystery unfolding around you.
Gameplay wise Mnemosyne is a minimalistic puzzle game. Players activate switches, rotate platforms and teleport around trying to unlock a specific number of memory flames. They all require you to pay attention to your surroundings as the answer to the puzzles is hidden in the game world. None came across as overly obtuse and in fact once you saw a clue after feeling stuck it really made others standout. The previously mentioned flames are used to unlock new areas of your mind by way of a puzzle that could involve 3D spatial awareness to the out of place timed button press mechanic. These serve as almost a boss fight as they are the gatekeeper puzzles that break up the zones. Unfortunately, that is the main gripe with Mnemosyne, the length. The end to this one came to quickly. This is not from being a puzzle savant, I’m not, but rather the short nature of the narrative. Just as I was falling deep into the world, the end credits arrived. With no collectables or alternate endings this is a single playthrough title.
Path to Mnemosyne is a delight on the senses. Offering a world that is as creepy as it is imaginative. Great care has gone into making this puzzle game not only standout but hold your attention as you navigate the surreal dreamscape. While simplistic in nature, the puzzles require you to pay attention to your surroundings and use your senses to unlock your memories. The game’s length is a disappointment, but not enough of one to dissuade a pickup. This is an experience you won’t soon forget.