PAX East 2017: My Memory of Us is a Sad Fairy Tale About Friendship During the Holocaust [Preview]Sarah LeBoeuf |
If you stumbled upon My Memory of Us at IMGN.PRO’s booth on the PAX East show floor, you’d think it was rather innocuous. The playable characters are a young boy and girl, often seen holding hands as they traverse a black-and-white canvas with only flashes of red clothing to stand out against the backdrop. Look a little deeper, however, and you’ll see the real story of children coping with a historical horror with only friendship and their imaginations to guide the way.
My Memory of Us is a fantasy version of the Holocaust, you see. There are brief glimpses of this in the alpha demo we played at PAX—a cutscene showing a family dragged away, propaganda reels in the background, people behind bars. The Boy, as he’s called, is helping The Girl find her way, though she’s not exactly helpless; in fact, her slingshot comes in handy quite often. You can switch between the two characters at will, and when moving together, it’s necessary to hold hands. That’s right, it’s a game in which you press a button to hold hands—how could something so sweet mask something so dark?
The gameplay is puzzle-based, but the brainteasers come in many different forms. In some cases, the challenge is simply sneaking through a corridor while avoiding being spotted by the gun-toting mechanical soldiers. The enemies aren’t human, probably because a child couldn’t process the worst humanity has to offer, but it’s clear what they’re meant to represent. Other times, you’ll need to reorganize internal wiring to get doors open, or work as a team to grab a key that frees nearby prisoners, whose cells are merely bombs with bars.
It’s trickier than it looks, as we found out when we didn’t take the threat level seriously. Juggler Games Creative Director Jakub Jabłoński was on hand to provide some hints as needed, and we realized that despite the innocent façade, this was indeed a serious story—and one that’s sadly much too relevant in our current political climate.
My Memory of Us is a necessary reminder of the tragedy of war, the destruction caused by separation and segregation, and the power of propaganda. For those of us who only experienced World War II as a story in a history book, it’s always been difficult to imagine just how this could have happened. Now that we’re seeing signs of history repeating itself, it’s time to stop asking how and instead figure out what we can do to stop it.
Even though My Memory of Us was wonderful to play, it’d be nice if game developers weren’t making something similar in 70 years to tell our story.
My Memory of Us is due out on the PC, though no release window is known just yet.