This holiday season has an incredible showing for the Nintendo DS, with a slew of unique games coming out. From working as a defense attorney in Phoenix Wright, to making a shelter on a desert island in Lost In Blue, numerous never-before seen games are going to creep their way onto the DS in the near future. Among these is Trace Memory. Trace Memory is a game so plot-driven, it teeters on the brink of being an Apple II-style text RPG. However, it distances itself from everything else just enough to create a game that is simply one-of-a-kind. However, this isn?t something everyone can appreciate.
The story takes place on the remote estate, Blood Edward Island. Many years ago, the Edward family, who owned the island all died mysteriously, and were buried on the spot. Years later, a fourteen year-old girl named Ashley Robbins is searching for her assumed-dead father, Richard. Richard mysteriously disappeared along with his wife about ten years earlier, while working on the shady ?Trace Project,? a scientific study that investigates human memory. Along the way, Ashley stumbles upon an amnesiac ghost named D, who is ecstatic over her presence because he has spent nearly half a century in complete solitude. So, the two of them agree to work together so that she can find her father, and he can restore his memory.
What sets Trace Memory apart from the bulk of most games? There is no fighting. The entire game is just exploration, puzzles and dialogue. While this seems like it would be a bad idea, the game is impressively compelling, with plot twists and surprises that sometimes rival the greatest in gaming history. The story pushes the player through the game. However, for the most part the plot is revealed through dialogue?long, tedious dialogue. There isn?t much of an escape from this, either. The exploration is linear and there isn?t much in the way of side-quests to divert from the conversations and barrages of introspection around every corner. This is equally beneficial and detrimental to the game. However, not everyone will be drawn to this. In fact, pretty much everyone will either love Trace Memory, or loathe it to no bounds. The complete lack of combat is enough to leave even the most accepting gamers with no desire to play. To make matters worse, the entire adventure is pretty short, and may only be worth one or two plays through. To top it off, the puzzles are pretty simple, or aren?t really puzzles as much as they are just rubbing the tough screen. These add together, making a pretty distinct line between gamers who love or hate this game.
Graphically, Trace Memory is one of the best the DS has to offer. Normally, the touch screen shows a nice, detailed, cel-shaded, environment, which looks simply great. When in a conversation, the style changes to an anime-style, with vivid, elaborate character portraits. The sound is also well-done, with eerie tones and nice sound effects which really add to the game?s mood.
There are many things that should be considered before diving into Trace Memory. If you?re interested in trying something new, with a great plot and deep rewards, then this is a good pickup. If you?d rather have a more mainstream experience, with more obvious intense moments, then this won?t be a good purchase.