The game world is vast and diverse, with many stories told in different genres. One particular element that some developers have delved into is the concept of memory, which is not only a deep part of the human experience, but a very interesting game device when used well.
There are a few titles that stand out in this seemingly niche subset of games, excelling in their goal of offering compelling narratives and compelling ways to implement the idea of memory. We dive into the best games about memories, and how they all tackle the idea while being significant releases in their own right.
10 A Memoir Blue
A Memoir Blue is a very short and sweet adventure, which has a running time that shouldn’t be longer than an hour even if you are a completionist. The art and soundtrack are beautiful, with simple gameplay that manages to be unique in how it moves the game forward.
The story is compelling to go through and finds immersive ways to draw you into the main character’s story with the help of her memories. The way you connect from one memory to another is interesting every time, and you can’t help but feel fascinated from start to finish. As you go through the ups and downs of Miriam’s life, you can’t help but feel the magic, heartache and wonder of it all.
9 remember me
Remember Me is a great cyberpunk action adventure that still holds up a decade after its release. The game itself is fun as it mixes different mechanics and elements to build the world around it. The narrative also takes a thought-provoking look at how memories can be commodified.
The entire driving factor affecting society in this dystopian future is the Sensen implant, which allows users to upload and remove memories from their minds at will. On that note, protagonist Nilin is a rebel whose own memories have been wiped. One of the most engaging mechanics in this game is the memory remix, which is the ability to significantly alter an individual’s memory to affect their disposition and other factors. The mechanic itself is innovative and fun with many results, but its moral implications are also thought-provoking.
8 Observer: System Redux
In Observer: System Redux, you are a “neural detective” who uses technological implants to scan people’s minds and hack into their own brain implants. An important method of uncovering clues and interrogating people is using memory hacks. Given that this is actually a re-release of Observer, there are even more missions to discover.
The memory hack is implemented in a very cool way in the game, especially when things start to mess up due to both mechanical issues and the state of the individual’s psyche. These psychologically driven sequences are very horror-oriented, so getting through each one is always a tense experience.
7 Silent Hill: Shattered Memories
The Silent Hill series has long been a hallmark of quality horror games. The scares are real and feel earned, the monster design is thoughtful, the stories are gripping, and the environment is constantly unsettling. Silent Hill: Shattered Memories reinforces the series’ sense of helplessness and themes of repressed memories by introducing psychotherapy segments that affect the rest of the game and completely remove the ability to attack the monsters that plague you.
Although this is one of the more forgotten titles in the series, it is still a top ride in terms of story and scare factor. It’s worth noting that it’s also largely considered non-canon, but that doesn’t take away from the interesting perspective it brings.
6 The Disappearance of Ethan Carter
If you’re looking for a game full of mystery and eggs to explore, check out The Vanishing of Ethan Carter. There’s a mix of clue and supernatural interaction here, but it essentially combines those elements to go through the memories and past interactions of the main characters that make up the main problem you’re trying to solve.
Every beat in this game can hold your attention, even as the story takes increasingly grim notes as you go. Although the gameplay is minimal, the entire journey is beautiful in large part to the environment and story.
5 Mind scanners
Mind Scanners is about, well, the mind. As a scanner, you treat various mental illnesses among the population to serve your government. Whether you do your best to follow the Hippocratic Oath or whether you end up a slave to propaganda depends on your own choices.
There are multiple threads in this game that can lead to wildly different endings, but it all boils down to who you interact with and how you approach treatment. With the various tools at your disposal to “cure” such ailments, you always run the risk of erasing memories, impoverishing personalities, and causing physical harm to your patients. Costs, risk and morality all come into play when working with such fragile things as reason and memory.
4 Untold stories
What makes Stories Untold so good is that you can enjoy the different “cassettes” individually, but they’re even better when played one after the other. Each bond introduces its own style and game mechanics to suit the story being told, but the threat that connects all of these is how they deal with the mind and how our brain deals with traumatic memories.
It’s best to go into this game without knowing any explicit details, especially since it does a good job of combining meaningful gameplay with rich atmospheres that get under your skin. Whether you like the retro vibe or not, this is one of those games that you simply can’t miss.
Unwrapping is easy, adorable and relaxing. All you have to do is unpack boxes while decorating the different homes of the main character at different stages of her life, making it the perfect cozy game to relax on the couch with. After each level, you get a snapshot of your craft that marks another chapter in the scrapbook.
It’s a cool way to tell a story without the need for dialogue, relying on how powerful the environment and one’s stuff can be in showing big changes and providing small details. It’s quite fascinating to see how such a seemingly simple game manages to go through memories to paint a whole picture of the person you’re playing and how their feelings and interests have changed over time.
You are not actually a human in Observation. Despite that, the game still finds a way to make memories a crucial aspect of your gameplay.
Here you take on the role of SAM, an artificial intelligence on a space station that has had a catastrophic event. Now you must find out what happened to the system and the crew by going through the paste and trying to recover your own memory cores. The story is great and creates a palpable unease throughout the game, which is only further served by some engaging mechanics and fantastic voice work.
The entire premise of Hindsight looks into the past. It does this in a genuinely artistic way, by using perspective to look into various objects that connect to relevant memories. From the moment you start this game, you are immediately drawn to how it plays with movement and angles to tell its story.
The gameplay itself never feels complicated, so you mostly get to take in the visuals, sounds and narrative presented to you. It feels more like an interactive piece of art, but sets it up in a way that doesn’t feel lacking. There are a lot of trippy elements and related topics in this game, so it’s really immersive despite minimal mechanics.
Next: Games to play if you love amnesia