A Memoir Blue, published by Annapurna, centers a mother and daughter


Shelley Chen isn’t really a swimmer.

Instead, the idea of ​​founding A memory blue, an interactive poem about a swimming champion and her mother, largely underwater, came to Chen in the bath. Chen told Polygon that she spent an entire day soaking in the bath — despite prune fingers and toes — considering the game’s themes.

“It was a big tub and I was completely in it with the pressure of the water pressing against my chest,” Chen said. “I was quite stressed about the story at the time, and [the water pressure] was like the feeling of crying. When people cry, they feel something on their chest. It’s the feeling that I want [A Memoir Blue] and water will be the medium to tell the story.

Image: Ineractive Cloisters/Annapurna Interactive

Chen leads Cloisters Interactive, a global games team based in Taichung, A memory blue, the approximately 90-minute game described by Cloisters as an interactive poem. The water is constant throughout the game, which centers on champion swimmer, Miriam, and her relationship with her mother. A memory blue plays with magical realism, quickly transforming an ordinary living room into an underwater journey through Miriam’s memories – memories that mimic some of Chen’s.

Miriam’s world turns underwater after hearing a song from her childhood. the game floats between reality and fantasy, underwater and above. A memory blueThe imagery shifts from Pixar-style 3D animation to classic Disney 2D art. The mixed media approach – including a soundtrack – separates Miriam’s present and past, but the water keeps everything as one.

A memory blue swims through these memories with little friction for the player. It’s a game, but not in the traditional sense. There is nothing to gain, per se; instead, the mechanics are designed to enhance the story, which plays out more like an animated short. It oscillates somewhere between This Dragon, Cancer and the recently released point-and-click adventure norco.

2d and 3d art combined in a still image of a mother lifting a child onto a boat, a woman watches from afar

Image: Ineractive Cloisters/Annapurna Interactive

“It’s a very quiet game and most people are looking for something exciting,” Chen said. “I hope [players] feel like reading a short novel or watching a movie.

Clicking and moving a slider moves the story forward, whether it’s clicking on a firework of jellyfish illuminating the seabed or buying a boat ticket – by dabbing and dropping it in a cash box – for mother and daughter. Currently, A memory blue is only on consoles (Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Xbox One, and Xbox Series X) and Windows PC, but these gestures may seem designed for a touchscreen. It’s the kind of tactile experience that further immerses the viewer in a story and Miriam’s memories.

Memories, of course, are all about perspective. The memory Miriam recalls is based on Chen’s recollection of a trip with her mother, “the most fun day I had with her,” Chen said, but remembered by her mother very differently. . “I recognized how differently a child sees the world from how adults see the world,” Chen said. “It really fascinated me.”

a woman on an escalator holding her hand with a light

Image: Ineractive Cloisters/Annapurna Interactive

While Chen saw the day as a memorable and exciting journey on a ship and a train, for his mother, was darker: a mother and her child leaving the house to live alone. Clearly there is deep sadness in A memory blue, the weight of chest pressure and tears closing in on those moments. Chen and the Cloisters team also used that sentiment to tell the story without words – the only language you’ll hear in A memory blue is inside the soundtrack, outside the action itself. Otherwise, A memory blueThe story is wordless, using its mix of visuals and magical elements in place of dialogue.

What we’re left with is a short, honest poem from a game that’s both devastating and hopeful. That’s what Chen wanted – something that reminded her of the anime movies she loves, like Kunio Kato’s. The house of the little cubes and Michaël Dudok de Wit Father and daughter.

“My mom went through a lot and we were really, really connected,” Chen said. “When I watched those movies, they made me think of her. I wanted to do something about her, make her struggles part of the story that can have the same impact on other people as well.

A memory blue was released on March 24 on PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Windows PC, Xbox One, and Xbox Series X. The game was reviewed on PC using a pre-release download code provided by Annapurna Interactive. Vox Media has affiliate partnerships. These do not influence editorial content, although Vox Media may earn commissions for products purchased through affiliate links. You can find additional information on Polygon’s ethics policy here.

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