For those willing to seek them out, the world wide web is literally swarming with small puzzles or riddles, free for you to solve. Fun to kill time, but for most of us, that’s it. Nevertheless, the people over at Ubisoft saw it as an untouched goldmine and combined a lot of these puzzles with a thrilling storyline and thus gave birth to In Memoriam.
That’s about the game in a nutshell, although this is one game you can’t rightfully place in a nutshell. In fact, you should see the game for yourself, since it’s quite an original title. Instead of spending the usual time building an engine, levels, etc. the developers of In Memoriam were given the opportunity for a different approach. It’s clear they spent an enormous amount of time trying to create a unique atmosphere for the game, in which they partially succeeded. Allow me to demystify.
When first running the game you receive a message saying you’ve been hired by SKL Network to do them a favour. One of their associates, Jack Lorski, has been kidnapped along with his girlfriend Karen Gijman by a man who calls himself “The Phoenix”. The company was sent a CD-rom by the kidnapper, but after months, attempting to try and break the disc’s heavy security (which consists of various puzzles) proved unsuccessful. Therefore they distributed the disc amongst some people willing to give it a try themselves and believe it or not: you are one of the select few who get to solve the mistery.
First you’ll need to create an ingame account and provide it with an existing e-mail address. This way you’ll keep in touch with other “puzzle-solvers” around the world who often send you e-mails. Of course we’re not talking about real people here, but apparently the game notices how long you’ve been trying to solve a puzzle and from time to time sends you mails including tips and/or information regarding the madman, so you might want to check your mailbox regularly.
Since In Memoriam is a puzzle game pur sang, all you need to do is solve one puzzle after another. Most puzzles let you browse the internet looking for clues or the correct answer. Hence you’ll come across a lot of sites that have been made by the developers themselves, for instance the homepage of Karen Gijman. Sounds fun, but in my opinion the game could use more varying puzzles. Some brain teasers or math riddles would’ve been a nice addition, instead of surfing the internet all day. On the other hand it’s nice most riddles are in some way linked to the storyline.
After a couple of puzzles a short excerpt is shown from Jack Lorski’s diary, revealing his progress in solving a murder case he witnessed on an old tape. This diary was filmed with real actors on various locations across Europe. These short movies are enjoyable and it’s good to have something to keep you going on through the game.
Looking at the graphics of the game, I don’t really know what to think, since the game consists out of a clean black background and some menus. All menus are beautifully animated though, and they leave a good impression.
The soft, sometimes even frightening music fits in the dark image of the game, just like the sounds you hear when text appears or when you click things. The whole audiovisual thing of In Memoriam isn’t really such a big deal, but it creates an eccentric atmosphere and surely didn’t disappoint me as well.
In conclusion: During the first couple of hours playing In Memoriam, you will probably feel excited by this fresh and original experience and you can imagine yourself being a real sleuth, solving one puzzle after another to get bits and pieces of Jack Lorski’s research and in the end maybe even saving the couple. Eventually however, I got quite bored by the rather monotonous puzzle design and playing further started to feel like a drag to me. A nice try from Ubisoft, but I’m afraid most gamers will rather spend their precious money on something else.