Memento Mori



Genre:   Adventure

Developer:   Centauri Production

Publisher:    Got Game Entertainment

Released:  August 2009 (NA)

PC Requirements:   Windows XP, Pentium 4, 512 MB RAM, 128 MB video card, 3 GB free hard disk space, DirectX 9.0c


Additional Screenshots





by Becky


As Memento Mori opens, the voice of a scientist announces a new technology that will reveal evidence of forgeries in famous masterpieces of art. The technology will be used first in the Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg, which funded the research. The scene changes, and a voice on the phone informs a shadowy figure that an assassination must take place, and soon. Who does this new technology threaten, and why?

The phrase, memento mori, speaks of our mortality, and by implication, our limits: “Remember, you shall die,” or “Remember that you are but a man!” The game reveals a series of intertwining events, set against the backdrop of various European cities, that (depending on the action of the gamer) may result in demotion, dishonor or death.

A one sentence description of this game would be: Secret Files 2: Puritas Cordis meets Shadow of Destiny.  Like the Latin titled Puritas Cordis, Memento Mori has a spunky, redheaded heroine and a handsome young hero named Max. Also like Puritas Cordis the game has conspiring cultic figures clad in monks’ habits.

As in Shadow of Destiny, Memento Mori offers alternate endings influenced by choices made by the gamer throughout the game. Unlike Shadow of Destiny, the endings are not fully-realized unique cut scenes revealing different futures, but consist of the same cut scene with a voiceover revealing each future. The more endings you see, the more you are likely to understand what is going on in Memento Mori’s intricate backstory.


Memento Mori is distinguished by its ability to immerse the gamer in an alternate world. This is partly due to the game’s characters – particularly the protagonists, Lara Svetlova and Max Durand, both of whom are playable at different points in the game.

Lara is bright, tempestuous and has a satiric sense of humor. She works as a liaison officer for Interpol (the International Criminal Police Organization) in Lyon, France. Lara’s specialty is investigating crimes involving stolen works of art. She is the type of person on whom everyone relies to get things done – even chores at the office that don’t actually fit her job description.

Max is Lara’s longtime friend. He also is an expert in art – creating it, lecturing about its history, and (when desperate) forging it. His illegal activities were what originally brought him to the attention of Lara and her former boss, Colonel Ostankovic of the Russia Militia. Ostankovic is an overweening egotist who defines self-absorption. His knowledge of Max’s past empowers him to use Max as a sort of art investigation errand boy.

Immersion is also aided by photorealistic environments, some of which are shown at different times of day and night. Perspectives are intriguing and more varied than the elevated angle often used in third person adventure games. Dramatic orchestral music at the appropriate times also intensifies the gamer's immersion.

More than just a sense of place, the game gives a sense of culture – the corruption filling the air like the smoke in Colonel Ostankovic’s office, the despair in the bar below the housing projects, and the barren apartment with small touches of aristocratic grace where Lara’s aunt resides.  Authenticity is manifested in the details. For instance, when Max attempts to place a call from the Hermitage, he extinguishes the flame from his lighter, puts it away, then pulls out his cell phone, which glows in the dark. 


Now for Memento Mori’s cast of villains in monk’s garb. Men in monk’s habits appear so frequently in adventure games that it is now a cliché. Surely there is some other way to clothe conspirators and to signal their motivation – anything but those overused long, brown garments.

The voiceover work for the characters, with characters’ accents matching their nationalities, is appropriate and enjoyable. The narrator’s voice, however, seemed too solemn, almost as though he relished the times when things were looking the worst. The endgame provides an explanation for his morbid tone, but until then, I felt like smacking him and telling him to cheer up a bit.

Cut scenes are many and varied in this game, and some are lovely -- in 3D with sepia tones that make the action look dreamlike, almost as though drawn from one of the character’s memories (as a few clearly are).  Other effective cut scenes are placed in a small frame, set against the full screen background.  However, for some cut scenes, with extended dialog between the characters, the animation is odd, almost crude – heads turn while bodies don’t, for instance.


Memento Mori contains plot twists and genuine surprises. The bulk of the puzzles are less difficult than in other adventure games, but they still provide sufficient challenge. This is a game in which you aren’t just solving puzzles, but are trying to piece together who the characters are, who is on the up-and-up, who is deceptive, and what is really going on behind the scenes. It’s perhaps appropriate that the puzzles are not multi-stepped head scratchers, since the plot itself is a multi-stepped head scratcher.

The most difficult puzzles were a lock pick puzzle and a challenge concerning a photograph. These were especially tricky because they required placement of an object/person at just the right time.

The game contains dialog challenges where a bar appears displaying the time to answer either positively, negatively, or questioningly. These kept me on my toes, but weren’t difficult. Twice I let the timer run out, and it simply started again, though I can’t be sure this happens in every instance. A few challenges involve quick movement – clicking on something or using an inventory item within a specific time. These were easily doable once I figured out what worked.

The interface is simple. Left-click to interact, right-click to observe, double-clicking makes the player character run, and double-clicking on an exit brings a fade-to-black and immediately brings up the new location. The tab key shows all hotspots – this feature is sophisticated enough to display both the important hotspots and hotspots that provide added information or opportunities for exploration. I thought the animated cursor felt a bit sluggish, so I disabled it in the Settings Menu.

In inventory, items can be turned 360 degrees to see what’s on the back, which is sometimes important. Some close-ups of the environment have the same feature -- you can pan around the specific area you’re examining.

The game installed smoothly and I encountered no glitches. This third person perspective, point-and-click game does not have a hint system, but occasionally one of the characters remarks about how something ought to be done – these “hints” are (usually) reliable. Some events in this game are violent and, in one location in particular, vulgar language is heard. The game is not appropriate for children.


About halfway through Memento Mori you will realize that something very strange is going on. In addition to the immediate mystery (an inexplicable failure of the security system at the Hermitage) there are deeper quandaries. Tangential characters have superhuman knowledge, among them Lara’s aunt, who insists on doing an alarmingly accurate Tarot reading for Max. Why is Max having such disturbing dreams? Why is his younger brother dogging his footsteps? Is Lara in love with Max? Can individuals beat the stultifying system? Can Max defy fate?

To figure out what’s going on, you must play the game at least twice. One reason – it’s almost impossible to get the “good” ending, which has an important extra cut scene, on the first playthrough. The plot depth makes playing a second time rewarding, as you know much more of what is really going on in the background.

Endings are affected by what you have failed to do, and you don’t always know (until the end of the game) how or why you failed. Replaying while changing your actions at the key “trigger” moments results in the different endings. Thankfully, save slots are unlimited, so you can replay from a saved game to see another ending. Unfortunately, however, some of the trigger moments occur early in the game. Though you can click through dialogs to speed things up on the replay, I couldn’t find any way to click through animations, and the game does require a fair amount of back-and-forthing between locations, all of which take time.

A second replay is definitely worthwhile to get the best ending. But playing through in order to see the various other endings (reportedly, there are seven) will require hours of repetition.

Quick List for Memento Mori

A mystery game with many layers, absorbing atmosphere, dramatic tension and memorable characters. Good voiceovers.

Detailed, photorealistic graphics, cinematic camera angles, many cut scenes, plenty of character interaction. Occasional stiff animation. Alternate endings that are triggered by what you do (or don’t do) at specific moments in the game. You will probably need to play the game twice in order to figure out what’s happening behind the scenes of the mystery. Replaying to get each of the endings involves significant repetition.

You play as two different characters; one cannot die, the other’s death is a possibility late in the game. Violent scenes and an emphasis on the darkness in human nature make this game inappropriate for children. Thought-provoking themes may have you thinking about events and interpretations long after you’ve finished playing.

Mostly inventory challenges, some timed dialog choices and actions that are fairly easy. Two difficult challenges that require placing an object/person at the right place at the right time.  The tab key reveals all hotspots. No sliders, no mazes, no color or sound-based puzzles.

The game installed and ran smoothly with no glitches. Third person perspective, point-and-click interface. Unlimited save slots.

Aimed at mystery lovers, art aficionados, and those who enjoy unwinding intricate conspiracies and trying out alternate endings.

Final grade: B+

My Computer Specs:

Windows XP Professional

Pentium 2.80 GHz

2.00 GB RAM

Direct X 9.0c

512 MB NVIDIA GeForce 7800 GTX

SB X-Fi Audio

*Information about the phrase “memento mori” was taken from Wikipedia.

August, 2009

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