Memento Mori 2: Guardians of Immortality
First posted on 07 July 2014. Last updated on 07 July 2014.
Memento Mori 2: Guardians of Immortality from Centauri Production is the long-awaited sequel to the original Memento Mori released in 2009 by the same developer. The game's title is derived from the Latin phrase memento mori that literally means "remember to die". In this game, however, the same phrase also encumbers the belief that eternal life can be gained through the death of others, including murder.
The game begins with a cinematic cut scene, accompanied with a beautifully sung song, taking you to a hotel room in Cape Town, South Africa. Larisa (Lara) Svetlova and Maxim (Max) Durand are now married (since the original game) and trying to enjoy their honeymoon. Max wakes up in the morning after having a nightmare of which he remembers little. Soon after, Lara receives a phone call from Charlotte Renier, her former boss at Interpol, wanting her to investigate a break-in and theft in a local art gallery. At the same time, Max experiences a flashback in the bathroom with a vision of some strange statuettes. When Lara and Max arrive at the gallery to investigate, they are shocked to discover that the same statuettes from Max's vision are among the items which have been stolen. Lara also learns that the statuettes are artifacts once used in some ancient rituals. On pursuing the case further, Lara receives death threats warning them to back off. Max finally tracks down the thief to a bar, where he is confronted and chased. However, when Max suddenly disappears under suspicious circumstances, Lara is determined to find Max and solve the case on her own.
Lara travels back to Lyon, France where she works for the office for Stolen Work of Art. Her investigation soon takes her around the globe to the United States, Finland, and Mexico. After uncovering a series of brutal ritualistic murders that seemingly point to Max as the perpetrator, Lara is at wits' end about his guilt. Is Max alive? Is Max the murderer? What is Max's relationship with the Angel of Death? Only Lara can discover the connection between these murders and the Vita Mortis—a book of death and resurrection.
Upon starting the game, a main menu appears from which you can choose the options: Continue, New game, Restore game, Save game, Settings, Credits, and End game. Under Settings, you can accept the default settings or create custom settings for graphics and sounds. Subtitles are available and can be toggled on or off. There is a brief tutorial at the start of the game that shows you how to interact with the game's interface.
Gameplay adopts typical third-person point-and-click mechanics. The interface supports a number of hot keys: Esc key to return to the main menu, J key to open your journal, F12 key to take screenshots, and Tab key to show all current active hotspots (which are also displayed by clicking on the ? symbol at the top right corner of the screen). The red circles indicate points of vital importance, whereas the white circles merely indicate points of interest. There are 9 cursors used to navigate or perform tasks in the game. Left clicking with the white cursor arrow walks you to the clicked spot, while double clicking with it makes you run to there. The game allows for an unlimited number of save game slots. It also saves your progress automatically at the completion of each act.
The plot plays out over 7 acts. With each act, new characters and new locations are introduced, and clues are gleaned from careful observation of Renaissance paintings and religious artifacts. The resemblance of the game's plot to Dan Brown's novel The Da Vinci Code is not likely a coincidence. Some of the murders take place beneath a church in France and an ancient monastery in Finland. Additionally, there is a secret order of monks who worship the Angel of Death.
In addition to Lara and Max, you also take control of FBI agent Kiera Sheehan. At various stages of the game, you will be tasked to make a critical choice that will affect of the game's final outcomes. The consequences of these choices are then played out at the end of the game as cinematic cut scenes. On top of the many unexpected twists and turns, these different paths can make the story a nightmare to follow and difficult to make cohesive sense in the end.
I am impressed with the game's graphics, including the many pre-rendered cut scenes that are played throughout the game. The backgrounds are highly detailed. The depth of field effects in cut scenes are nicely done. The character models, while very human like, are little stiff when they move. Lip sync is hit-and-miss. Wafting smoke and ripples in the ocean, among other details, all help to add realism to the scenes. Built using the propriety CPAL3D, the game supports advanced 3D graphics functions such as volumetric shadows and particle and lighting effects.
The English voiceovers for the major characters are excellent. They speak with realistic accents and pronunciations. By contrast, the voiceovers for the minor characters are more variable in quality. Sound effects such as dripping water, squeaky gates, thunder, earth tremors, and other environmental sounds are excellent. The song sung in both the opening and closing scenes are beautifully scored and performed, as is the ambient background music played in most scenes of the game.
My biggest criticism of the game is the numerous localization issues to English from the German original first released in 2012 (in fact, the game's credits still list the now defunct dtp entertainment as the publisher). Subtitles frequently do not line up with the spoken dialog or are missing altogether. Occasionally, a different voice, likely that of a stand-in voice actor, is heard midway during a conversation.
The game features a wide variety of puzzles. Many of the puzzles are quite difficult, even for veteran gamers. Some examples are identifying a suspect by taking fingerprints and matching them with criminal records, superimposing layers of documents to locate a place of interest, a slider puzzle with no space to maneuver, a jigsaw puzzle made from a shattered wall mural, and operating a fork lift to enter a building. There is no provision to skip any of the puzzles, nor is there any hint system available to help you.
In sum, Memento Mori 2: Guardians of Immortality is a worthy sequel to the original Memento Mori. Given the portrayal of occult and ritualistic murder themes in the story, this is not a game suitable for younger gamers. The game is quite long and can take you up to 30 hours to finish, especially if you want to discover its many alternate endings. The game also offers 15 achievements awards. Notwithstanding the localization issues, the game is an easy recommendation for adventure gamers looking for a challenge.