“My heart’s with you (…) and I think that, even if we forget each other, we’ll remember in our dreams.” – Stephen King
Alzheimer’s: Memories is a short point-and-click interactive fiction about an old man diagnosed with the disease. The player must accompany the protagonist and help him make sense of his past by revisiting broken memories in his dreams.
Developer: Gillian Yue
Released: 30th July 2021
Platforms: Windows, Mac, Linux
Available on: Steam
This game is being reviewed as part of the Indie Game Collective (IGC) showcase.
Gameplay and Narrative
The game’s nameless protagonist dreams in fragmented and broken memories, with items, people and events becoming clearer as the player explores each scene and solves small challenges. The puzzles include things such as jigsaws, sound-based memory puzzles and hide-and-seek and are accompanied by other, sometimes seemingly arbitrary, interactions that help the game retain a more casual feel.
The scenes depicted in Alzheimer’s: Memories show a variety of things such as inexplicably broken items, worrisome falls and sunsets with friends, leading to some much more upsetting recollections. The disease is depicted in a somewhat abstract way in places but the overall themes are clear and tactfully explored. The pace of the gameplay is a little slow but this suits the game and allows the player time to think about and process the content.
The visual elements consist mostly of simple, slightly wobbly black line art on a white background that gives a feeling of emptiness and highlights the information that is missing. There are occasional splashes of colour and patterns as well as shakey, glitchy animations that emphasise the protagonist’s sense of confusion.
The music is a highlight and ranges from retro-sounding tracks that would be at home in an old pixel-art RPG to gentle guitar melodies and jazzy numbers. For the most part, the soundtrack is quite twee and relaxing but it becomes appropriately melancholy in a few places. There are also some nicely implemented sound effects such as the wind howling or the main character’s heartbeat that help further immerse the player in the narrative.
Despite the generally casual feel of Alzheimer’s: Memories, it is a heartfelt game that packs an emotional punch. It is a thoughtful depiction of a cruel disease and presents the dreams with a fondness that prevents the game from feeling entirely bleak. The game lacks any save features which was a minor bugbear but at around an hour-long it is easily played in a single sitting. Overall, this is a touching experience with clever styling choices that really tie in the narrative. The low price only makes it easier to recommend!
For another excellent game that takes a heartfelt look at Alzheimer’s Disease, take a look at:
Before I Forget: Emotional Exploration Game