Damnatio Memoriae

by Emily Short profile

Episode 2 of Lavori d'Aracne
Fantasy, Historical
2006

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Number of Reviews: 5
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful:
Short and Sweet, March 21, 2012
by Jim Kaplan (Jim Kaplan has a room called the location. The location of Jim Kaplan is variable.)
Related reviews: emily short, fantasy, short

Play the game if: you're a fan of Emily Short's trademark attention to detail and creative command systems, or if you want a short, not-too-challenging puzzler which will nevertheless excite your curiosity.

Don't play the game if: you wished this was comparable in scale to Savoir-Faire, or if you're looking for a story that is emotionally gripping.

Damnatio Memoriae is a flawless game, by which I mean that it hits all the marks it's aiming for. It adapts the magic system from Savoir-Faire into a novel setting and a more constrained story, the premise here being that you have to find a way of effecting a room escape and the destruction of certain objects at the same time.

The difficulty level on this one is quite low, which is understandable given the constrained environment that allows for brute-force solutions; it is, however, tricky to get the most desirable ending on a first attempt, though not impossible. Even without prior knowledge of how linking, reverse linking and enslaving work, it shouldn't take more than a few playthroughs to get the hang of things. A minor flaw here is that the help file is perhaps a tad bit too vague for the newcomer as to the magic system: I hadn't played Savoir-Faire when I first tried this one out, and as a result my initial attempts were perhaps more clumsy than they needed to be. In the event of an updated version or future installments in the series, I'd recommend an inclusion of some basic example scenarios to get across the points - as certain help files will so often do for the basic command system.

The setting is a rather cool mix of ideas - Imperial Roman political intrigue mixed with a crime story mixed with fantasy. The environment was given sufficient detail and verisimilitude that I wouldn't be averse to a future game exploring some side of Agrippa's family history. In some ways, though, that's the great gift and curse of complete short stories: they can stir up such curiosity about the world, rather than making it feel mundane by actually showing it.

Although I can't really fault the story for anything, it gets a four-star rating from me just because, apart from being entertaining and interesting, it won't occupy much of a place in my memory next to more complex or emotionally engaging works, many of which were authored by Ms Short herself. Sometimes perfection and inspiration just aren't the same thing.

(But there are worse things than a perfect game!)