So I just finished Trace Memory. …Well, that wasn’t exactly how I expected it to be.
The game pits you into the deserted Blood Edward Island–kind of like in Umineko–in search of your father. Players control 13-turning-14-year old Ashley Mizuki Robbins who just received a DTS unit from her estranged father, which suspiciously looks like a DS unit. Anyhow, the DTS has this neat program called Trace which allows its users to retrieve, replay and/or replace someone’s memory. That would’ve been cool if it actually played a large part in the game. As you venture around the island, you’ll meet a ghost named D. It’s kind of weird having a ghost tailing you around but you have to help him find his memories back in order for him to, er, move on. He’s been stuck in the island for 57 years so you should have the heart to help him.
What initially got me into this game was the drawing–saw the cover art and was all “Ooh. I like this.” Well, apparently, that’s the only part I’d like about it. I didn’t hate it, just to be clear. I just thought it could’ve offered more. The game was short, playable in a couple of hours, and just basically involved going around the Edward Mansion in search of your father while solving some puzzles along the way. The DTS was such a waste. The biggest use you can have for it was saving. You’ll be using the Overlay feature for about 2-3 times in game and the Trace feature once at the very end. Apart from that, the DTS is just this clunky device you lug around. Oh, you can use it to take pictures if that helps.
Story-wise, there’s nothing much. The main mystery in the game is finding out who killed Ashley’s mom when Ashley was just three years old. Of course, there’s also D’s memories but that’s also very predictable. I had a gazillion facepalm moments everytime the pair made “discoveries” that were so obvious. The storyline was so cliche you can figure out where it was going with your eyes closed.
The game’s a bit visual novel-ish so expect a lot of extensive dialogues. Plus, there are parts where you have to do some sort of quiz so you “won’t forget” the important stuff. I didn’t really see the point for all of this since the facts didn’t really play some sort of big, big role at the end. The puzzles were okay but I can’t really consider them puzzle puzzles. They simply involved getting something from one room in order to complete something in another room which activates something somewhere in order for you to progress. The closest thing to an actual puzzle you can get here is the cursed slider puzzle in the Golden Bird Room, if I’m not mistaken. I say “cursed” because I hate slider puzzles.
All in all, Trace Memory is for those who want to pass some time while waiting for their favorite game’s next release. Or if you’re stumped on the game you’re currently playing and would like to let off some steam. Not being able to play Trace isn’t tantamount to missing a big part of your gaming life. Being able to finish it doesn’t add anything extravagant to your gaming career either. Trace Memory would’ve possessed great potential for a game if it wasn’t confined into such a small setting. It was, I think, underdeveloped in all aspects. So if you want some serious puzzle game with a real story, grab Layton and knock yourself out.