From pure entertainment, the videogame has undergone an important transformation during its almost forty years of history, becoming in effect a cultural product, a vehicle of themes that at the dawn of its existence were almost unthinkable to deal with a certain depth. If war has always been a field explored with interest by the medium, mainly in action games, lately it has become an object of interest for products more suited to storytelling, to a more detailed account of the context and lives of the civil communities involved in these dramatic events. Whether it’s fictional conflicts ( This War of Mine , Memory of Us) or real ( Valiant Hearts: The Great War), these products have returned a more human side of the war, aiming to throw the gaze on the inner drama that is consumed in those who found themselves, despite himself, overwhelmed by events. A similar operation moves the new project by Bandai Namco, Aardman and DigixArt, 11-11: Memories Retold , which through the story of two men, the young Canadian photographer Harry and the German engineer Kurt, offers an ambitious and courageous product under many points of view against the background of the Great War.
Even before venturing into the stories of Harry and Kurt, there is an aspect that leaves you breathless 11-11: Memories Retold, and it is his refined artistic style. Born from the virtual watercolor of Aardman and DigixArt – the first are the British studio creator of the popular stop motion series “Wallace & Gromit” – the sensation that surrounds the viewer from the very beginning is to find himself in front of a real “painting” living”. The artistic genesis of this title finds inspiration in the various artistic movements that have animated the historical period of the First World War, from Impressionism to Cubism passing through Futurism, whose final result is that of a unique product from a graphic point of view. The artistic choice made by the designers was driven by very precise reasons, from the idea of making the game consistent with the historical era to which it refers,
The story of 11-11 runs through the stories of Harry and Kurt, who, with completely different motivations, find themselves in the wake of the Great War. As we said, Kurt is an engineer who works in a German factory that produces airships, which, after receiving disturbing news on the division in which his son Max party for the Western Front militates, decides to enlist in turn to bring home the boy. For his part, Harry is a young Canadian photographer, enticed by an army officer to join the British regiments to document life in the trenches and on the battlefield through his shots. Attracted by the idea of a new and adrenaline-fueled experience, Harry decides to embark for Europe,
Through the vicissitudes of the two protagonists, whose stories alternate with narrative wisdom and through a direct involvement of the player (called to choose the incipit of each chapter with whom to start the new act), Aardman and DigixArt have woven a deep and complex plot , where the destinies of the two characters, enemies due to a war in which they were involved in spite of themselves, are forced to cross, giving life to a plot with deeply human characters. Despite the stories of Kurt and Harry are not in any way real, but the result of a very good work of screenplay really powerful, have the great merit of being able to shed light on important issues, such as respect for the life of the other, be it an enemy or an ally, and above all the concept of humanity.11-11: Memories Retold are very evident, able to transmit and reflect on one of the most terrible pages of the history of the twentieth century. Although the product is still a video game, and therefore designed in its own way to entertain and interact with the player, 11-11 has the great advantage of using the play purposes intrinsic to the medium to tell the story, mixing the fascination of a fiction product to the drama of the real.
As for its purely recreational component, the new Bandai Namco game does not have a particularly complex gameplay segment. Linked mainly to the resolution of small / medium difficulty puzzles, next to the collection of collectibles that allow to deepen the historical / narrative context in which the plot unfolds, 11-11: Memories Retoldis not a game that pushes the accelerator on the gameplay, whose mechanics are almost reduced to a minimum to give the user the opportunity to immerse themselves in its history. This is probably the aspect that most will create debate around the game, as it brings to light that long-standing question about the effective classification of these titles within the broader concept of video games. Far from being attributable to the “walking simulator” category, it is clear that the goal of Memories Retold is to use the interactivity of the videogame to involve the player more directly in his narration, an aspect that is made even more incisive from the excellent performance offered by the two actors who have voiced the protagonists,
The choice of the two Hollywood stars has undoubtedly proved to be a winner, since they infuse the game with an unprecedented narrative and interpretative power. Both in perfect part, giving soul and voice to two very different but equally interesting characters, the interpretation of Wood and Koch gives 11-11: Memories Retold a certain aura of preciousness, all amplified even by the use of a soundtrack masterfully composed by Olivier Derivière ( Alone in the Dark , Remember Me , Vampyr). The strength of the songs that punctuate and accompany the narrative flow of Memories Retold is all-encompassing, embellished with choral elements, which make the emotional experience offered in this profound title even more engaging.
All good so far, but what does not allow 11-11: Memories Retold to reach the level of perfection, despite being a game that we really liked? As beautiful as it is to see, there is no doubt that the new game by Aardman and DigixArt undoubtedly suffers from some stability problems. Next to some unconvincing facial animations, the title often collapses, giving rise to some annoying drops of framerate. In addition, we came across a couple of bugs that forced us to restart the chapter because they were unable to continue on a given mission. If it is true that the game is impeccable from an artistic point of view, it leaves a bit ‘of bitterness the minor care addressed to the technical sector.
Net of its problems, 11-11: Memories Retold is a game that has convinced us for many reasons. Alongside its precise pedagogical aims, which in some ways give value to a product like the videogame that is often condemned to circulate the minds of the youngest, and to an almost dreamlike rereading of one of the most atrocious periods of twentieth century history, the new game Aardman and DigixArt is mainly a tribute to all those innocent lives wiped out unjustly on the battlefield, allowing us to accompany it all with an important reflection. In particular, on the great change that the videogame medium has undergone in recent years, becoming an alternative way to reflect on issues of great cultural importance.