Shards of Memories: an Art Puzzle Adventure ($1.99) by Milos Micakovic is a puzzle game that tells the story of a troubled professor as he goes through one of his most difficult stages of life. If you like philosophical games that have a deep meaning behind them, such as Stay, Mum and Sally’s Law, then you’ll enjoy what Shards of Memories has to offer.
Visually speaking, Shards of Memories is a fairly photorealistic game that looks downright gorgeous. The game features a dark and rich wooden texture background that represents a table, and the classic Polaroid-style photographs that represent each stage have a realistic aesthetic. The puzzles themselves also sport pieces of glass that have a frosted texture to them, and everything is complete with cracks once you put them together to fit the object that is the focus of the level you’re on. There are subtle animations in Shards of Memories that you’ll notice when the broken glass is put in its proper place, and the transitions from one puzzle to the next are smooth and seamless. This is important, because each photo tells part of the story behind of the professor, so the conversion from one to the other means everything flows together. Story text is presented in a simple but effective serif typeface that goes well with the overall serious tone of the game. The slow, ambient soundtrack feels rather emotional and the sound effects represents shattered glass well. The developer truly did a great job with Shards of Memories in terms of the graphics and audio, so kudos.
Following traditional puzzle game fashion, Shards of Memories has three chapters and there are about 91 levels total in the entire game, so do get a good amount of game for the price. The goal in each puzzle is rather simple: rearrange all of the broken pieces of glass so that they fit the object that symbolizes that part of the professor’s life at the time shown in the photograph. Each photo will have a line or two of story, and the bigger picture reveals itself over time. However, to make things interesting, Shards of Memories has multiple endings that can unfold, depending on how the player decides to go about playing the game. I’m still pretty early on in the game so I’m not sure how the endings are determined, but this is a great way to keep players coming back even if they beat the game once but still feel emotionally invested in the game.
Controls in Shards of Memories is a simple affair. Each puzzle features a cutout of an object, and several broken pieces of glass. Your job is to get those shards into their proper place in the cutout, and this is done by dragging them where you think they go. If it’s the right spot, it will snap into place. Sometimes pieces will have to be rotated before they can fit in the image properly, and this is done by tapping on it to make it rotate clockwise. Once you think it’s properly upright, drag it onto the board with your finger and see if you can find the spot for it. If you’ve ever played tangram puzzles before, you’ll understand that Shards of Memories is similar to that, and there may be a lot of trial-and-error involved before you figure it out, especially since things get more complicated as you go on.
Besides being a beautiful puzzle game, Shards of Memories is a deep, thought-provoking experience. As you unravel the story behind the professor, you’ll discover that he is fighting anxiety and depression as he is trying to get over a meaningful relationship with someone else. Since we are all adults, I think this is something that we’ve all been through at some point in our lives, and I’m glad to see that it’s being expressed through a game. As players watch the professor learn to deal with the emotional events he’s experiencing, it can also help out people who are going through something similar. Even if it doesn’t, it’s still offers a unique perspective of psychological insights and visual thinking.
As I mentioned earlier, I’m still early on in the game, but so far I’m loving every moment of it. The visuals in Shards of Memories are exquisite, superb, and incredibly realistic, which is fitting considering the nature of the game. The background piano music is soothing to listen to, despite casting a dark tone overall to the game. Sound effects are a nice touch, and the puzzles start off easy enough but do pick up in difficulty as you go, so it’s never too easy. And the multiple endings that you can get give you a good reason to go back and replay the puzzles as you try to get an alternative ending to what you go before. Plus, there are no time limitations or move restrictions, so you play and go through the emotional story at your own pace. Overall, Shards of Memories is a great visual storytelling experience in a puzzle game.
I highly recommend giving Shards of Memories a try if you are looking for a meaningful mobile puzzle game with a fairly relatable, emotional story to go with everything. Shards of Memories is available on the App Store as a universal download for your iPhone and iPad for just $1.99. There are no in-app purchases, so you just pay once and play forever.