Availability: Free, Online/Browser-based
Genre: School Romance
My Scores (out of 5):
Romance: 2.5 (“Middle of the road, maybe”)
In Memory Days Sim Date, you are Ai/Insert-Name-Here. You used to only come to West Cigam for the summer, but a change in your father's career has resulted in you moving here, permanently. Now, you have the opportunity to let those people you met in passing become friends...or more. What memories will you make, now?
Plot-wise, there isn't really a lot to this game; you just attend school and talk to boys until summer break comes. What makes this especially annoying is that the intro seems to tease so much more, with cryptic references to weird happenings in West Cigam, and a character whose cousin has gone missing. Unfortunately, the only “weirdness” that you get to actually see is a cameo by Xolga in one character's route. Even the theme of Memory seems a little bit shoe-horned to me, since while memories and making memories are frequently referenced in the dialog, there doesn't seem to really be any call for it: nobody is on a quest to remember or forget something, memories do not provide a key to any plot-point, nobody's personality is defined by a memory...it just seems to be rolled onto the game like a coat of paint.
The characters themselves have some pretty interesting drama in their back-stories, but these don't really come into play at all until the end of the game. The dialog in the talk options is mostly small-talk that doesn't really give more than a hint of their personalities, and the event scenes range from sweet to mundane. All in all, I find this to be Pacthesis' blandest work in terms of writing, with a lot of smoke but very little fire.
The drawing style is about on par with Pacthesis' other work, but what really makes the art here stand out is the extra effort put into the technical things like scenery changes, wardrobe changes, and animated bits. Guys will change their clothes depending on where they are, and the backgrounds will change with the seasons. You can even decorate your room a bit, which I thought was a nice touch. It's a very nice level of variety that most games don't usually have, and I greatly appreciate it.
I get the impression, between the art and the gameplay, that this game was really more of a “technological experiment” of sorts, since it's very different from all of the author's earlier games and has a lot more moving parts. Guys change their locations every day, the shops change their wares every week, and it's actually possible to break up with a guy, after which you can't talk to him for a while. Also, your actions are limited not only by energy, but by mood, which almost prevents exploitation of the work-food mechanic. There is also a need to spend some time studying, since failing one of the periodic tests will result in a sharp drop in mood and energy.
The overall format is actually closer to a visual novel than a dating sim, since the relationships with the guys are based entirely on events fixed in time (and choices made at those events), while talking, gifts, and dating don't actually matter at all. Granted, having a good conversation with your guy (or going on a date) can boost your mood, but they do nothing to actually raise your relationship and can be safely ignored altogether. Mostly, you just need to go to the right location on the right day and take things from there.
Memory Days does have some impressive features, though the writing is pretty thin and, partly as a result of this, the gameplay seems to drag a little bit. I can't really call it a bad game, though, since it's very clear that a lot of effort was put into its creation and, in many areas, this effort pays off. It's a mixed bag in my opinion, but overall, I think it's worth checking out.
So, am I being too harsh on a good game, or too light on a bad game? Is this game a cherished memory, or just a weird thing best forgotten? Go ahead and tell me in the comments!