|System: PC||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: Centauri Production||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: Got Game Entertainment||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: July 29, 2009||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: 1||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|ESRB Rating: Mature||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
by Nathan Meunier
"Memento Mori" is a Latin phrase that reminds us we are indeed mortal, and the icy tendrils of death will inevitably come seeking us at some point in time to wring out the last drops of life remaining in our dried out meat husks. Playing Centauri Production's Memento Mori on PC has a similar effect as the phrase it's named after; it reminds you there are far more enjoyable and important things to be doing with your limited freetime among the living.
There's more to the doom and gloom here. For every good point-and-click exploration title they've encountered, many a seasoned adventure gamer has undoubtedly struggled their way through countless poorly made games. Memento Mori isn't a total failure so much as it simply goes through lengthy, tedious patches where it's just not remotely exciting. Persevere through these moments and you'll ultimately be rewarded with a moderately unusual plot and a handful of decent puzzles, but it can be a challenge to even muster the drive to push that far inland.
The story revolves around an investigation into the art-world theft of several invaluable paintings from The State Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg, Russia. Seeking to keep things under wraps from the media while exploring suspicions of a secret society's involvement in the crime, the man in charge of the museum, a grumbling Russian fellow by the name of Col. Ostankovic, muscles the game's dual protagonists into helping uncover the conspiracy and keep it low-profile. He taps former colleague Lara Svetlova, an Interpol agent in the art crimes division, and Max Durand, a felon with vast knowledge of art, to head up the investigations. At different times, you'll explore various angles of the case as each character, and the choices you make along the way affect their unique fates at the end of the adventure.
Memento Mori's moody settings are easily among its few high points. Whether it's the darkened corridors of the subterranean chambers beneath The Hermitage or the knickknack-laden mess of "Auntie's" Tarot card-strewn living room and beyond, the environments throughout the game are packed with detail. Not only that, but frequently shifting camera angles offer a fully 3D perspective on most scenes, and they lend a cinematic and suspenseful flair to the adventure. Beyond the slick locations, characters animate extensively for every action they take - from pulling a rope out of their coat pocket and tying it onto a ladder to grabbing an electronic device and plugging it gingerly into a wall socket. While it doesn't sound like it should be a major deal, you'd be surprised how many adventure titles forego such details.
One the other hand, the characters themselves don't quite measure up on closer inspection. An impressive level of realistic visual sheen applied to each character's appearance makes them look good in most areas. However, peoples' eyes tend to look a little bugged-out at times, and Lara's hair occasionally does a weird, freaky snake-dance that makes her ponytail seem possessed. The models also appear stunted when it comes to mouth movements during dialogue, and facial expressions come off as a little strange the rest of the time. They'd have benefited from a little more time in the virtual oven.