As a a gamer it’s likely that you have played a game involving the First World War, the chances are that game was a shooter and it was aimed at beating the enemy and moving on. One of the first games that made a important to shift in the way we tell the story of the war in games was Ubisoft’s Valiant Hearts, it was a beautiful, heart wrenching game.
There was so much that went on in the First World War that went unnoticed, it affected millions of people in many different ways. 11-11: Memories Retold puts us in the shoes of two people who were involved in the war for different reasons and it’s a brilliant experience.
The game starts in 1916, right in the middle of the First World War. You begin the Journey as a Canadian Photographer called Harry who meets a British Army General who likes his photographs so much he enlists him to document the war in France. It means leaving the He is secretly in love with. You’ll also play as German engineer, Kurt. His son, Max is fighting in the war but goes missing in action. Kurt decides he needs to find him so signs up to fight too.
You’ll switch between the two characters, you’ll interact with NPC and complete tasks such as taking photos or searching for parts to fix equipment. There are also letters and other items to search for that add to the story. Taking photos as Harry is a particular treat, you can take photos at any time and it’s great choosing subjects and framing photos to get some fantastic shots. It’s a little less interesting fixing radios as Kurt however. This is done by solving mini puzzles involving circuits.
As you explore and discover items it gives you more items to use when writing letters home to your loved ones. Harry writes back to the woman he loves, while Kurt writes to his wife and daughter. You can decided how to tone your letters and that where the exploration becomes important. Do you tell your daughter how devastating War is or do you sugar coat it? Your decisions affect the story so choose wisely. I really enjoyed discovering more about each character, the stories are very personal and really hit home at just how much the war affected people.
To help with the wonderful narrative, the game is supported by two excellent vocal performances from Elijah Wood and Sebastian Koch, they are aided by a beautiful orchestral score. Both actors make the characters their own. Woods character is a curious person, desperate to learn while Koch brings out the desperation in Kurt in wanting to find his son.
11-11: Memories Retold uses a very unique art style. The best way to describe it is as a live 3D painting, there are certain times where it works magnificently, especially in more open environments, but it’s a bit of a let down in more enclosed spaces, giving you the feeling you are playing on an old console. It can cause issues with finding items at times but for the most part it’s not an issue.
The game lasts around seven hours and there is plenty of opportunities to go back and replay the game as there are multiple endings. Some of the mini games were frustrating and the art style caused more issues at times that I would have like, but the wonderful story pushes all that aside.