"Would you trust a complete stranger with your deepest feelings and darkest secrets?"
Memory loss is a harrowing experience in real life, but for fictional characters, it might as well be an everyday occurrence. In RPGs and visual novels, amnesia usually serves as a narrative device that reveals a seemingly-amiable character's tragic (or even terrifying) backstory at a crucial moment. For the protagonist of Idea Factory's upcoming otome visual novel Amnesia: Memories, memory loss essentially defines her existence. Her story is one with its pieces scattered, ready to be rebuilt from the ground up — for better or for worse.
A touch more fantastical than the developer's other offerings like Hakuoki, Amnesia isn't afraid to introduce plot elements like guiding spirits and alternate realities. Taking control of the nameless heroine, the player begins the game by selecting a romantic interest from a pool of four — ultimately five, once certain conditions have been fulfilled — young men, all of whom appear to have a connection with the heroine. Depending on who she pairs with, the circumstances around her change, including the nature of her relationships with each character as well as the general trajectory of the story. Unlike other visual novels that allow the player to pursue romantic interests, the tale differs significantly depending on which character takes the spotlight, meaning that there is no overlap between story routes. A boyfriend in one world may appear as a co-worker in another, although his general traits will remain the same, revealing different shades of his personality depending on his relationship with the heroine. Even within each character's route, her decisions can lead to one of 20 endings, and many of them don't conclude with "happily ever after."
Falling in love in Amnesia isn't as simple as choosing a man, however. Because the heroine doesn't know who she can trust, she cannot reveal her memory loss to her partner. Would you trust a complete stranger with your deepest feelings and darkest secrets? Probably not. These unique circumstances make Amnesia equal parts romance and mystery. Each character's story only takes about three to five hours to experience, making the game easy to play in shorter bursts than most visual novels. Once the player has romanced each of the four initially-available characters — logical Kent, stoic Shin, popular Ikki, and aloof Ukyo — a fifth story route becomes available, leading to the game's true ending. There's even a pair of minigames, Rock-Paper-Scissors and Air Hockey, for the heroine to play with each of the guys, complete with quips from the original Japanese voice actors. After all, what good is a boyfriend if you can't play games with him every now and then?
English-speaking fans of otome games still don't have many options these days, so Amnesia's imminent release is most welcome indeed. Its lustrous art style sets it apart from the pack, and although the guys' looks are tailored to a particular audience (where's my beefcake, for crying out loud), their personalities are diverse and intriguing. You'll be able to (re)build your life with one of Amnesia's eligible bachelors when it released on PC and PS Vita this August.