Portsmouth, Jun 2017
In Dr. Ryddle’s Memories, you’re exploring the mind of a scientist to retrieve the secret to his machine – and naturally, his mind is full of riddles and puzzles that you’ll need to solve first.
Everything is contained in a single room, with decorations that are colourfully surreal and quite pretty. It’s a very linear game, though that’s not obvious to start with: there’s a profusion of different interesting props and clues and it took us a few minutes of checking through everything before we found the right thread to start things off.
Once the game gets going, most puzzles resolve to a word or a number sequence, which then releases objects or information needed to solve the next step. These vary from the very simple to the mildly difficult: there’s nothing here that was super tricky. Frequent use of laminated paper detracted only a little from what was otherwise a decent quality build full of custom components.
The story premise justifies all manner of puzzles that would otherwise make no narrative sense, but it’s not used purely as an excuse for a room full of puzzles: much of the game plays on this theme, with clues and solutions that refer to fragments of the scientist’s life. It’s a simple mechanism but I thought it did manage to give a sense of slowly uncovering the secrets of a mind.
Background audio is used occasionally to heighten tension. This caused brief problems for us when we were trying to trigger something, and the audio happened to start making us believe we’d caused it. We then spent several minutes trying to work out what had changed before eventually realising that nothing had happened, and we actually needed to apply a little more force in the original location.
A couple of other frustrations weakened the game for me: one puzzle that, if the team doesn’t solve it immediately, turns into a bottleneck which only one player can work on at a time; another that gave an answer one digit at a time, with some of them being a bit ambiguous; and an intentional red herring that caused confusion on what was already one of the more tenuous puzzles.
Nothing there was a serious flaw. Against that, there’s no shortage of puzzles to do, and the game continued on a couple of steps longer than I’d expected. The ending was a strong point, with an observation puzzle that used the room decorations very effectively.