Amnesia: Memories is what's known as an 'otome' visual novel, meaning it's basically an interactive "choose your own adventure" style novel, with a focus on romancing a selection of eligible guys. With next to nothing that requires fast reactions or skills, you simply sit back and read your way through the game's branching storylines, picking a conversation option here and there to steer your character through the tale, hopefully growing closer to your chosen guy in the process. Given the huge, HUGE amount of text, and completely Japanese voices, it's unquestionably one for the confident readers - after all, reading is pretty much the point of these games.
As the title suggests, your heroine wakes up one day and finds all her memories have up and left - and have been replaced by a strange little spirit guy/bug thing called Orion. With the help of your new-found friend, you'll need to recover your memories, work out who you can trust and try not to arouse too much suspicion from those around you in the process - whilst growing closer to a man you assume to be your boyfriend. With branching stories across five different characters, each with multiple endings, both good and bad, there's plenty to keep you going - and with its varied range of plots, which range from a murder-mystery-esque quest to track down the identity of the person who pushed you off a cliff, to a romantic evening solving maths questions, to learning to trust a guy with an unusual gift that makes women fall head over heels in love whenever he looks at you, each of your playthroughs will be noticeably different too.
As a visual novel with an emphasis on forming romantic relationships, there are a few thinly-veiled references to sex, such as men 'having their way with you' ('until we're both exhausted'), one planning to make it so you'll soon be 'begging me to sleep with you' and another pinning you to the ground in your underwear, saying how he's 'not going to notice the pain you feel either'. One 'bad ending' involves the playboy of the group telling you, the amnesiac, that you'd slept together before, and he knows 'exactly what you enjoy, what turns you on', and that he plans to refresh your memory, whether you're willing or not - although he doesn't actually go through with it in the end. Generally speaking, the scenes are never visually explicit, and rarely go any further than a hint at something more risque - the most you'll actually see is the odd kissing scene, and perhaps the heroine being pinned down by the guy, really. Rumours going around also talk of how Ikki never goes out with his fan club members for more than a couple of months, having a completely 'physical relationship' with the girls during that time, with frequent references to the fact that he sleeps around a lot. Also, in line with the heroine's job in the local maid cafe, there's a lot of calling people 'Master', which does seem to go down well with some of your male friends - and makes others blush uncontrollably. In one route, the one guy keeps you in a cage for a time, and even drugs you so you can't escape - to protect you, apparently.
Bad language also crops up occasionally with words like 'sh*t', 'p*ssed off' and 'b*stard/b*tch', although it's pretty infrequent. Violence and gore are pretty much non-existent too, given that it's a game about forming bonds with people. There are occasional references to death and murder, with your character becoming a target for ne'er-do-wells on more than one occasion - whether it's being pushed off a cliff, having your head bashed in with a rock or getting hit by a car, as well as encounters with a slightly deranged guy, whose personality flips from caring to murderous in an instant. Whenever such accidents occur, you don't ever see anything as the screen goes black, and the descriptions don't go especially graphic either ("Oww... Did that car hit me?"). About the most violent scenes involve one character and his creepy blood-stained corner, following an unseen altercation with someone who upset you (although he claims it's red ink), and a character being stabbed, where you can make out a hint of blood through his shirt and a small amount of dribbling from his mouth - neither are what we'd describe as graphic though.
Format Reviewed: PS Vita