With the game 11-11 Memories Retold, the developers at Aardman Animations and Digixart completely retold the First World War. It's not about the brave soldier or the legendary officer. This time the focus was on ordinary people who had no intention of going to war. But can such an idea still turn into an exciting game in the First World War?
Two men without the will to wage war
In a game that tells the events of World War I, you don't necessarily have a photographer or an engineer in mind. But these are exactly the jobs of our protagonists in the game 11-11 Memories Retold. We start in 1916, so we have just arrived in the middle of the First World War, with the story of our two protagonists. Kurt, a family man from Germany, is currently in a larger factory and is helping to build a zeppelin. The engineer wanted nothing to do with the war right from the start, for him no people should decide about the life and death of others. But when he received news on November 11th of that year, his opinion changed that he did not want to go to war. He learned over the radio that his son's unit was lost in the war.
When he heard this news, all he wanted was to go to the front as soon as possible to find his son. Because it wasn't clear whether he was just gone or even dead. This is how the story of the war begins for the first protagonist, the German engineer Kurt. The Canadian Harry also set out for the front on November 11, 1916, but he has a completely different goal. When Harry is holding a new camera in his hands in Canada, his photographer's heart rises. He has to test her immediately and doesn't know a better model than his boss's daughter. Julia is the great love in Harry's life, but has not yet had a great deal of interest in the rather shy Harry. Shortly afterwards, an officer enters the studio and asks for a photographer. The officer is a war legend beret. It is even said that he is bulletproof all over his body, because so far he has come back from every mission without injuries. When Julia then sees Berett, she is blown away. A war hero in uniform is delightful to the young woman. When Harry is supposed to prove his photography skills and the two are supposed to pose as a motif, Harry makes a decision. He also wants to go to war and wear a uniform so that he can finally convince his love of him. So he is declared a war photographer at the front by Berett and so begins Harry's war story.
The road to war is bumpy and the first decisions have to be made
Both are now on their way to the front. As most of you have probably already noticed, both fight against each other and don't really have much in common. Except for one thing, because both do not want to go to war out of their own convictions, but because they want to look for someone or to impress. While Harry goes to the front with the ship, Kurt takes a train to France. To where his son was last seen. At this point it should be mentioned that we always play both characters alternately and thus get to know both stories. While Harry gets his first little mission, namely to avoid mines by ringing bells properly, a completely different mission begins with Kurt. Letters are an essential part of the game; they not only have emotional and story-related benefits, but also influence the rest of the game.
So with Harry we always have to think about which shot we send to our beloved Julia in order to impress her. With Kurt we have to send appropriate letters to his daughter, in which we can always influence the content. Do we always want to tell her the truth or lie to her a bit, but not arouse fear in her. Each letter influences the further course of the story. Of course we always get a letter back, it is set to music and read to us with suitable music, creating an indescribable atmosphere. At Harry we always decide which pictures to take for the newspapers in Canada. Since you also need new soldiers, you should of course also show the few beautiful spots on the front. For example, the small music-making group or the small group of cards among soldiers. Since Kurt is an engineer, his job is of course often to repair some kind of equipment or to be the handyman for fighting soldiers. We have to keep repairing radios or elevators in small mini-games. But Kurt also has another task, he is supposed to eavesdrop on the enemy through a tunnel system. We always get a glimpse of the other side.
One weapon and two opponents of the war (includes spoilers)
After some time and the first attack, the two protagonists meet for the first time. Kurt is on his way into a tunnel to get to safety from the attack by the Allies, while Harry walks over him across the battlefield and has to take photos for the officer. When suddenly a tunnel system collapses, it happens. Harry falls into the same tunnel that Kurt is currently in. Kurt has a gun ready, of course, while Harry just looks around in panic. This point can hardly be surpassed in terms of intensity, at this point we can also make a decision for Kurt. Do we want to let the Canadian soldier live and lower our weapons or do we want to shoot him? Anyone who has put themselves in the shoes of Kurt will make a realistic decision. Because he is not a murderer and the war is unnecessary for him. When the two of them realize what has just happened for the first time, it becomes clear that you have to work together to get out of there. So it is first of all to get food and then somehow leave this cave. However, given the language barrier, this is a bit difficult. But completely different things are particularly important at this point.
A cat and the bird
While the above is happening, a cat is about to catch a bird. We play the cat and somehow have to move around the cave system in such a way that we can catch the bird. After the two soldiers meet, the slightly injured bird is cared for by Harry and has not left his side since then. It stays that way in the following course of the game, the same thing happens on the other side with Kurt and the cat. Both soldiers now have new companions for their further journey and these will be very relevant again.
Incredible atmosphere and picturesque graphics
Now let's get to the game itself, because that's anything but ordinary. This is already apparent when you start the game for the first time, because anyone who expects digital graphics, as expected in normal games, will be surprised here. The whole game looks like it was painted with color on paper. Of course, you don't see all the details and contours with this graphic, as with other games, but it looks incredibly lovingly designed and fits the overall atmosphere.
You can literally recognize every brushstroke and so the game gets a very unusual atmosphere simply because of the graphic design. Then there are the dialogues, monologues and letters that are really well set to music. These create a breathtaking atmosphere throughout the game. The music and the matching voice give the writing of the letters a completely different effect than if the player were just reading the letters themselves. Anyway, music and sound effects are an essential and well-done part of the game. The characters and their stories round off the game again and ensure an unforgettable gaming experience.
Media for 11-11 Memories Retold
Number of players: 1 players
Age: USK 12
Playing time: approx. 5 hours of play
Long-term motivation: low
Publisher: BANDAI NAMCO Entertainment Europe
Developer: Aardman Animations, Digixart
Year of publication: 2018
Platforms: PC, Xbox One, PlayStation 4
Language: German (text, surface), English (sound), other languages (surface, text)
Cost: 24,99 Euro
What more can you add to this game? It shines through an abstract graphic and the atmosphere. The music is always appropriate and always underlines the action. There are occasional repetitions in the dialogues, but that is bearable with the amount of interaction possible. The characters are beautifully worked out and no stereotypes off the shelf. Both protagonists have a good story and you can still influence it a bit while playing. Kurt's little mini-games aren't the most difficult, of course, but that wouldn't do the game any good either. Because it's not a game that is about high scores or puzzle solving.
It's a game where the story is in the foreground and the developers really did it very well. The decisions in the game are well chosen and you should always refer a bit to the past of the protagonists, then you can maybe make even more realistic decisions. Otherwise there is no right or wrong, because every decision somehow has an impact on the future. There is just a very nice atmosphere, even if we are in the First World War. Because we notice that again and again, so we are there when Harry sees a killed soldier for the first time. You let the player look into the heads of the actors and thus always know about their state of mind. In the end, it can be said that 11-11 Memories Retold is an almost perfect game for me. It's poignant, has a beautifully told story and a breathtaking atmosphere. So I can only give a clear buy recommendation.