Usually, video games set during World War I (or, indeed, any war) put a premium on shooter action.
While there have been attempts made recently to address the human cost of conflict on a global scale – the last two Battlefield games spring to mind – typically games with a war backdrop focus on shooting, dodging, parlaying grenades and generally stacking up corpses.
Developed by Aardman Animations (the studio behind Wallace & Gromit) and DigixArt, 11:11 Memories Retold is a massive break from this norm. While it’s set during World War I, the game tells a very intimate story about two men who become caught up in the conflict for different reasons.
Harry is a Canadian amateur photographer who is talked into joining the war effort to aid a rather self-important major in the field. He enlists for the promise of adventure and to impress a young woman he’s fallen for.
In Germany Kurt, an engineer, is tormented his son Max – already on the frontline – will be killed, so he enlists to go in search of him. Eventually, their stories become intertwined.
Players looking for high-octane action should seek their pleasures elsewhere. Not only does 11:11 Memories Retold focus on narrative to the point where, barring some puzzle solving, it barely qualifies as a game, it feels somewhat unreal; visually, it looks like a moving Monet painting.
Hardcore players would dismiss it as a “walking simulator”. But this description is an inaccurate appraisal of its power.
11:11 Memories Retold lays the human cost of war bare and it does so without players firing a single bullet. It’s as rare as it is essential.