With the hand-drawn aesthetics and the minimalist look of the game, you can immediately tell from the get-go that Memories of East Coast is a poignant experience. Everything from the text box to the font size lends to the overall feeling of melancholy throughout the whole game, and it should—after all, the visual novel tackles real-world issues like grief, sickness, and loss in a bittersweet, one-hour package.
The gameplay itself is nothing too complicated, as you’re simply along for the ride as Sam, a young police officer on a week-long break from work, dives into his emotions while driving to the East Coast. As he nears his destination, pangs of nostalgia and guilt wash over him, as emotions resurface and old memories come back to haunt him.
There’s not much for you to do as the player but to ride it out and weather the storm. You’re taken through bits and pieces of Sam’s life as a quirky narrator lays it all out for you, giving you the occasional choice as to where you want to go or what you want to say. I did try to replay the scenes a few times to see where my choices would take me, but the decisions don’t really impact the ending—they simply unlock more lines of conversation to sink your teeth into.
The story, while engaging, does suffer from plenty of grammatical errors, which I can totally understand and overlook due to the fact that English isn’t really the developer’s first language. To be honest, how the text was translated into English is actually an impressive effort, so if you can get past that, then the story will open up to you and be as enjoyable as any.
However, what I found to be most problematic is the exposition and the writing style itself. Technical issues aside, what bothered me about the narrative was that for a visual novel, there were not enough visuals to make the experience even more immersive. The advantage of a visual novel over a regular one is, well, the visuals—unfortunately, there was just too much text and not enough images to go along with the text.
While the hand-painted art is truly gorgeous (and the sceneries breathtaking), I still found them lacking. For instance, a regular novel may not always have the luxury of presenting something more visceral to its readers, but a visual novel certainly does—it’s that visual advantage that the game, unfortunately, wasn’t able to maximize to its fullest potential, and it’s such a shame to let that opportunity go to waste.
Now, the devs deliberately made sure not to show any actual people to give the player a more first-person perspective on the whole thing, which is a smart move—however, I felt like there were many, many icons that could have been shown for a bigger impact apart from just the background scenery. This includes crucial plot items in the story like a plush unicorn, a bucket of fish, or a cozy campfire. All these things add to the overall imagery of the text as opposed to just focusing on the backdrop all the time.
The visual novel tackles real-world issues like grief, sickness, and loss in a bittersweet, one-hour package.
And speaking of imagery, there was a great deal of telling and not enough showing. In creative writing, “Show, Don’t Tell” is a bit of a Golden Rule, in that you can’t use too much exposition to relay every single thing. This, I felt, was sorely missing from Memories Of East Coast, which, again, could have been expanded more since it’s a visual novel and should already be visually appealing as it is. While grammatical errors can easily be remedied by a copyeditor, it can be more challenging to have a fiction novelist go through the text and revise as needed, which is something that I feel like the devs should look into.
Still, what actually drew me further into the game is the amazing soundtrack. Each scene plays out with some pretty chill lo-fi beats playing softly in the background, and every low-key tune elevates the emotions that are highlighted in the text. I especially appreciated the bonus feature of the music playlist in the main menu along with the acknowledgments, because every track in the game is loop-worthy—I wouldn’t mind getting those beats stuck in my head all day.
Memories Of East Coast | Final Thoughts
Memories Of East Coast’s saving grace is its totally awesome twist during the ending, which I definitely won’t spoil for you. It’s a quick run at just an hour or less depending on how fast you read—you can skip scenes you’ve already seen or hit the Auto button if you don’t want to keep clicking to get to the next line. You can also manually save or autosave, which is a good idea to do before a major decision so you can go back and pick something else if you’re curious about the extra lines of dialogue.
Overall, I have mixed feelings about the game, because while I did love the story itself and the beautiful soundtrack, the execution of the narration threw me off a little. I do hope they can somehow improve on the fiction writing techniques employed here because once they do, Memories Of East Coast will definitely be worth an hour of your time.
TechRaptor reviewed Memories Of East Coast on PC with a copy provided by the publisher.
- Breathtaking Hand-Drawn Art
- Relaxing Lo-Fi Score
- Short But Impactful Story
- Poor Creative Writing Techniques
- Too Much Exposition And Not Enough Visual Cues