Released to tie in with the 100th Anniversary of its ending, Bandai’s 11:11 is a dreary, uninteresting, and boring depiction of the First World War.
Puzzle elements are few and far between, and when they do arise, they are uninspired and quickly become repetitive. Instead, the large majority of the game is spent walking about, talking to people, and then resuming walking about so you can find someone else to talk to. So the question is: does the game possess an engaging, unique narrative that motivates the player to continue playing? The answer is no. Even from the beginning, the story does very little to flesh out its characters, create much interpersonal conflict, or even portray the unsanitary and hellish perspective we expect. There is nothing revolutionary about this game’s anti-war message, and the attempt at a character driven narrative is uninspired and drab.
Everything in the game has been made to look like a watercolour painting, which can sometimes produce absolutely gorgeous results in terms of lighting and colourful landscapes. But, of course, this is war. The muddy trenches you will spend most of your time in simply become weird when everything looks like a Van Gogh fever dream. Backdrops are woefully underdeveloped - in fact, the impressionist art style often comes off as just a mask which the low-effort models hide behind. Characters suffer heavily from sub-uncanny valley levels of weak facial animation, and sometimes it’s impossible to determine if that spinning white object in the distance is a collectible letter or a blade of grass. Even the gorgeous military charge scene early in the game is plagued with low-effort bullets that look more like blocky yellow streaks than anything that could actually kill you. The environments contain so little detail at times that it’s often difficult to figure out where you actually are in the already-too-big environments the game puts you in, leaving you to fumble around figuring out what to do next.
Overall, 11:11 would have worked better as an animated film from its co-creators Aardman than a game. The interactivity, what there is of it, does nothing to improve the experience. The graphics and story, while both having occasional shining moments, are painfully average by 2018 standards. You’d think that a game created to honour the soldiers who fought the Great War would offer something new and different to the sea of other anti-war efforts out there, but sadly 11:11 Memories Retold is nothing to write home about.
11:11 MEMORIES RETOLD / DEVELOPER: DIGIXART, AARDMAN ANIMATIONS / PUBLISHER: BANDAI NAMCE ENTERTAINMENT / PLATFORM: PC, PS4, XBOX ONE / RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW