399515_largerHere's a question: How in the world does a puzzle game generate buzz in a world dominated by 'match 3' games? Well, you can either stand out via presentation, or stand out via quality gameplay. Quell Memento [$2.99], a new Sokoban-style puzzler available on the App Store, tries to do both.

On the gameplay side of things, Quell Momento makes a...lacking first impression. There are a lot of nuances to Quell Memento's seemingly simple gameplay, including portals, color-changing orbs, one-way passage ways, light-refraction mechanics, power-switches, and about a half-dozen other modifiers that Quell is more than happy to teach you about.

On one hand, I appreciate that. Puzzle Quest had a pretty decent tutorial, but once you got invested in the dungeon building mechanics, things got pretty confusing, pretty fast. On the other hand, after putting five hours into Quell Memento I still feel like I'm in the tutorial. Typically the game introduces a mechanic, teaches it to you, then gives you four or five puzzles to use it before introducing a new one. Eventually the mechanics combine and the puzzles become increasingly complex, but I've yet to have my mind totally bent around backwards, which is something I was looking forward to after seeing all the different mechanics I'd be dealing with - though to be fair I have quite a ways to go.


An equally important portion of Quell Memento's overall package is the presentation. Not content to just be an above average puzzle game, Quell tries something a little different, opting to wrap the puzzles in a loose but touching narrative that claims to be about re-discovering the memories of an old man. Quell Memento goes straight for the heart strings too, borrowing more than a few pages from Braid's book in regards to how quality somber piano music and cryptic life lessons can make literally any video game seem a little more profound than it really is. Quell Memento features a decent amount of voice work, spoken by a raspy world-weary man who doles out little life lessons and reflects on his life of regret. The voice-overs are cool, though sporadic. Certain levels are tied to various chapters too, so the "A cold heart" chapter features puzzles centered around ice, the "Ray of Light" chapter involves manipulating light sources, and so on.

On this front, I'm sorry to say Quell Memento doesn't quite put all the pieces together - yet, anyway. It's possible that Quell Memento is doing the slow burn thing, but alas the attempts at poignancy strike me as a noble effort that, with another try or two, could approach profundity. The nature of a puzzler, especially a puzzler with the depth of Quell:Memento, is ripe for an abstract, mind-bending journey, littered with symbolism and subtext. But as it stands, Quell Memento's narrative aspects feel like the master thesis of a talented but unsure student filmmaker, who, with a couple of more cracks at the bat could really knock one out of the park.

Quell Memento may not knock it out of the park, but it's a solid minor-league triple.  Like the folks on the forums, I'm enjoying the heck out of the game, it runs pretty wonderfully on my near ancient iPhone 3GS, and is simply a sight to behold on my iPad, too.  While not perfect, - the somewhat drawn out nature of the early stages of the game can be a little boring for folks who pick up on this sort of thing quickly, Quell:Memento is certainly worth checking out, especially if you like a little personality with your puzzlers.

TouchArcade Rating

  • Alex

    3 stars?! Really? I think Touch Arcade should do away with star ratings entirely. Leave reviews, but no ratings.

    • Turbobond

      The fact that Touch Arcade's forums and the App Store both gave it 5 stars should give you some perspective about this review. These are people reviewing games, and just like Roger Ebert panned Pink Flamingoes, sometimes the critics get it wrong.

  • BrushMyNoseOff

    Definitely more quality here than the 3 stars suggest, I'm quite surprised at the rating as well, but again - that part is usually subjective. I just hope people don't pass up on this wonderful little package after merely glancing at the star rating.

  • daftman

    With so much of the game left to play, this review seems a bit premature :/

    • Goggles789

      That's a common thing on this site. Tons of reviews that are merely first impressions. It should be a requirement to fully complete the game before writing a review.

      • MrAlbum

        Some games would never get reviewed in a timely manner, though.

        On a separate note, I haven't played the game, but it sounds like it deserved better than it got.

    • pdSlooper

      That's what you get when a site/an audience demands swift reviews.

  • FIFTHSUN2012

    Sorry TouchArcade, you talk about this game as though it just came out of no where, its the third in a series. I find it interesting that you guys never reviewed the first two Quell games. I normally agree with your reviews but not this one. Anyone who has followed this series would know that the developers have consistently thrown in new game mechanics. This last one has been the most ambitious. All in all this series is one of the best ambient puzzles on the app store, hands down. Other than that keep up the good work TouchArcade, I constantly browse your app for new games. Its like Christmas everyday.

  • FIFTHSUN2012

    Oh and one last thing, Quell is from an independent developer, Fallen Tree Games. Bulkypix picked them up for this last one, but looks like they are just the publisher. Its still the original developers, so its still okay to like this game for any of you who might feel as though its too corporationey. I still love Angry Birds and Gameloft games, not always their business models, just the games.

  • B3NDoX

    Wow this review is really REALLY off base.

  • aeranth

    Whoa, I wasn't really expecting that. *whew* Where's Nissa Campbell when you need her!?

    The review was relatively well written, yet seriously lacking insight. The fact that so much of the more nuanced puzzle elements were skipped over in favor of grousing on a story element that is ultimately secondary to the PUZZLES is telling.

    Sometimes atmosphere is just that, like a memory: hazy, fuzzy, fleeting. Not always having to be some grand, purposeful statement. After all, can't the passage of time, love lost, regrets conveyed, be both mundane and profound? If the narrative element didn't work for you, then fair enough. But so much of what makes this game special simply isn't about that particular piece of Quell's puzzle. I mean, the replay ability of the game wasn't even mentioned. There's some serious longevity here folks. No mention of the number of puzzles (150)...

    This is the rare case that App Store reviews should be sought out. Maybe it isn't an Angry Birds sized fan base, but throughout the entirety of the series' three games, all three individual games hold five star ratings. With a fervent following to boot.

    Also it should be mentioned that this game is also available for the PS Vita.

  • Smozi

    Another embarrassingly off-base review by TouchArcade. I don't know where these reviewers are coming from but they are seriously damaging the credibility of the site.

  • DeniDee

    I don't think it's quite fair that he reviewed this game without playing through the whole thing first. That's comparable to a movie critic publishing a review panning a film before they've watched even half of it. Personally, I absolutely love the balance of Quell's challenging puzzles with the calm of having as many "lives" as I need to get through it (not to mention the outstanding, beautiful artwork). I loved both Quell & Quell Reflect, and Quell Memento is both of those to the 10th power. My favorite game by far.

  • AghartaStudio Alex

    I played this one two days straight, it's really good and above the first two. atmosphere is thrilling, puzzles are clever and replayability excellent thanks to a lot of new additions (secret stage and jewel hunting)
    5/5 in my book

Quell Memento Reviewed by Paul Meekin on . Rating: 3