11-11: Memories Retold is shaping up as one of 2018’s most interesting games

11-11: Memories Retold is a bit of an enigma. Footage unveiled at this year’s E3 offered up only a glimpse of the paintery world created by Aardman Studios and DigixArt. Scant glimpses of a more human-focused take on the First World War provided a stark contrast to how many gamers have seen the battle portrayed in the likes of Battlefield 1 or other shooters.

11-11: Memories Retold isn’t a game where you shoot first, ask questions later. Instead of all-out action, Bandai Namco and co ask you to understand the people you play as before you hit the war-torn trenches of France. During my hands-on with the opening section of the game, I’m thrust into the shoes of Canadian photographer Harry as he playfully snaps photos of his colleague to test his camera.

It’s a light-hearted introduction to both one half 11-11’s duo protagonists and a key gameplay mechanic. The juxtaposition between this carefree life well behind the frontlines of war and the harsh realities of the battlefield Harry’s about to be dropped into may not be subtle, but it’s certainly impactful enough that your first few moments with Harry on the battlefield are a little unnerving.

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Here, when faced with an uphill battle to a German encampment, the only thing you’re asked to shoot are pictures. It’s your job to capture the realities of war or, at least, the realities that the British general Harry is following wants to portray war as. It’s never really addressed, but the propagandising of war is nearly as dark a topic as the battle itself.

It’s not hard to make these shots look great either, as the painterly art style used for 11-11 is utterly gorgeous. Seeing bullets fly down into no man’s land as yellow streaks of hot lead from machine gun fire is truly beautiful. In fact, so much of the game is wonderful to look at and see in motion that you do soon forget that you’re playing through scenes from one of history’s grimmest periods.

On the other side of the battlefield is 11-11: Memories Retold’s second protagonist, German engineer Kurt. Like with Harry, we’re first introduced to Kurt in his regular life working as a zeppelin engineer. Just like with Harry, this section seems to introduce us to the more fetch and puzzle sections of 11-11’s gameplay that, presumably, makes up Kurt’s portion of the game.

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During these character openings, it’s easy to see that Kurt’s motivation for joining the war is somewhat more selfless than Harry’s. Like many others who fought in World War 1, Harry may not be in it for king and country, but he is in it for himself. It transpires his photography skills could see him commended in the war effort, and that’s certainly an attractive proposition for him. For Kurt, on the other hand, he’s simply interested in going to war to uncover the fate of what happened to his son. Chances are his son is already dead, and part of Kurt already knows that. But he can’t rest until he discovers the truth and so he decides to head to war.

With both arms of this tale still setting the scene during my hands-on time, it’s unclear just what tale Aardman’s story-driven adventure will focus on. At the end of my time with 11-11 both Harry and Kurt found themselves trapped together in tunnels dug out beneath the trenches. Details on what we can expect going forward are still rather scant, but from what I’ve seen so far, 11-11: Memories Retold is certainly setting itself up to be one of the more interesting gems to creep out of Bandai Namco this year.

You can read on about everything else there is to know about 11-11: Memories Retold below.

11-11 Memories Retold: Everything you need to know

Wallace & Gromit creators Aardman Studios has teamed up with French developer DigixArt and Bandai Namco to bring a new narrative-driven tale around the First World War to life.

Slated as “a game experience that will touch many [players]”, 11-11: Memories Retold is a painterly representation of the grim reality of war. It’s also a celebration of those who put their lives on the line for their nation and a look into the camaraderie of warfare.

We got our first real glance into just how Aardman Studios and DigixArt’s World War 1 game will look at this year’s E3. We also heard from actor Elijah Wood who’s providing voiceover work on the project and heard some scant details about the game itself.

Taking place in November 1916, 11-11: Memories Retold places you in the shoes of Harry, a Canadian photographer caught up in the war. It’s a war game, but it eschews the idea of shooting. Instead, 11-11: Memories Retold it’s about two characters from opposing sides who find themselves stuck together and learn to discover the humanity between them.

You can find out more details in the video interview, and see what 11-11: Memories Retold looks like in action too.

11-11 Memories Retold: Release date

There’s very little information about 11-11: Memories Retold and it’s release date. All we know is that it’s coming to Xbox One, PS4 and Steam later this year – presumably on or around 11 November.

11-11 Memories Retold: Development

Developer DigixArt is previously responsible for critically acclaimed Android and iOS rhythm-adventure game Lost in Harmony. Studio director Yoan Fanise also worked on Ubisoft’s take on the narrative war game, Valiant Hearts, so it’s likely we’ll get a tastefully told tale of life on the frontlines during World War One.

11-11: Memories Retold is a very special game at many levels,” Fanise said during the game’s announcement. “From the painted style to the emotional journey we create for the player to revive their heritage, we are pushing the boundaries of what a game can be and I hope it will leave a mark on you.”

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The painted style, which can be seen in motion in the game’s announcement trailer, is courtesy of renown UK animators Aardman Studios. Better known for their big-screen animations and creative work on international ad campaigns, 11-11: Memories Retold is a new frontier for the studio.

“With [11-11: Memories Retold] we want to produce an emotionally rich experience with a distinctive visual identity that reflects the sentiment of this narrative,” explained David Sproxton, co-founder and executive chairman of Aardman. “11-11: Memories Retold is truly an exciting step for us as it marks the first time that Aardman has collaborated on a game of this scale and we’re delighted to see this come to life.”

Games about the First World War are somewhat few and far between. Compared to the Second World War, it’s a harder conflict to grasp due to its slow pace and ever-changing combat methods. EA and DICE gave it a go with Battlefield 1, but even then they played fast and loose with historical accuracy to create an engaging shooter.

Thankfully, it looks as if 11-11: Memories Retold isn’t going for quite the same audience with a desire for mowing down soldiers out in no man’s land. Instead, it’s quite clearly aiming to craft an emotional journey for its players. If Valiant Hearts is anything to go by, 11-11: Memories Retold could well be something special to look forward too, now we just have to wait for some actual gameplay footage and information to drop.

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