My Dream is a Lost Memory is beautiful. Visually, its simple two-tone, sepia-soaked, hand drawn art style penned by developer LeJunes is gorgeous. Thematically, it’s relatable, weaving a short interactive and semi-autobiographical narrative about an overworked, city-living woman struggling to juggle the myriad responsibilities tied to adulthood. Its soundtrack is a perfect arrangement of ambient strings and lazy orchestral melodies that would be right at home on an ASMR video or a Ministry of Sound chillout compilation. And, metaphorically, it taps into our innate desire to belong, to connect with people, and to relive cherished, long-forgotten memories in the present day.
My Dream is a Lost Memory made me think of my grandmother, who passed away 25 years ago. And it made me think of Farmfoods, a British frozen food and grocery supermarket chain.
Back to the future
Prior to the brain haemorrhage that first hospitalised her in 1991 (when I was five years old), my granny, Mary Brown, often looked after me when my parents were at work. She lived in an area of Glasgow called Pollok, which is now home to Silverburn, a 1.5 million-square-foot shopping mall that houses a Cineworld movie theatre, dozens of restaurants, and over 100 highstreet stores. Before Silverburn, however, stood the Pollok Centre, built in 1961 and whose main attractions included a greengrocer, a Post Office and a Farmfoods. Even in the late 1980s and early ’90s, the Pollok Centre seemed well past its sell-by date, but the fact that I got to go with my granny means it will always hold a special place in my heart.
Last weekend, I popped into a Farmfoods for the first time in what must be over 30 years to grab oven chips for my children. In an instant, I was transported back to Pollok, back to the uniform aisles of commercial chest freezers, of beige tiled floors, and of reaching up to grab my granny’s hand – despite the fact she was barely over five feet tall. While playing My Dream is a Lost Memory, I was reminded of this whole event, of childhood recollections with a loved one before illness took her from us. While lamenting her day-to-day life in the present, the anxious protagonist of My Dream is a Lost Memory falls asleep while waiting for the bus on her way to work. She dreams of her carefree youth. She connects with a stranger, before calling her mother and reminiscing about times past. She acknowledges she’s working too hard, and makes plans to pull herself from the rut she’s found herself in.
To be clear: My Dream is a Lost Memory isn’t a sombre experience – far from it, it’s lovely – but its power to take me somewhere else, to go somewhere so introspective speaks volumes for its delivery. It’s a simple game – one that takes less than 10 minutes to finish, a fact reflected in its price tag – but it’s one that I think is well worth your time. I might be reading too much into its metaphors and symbolism around deja vu and reconnection – I very much doubt the creator (who I believe is Portuguese) has ever heard of Farmfoods or Pollok, for example – but it deals with themes that are, in essence, universal; those that can, and will, be interpreted differently by whoever is receiving them.
After collectively sinking hundreds of hours into the likes of GTA Online, Elden Ring and Sniper Elite 5 this year so far, my time with My Dream is a Lost Memory was a breath of fresh air – and a stark reminder of the wonderful fluidity video games possess as a medium. There are no demigods, no crime, no shooting Nazis in the head here, but there’s a message and a story and an experience and it’s lovely. For obvious reasons, I don’t think about my granny too much these days, but it’s always nice when a place, a book, a television show, or, indeed, a video game sends me back in time to a comforting place. If you fancy that experience yourself, My Dream is a Lost Memory is out now and costs less than a dollar/quid on Steam.
Check out the best new indie games in 2022.