Desta: The Memories Between review: Netflix scores one other great mobile game

Desta: The Memories Between

“Desta: The Memories Between is a touch thin at launch, however it packs in”


  • Relatable, human story
  • Intuitive mobile controls
  • Surprisingly nuanced tactics


  • Unnecessary roguelite features
  • Thin at launch

Netflix will not be kidding around in the case of mobile games. While its initial push into the space underwhelmed with a lackluster number of titles, the subscription service has gone from 0 to 60 prior to now few months. Subscribers have been treated to a wonderful assortment of games, from exclusives like Poinpy and Lucky Luna, to ports of indie darlings like Into the Breach.

Now, it may possibly add one other hit to its list. Desta: The Memories Between is the most recent game from Ustwo, the developer behind Monument Valley. It’s a cross between a narrative game about returning home, a grid-based tactics title, and a dodgeball game — all with some small roguelite hooks and live-ops support. It’s a novel experience that’s custom-built for mobile devices with tactile controls and quick levels.

It’ll come to Steam and Nintendo Switch in the approaching months, however it’s launching exclusively on Netflix today. While it’s a temporary experience for the time being with some overworked genre hooks, it’s a powerful addition to Netflix’s growing library of gems. If you’ve got a Netflix account, don’t be a part of the 99% of users who’re reportedly missing out on titles like this.

Dodge this

Desta: The Memories Between is a few non-binary protagonist named Desta who returns to their hometown after an extended absence. Desta is understandably anxious in regards to the trip, nervous about what all of the townie friends they left behind could have to say to them (not unlike the Tribeca Fest-winning Thirsty Suitors). Those fears begin creeping into their dreams, as their nights are full of imaginary confrontations against old pals, teachers, and more.

Desta lays in bed as they throw a ball towards the ceiling in Desta: The Memories Between.

Desta’s story is a relatable one, even when the short game doesn’t dive too deeply into their psyche. We see their worries projected onto the town’s colourful forged of characters, with every one revealing one other piece of Desta’s history. It’s a story entirely told through a personality’s subconscious where players must sort through what’s true and what’s a distortion of reality brought on by anxiety.

As you would possibly expect from a dream, those conflicts aren’t presented in a simple way. They unfold via a series of dodgeball games that happen in small, diorama-like recreations of Desta’s hometown. In these grid-based battles, players get two actions per character on every turn. Motion points might be spent to maneuver, throw a ball, or pull off a special move like charging up a ball so it’ll do two points of injury as an alternative of 1. It’s a wise fit for the narrative, as what was once a friendly childhood game mutates right into a life or death affair for Desta’s social life.

Desta explores a dream-like garden in Desta: The Memories Betwen.

What’s impressive here is how Ustwo has miniaturized the tactics genre, turning it into something that’s each intuitive and simply digestible. Mobile is a wonderful fit for the sport especially, because the tactile controls are all easy to choose up. Moving is so simple as tapping a square and throwing a ball just requires pulling back on the screen with a swipe and lining up a shot. There’s an easy satisfaction that comes from launching a ball excellent so it bounces off of two townies and lands back in your hands, ready for a second shot.

Dream tactics

While Desta keeps the core hook easy (even late stages only have three or 4 enemies with a number of hit points), there’s a good amount of nuance to it by the tip of its seven chapters. The sport uses a slight roguelite structure, where Desta gains random bonus actions and special items each run. There are six other characters that eventually join Desta’s party too, each with their very own ability that brings strategic twists.

It’s the precise level of strategy and team synergy for a micro-scale game like this.

Once I beat the story, it was with one high HP teammate who could throw a retaliating shot when hit, and one other that may give a teammate extra AP by passing the ball to them. I equipped Desta with a passive ability that may give them a shield while holding a ball. With that dynamic, I had my support player strategically hiding behind cover and passing balls to the opposite two, keeping Desta protected in any respect times while allowing my “tank” to charge into battles and draw hits. It’s the precise level of strategy and team synergy for a micro-scale game like this.

The one thing that doesn’t quite work in the sport’s hybrid-genre setup is its roguelite influence. The story operates like a “run,” where Desta must clear seven chapters in a single go using randomly dealt perks. There’s no randomization to the stages though, so a loss just means repeating the identical levels again. HP and movement upgrades carry over, and AP perks might be permanently kept between runs through the use of them enough, however it winds up being more of a light annoyance within the narrative flow than a replay hook.

Desta and their friends toss dodgeballs in Desta: The Memories Between.

I’m curious to see if the sport’s post-launch plans alleviate a few of its shortcomings. More story, characters, and items could bring extra depth to the world, though I’m unsure they’ll justify the replay hook. Like Desta, I’m not itching to relive the identical dreams over and yet again, but I’m walking away from it with a way of resolution. It’s given me a straightforward strategy to visualize the way in which that anxiety can distort our perception of relationships, blowing a conflict that’s easily resolved with communication right into a high-stakes tactical battle. Even when it’s a bit too temporary to thoroughly explore that concept, I got more from my few hours with it than I might have binging episodes of Is It Cake? or I Just Killed My Dad.

Desta: The Memories Between was reviewed on an iPhone 12.

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