When we lose our memories, are we still the same person we may think we are? When you can no longer tell the difference between what’s real and what’s not, do you choose to face the truth or continue living a lie?
We’ll Always Have Paris may only be a little less than an hour-long, but it’s short-and-sweet games like these that make the most impact. The title alone already tells you that it’s an emotional game, but is it worth shedding your precious tears over?
Table of contents:
WE’LL ALWAYS HAVE PARIS STORY
We’ll Always Have Paris walks players through the story of Simon and Claire, an elderly couple struggling with serious mental health issues. With Simon firing up the grill and Claire managing their restaurant, the duo used to be a force to be reckoned with in the culinary streets of Paris – that is, of course, until Claire began exhibiting signs of dementia, and they, unfortunately, had to shut down operations for their health.
The story starts with Simon prepping for their son Arthur’s visit, and you’ll immediately get thrust into Simon’s shoes as he worries about his wife in the other room and reminisces about the good old days at the same time. You head out for a few errands and end up going back to the most meaningful moments of your life with Claire, all while waiting for your son and his wife to arrive.
WE’LL ALWAYS HAVE PARIS CONTROLS
It’s in this kind of setting that players will find themselves, and they’ll go through the narrative by tapping away at dialogue choices, interactive elements and confirmations. The gameplay is a simple tap-and-drag affair, which is incredibly intuitive and typical of point-and-click games on mobile.
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Full disclosure – I also played the Steam version of this game on my PC, and with a mouse, you can hover over objects and see which ones will turn your cursor into a hand icon. In the mobile version, there are no indicators as to which elements you can interact with, but it’s fun to tap at everything to see which items will react to your touch – after all, each scene is aptly minimalist to keep from distracting you from the main narrative.
Like other games in the same genre, you’ll have to solve puzzles and play mini-games to progress. However, the puzzles – if they can even be called such – don’t really pose much of a challenge, probably because they’re not the main point of the game.
Still, you’ll tap away at coins, piece together a torn photo, slide to pull your debit card from your wallet, paint a mobile, and even try to cook. You can also tap dialogue choices that can reveal more of the narrative, although they don’t really affect how the rest of the game will go.
THE VISUALS OF WE’LL ALWAYS HAVE PARIS
The emotional story is already meant to give you all the feels, but just to drive the point home even further, the game also features lovely minimalist character designs and scenes. People’s faces are completely blank here except for Simon himself, and while this is a common style for vector art, I believe it’s also a symbol for the overall theme of forgetfulness in the game. Not being able to recognise someone’s face can be terrifying, especially if it’s someone you think you know. It also gives you the impression that the lines between fantasy and reality – much like the blank faces – are blurred and undefined.
The quiet piano keys accompanying you in the background also add to the low-pressure atmosphere of the game. It’s not at all distracting, but it contributes to the game’s mood, and its varying tempos reflect the bittersweet nature of life.
WHAT’S THE APPEAL?
We’ll Always Have Paris wastes no time in crushing your heart completely with its poignant writing and heartfelt lines of dialogue. Right from the very beginning, you get a sense of Simon and Claire’s relationship based on what’s said (and even more with what’s not said). I’m fortunate enough to not have to deal with dementia in my personal life, but in a way, I could relate to the overwhelming fear of the looming uncertainty of life. What can I do to hold on to my loved ones for as long as I possibly can?
The short runtime of the game is also ideal for mobile, as it gives players a quick reason to just sit back and play the game in a single session. Mechanics are pressure-free, giving you ample time to appreciate the story. While I would’ve wanted to get to know the characters in more detail, I suppose the short runtime is enough to get its point across despite the lack of character development.
The game also has a pretty big curveball in store for players towards the end, so if you’re planning on picking up this game (and you really should), be sure you’re ready for all the incoming feels.