Traveling Through Time: How Memory Shapes Narrative in Loading Human

virtual reality game Loading Human

Loading Human’s first chapter reveals something important about the game—memory matters.

Because Loading Human is episodic, we’re only working with part of the puzzle. But that’s part of the fun; the game’s story is one of misdirection and speculation, rewarding players who take their time examining and interacting with objects in a thoughtful, deliberate manner. All is not what it seems in Loading Human, and memory is key to puzzling out the unsettling nature of its chronologically-scrambled narrative.

Loading Human’s Use of Memory Encourages Curiosity

We expect stories to be told the way they happened. It’s natural; stories have a beginning, middle, and end, so it stands to reason that they should be presented to us in that order. To do otherwise is a powerful choice that forces players to examine the events of the story more closely and question why they have been rearranged this way in the narrative.

It becomes clear rather quickly in Loading Human that we’re not playing through Prometheus’ life as it happens, but rather experiencing memories as they occur to him. These are key points in his life, moments that have irrevocably shaped him as a person, for better or worse. This entices our natural curiosity, prompting us to question what it is about these particular memories that makes them so important.

tutorials and learning the ropes in VR games
Examining objects and reliving memories changes our perception of Loading Human‘s events.

That’s part of what makes nonlinear narratives so appealing; you know there must be a method behind the madness, and finding out what that method is becomes a mystery to solve as you progress. In Loading Human, accepting Dorian’s request to retrieve the Quintessence and save his life is a decision that, at first glance, feels obvious. Of course we want to save our father, the most brilliant scientist alive. Why wouldn’t we?

But then, through other memories, you see that Prometheus’ decision has long-lasting consequences. You experience the birth of his relationship with Alice, his father’s assistant, seeing how that relationship develops as they spend more time together. You explore consequences in real time, fast-forwarding or rewinding to see cause and effect in a way that wouldn’t work as well in a linear narrative.

Memory and Empathy in Loading Human

Because the game is told through memory, you know that each piece is significant. The deeper you get into the story, the more of Prometheus’ memories that you experience, the better you understand how they are important. In this way, Loading Human becomes much more about emotional bonds and memory than about individual events. Those things are still important, but the plot moves forward because of your emotional investment rather than the adrenaline rush of a more action-driven game. The pace is intentionally slow and contemplative, letting you spend time wondering. It’s a unique experience, one that emphasizes how powerful memory-based narrative can be.

Part of Loading Human‘s appeal is interacting with characters in a first-person perspective. But the fact that you’re exploring Prometheus’ memories amplifies the emotional connection—these are some of the most important moments of his life, even if, out of context, they seem relatively mundane at first glance. Having a romantic dinner might be a commonplace activity, but it means something to Prometheus; exploring that emotional connection increases your empathy for the character, drawing you deeper into the world of Loading Human.

Player Memory Plays a Role in Loading Human

Memories help shape the story of Loading Human, but they’re also a core part of your experience as a player. There’s a lot to learn about the futuristic setting, and the game encourages you to take your time exploring and interacting with the numerous objects around the Antarctic base in which episode one takes place. Each object gives you information about Prometheus, his father, or the world they inhabit—information that can provide vital clues as to what’s happening in the story.

Emotional Investment with Alice in Loading Human
The memories you have of characters like Alice shape both Loading Human‘s story and its puzzle-based gameplay.

Emphasizing the importance of memory encourages the player to use their own memory to solve puzzles and figure out the story as it progresses. While traditional action game-style puzzles are part of the gameplay, your memory will also be put to work in puzzling out the direction of the story. You’re given all the pieces out of order, shuffled for maximum emotional impact, and left to put them back together to find the connecting thread.  Your memory is every bit as important to understanding the story as Prometheus’—connecting the dots between the events and their significance draws you deeper into the narrative, giving you personal stakes on top of the emotional connection.

Skillful Use of Memory Sets Loading Human Apart

A story so memory-centric wouldn’t work for every game, but Loading Human succeeds both because story is so key to the experience and because it’s an early adopter of VR technology. The ability to interact with objects by picking up and inspecting them closely, something that’s only possible in virtual reality, means that you form a greater connection with each one. When it comes to interacting with characters like Alice and Dorian, their emotions read more clearly and with more impact than if you were watching them on a distant screen. It’s easier to build memories of your own, and Prometheus’s own memories have much more impact thanks to the immersiveness of the technology.

The various uses of memory in this game are deliberate. They are as much a part of the storytelling structure as they are the gameplay; the thoughtful pace and emotional narrative encourage you to spend time dwelling on what you’re experiencing. It’s a unique take on what gameplay can do, a perfect encapsulation of what makes virtual reality such a fascinating prospect for interactive narratives.

To experience the immersive power of memory in Loading Human, order your copy of the first chapter today!

 

Michelle Peniche

Pokemon catcher, coffee lover, part time road tripper.

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