Desta: The Memories Between review

by on April 27, 2023
Reviewed On
Release Date

April 26, 2023


Ustwo Games is a studio familiar with dreamlike visuals and unique ideas, putting out titles like the much-loved Monument Valley. The studio is no stranger to storytelling in exciting new ways, and Desta: The Memories Between is no different, making use of turn-based strategy to engage the player while telling a tale about someone trying to reconnect with their family. I never thought I’d be playing a game part-Stikbold, part-The Banner Saga, but here we are. Not only did I enjoy the story, but the gameplay is both tight and balanced, offering up one of the best surprises of the year so far.

The main story of Desta: The Memories Between is all about resuming broken friendships and facing the past, no matter how hard that might be. Desta returns home after some time, meeting back up with their friends who were once close to them. Their father died and it broke them, as we find out how close they were to one another, yet it left their relationship with their mother somewhat fractured. It’s not just Desta’s relationship with their mother that was damaged after they left home. You’ll encounter a host of friends who were once close to them, and seeing new faces pop up during your journey, understanding more and more about why Desta drifted away, and how these bonds can be mended is done delicately.

Many themes are covered in Desta: The Memories Between, from mental health and gender identity, and all of it is done with respect and love. I liked Desta a lot, and seeing how vulnerable they are and their struggles with facing their past kept me invested throughout. It helps that the gameplay is a lot of fun, featuring a deep level of strategy when taking on the dioramic dream levels filled with opponents who want nothing more than to launch a dodgeball right at your face. Desta starts off with two Action Points, and can use these to move and throw the dodgeball. They can choose to activate a special ability, with new ones unlocking as you play.

Desta can power up her throw as well, and a well-placed shot can hit two enemies at once. They can also land a throw that, if aimed correctly, can bounce back into your hands. Not only are you managing your AP usage, you’re trying to make every play of the ball count. Stages take place in a whole manner of familiar British hangouts, like down the park, on the street, or by a pub. It helps to connect you with the story and add that familiarity, all while giving you a thrilling battle of wits that forces you to utilise your surrounds and abilities to clear out an area of opponents as efficiently as you can.

Along the way, Desta is joined by friends who become teammates, each with their own abilities and skills, such as the ability to teleport across the playing field. Of course, opponents also have particular skillsets, and often it is Desta’s former friends who act as the stage’s ‘boss.’ Each enemy has a health bar to break down, and after all of them have been beaten, you’ll progress to the next stage and part of the story. The further you get, the harder it becomes, and if you lose, it’s back to the drawing board, literally. You’ll have to start again, keeping hold of your upgrades but losing your friends. It presents a bit of a slog, but there’re difficulty options that can help you to get back to where you were. You can also return to the latest chapter, but there’s a randomness to your upgrades that take away the personal arsenal of skills and abilities you’ve built up.

Desta: The Memories Between tells a story many will be familiar with. Everyone has suffered a loss that has affected them greatly, whether a close friend or a family member. These losses can have a big impact on our mental health, and the way Ustwo Games has dealt with the subject matter is commendable. Not only does it offer a poignant narrative, the strategic gameplay compliments the dodgeball elements in a great way. Despite having to replay certain aspects over and over again if you choose to embrace the roguelike elements, each battle is varied and enjoyable.


Well-written story
Fun gameplay
Looks lovely


Repetitive at times

Editor Rating
Our Score


In Short

Desta: The Memories Between is a perfect example of Ustwo Games' flare for poignant storytelling and inventive gameplay.