Posted on June 3, 2013 AT 10:59am
Remember Me is a game that should not be forgotten, but probably will be. Don’t read that statement as a knock against the quality, because it isn’t. Remember Me is a game that has been ever so slightly pushed by Capcom over the past year and a game that most of the general gaming public know little about. This is a shame because while Remember Me has some major issues, it’s one of those titles that you can clearly see a bright light shining through and wonder what it could become if the series is able to continue. Unfortunately with the lack of any kind of advertising by Capcom I’m not so certain that Dontnod Entertainment‘s franchise will ever really get off the ground.
The plot of Remember Me follows protagonist Nilin as she traverses the world of Neo-Paris in the year 2084. In Nilin’s world the Memorise Corporation has created a product, the Sensen, which lets its users upload their memories to a central server allowing anyone to relive them for a fee. Such a device causes Memorise to essentially have a monopoly on memories and allows them to create a world that is almost constantly under surveillance. A group of rebels named “Errorists” are fighting the Memorise Corporation. As the game opens Nilin finds her memory has been wiped by Memorise and she is contacted by the mysterious Edge who helps her into a new role as an Errorist. Despite the amount my spell check is yelling at me right now all of that is fairly correct and all of it works better than it reads. The storyline has a few nice twists and flows nicely from beginning to end. This isn’t the best tale ever told, but it is more than enough to make playing the game worthwhile.
The real star, as it complements the plot, is the world of Neo-Paris. It is unfortunate that Remember Me is a largely linear game because the world Dontnod has created is fascinating. Feeling like a bit of City 17 from Half-Life 2 mixed in with some Deux Ex: Human Revolution and topped with some iRobot for good measure, Neo-Paris feels like a main character in the game, I just wish it was more open to exploration. Rarely in new IPs do I find myself stopping just to browse around and take in the sights, but I did this multiple times in Remember Me. I also found myself wondering how amazing the game would look on PC, or could look on next gen hardware as it looked remarkably good on the Xbox 360. If there is one reason to play this game it’s the world. Fortunately there are a few more reasons that that.
Unfortunately for how awesome the world of Neo-Paris is, the base gameplay is the weakest part of Remember Me. This isn’t to say that it’s bad, but more that it’s very basic and doesn’t hold a candle to the world and characters. The core gameplay switches between Uncharted-style traversal and melee combat that has parallels to the Batman: Arkham games. The traversal is very basic and mostly boring. You climb pipes, scurry across window ledges, and jump up walls but it all feels like it’s been done better in games like Uncharted and Tomb Raider.
Combat is fine and most of the time I enjoyed it, however basic it may be. As mentioned it shares similarities to the recent Batman games, but it is not quite as polished or fluid. The brightest part of the combat was the very interesting upgrade path built into your actual combos. In the combo lab you are able to unlock and assign modifiers (called “pressens”) to each button press in your unlocked combos. For instance, my base combo was merely X-X-X. Using the combo lab I was able to assign a damage boost modifier on the middle X, and a health boost on the final X. Later on in the game you meet enemies that make you use these modifiers in interesting ways. I really liked this system but wish you had more than 4 main combos to build out. Alongside these modifiers you have a group of power moves that you must fight to build up. These added some needed depth to combat in that you had the ability to earn a power move that let you stick a bomb to an enemy and take out multiple at once, or you had a move that would stun (most) enemies in the area for some time. Enemies later in the game are more easily defeated by using some of these moves so the game does implore you to learn and use them regularly. You also have a “gun” of sorts on your arm that is used to open doors, move objects, and send a blast at enemies. It plays more into traversal, but there are some enemies you use it on later in the story.
The gameplay overall is not bad, it’s just uninspired (save the combo upgrade system). I feel conflicted about it because the depth of the combat is almost there, the power moves, the modifiers, and the enemy types, but the base combat itself is just not quite there. If they flesh out the combo modifiers more and polish the base combat into something like the Batman games it could be phenomenal. The traversal needs to be turned up a notch though, as it merely just existed and wasn’t very exciting.
One of Remember Me’s shining gameplay ideas are the memory remix sections. The best way to describe these is to mention the game Ghost Trick. Basically you connect into a target (sadly only about four times in the game) and view a scene from their life. You then get an objective to change something about the memory (make person A die, for example). As you rewind the memory you come across objects that can be manipulated and based on your actions new things can occur when the memory is played. The goal is to find the right combination of objects in the timeline to get the desired outcome. These sections were probably the best part of Remember Me but they only happen about four times. If a sequel ever happens I think Dontnod needs to focus on these segments and make more of them overall. They are something special in a game with largely routine gameplay.
Overall, Remember Me is frustrating. It’s something new and fresh, yet something old and done-before. The combo modifiers, modifier use on enemies, memory remixes, world, characters, and story are all very well done but the traversal and act of combat are just average and the game is too linear for its own good. It’s one of those games that I had a lot of fun playing but I was left hoping Dontnod gets to make a sequel so they can nail the areas that weren’t up to par. It’s also a game that could have been in another genre and been amazing. A stealth game where you hunt down targets and remix their memories could have been fantastic, or even an RPG. With that being said I still feel on the whole that Remember Me is worth playing. Just understand that you’ll be left feeling mostly satisfied with a lingering feeling of what could have been. I really hope people remember “Remember Me,” but I’m not so sure they will.
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