June 03, 2013
Memories are what define us as a person. They are our past and they shape our future. Our experiences and how we remember them are a big part of the kind of human being we are today. Memories can be meaningful, sad, happy, emotional, soul destroying; they can effectively be whatever we want them to be.
Now imagine if you had the ability to manipulate those memories, eradicate the heartache, change how things panned out. It’s a questionable and moral act whose consequences might be life changing, and whether or not it’s a good thing is a more complex question than maybe you’d realise. That right there is the crux of Remember Me.
Set in Neo-Paris in 2084, Remember Me follows memory hunter, Nilin, as she attempts to retrieve her lost memories after being captured by the evil conglomerate, Memorize. Being guided by an elusive figure known only as Edge, Nilin must look to put a stop to Memorize’s dastardly schemes to control the world, whilst also exploring who she was previously and what she became.
Nilin, despite being a badass and a strong female lead, - something akin to Lara Croft - wrestles with her past decisions and the morality of it all, but it’ll be the stylised Neo-Paris that you'll remember most. The artistic vision and creativity that developer Dontnod Entertainment has injected into the wonderfully hand-crafted world is a joy to behold. Servant ‘I, Robot’-style robots populate the world while neon signs give the skyline a hazy hue, yet it’s the fact that these sci-fi elements are blended with more traditional European architecture that makes Neo-Paris such an iconic world.
In essence, Remember Me is an action-adventure title, combining a lot of combo-based combat with some basic platforming, a few puzzles and some interesting new ideas. The combat could easily be described as being a light version of something you’d find in the Batman: Arkham series, with an emphasis on timing more than anything, although the combat in Remember Me seems to be more rhythmic. At the heart of the combat lies the “Combo Lab,” which is where Remember Me’s innovation seeps in.
In the Combo Lab players can combine various Pressens – power, regeneration, cooldown and linked modifiers – onto pre-set combos. The further the Pressen in the combo, the more powerful it becomes, so stringing together the best combos is something of an art. Want to get health back via a combo? Then you can set that up with regen Pressens. Want to have a combo that deals with power? Easy, you can do that too. Want a combo that reduces the cooldown timers on your S-Pressens (special moves)? You get the idea. Changing up the combos and their strengths mid-battle can turn the tide of battle in an instant, so it pays to learn the nuances of the system very early on.
The fact that Dontnod throws multiple enemy types at you throughout the game means that the combat is fresh from start to finish. You’ll start off fighting against Leapers – the game’s mutated former humans – and end up battling various Enforcers who actually zap your health every time you hit them, making you rethink your combat tactics. I guess the real problem with the combo system and Combo Lab is that it probably takes too long to get going, and there are only effectively 4 different combos.
Outside of the combat you’ll mostly be solving puzzles and platforming… and when I say platforming, I mean following arrows to get from one side of an area to another, effectively taking the challenge away from it and making it feel too on-rails. Sure, that changes a bit towards the end of the game, but it’s too little, too late then.
The puzzles – and even a few riddles – certainly make you think at times, and are actually a real joy, but they’re too few and far between if we’re being brutally honest. If you struggle with one of them, then prepare to be stumped for a while, as the game offers very little help in terms of assistance. In fact, the game’s waypoints in general are non-existent – except for platforming arrows, of course – which can often be a frustrating part of the experience.
One of Remember Me’s greatest aspects is surely its Memory Remix sequences, enabling you to hack into someone’s memory and manipulate it to achieve your desired outcome. Whether you have to kill someone off in a memory or whatever, they’re actually real impressive and innovative pieces of storytelling. Again though, there just aren’t enough of them – there are only four in all – and while we agree that Remember Me shouldn’t have relied on them too much, Dontnod doesn't use them nearly enough.
So, it’s not all puppy dogs and roses then, and Remember Me has its fair share of bugbears, the camera being the main one. For the most part, the camera is just there, not impeding the experience, then other times, the stiff and almost rigid nature of it makes it tricky to fight in confined spaces.
Remember Me is a linear game, yes, but that doesn’t hold it back until you’re fighting Leapers and Enforcers in ridiculously tight corridors – i.e. like on a train – because then the camera develops a mind of its own… one whose main intention is to annoy the shit out of you! It even throws you off in platforming sections too, often shifting perspective on you, reversing the platforming controls – yes, that old chestnut!
If it’s not the camera annoying you, it’ll be the annoying Gears of War-esque ‘slow walk’ sequences or the cheap gameplay mechanics, like avoiding drone detection, where failing to do so results in insta-death. Thankfully, these only really mildly annoy, rather than break the game completely.
In terms of achievements, we’re big fans in truth. The list certainly plays right into the hands of the game’s deceptively deep combo system and Combo Lab. You’ll be working out the best ways to do certain things with your combos for a few achievements and unlike a lot of lists these days, you actually feel like you’ve accomplished something when you actually pull one off.
There’s a little bit too much of a reliance on collectibles and there are an inordinate amount of secret achievements – for good reason though… spoilers! – but other than that, it’s a solid list, with originality, fairly good balance, and some ones you’ll have fun unlocking.
If you’re after something a little bit different, a game that makes you think about the social and physiological implications of where technology might be taking us, a title that presents a stunning game world and boasts a strong – and likeable – female lead, then Remember Me is the game for you. It might not be anywhere near perfect and it has its fair share of mild annoyances dotted throughout, but Dontnod has the foundations for a strong new franchise here, and a fittingly memorable one at that.
Simply brilliant. The cyberpunk mixed with classical music, mixed with an almost theremin like sound, mixed with some almost dub-step beats during high octane boss fights, it all compliments the game rather perfectly.
Dontnod's realisation of 2084 Neo-Paris uses fantastical sci-fi elements but keeps it steeped in the real world. It’s beautiful one minute, with its iconic European architecture and future technologies, and depressing the next, with its slums and sewers. It’s one of the most impressively realised game worlds you’ll come across, populated with some fine looking character models.
Despite a few camera issues and a few other minor annoyances, Remember Me is actually a rather deep and immersive experience.
A strong story with plenty of twists and turns along the way. You can probably complete it in a weekend though, and other than replaying the Memory Remixes, there isn’t really a lot to go back for. Still, totally worth it.
Remember Me might have a few too many secret achievements – although, all for good reason – but there’s a surprising amount of variety in the list with more than a few achievements that will make you feel like you’ve accomplished something.
New IPs at this stage of the console cycle are fairly rare, especially those with ingenuity and creativity in abundance, as well as a little innovation to boot. That right there is Remember Me, a memorable experience with a strong female lead, an epic score, a hugely creative world and some deceptively deep mechanics. Here’s hoping we see Nilin and co. again sometime soon as she’s not someone we’re going to forget in a hurry.