Remember Me, Review

One of the most beautiful scifi worlds ever created, but does the gameplay back it up?

RELEASE DATE: June 4, 2013

PLATFORM: PC, Xbox 360, PS3

DEVELOPER: Dontnod Entertainment

PUBLISHER: Capcom

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CATEGORY: Action adventure

It’s immediately obvious: Remember Me isn’t one of the best scifi games ever made. Not even one of the best of the year. But it does set the groundwork for what would undoubtedly be an amazing sequel. It’s the starting point for what will hopefully be an a unique scifi franchise.

Ask yourself this: where would Among Thieves be without Drake’s Fortune? The second game in the Uncharted series so overshadowed its predecessor that it seemed like Among Thieves was the game Naughty Dog had wanted to make all along.

It’s the same with Remember Me, which feels like a beta for a more ambitious sequel. I hope that in a couple years I’ll be writing up a review of Remember Me 2: The Squeakquel, an instant classic and game of the year.

Why put so much faith in a nonexistent series whose first game tends to be bland and confusing at times? Because of the beautifully intricate world Dontnod Entertainment, a rookie French developer, has created.

Neo-Paris is a science fiction landmark. Never since Blade Runner’s dystopic Los Angeles have I seen such detailed slums and menacing skyscrapers. Your surroundings tell a story of its own: an overpopulated world of impoverished citizens oppressed by the wealthy. It’s not unlike Deus Ex: Human Revolution’s Shanghai, whose poor are forced to live in a violent undercity separated by a huge ceiling from the uppercity’s civilized society. Although there is no ceiling in Neo-Paris, the effect is the same. So yeah, this game is definitely a little political.

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With all the platforming (for Dummies, I might add), I was a little disappointed that I couldn’t explore more of the city or make my own path to objectives. This is not an open-world experience and I’m not really sure why. Instead, your high-flying protagonist is forced to follow markers that tell her exactly where to jump and where to land. It makes me wish Dontnod had played an Assassin’s Creed game to see how modern platforming is done. Those markers will definitely be a treat for newbies, though. In my case, I kept telling the computer to stop telling me what to do.

Story-wise, Remember Me kind of makes sense. The plot begins with your character not knowing what the hell is going on which in turn makes you wonder what the hell is going on and why you should care. That’s a big problem in the story’s plot, which is all about an evil corporation turning humans into memory Gameboys. We should care that this is happening and ask ourselves whether it’s right to hack into people’s brains and alter their memories until we get a result that we want. I made people believe they had lost loved ones left and right, creating an imaginary death count that ruined lots of lives. Are we exploiting people for the greater good or are we just as bad as the villains?

Instead, my reaction was always COOL, GONNA CHANGE SUM MEMREES!

Nilin, the main character, is Neo-Paris’ greatest memory hunter (self-explanatory). After having her memory erased by the evil Memorise corporation, she is forced to fight her way out of a fortress and back into the depths of Neo-Paris to regroup with the other Errorists, a rag tag team of rebel memory hunters out to stick it to the man. These aren’t your typical hacker troublemakers. Their actions kill lots of people at times. Edge, the group’s leader, is ruthless and little by little his story and motivations unravel.

Remember Me’s lore is pretty simple. The Memorise corporation introduced something called the Sensation Engine (“Sensen” for short), a brain implant that allows most of the population to upload their memories onto the net (always a good idea). The pro is that people can erase unpleasant memories a la Eternal Sunshine, but they aren’t smart enough to realize that Memorise can control their minds once they install the implant. DUMB.

But citizens vs. the state isn’t the most interesting conflict in the game. Memories become a drug. Absorb too many memories and you end up turning into a bloodthirsty mutant called a Leaper (cuz they jump real high). Suddenly, you have junkies living in the sewers, sucking up your memories if you get too close.

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Nilin gets to do a bit of that herself. Her abilities revolve around hacking into people’s memories and changing their outcomes, stealing them, or overloading them so that their heads explode into shards of data. There’s also the occasional “remembrance” which allows her to see another person’s experiences in certain areas of the game that basically map out where she’s supposed to go (not unlike those little orange markers that tell you what to do).

The coolest part of the game is remixing (changing) memories by far. I couldn’t get enough of it and I wish there were more. It’s as simple as rewinding and fast-forwarding a memory until you find a detail you can change to alter the outcome. It was like being the main character in Inception or Minority Report except for the fact that you’re a sexy redhead. Science fiction at its most badass.

Then there’s the fighting system. Remember Me is a classic beat em up in the sense that combat revolves around different combos, which are fully customizable. As you progress through the game, you get better combos that are a bit more difficult to accomplish even though you only need two buttons, one for kicking and the other for punching. Nilin is very swift and can jump over enemies at will, which is helpful since she’s so small and a lot of her enemies are giant Leapers that look like civilized versions of the Nemesis program. One of Remember Me’s shortcomings is that the combat system gets pretty bland after a while. I didn’t real feel like memorizing button combinations and instead depended on my special combat abilities, which include a rage mode and the power to disrupt everyone else’s powers for a few seconds.

Like I said before, the game looks beautiful. Lots of whites and oranges, bleakness and postmodernism, that really make the world stand out. There was the occasional glitch during camera changes and the characters’ faces look like they’re made of wet clay, but I think that’s forgivable.

Remember Me has serious potential to correct its mistakes in a sequel and create the game it wanted to make. I think Dontnod definitely deserves another chance.

 

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