Capcom have been all over the place lately. Long reviled for resting on their laurels and coasting on the success of proven franchises, they’re finally starting to step out of their comfort zone. Remember Me is the result of one such foray into the unknown.
In Remember Me, you step into the shoes of Lilin. An errorist, “clever” play on the word terrorist, with little to no memory of who she is. We join her as she’s being held captive and on her way to be relieved of what little memories that do remain in her mind. Naturally, a mysterious stranger comes to her rescue but it’s not quite that simple. The help comes in the form of a voice calling from an undisclosed location, think the office scene from The Matrix where Morpheus guides Neo. Drama ensues and Nilin makes her escape. It’s a good setup for the journey ahead, it’s unfortunate then that the same cannot said about the journey itself.
The setting is Neo-Paris, a futuristic version of the city of blinding lights. As we enter the city it becomes immediately apparent that a lot of work has gone into its presentation. The city looks gorgeous, it has the whole cyberpunk thing going for it. It’s just too bad that most of the game will be spent inside narrow corridors and linear pathways. The visuals are slick for the most part although the character design could have done with a little more work.
Nilin comes equipped with a sense engine or “Sensen” at the back of her neck. This device isn’t something unique to her though. As Nilin traverses through the different locales of Neo-Paris the device can be found on every living soul present inside the city. This is basically what the plot revolves around. The Sensen can be used to store and share human memories with anyone on the same network – a social network of sorts. Who controls the network? A power-hungry corporation that goes by the name of Memoreyes. The puns are starting to build up now. The errorist group that Nilin belongs to (or does she?) is working to bring them down. The narrative is handled cleverly in that Nilin is always questioning her actions, whether shes doing the right thing or not by blindly following this voice in her head.
The Sensen also becomes the medium through which all the games tutorials, of which there are many, are delivered as well. Gameplay is mainly a platforming-combat hybrid akin to the Prince of Persia series. The platforming sections are as linear as they can get. The path is always very straight-forward and easy to navigate. Every ledge is highlighted with an arrow above it showing where the character will end up if a jump is made. The platforming presents no challenge whatsoever and only acts as a brief respite between the hairy combat sequences.
The combat aspect of the game is more interesting. It starts out rather simplistic but as the game progresses, it becomes more and more complicated with the introduction of new enemy types and an expanding skill tree. Some of the set-pieces are very well thought out and you can’t just go in willy-nilly. There has to be a plan of action, button-mashing can only get you so far.It can get a tad repetitive at times due to a lack of variety in the combos department. Just like the platforming sections, there’s a bar at the bottom of the screen constantly listing the progress of the combo being performed onscreen in order to discern whether any mistakes were made. Depending on what type of gamer you are, this level of in-game hand-holding will either make or break the game for you.
What really makes Remember Me unique are the memory remixing segments. Nilin has the ability to steal and even alter the memories of others. The human mind is Nilin’s playground. By entering their minds, she can recreate events that have already come to pass. She can mold them to create an outcome more favorable to her. It would have no effect on the outcome of the event in real life but in their minds it will have changed forever. The concept is as brilliant as its execution. While inside the memory, rotating the left analog stick moves time backwards or forwards depending on what direction you rotate it. The controls feel natural and the absence of intrusive tutorials is a welcome change. By altering certain aspects of the memory, a different outcome altogether can be achieved albeit not always the one you’re expecting.
Dontnod have created a fascinating world in Remember Me but they’ve done it a disservice by filling it with paper-thin characters. Apart from Nilin, there isn’t a single character worth looking at twice. It’s the same with the VA. The actors have trouble conveying their emotions a lot of the time, it doesn’t help that the writing is downright poor at times. This is simply unacceptable at a time when storytelling has come so far in video games with games like Bioshock Infinite and The Last of Us. One part of the storytelling process that soars above the rest however is the score. The combination of orchestra and electronic music manages to sound both strange and wonderful at the same time, it fits the mood of the game perfectly.
Remember Me Review (PS3)
All in all, an ambitious first attempt by fledgeling studio Dontnod entertainment that just falls short of the mark. It'll be interesting to see where their next projects take them.