Remember Me - A Review by Proverbial Jon

Proverbial Jon

Not evil, just mildly malevolent
Nov 10, 2009
Proverbial Jon Reviews...Remember Me

Remember Me is an action-adventure game developed by Dontnod Entertainment and published by Capcom.

The events of Remember Me take place in Neo-Paris in the year 2084. Memories can now be digitised, shared and removed entirely through the use of an implanted device known as a Sensen. You play as Nilin, a memory hunter who wakes to find her memories wiped by the sinister corporation, Memorize. As the only human with the power to "remix" memories, Nilin sets out to retrieve her memories and put an end to Memorize's reign.

[Img_Inline width="400" height="220" Caption="Neo-Paris looks beautiful." Align="left"][/Img_Inline]

Remember Me is a game that is concerned about having fun and looking stylish while doing so even if it means sacrificing true substance in the process. Neo Paris looks fantastic, featuring a very distinct aesthetic that mixes contemporary Paris with the futuristic stylings of a world steeped in technological enhancements.

Getting around is mostly achieved through Uncharted-esque platforming. Sadly the level design can be cluttered and confusing and ledges that look as if they might be climbable are often not. A small yellow marker is ever present to show you which area to jump to next which arguably removes any genuine challenge the platforming may have presented. Collectables are scattered across the levels which offer upgrades and further information about the world but due to the level design it becomes evident very quickly that exploration is discouraged in favour of a linear and predetermined path. The platforming is interspersed with puzzles which might involve using Nilin's Sensen abilities to find keys to open doors or move objects around the environment.

The combat is Remember Me's true achievement and although the game doesn't always present you with the best situations to use it there's still a lot of enjoyment to pull from it. Nilin's attacks are known as Pressens which is basically the name given to each individual button press and they can be chained together into a Batman Arrkham-esque flow of combat. Pressens come in four flavours: damage, regeneration, cooldown and multiplier. Each Pressen can be placed into a combo template to create various effects. Want a combo attack that simultaneously regenerates a portion of your health, deals damage and cools down your special attacks? You got it! Want to deal a devastating attack by piling all your damage Pressens into one combo? You can do that too! As Nilin fights she earns PMP which will eventually unlock further Pressens which can be used together to further vary the effects of her combos.

[Img_Inline width="400" height="220" Caption="These enemies can only be seen in light." Align="right"][/Img_Inline]

There are a variety of enemies that seek to oppose Nilin from deadly attack robots to humans clad in technologically advanced armour. Each enemy has their own special attacks or defensive abilities which require the use of Nilin's S-Pressens, special abilities that give Nilin a combat advantage or damage boost. As you progress through the game Nilin will often be tasked with fighting three or four different enemy types in one go and it's vital that you create the most effective combos for any given situation. S-Pressens take some time to recharge before they can be used again so some combat scenarios involve pummelling the lesser enemies with cooldown combos until the special attacks are ready to use again. Timing is essential with combos and it can be difficult to chain more than a couple of attacks together when Nilin is being press ganged by multiple enemies. Some might enjoy the challenge but it may also present a frustrating experience for some players.

Sadly, beyond the attacks being a product of Nilin's high tech Sensen implant, there is very little memory themed combat. However the game does feature four memory remix sections, whereby Nilin enters the mind of an enemy and alters their memories to suit her needs. These sections are sadly quite limited and often involve making the target believe their actions have resulted in the death of a loved one. They are presented as an interactive cutscene in which the player moves backwards and forwards in search of memory glitches, elements of the memory which can be altered. It is even possible in some occasions to actually make the target believe they killed themselves which results in their real world death. There's a lot of trial and error involved in trying to find the correct combination but it's a fun little distraction nonetheless. The idea of altering someone's memory on such a personal level undoubtedly raises various ethical questions which leads us nicely to the next section.

[Img_Inline width="400" height="220" Caption="The Combo Lab. Combos on the left, available Pressens on the Right." Align="left"][/Img_Inline]

Remember Me's storyline is perhaps the weakest link; it's functional but certainly won't blow your mind. Remember Me has a penchant for replacing perfectly serviceable names with completely new words meaning that half the game's challenge is working out what everyone is talking about and relearning simple game mechanics that you probably already know. Key characters are treated as little more than set dressing, some disappear entirely moments after their introduction and others are used as ineffective emotional leverage despite Nilin's only brief acquaintance. Nilin remixes the memory of one character literally 30 seconds (I timed it) after her name is first spoken and we don't see her again until near the conclusion of the game where she's used as nothing more than a way of moving Nilin to the final location.

But the truly disappointing element of Remember Me is the lack of commentary on the moral implications of Nilin's actions. So much energy is directed at condemning Memorize and the world they have created that the implications of Nilin's own role as a memory hunter is largely forgotten outside the gameplay. Dontnod have presented us with a world that has endless possibilities but the narrow focus of the storyline offers very little room for other characters or ideas to blossom.

[Img_Inline width="400" height="220" Caption="Memory remix sequences offer various choices." Align="right"][/Img_Inline]

Despite some slightly clunky gameplay and a lacklustre story the sound design in Remember Me is fantastic and so far underappreciated. The game features a sweeping orchestral soundtrack, composed by Olivier Deriviere, which has been altered with electronic sounds to give the impression of a fragmented state of mind. It's an effect that works really well given the theme and setting. Additional to the soundtrack are the small audible cues which play after the completion of a successful combo which build with the strength of your attack. It may sound like an insignificant element but it adds a layer of feedback to the combat which makes the success of difficult combos truly rewarding.

Remember you soon
I am compelled to draw comparisons between Remember Me and Mirror's Edge. Both games had a distinctive visual style and unique, engaging gameplay but both games also suffered with some rather fatal weaknesses in their narrative and the overall execution of their admirable yet lofty goals. Remember Me tries to do a lot of things and sadly masters very few of them but together they manage to create a highly entertaining experience.