A fun party is in the eye of the beholder. There are multiple opportunities to get down and make memories
Remember Me Review: Is Easy To Forget
When I first heard about Remember Me, it sounded like every dystopian sci-fi movie I’d ever seen. A corporation that has enslaved the populace with a product, in this case it’s a company called MEMORIZE, and it is up to the hero to defeat them. But Remember Me rises above the clichés with one simple detail: the product itself. MEMORIZE has created a technology called Sensen which allows the consumer to store and upload their memories (any memory) to the cloud. Using this technology, MEMORIZE has turned the world’s memories into a commodity, one that has the population clamoring to experience not only their own pasts but the memories and experiences of other people. This addiction has made the few in charge of the Sensen technology incredibly powerful, and it’s those shadow figures that you must bring down. Remember Me has posed an interesting question; our identities are made up of our memories, our pasts, and our experiences. Who are you without them, and if they can so easily be manipulated, how does it affect our lives?
You are Nilin, a memory hunter who has a unique and feared ability: the power to enter a person’s mind and modify their memories. At some point Nilin was captured and has been thrown in the Bastille prison in Neo-Paris. You awaken in your prison cell after undergoing a painful memory wipe and are on your way to being most likely killed when you are rescued by Edge. Edge is the leader of the Errorist movement, a group dedicated to the destruction of MEMORIZE. With his help you escape the Bastille but there are questions about his motives. You have no memory of your past and though Edge claims to know you and claims that you are allies, there is no proof of that other than his word. How can he be trusted? What is the Errorist movement and are they on the side of the angels, or is he using you and your ability for a more nefarious purpose? What is the ultimate goal of MEMORIZE? It’s these questions that you will have to find the answers to as you play along.
The city of Neo-Paris is breathtaking, a mishmash of old world architecture and new world technology. It’s the year 2084 and you can see the difference between the privileged and the unlucky. While you walk around the open air cafés and the lovely boutiques it’s easy to forget that just a few blocks away it a war torn, ruined slum that serves as a reminder that wars were fought here.
It’s so tempting to want to explore the city of Neo-Paris; to see it at its highs and lows, where its beauty ends and its scars are revealed. But unfortunately the environment is nothing more than a backdrop. The city isn’t yours to explore at any point really as you’re driven from point A to point B. There are intricate ways for you to get around, but the longer you play Remember Me the more you realize that you’re on a course that was laid out for you. The most exploration that you’ll get to do is searching a side street for a health upgrade. It’s a real disappointment that such effort went into building an interesting location that ultimately goes to waste.
The highlight of Remember Me is the combat. Nilin is a hand-to-hand fighter and her skills are varied. But don’t mistake Remember Me for a button masher; instead you are in control of her moves by creating combos. The game gives you an opportunity to create a fighting style that matches the kind of player you are.
The game provides you with abilities called Pressens: cooldown reduction, health regen, increased damage, and chains (which doubles and duplicates the effects of the previous Pressen). The combat system allows you to combine the Pressens into a combat chain by using the Combo Lab. It’s tempting to just constantly return to the Combo Lab, because you can just customize combo after combo including new moves, rearranging them and really just experimenting with the order and combat style. I suggest always keeping at least one health regen Pressen in your combos as it allows you to heal during battle.
There is a slight stumbling block when it comes to the actual combat as it can be repetitive in the beginning. The enemies are mostly the same when you first start and fighting hordes of the same foes can be draining without the ability to change around the combos. Once enemies start changing and you run into ones that have different defenses having to change your combat style to match these changes gives Remember Me a new sense of challenge.
There are a few puzzles throughout the game, and they are a nice break from the monotonous room to room searching that you’ll do during gameplay. Depending on the puzzle you might have to move objects in your environment or follow patterns in a stolen memory. All the puzzles in Remember me have a common theme of being simple enough for even the most steadfast puzzle hater to enjoy.
The uniqueness and the selling point of Remember Me are the Memory Remixes. There are not that many of these puzzles, and I can honestly say that I wanted a few more included in the game, but the ones that are there are more than welcome. The Memory Remixes show up during pivotal points during the story. Once you’re inside someone’s memory the goal is to change it to achieve a specific outcome. First you’ll have to watch the entire original memory and at the end you’ll be able to go forwards and backwards searching for glitches or weak points. These glitches can be altered to change the entire outcome of the memory. You’ll get a small clue, but other than that Memory Remixes are more about experimentation and it’ll take several tries before you finally figure out the right changes to make.
However, this does result in a moral quandary for Nilin. Changing memories has consequences and Nilin does spend time questioning her actions. She has no memory of her previous life and she does believe that her actions are justified. But every time she changes someone’s memory, every time she views the outcome of her actions Nilin questions herself and the justifications she’s given those actions. Is she on the side of the light? What gives her the authority to change these people’s memories changing their future actions and in some cases ruining their lives? These memory remixes serve a much larger purpose than simply switching up gameplay. As I previously mentioned, with no memory of her past how can Nilin really say with any authority that what she’s fighting for is worth the damage that she does? That’s just the journey you’ll have to take her on, and hopefully get the answers that you want to these questions.
Remember Me has such an intriguing premise but where it lets itself down is with issues that plague many a third-person action game, it suffers from repetitive gameplay and generic hand-holding platforming. The gameplay has so much going for it when it comes to interesting elements like the Combo Lab that watching it fail to rise above the often repetitive combat makes the success bittersweet.
Remember Me has some interesting concepts, and it does offer intriguing story/characters and some great gameplay elements but not enough to completely look past its glaring flaws. As a new IP for Dontnod, it’s a great first step and one that makes me look forward to what this developer can do as they learn and grow. In the end, Remember Me is certainly a great title for a game that you are most likely soon to forget.
(Note: Remember Me was reviewed after 15 hours of gameplay on the PlayStation 3 and is also available on the PC and Xbox 360. This copy was purchased by the reviewer).