|Title: Remember Me
Developer: DONTNOD Entertainment
Release Date: June 3, 2013 (PC)
June 4, 2013 (PS3, Xbox 360)
Platforms: PS3, Xbox 360, PC
Age Rating: M
Remember Me is a new game from Capcom by DONTNOD Entertainment. It’s a game that can get away with giving the main character amnesia because it’s basically about this new technology called Sensen which allows people to share or remove memories. I had been looking forward to playing it ever since I saw this gameplay trailer. Now that I’ve actually played it, I can see they made quite a few changes compared to the gameplay shown before the memory remix sequence.
Remember Me opens with a commercial for the Sensen. It shows people talking about how much they love it with personal stories about how it has helped them in some way. After that, you’re put in the shoes of the main character, Nilin, as she has her memories taken away from her. The man taking her memories away realizes that there are still some vestiges of Nilin left and sends her off to one Dr. Quaid. One weird thing happened in my game here. The guy who was talking to Nilin, the one who took her memories… his mouth didn’t move when he talked. I actually ended up needing to play this scene twice because I hadn’t had a chance to turn the subtitles on yet and missed a lot of the dialogue thanks to outside noise, and his mouth didn’t move either time that he talked. It was a little disconcerting and probably not meant to happen. Anyway, he sends Nilin off to Quaid to have the last of her memories taken away. As she’s waiting in line with others who are having their memories painfully scooped out a voice begins giving her instructions on how to escape.
Upon escaping the facility Nilin is told she is what’s known as an Errorist, and a Memory Hunter. Unlike most Memory Hunters who can only siphon off memories, Nilin has the unique ability to remix memories. She can find memory glitches and change how a person remembers an event, as shown in the video I linked above. She and her other Errorist friends have been working to bring down Memorize, the corporation behind Sensen technology. Nilin, who only really remembers her own name, takes this all at the word of Edge, the voice who helped her escape, and begins helping the Errorist cause.
I would have liked to see more of the world, Neo-Paris. The levels are very tight and compact, and often I was just running through hallways. However, every area was a glimpse into what the world was like. Nilin once ran head-first into a robot that apparently had been sent shopping by its owner or something. Those robots are all over the place, but this is the only one that spoke. It made me wonder what life the people living outside the slums had, and for that matter, what life was like for people in the slums as well. Was it just your classic rich versus poor? Why put in such a divide with most of the Errorists in the slums if they’re just fighting Memorize. What does that add to the story? Are they really fighting Memorize, or are they fighting the wealthy or do they view the two as one and the same? It didn’t seem to fit, mostly because it was unexplained. I think exploring the world more would have added to the Errorists’ cause. As it was, it seemed like Nilin was mostly just with them as a favor to Edge for saving her life, and I was just along for the ride.
The game is very linear in terms of both story and level design. There’s only ever one place to go next. You follow the path until you reach your objective, fight the boss and are then brought to your next destination to do the same thing again. Normally, I wouldn’t take any issue with that. I’ve got nothing against linear games. However, in the case of Remember Me, the pacing in the story was off as well. This resulted in several linear levels without anything super important happening story-wise. Sure, you can’t have earth-shatteringly important events in every episode, but the first major event isn’t until episode four, of eight total episodes. And then there’s relatively little until the last couple episodes, where all the important stuff is piled up. Yes, there are things going on in every chapter, but it’s mostly small stepping stone type things. I would have liked to see more story-based obstacles, as opposed to just enemy combatants. I’d have liked it if things didn’t always go the Errorists’ way.
The other thing that was a bit disappointing was the direction of the story. There were quite a few things going on. Nilin’s past, the fight against Memorize, a secret third thing I refuse to spoil… there was a lot of interesting stuff I would have liked to learn more about, but the game doesn’t explore these things as deeply as I would have liked and feels spread thin. The game eventually decides to focus on Nilin’s past towards the end, and I did enjoy that story, but I felt there could have been more. There was more to be said. I don’t think the story was under-developed. It’s more like they couldn’t fit it all into the game.
Part of the gameplay is sort of like Assassin’s Creed, at least the first one since it’s the only one I’ve played. Nilin does a lot of climbing and jumping to get around, but the levels are very linear and you can only climb and jump where the game says you can. Luckily, it’s super easy to find those sections as they will be marked by a little orange arrow. I did sometimes have trouble getting her to go the way I wanted. Sometimes I’d try to get her to look back so I could jump to the ledge behind me or something, but she’d just go back to the last ledge she had been. It was pretty annoying, but didn’t happen all the time. The levels are basically linear climbing/jumping/running sections interspersed with combat areas in which you’ll have to fend off a handful of enemies.
Speaking of enemies, there are three basic types in the game, but each has multiple variations. Some enemies are basic, but certain enemies require specific S-Pressens, which can be a pain. I actually enjoyed the combat in Remember Me. As you gain experience, Nilin will remember how to fight. You’ll unlock set combinations of the square and triangle buttons, and also moves to fill those slots. You can then set which move type you want into each slot, but the button (square or triangle, or X and Y on 360) must match. There are four basic move types called pressens: power, regen, cooldown and chain. Power pressens deal tons of damage, cooldown pressens reduce the cooldown remaining for your S-Pressens, regen pressens restore some health and chain pressens are an augmented version of whichever pressen was in the combo directly before them. The later a pressen is in a combo, the more powerful its effect, and you can even chain a chain pressen for an even more powerful effect. The way you structure pressens in your combos is vitally important. Combat will take a long time if you don’t use any power presens, but you’ll need regen and cooldown pressens as well. Besides pressens, you also have a ranged weapon called the Spammer. It’s mostly used when fighting mechanical foes, but is also helpful in destroying the shields of human ones or attacking Leapers when they’re hanging from walls.
In addition to regular pressens Nilin will also unlock five special pressens called S-Pressens. These will give her special abilities in combat. In order to use an S-Pressen you must have a full block of Focus. Focus is gained by hitting enemies, and also taking damage. Once you’ve used an S-Pressen a cooldown timer begins, and you must wait until it reaches zero before using it again. This is quite annoying when you’re fighting multiple enemies that require one specific S-Pressen as the cooldown can be up to about three minutes, and cooldown pressens will become your best friend. There was one time I was waiting for a specific S-Pressen to cooldown, but the enemies hurt me on contact and I couldn’t afford to use my cooldown pressens because of health reasons. I only had a little bit more to wait, so I was just running around, vaulting over the enemies while they were shouting at each other. “Form a circle!” “Get behind her!” It was pretty comical, really.
Nilin can be improved combat-wise in several ways. She can learn a new S-Pressen, unlock a regular pressen, gain more health or gain more focus. Each of these is accomplished a different way. S-Pressens are generally given to you when you need them. Nilin will come face-to-face with a new enemy that she can’t really beat, so she’ll get a new power to overcome them. When you defeat an enemy you get PMP, or Procedural Mastering Power. If you get enough PMP you can unlock a new pressen. Additionally there are bugs scattered about the world called scaramechs. You can shoot the scaramechs with your Spammer to get a nice PMP bonus. Since Nilin doesn’t level, you’ll have to up your health and focus in other ways. Throughout the game you will sometimes find images of an area in the level. These images have been left by other Memory Hunters and indicate where you can find goodies to help you in the game, and are generally near the place you need to find. If you find and search the area pictured you’ll be able to get either a SAT Patch or a Focus Boost. If you get five SAT Patches your health will increase, and if you find five Focus Boosts you’ll get an extra block of focus.
Remember Me is a very aesthetically pleasing game, both in combat and out. In combat Nilin can sometimes Overload enemies. She does this by getting behind them and seemingly exploding their memories from their Sensen (which is always on the back of the neck). It looks sort of like a headshot from behind, except instead of brains flying everywhere it’s memory fragments. Nilin’s moveset is very fluid, and her dodge attacks are fun, too. I never got tired of vaulting over enemies. I also really liked the animation Nilin goes through when she learns a new S-Pressen. Out of combat, the world itself is very cool. The slums are dirty, makeshift and practical. The city is pristine, high-tech and a little frivolous. Both make me want to explore them more.
There are quite a few things I liked about Remember Me, but the thing I had been looking forward to the most is the memory remix sections. There are four memory remix sections in the game (or five, depending on how you want to look at it). You can watch the gameplay video I linked at the beginning to see basically how they play out. The remix section shown is in the game, but the solution in-game is different than the one shown there. Basically how they work is, Edge gives you an objective. Nilin must then go into the target’s memories and find memory glitches. When she activates the glitches it changes how the target remembers the event. It’s a pretty interesting concept in theory and in practice. Although the memory remixes have one set solution, I quite enjoyed them. At first I thought there weren’t enough in the game, however I feel they went with quality over quantity here. The memory remixes included in the game were all important to the story, and made sense. Also, having fewer of them kept them from becoming too repetitive and overdone. I think they found the perfect amount of memory remixes for the game, and each of them was fantastic.
Overall, Remember Me has some flawed and some great aspects to it. My biggest concern and disappointment was with the story in terms of both pacing and focus. It seemed like there was a lot they wanted to do in the story, which made it feel spread thin and unclear. The other thing that was disappointing was the lack of world exploration. I felt I didn’t really understand the world or belong in it, as I didn’t get to explore much, but what I saw of the world was intriguing and made me want to know more. However, I quite enjoyed the combat, finding it to be creative and strategic. The game looks great as far as special effects and the overall futuristic aesthetic, and it has a soundtrack that perfectly captures the essence of the game. Despite its flaws, I found Remember Me interesting to say the least. I wish there was more. I feel like it’s a game that’s definitely worth playing, and speculating about. There’s a lot left unsaid, like why Nilin joined the Errorists before her memory was wiped, but that just means we get to fill in the blanks ourselves.
Review copy provided by publisher.
This review based on the PS3 version of the game.