Neo-Paris. 2084. Privacy is a thing of the past, and personal memories are commodities that can be bought and sold in the open. Frighteningly, they can be stolen, or even altered by memory hunters. Not only are they able to remix memories, they are also elite fighters who can kick the cheese out of your croissant in 50,000 ways. Parisian game developers, DONTNOD Entertainment, attempt to connect these intriguing ideas together in their début action-adventure beat-em-up, Remember Me. Are the memories worth it, or should we be asking for a mind wipe?
Remember Me’s story takes place in a stylized future Paris, where brain implants in 99% of the population enable a corporation called Memorize to control the society. The Errorists as they are called, once staged a revolution against Memorize, but were hunted down systemically. The few that are alive are in hiding. In an ironic twist, our protagonist Nilin, a once famed Memory Hunter has had her memory wiped. With the help of a thorny Errorist named Edge, she escapes execution and goes on a journey to reclaim the person that she once was. While our female protagonist might have been well written, the same can’t be said about the bunch of unlikable, shallow characters that she interacts with. As it goes, the story in Remember Me is serviceable, even if its “eat the rich” type of story isn’t exactly new.
Lauded as a new and innovative gameplay mechanic, remixing memories gives our protagonist the ability to go into the mind of the targeted individual and scramble their memories, changing the way they saw past events and how they react to Nilin, now in the present. As interesting as this might seem, the act of remixing the memories is incredibly mundane. You find a glitch in a scene and press a button. Do that a few more times with other glitches, and in the right sequence, and you’re done. Disappointingly, memory remixing is nothing more than simple puzzle sequences.
The combat, however is meant to be more complex. Remember Me enables the player to customize their own fighting moves using what are inexplicably called “Pressens”. There are four families of Pressens: Regen for recovering health, Power for dealing damage, Chain for the duplication of moves, and Cooldown for the regeneration of energy used for special moves. There are four combo sequences that contain a number of inputs. While there are predetermined, players can assign various kicks and punches from the different Pressen families to the sequences to create customized combos.
According to the developers there are 50,000 possible Pressen combinations. As exciting as that prospect might sound, watching the character fight isn’t as thrilling. Where the combos in games like Batman: Arkham City and Sleeping Dogs flowed well, you don’t get the same feeling here. When you get things right, Nilin does a pretty song and dance around her enemies but there isn’t nearly the same impact. Unfortunately the controls are a tad unresponsive compared to the aforementioned titles. At times, it seems the camera has an unhealthy attraction to our protagonist’s rear end, and loses its bearings in cramped areas when you are being set upon by enemies. You have to run away, wait for the camera to catch up/reset and then return to the kerfuffle.
Remember Me is spread out across a number of episodes and for a large part of it, the enemies don’t prove to be anything more than limp punching bags. There are never more than three or four in the area and coupled with their slow reaction times, encounters are over before you know it. Once you’ve duffed them up to a state, you can pull off a finishing move. But there is no sense of achievement or badassery. It’s liked you’ve finished up an accounting report, filed it, and are about to start another. That’s not the only thing that the game does by the numbers.
The platforming elements in Remember Me are not unlike those in Uncharted. There’s not much else to say now is there? Except that it increases in frequency in Remember Me to the point of boredom. The slow loading times are sure to elicit a few yawns too. Unskippable cutscenes add to the irritation when you need to restart sections, and in certain areas your combo changes are not saved, so you’ll need to re-do them every time you restart the section.
At least Remember Me has its looks. From wealthy haves who live in splendour in the ivory towers of meticulous cities to the have-nots who are resigned to live in squalor, the environments are striking to behold. But it’s a case of style over substance. Memory remixing is little more than a gimmick and I’d rather forget about the brainless platforming sections. It is admirable that the combat system tries to add more separate itself from single-button mashing by allowing you to create your own rhythm-based combos, but often times it feels sluggish, and lacking in lustre. Furthermore, and more crucially, Remember Me is a forgettable experience.
Final Score: 5.5 forgotten prawns out of 10
Developer: DONTNOD Entertainment
Platform: PS3, Xbox 360 (reviewed), PC