Remember Me: Gives You Plenty To Think About

By Jamie Love . June 15, 2013 . 4:30pm

The dystopian future of Remember Me draws from the rich narrative waters established by science fiction writers such as Philip K. Dick and William Gibson to create a world that extends the familiar divide between the haves and have-nots. Where a small pocket of the elite live above a suffering population that simmers with a rising heat threatening to cause civil war.

 

Remember Me seems to take equal inspiration from works such as Joss Whedon’s Dollhouse series, particularly the Epitaph story-arc, with a technology called the Sensation Engine (Sensen), a brain implant that allows memories to be traded and shared—or forgotten all together.

 

Nilin awakens at the bottom of this food chain, imprisoned as an “Errorist” fighting to take down the Memorize corporation that has unleashed this twisted technology. As a memory hunter, Nilin has the skills to not only take memories, but manipulate them in order to change the actions of others. But she awakens after having most of her own memories wiped and is hesitantly guided toward purpose by the communications of Errorist leader Edge.

 

With Nilin’s memory wiped, there’s every opportunity to form an immediate bond with the player, as both take shaky steps into a strange new world. Walking through the facility where Nilin is imprisoned, both Nilin and the player have no choice but to trust the voice of Edge, who guides an early escape that leads to the initial view of the slums of Neo-Paris. This also leads to the introduction of one of the game’s primary enemy types, the Leapers, humans who have absorbed so many memories that their sensen has degraded and twisted them into a new sub-human species scrounging memories beneath the surface of the city.

 

Surviving the strange streets of Neo-Paris will find Nilin splitting her time between a Prince of Persia styled bit of platform climbs and leaps from ledges and pipes, and combat that is going to take a few more words to explain.

 

At the core, the flow of combat takes cues from the Batman: Arkham franchise, with Nilin laying down fists and feet against adversaries, a red warning indicator letting players know when it’s time to hit an additional button to flip over enemies, often causing them to hit one another and allowing Nilin to continue her chain of attacks. But Remember Me also seeks to distinguish itself with the combo lab feature, at least insofar as adding a bit more meat to a very familiar bone.

 

As Nilin beats down more opponents, she unlocks longer combo chains, which alternate between the two primary attack buttons—X and Y on the 360 controller. She also unlocks “Pressens” that can be placed in these chains, which break down into four categories – heal, power, chain and cool down.

 

As players unlock pressens from these four families, they can customize chains with them – to an extent. Each family of pressens offers X and Y variants that can be placed in corresponding X and Y slots within combos of increasing length. Mixing and matching pressens in these spaces allows Nilin to regain health while fighting, and chain her power attacks to increase the damage being dealt to enemies. This doesn’t really force the player to learn any combos beyond the initial three X attack prompt that can be equipped with a heal and cool down pressen and essentially allow players to pound a path through the game with minimal effort. But it does extend the invitation to make a more intimate connection with combos rather than simply reading them off a menu and then attempting to execute them.

 

Nilin’s real power comes from focus abilities, which power up as she deals damage to enemies. These more powerful options allow her to enter a brief fury mode where she flies from enemy to enemy with more powerful hits, smash the ground to reveal invisible enemies around her, strap a bomb to the side of an enemy, take control of enemy robots, and briefly turn invisible to sneak behind an enemy for a one hit take down by overloading their sensen.

 

Guarding against any abuse of these powers, using focus abilities initiates a cool down cycle before it can be used again, and using the cool down pressen in your combos then speeds up this countdown process. There’s a long portion of Remember Me where the combat does come across as monotonous until Nilin unlocks all of these powers, and I experienced several sequences where I was left leaping over enemies and stealing quick combos while waiting for those timers to run out. I’ll also admit to often resorting to the shortest combo and thus the slowest route, but it’s damn tricky executing a longer string of attacks with enemies ever eager to strike and the evasion warning flashing every few seconds.

 

There are two main types of enemy encounters, which are almost always triggered when entering a wide open area between platforming sections.

 

Scenario one is where a pack of leapers will attack while invisible variants phase in and out of sight to swipe at Nilin, wherein Nilin can sometimes activate lights in the area to make them visible but more often than not uses focus powers to find them and then specifically attacks them while a swarm of regenerating leapers try to stop her.

 

There’s some attempt to break this up a bit with an arm cannon feature for blasting enemies off of walls or issuing a powerful blast to weaken opponents.

 

The other scenario is where a variety of enemy types appear, and this is where the game gets good in encouraging players to explore the variety of focus powers at Nilin’s disposal. You can use stealth to take down one powerful enemy and then plant a bomb on another to immediately level the odds back in your favor, or wipe out several by turning a robot to your cause. These situations felt more strategic and helped claw away some of the tedium that comes quite naturally from entering a room and fighting wave one, wave two, and then wait for it… wave three.

 

You’ll spend a lot of time using combos to cool down these powers for a second and third use, particularly during the game’s few boss encounters, which will often end with a few quick time prompts for good measure.

 

As much fun as some of the final encounters can be, there is a severe repetition to the two approach formula that quickly wears out its welcome. It’s hard not to feel like you’re just endlessly pounding your way through enemies to continue the story. In fact, combat, as interesting as its approach is, feels like little more that a crutch to further the story and the game’s real treat, memory remixing.

 

All too seldom, cinematic sequences will find Nilin entering the memory of another person to watch a sequence of events play out—a man fights with his wife before she leaves him, a wife tries to save her husband in a hospital. Nilin’s true skill is in rewinding through these memories and finding key points that can be manipulated to ultimately change the way the memory plays out and thus how the person in question remembers it, changing their grasp of reality and their subsequent actions within the game.

 

You flip through these cinematic sequences and find highlighted points of interest where trial and error will have you moving objects and effecting equipment. The process works with changes that will immediately cause a fail state and ones that will successfully create a new memory. It’s a bit like playing a mini-game from a Quantic Dream game really, and it immediately filled me with the wanting to be able to run around the streets of Neo-Paris changing everyone’s memories. Maybe I could make a down and out person turn their luck around by affecting their memories. Or maybe I could just make someone have a phobia of ladybugs—the possibilities seemed endless and terribly exciting.

 

But the possibility for that game based on these current memory remixes is also beyond the reach of the developer, DontNod Entertainment, and you really feel that frustration grinding against the limitations of want and desire throughout the game. Remember Me ultimately falls back on having to unleash waves of enemies to pound on between a story and atmosphere that wants for so much more, caught between a competent but safe bit of combat playing out against narrative and art direction with more grandiose philosophical designs and heavy moral questions—with a story that is not lacking in some degree of emotional punch for the trouble.

 

Frustration is compounded by the fact that you can’t really explore Neo-Paris. You see all these amazing views off in the distance, but you can’t even enter the shops along a very linear path. It isn’t frustrating because every game should be Bioshock in that regard, but rather because the atmosphere and future it paints begs for the ability to explore and really touch the world around Nilin—a world that in many ways offers a greater sense of familiar understanding as to how the future has become what it has. Instead of exploration, however, Remember Me falls back on having players hunt around corners and ledges for upgrades to the health and focus bars, along with a bit of hunting down a strange breed of bug and memory entries that can be read in a journal.

 

Along the way the game coughs up a few stray riddles and two more features that yearn for more space and freedom—Nilin’s arm cannon will eventually be able to steal power from one device or door to open or activate another, and players will activate “Remembranes”, essentially projecting past memories to reveal secrets about what certain characters were up to within certain stages.

 

It’s incredibly frustrating to not be able to excitedly recommend Remember Me at the same time there are plenty of compelling reasons you should be playing it. Even where it falters in finding the means to allow its vision of the future to flourish, the scope of that vision, the depressingly rare casting of a female protagonist a week before we meet a slew of games staring gruff men of action, and its overall artistic direction guarantee a cult following that will overlook the bulk of mechanics that are interesting but also slipping into the “just okay” category.

 

Remember Me is an important and colorful slap in the face to the status quo that deserves more attention, if only because it does what so many of my favorite videogames have done in the past—it offered me plenty to think about.

 

Food for Thought:

1. Remember Me has a terrific soundtrack, which is more opinion than food for thought but I’m putting it out there anyway.

 

2. Remember Me has a great deal of introspective discussion, both between Nilin and Edge and with Nilin’s own running monologue. It’s not out of place to anyone familiar with the discussions that take place in an episode of Ghost in the Shell, but I’m curious as to how the game might play out with far less of the babble that seems to be placed for fear of confusing the player—not entirely unlike the original theatrical release of Blade Runner versus the Director’s Cut I suppose.

 

3. Remember Me seems unable to avoid a familiar design decision where so much work is put into creating beautiful future vistas, and then the game immediately sends players below ground into sewer like environments. Dear designers, what is up with that compulsion? Seriously?

 


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  • venomryu

    to be honest i think it stupid to let some damn fool look in you head even if it your friend

    • http://wiredjungle.wordpress.com/ DrakosAmatras

      Well, you never know. If somebody – like, say, a corporation – pushes the idea often enough…

    • neocatzon

      One of the selling point of Memorize is reliable external memory. Let’s say to remember good times with family or pets and save it elsewhere (they have memory bank there). Well I’m sold, it’s better dropbox.

    • Sergio Briceño

      Like when some people are stalked on facebook because they never bothered with turning on the privacy settings because they were busy doing the cool thing? (posting their lives on Facebook)

      Hypothetically, if memory hunting becomes a thing I think it would be very popular (among college girls at least).

    • AJ

      The human race has a remarkably long history of doing stupid things voluntarily.

      • NewestType

        Like the new study to put human brains in androids by the year 2024.

  • Lazulis

    I saw someone LP it and it was a great ride. Love the music! The platforming is pretty meh because of that orange indicator that tells you where to go…The story left off at a nice end, with room for a sequel, so hopefully you CAN explore Neo Paris in the sequel. Though it has to sell enough to get one…

  • http://darkchaplain.com/ DarkChaplain

    I very much enjoy the world, characters, dialogue and writing in general. The world is a joy to explore, but the exploration part is just crippling, I’m afraid.

    Its a good game, and I’d recommend it, but not at full price. Pure Gameplay is not the game’s strength, but the story it is telling, the characters it develops and the world it builds? Yeah, huge selling points. And yep, the Soundtrack is incredible.

    • Shane Guidaboni

      I was contemplating getting this game, but your comment cemented my decision to wait.

      • http://darkchaplain.com/ DarkChaplain

        Yep, I’d rather recommend waiting for a sale/pricedrop over getting disappointed by the game’s length and linearity or the combat system and platforming.

        Both are good, though the combat needs quite a few hours to really open up a bit, but nothing to write home about, I’m afraid.

  • Aoshi00

    I’m not sure why many criticized the game so much for being linear, not every game has to be open world. You follow a certain path yes, but I was still awed by the rich world of Neo-Paris along the way and stop to savor the scenery, like Tomb Raider or Uncharted, the city felt very alive. I only had the problem of linear when it came to FF13. The files are very detailed and intriguing to read too, it’s a dystopian yet very believable future (the history is so detailed on how the world and technology are led up to that). Like the developers had commented before, it’s like social network gone extreme. It’s not that far-fetched memory would be digitized in the near future, and the game proposed a lot of moral questions. While it’s a cool idea to let people forget painful memories (there’s definitely some episodes in my life I wouldn’t mind parting w/), it’s scary their minds could be manipulated..

    The only thing I wish was it to have more memory mixing segments, I love the secret achievements when you play around w/ the different scenarios messing w/ people’s memories, makes one try out everything (I need a Jax the Panda robot :). The battles as well, one cannot button mash to get thru the game, the mix of enemies type encourages or forces one to mix up the combo and fight effectively. I died a few times and needed to strategize on what approach to take out the enemies and in what order. I love the unique boss fights too.

    The graphics and soundtrack are amazing too.. the story and themes are great as well, like a combination of Blade Runner, Total Recall, and Butterfly Effect, some of my favorite sci-fi movies.. or FF7 too, if being a terrorist for the greater good is justified.. Overall it’s a very unique and memorable experience for me like El Shaddai.

    One thing people find funny is why all the characters speak English in Neo-Paris, but it’s also dubbed in French (good thing they did that instead of giving all the chars French accent). I’ve replayed some chapters in French alrdy when hunting for some achievements :) Better to play in Eng first though, otherwise one would miss all the stuffs the NPCs said. If you like platforming (it’s not hard, like Uncharted), a good action game and a good story w/ an amazing soundtrack, this game shouldn’t be missed. I’ve gotten games like El Shaddai, Nier, or Remember Me at full price and did not regret one bit.. I hope Dontnod would continue to make another great game in the future, a lot of potential, this game is clearly a labor of love..

    Some have compared Remember Me to Mirror’s Edge, but this is more of my type of game being a third person action game, rather than timed first person platforming. I would give Mirror’s Edge another chance too, but probably too hard and frustrating for me.. but need to play the Last of Us first :) (would probably be linear too..)

    Anxiously waiting for Amazon to ship me the Remember Me artbook..

    • SerendipityX

      Glad I’m not the only one noticing the OPEN WORLD! OPEN WORLD! reaction everywhere nowadays. (In fact there was a noticeable focus on it in next gen games.) I can certainly appreciate a linear experience from time to time. I haven’t played Remember Me yet, but I’ll be getting around to it soon.

      • Aoshi00

        I know, now Kojima w/ MGS too.. just because a game is scripted doesn’t mean it’s any less good as long as the story is told well, not everything has to play like GTA, Saints Row, or Red Dead Redemption, even though I like those games too.. but unique games like El Shaddai, Remember Me, or Nier don’t come very often..

        I just started the Last of Us, it would fall into the so called “linear” category too (but universally praised) and follows a focused narrative, but it’s also very engrossing, the world is so beautiful and detailed as it is I wouldn’t fault it for not letting me explore “more”, just how much off course do people want to go. FF13 was the most linear game ever and some people didn’t even mind (it was distracting for me because the main story was not told well w/o the datalog). There are just different types of experience.

        I got Remember Me from Newegg w/ a $12 coupon before, w/ tax it’s like $51. If you like some platforming, action, a well told story, and unique world setting I think you would like it. The game is not that long though, but you could replay chapters to get collectibles and get cheevos, like fighting bosses in a certain way w/in a certain time. The soundtrack really is good. The only legitimate fault I could find is it doesn’t have as many memory remixing segments as I thought, those are truly special (think the movie Butterfly Effect). I would replay the whole thing in French once I have time :) usually I don’t, but this game takes place in Neo-Paris it’s fitting.

    • MrTyrant

      I like open worlds and I expect great things from Cd projeck in that regard. Yet I cannot condem a new studio for not doing an open world when is really hard to do one I think people should pay more attention to this kind of things.

      Also most open worlds aren’t well made, they don’t feel realistic at all aside from the beautiful places. Most of them are empty and the bad guys are just standing specific places lol

    • Strid

      Linearity isn’t so much the problem here. The problem is it’s a straight shot 6 hour game with mediocre, at best, combat, for $59.99. CoD can get away with that because it has MP, but this game has absolutely nothing going for it past those 6 hours.

      • Aoshi00

        Most reviews mainly complained about it being linear. I finished the game in 10 hrs or so taking my time (in about 3 days, couldn’t stop playing it) and have been replaying it for the collectibles and reading the files. While it could have been more refined, I thought the combat system was very fun and deep, much more so than other btn mashers. To me it isn’t about how long the game, it is the experience. I have no problem paying for a game that is 10-15 hrs long if I thoroughly enjoy it, quality over quantity. If a game is 50 hrs long and it’s not fun to me, it’s not worth $60 either. Like Catherine, how many hours did people complete that? It was unique to me and totally worth the full price. I support studios that make unique and great games. I thought the game had amazingly detailed graphics and great soundtrack, art direction and strong narrative, I was completely hooked to the world of Neo-Paris. Like I said, I only wish there were more memory remixing segments which were truly mindblowing, the power to play god w/ people’s minds and the severe consequences, never experienced in another game.

  • http://youtube.com/miyabigaming 水木

    So is this game actually good? I haven’t played it

    • Pure

      It is actually good, I spent aound 30hours on it to 100% the game and achievements. It has some flaws like stated in the article but it’s definitely worth a shot. My only advice would be to play it with French VA because English one sucks apparently (I played in French since, well I am French)

  • Tom_Phoenix

    Every time I read the title of this game, I can’t help but think of this:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p_JFIS0ga5o

  • Kai2591

    Yeah, I don’t like it either when you we start a game at beautiful, rich, spectacular, hi-tech environments, only to end up in depressing or low-tech places later on. Its like a false advertisement.

    • MrTyrant

      Cyberpunk stories are suppose to be like that. It show progress in some places and the harsh reality from another perspective. Like the good things come with a cost and most people don’t live in a paradise like suppose to be.

      • Kai2591

        You have a point there. I guess it is the very nature of cyberpunk. But I meant generally though, for any genre. But you’re right in this case.

        • MrTyrant

          My complain would be that design-wise cyberpunk stories should not be 90% of the places darker with harsh environment because we also had to know more closely the life of those who live in high society.

          • Kai2591

            True, true.

  • Steven Higgins

    Hmm, I usually don’t go for games like this, (tragic, dystopian futures aren’t really my thing) and I suck at heavy-action combat. I usually go for RPGs, specifically JRPGs, And I typically prefer brighter, more vibrant, cartoony graphics than the grainy, Ulrta-photo-realistic graphics everyone seems so obsessed with or the ones where characters have that oh-so-perfect skin that makes them look like dolls. But I might just give this one a try.

  • Geoff Kelly

    Honestly imo linear = better. Far too many open world games these days, and I lose interest far too quickly. People seem to think open world is better because there is more to do/better replay. Yet how often are we replaying a game honestly, open world or not. I also find that open world games tend to populate themselves with gimicky and grindy mechanics so as to fill in space. I find them crap to be honest. I have never managed to complete the plot in a GTA game, because I lose interest before I get through it, same with many others. Whereas a directed, well constructed, linear experience being used to push a vision of a different place or world is in my opinion sublime.

  • Danilo Maeda

    Being published by Capcom didn’t really help the game any bit.

  • Guilherme Matheus Silva

    I’m loving this game, but there are too many bugs –’

  • ZekeFreek

    The only thing this game made me think about is, “Damn, I wish I was playing some other game right now”.

  • http://www.salarymandaishi.net/ SalarymanDaishi

    A sincere thank you, Jamie! Remember Me always felt like a vaguely interesting and valiant attempt, yet something that is destined for obscurity or getting picked up dirt cheap from a bargain bin months down the road.

    Still, your take on it, “an important and colorful slap in the face to the status quo that deserves more attention”, did the trick. Giving it a go at full RRP, if only to support its bravery of daring to be different.

    • http://www.gamesugar.net Jamie Love

      Hope you enjoy it!

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