Drawing a blank.
Remember Me is a new IP published by Capcom, and is the first game from developer Dontnod Entertainment. While announced mid-2012 to little fanfare, Remember Me slowly built anticipation through its customisable combat system, unique cyberpunk setting and an interesting female protagonist. Sadly, whilst Remember Me is a solid start with some memorable (no pun intended) scenarios, it falls massively short of its potential.
Remember Me takes place in 2084, and is the story of Nilin, an “Errorist” who has had her memory wiped for committing crimes against Memorize, a corporation that holds a monopoly of peoples’ cherished memories by use of their SenSen product. SenSen allows its users to store, trade and sell their memories with others no matter how wonderful or sinister. Somewhere along the way, however, Memorize found a way to control people through SenSen, and thus have a firm grip on the population of Neo Paris, the game’s setting. This is where the Errorists come in; a group of activists whom harbour memory hunters, who are able to steal the memories of others for various uses, such as hacking or controlling machinery. Nilin is an especially gifted memory hunter, and has the unique ability of remixing people’ memories to spin them in her favour. Upon regaining consciousness and with a freshly erased memory, Nilin teams up with fellow a Errorist, Edge, to fight back against Memorize, all the while unraveling her mysterious past.
Nilin herself is a great protagonist, and compliments her often slim odds with bursts of personality and the odd humourous, sarcastic one-liners. Her presence is easily one of the biggest draws to the game. The plot also goes a long way to serve Remember Me very well and makes up for many of the game’s shortcomings. It introduces some unique and thought-provoking science fiction concepts, such as turning memories into commodities, and the ability to steal from or hack other peoples’ memory banks. It’s a smart premise that creates a deeply interesting world in which privacy and individuality is threatened into near-extinction. Unfortunately, it’s a world you don’t really get to explore that much.
Remember Me is an incredibly simple game once you look past all the flash the story and visuals throw at you. As Nilin, you are essentially led from objective to objective with a number of fights, puzzles, and platforming segments in between. There are no areas in between for you to be left to your own devices and wander around; all the striking scenery the game has is merely window dressing, and is the only thing that saves Remember Me from being an inherently dull experience. That said, what begins in its opening chapters as a very pretty hallway, quickly diminishes into samey, whitewashed and often claustrophobic interiors that only serve to highlight the game’s numbing repetition.
At the forefront of this repetition is the game’s admittedly unique combat system. You can create your own combos via the Combo Labs screen in the pause menu. Here, you can set unlocked “Pressens” onto combo templates to determine how Nilin will fight her enemies. There are four types of Pressen: Power Pressens are the most basic, and hit harder than any other type. Regen Pressens heal some of your life upon a successful hit. Cooldown Pressens reduce the time it takes for your S-Pressens to become active again, and finally, the rare Chain Pressens amplify the power of your last Pressen type. For example, Adding a Chain Pressen after a Regen Pressen will allow Nilin to heal a good deal more life. Nilin, as mentioned, can also unlock S-Pressens, which are special moves that can help her even the odds in sticky combat situations. One allows her to chain together attacks free of the boundaries of the Combo Lab, while another can stun enemies and disable any shields or invisibility cloaks they might have. S-Pressens are certainly useful, and add a little bit of depth to what is otherwise a rather shallow combat system.
The problem with the Combo Lab is that there are only four combo templates to unlock, each a little bit longer than the last.
The problem with the Combo Lab is that there are only four combo templates to unlock, each a little bit longer than the last. This would be fine if it weren’t for the fact that one of the two buttons you use to attack are predetermined along the path of the template. For example, you cannot extend a combo past a Triangle input if you’ve used up all of your Pressens that require that button. So, you’ll either have to swap Pressens around, or wait until you’ve accumulated enough PMP (read: EXP) to unlock a new one. To be fair, the combat system is initially quite a bit of fun, and Nilin throws punches and kicks with a weighty impact, leading to some satisfying confrontations. On the other hand, the Combo Lab doesn’t really expand a whole lot until the game’s halfway point. By then, combat can often feel tiresome as the same enemy types are thrust upon you, wave after wave. That said, the Combo Lab is a neat idea that shows potential, but it needs a lot of work for future titles because as it stands, the system outstays its welcome long before the game ends.
There’s also a fair amount of platforming to work your way through, though it feels less like actual platforming and more like additional busy work as you make your way through each stage. In a similar manner to games like Uncharted and Assassin’s Creed, Nilin will shimmy along rooftop edges, dive from balconies and slide up and down pipes to reach her destinations. The problem is, there is literally no challenge involved during these segments; you’re told exactly where to go with very little deviation. Remember Me’s idea of exploration is a brief detour down an alleyway or into a side office to pick up collectibles, of which there are quite a few. One type of collectible, the Scaramech, is particularly elusive, with many being genuinely well-hidden within the scenery.
The enemies themselves offer very little in the way of genuine challenge, and always telegraph their attacks with a bright red exclamation mark. There are three general categories of enemy: the Leapers, Sabre Force, and robots. Leapers are mutated humans whose minds and bodies have been altered to disturbing levels by their SenSen. These are savage fighters as you’d expect, and tend to attack in large groups. Sabre Force are Memorize’s security team; they can generally take more damage than Leapers, but are less agile and fight in smaller groups. There are also a number of robotic enemies that tend to spam you from a distance with annoying projectiles. While there are a few types of enemy within each category, none of them seem challenging in a fun sense; instead relying on artificial modifiers to simply lengthen combat situations. One type of Leaper can turn invisible, and can only be damaged when made visible by a light source or through one of Nilin’s S-Pressens. These guys aren’t too much trouble, but can grow irksome in packs. The worst enemy, by far, is the Elite Enforcer, who inflicts damage upon you whenever you attack him; there is literally no way to avoid taking damage from him without the use of a particular S-Pressen, so fighting him doesn’t feel fun or rewarding, it just makes his encounters all the more frustrating.
Remember Me certainly has a lot of problems, but the game truly shines in the presentation department. This is a gorgeous game that makes use of some incredible weather and lighting effects, and the city of Neo Paris brings to mind a mix of Deus Ex: Human Revolution’s cyberpunk feel, and the sweeping European architecture of Beyond Good & Evil. Remember Me also features a great soundtrack that mixes grand orchestral sweeps with techno-infused beeps and stutters. Kezia Burrows also does an excellent job voicing Nilin, and really brings her alive as a likeable, memorable lead character.
Remember Me is very much a mixed bag. The story, setting and visual quality of the game go a long way to help it stand out from other titles, helping it cement an identity as a promising new IP. Sadly, the game is also held back by an underdeveloped combat system, often frustrating enemies, and one of the most linear beat-em-up experiences of recent memory. Saying this, there is some fun to be had out of Remember Me. Combat can occasionally be fun, especially when trying out new combos and S-Pressens, and boss encounters are particularly memorable and well designed. With all that’s been said, Remember Me just doesn’t live up to its potential. A setting and story this good deserves to be expanded upon in bigger, more ambitious games.
A review copy of Remember Me was provided courtesy of Capcom. The game was reviewed on PlayStation 3.
Remember Me is a promising new IP that has sadly gotten off to a rocky start. Every strength the game has is met with an equally irksome barrier that halts it from reaching its true potential, and potential is what Remember Me has tons of. One can only hope that this series gets the sequel and improvements it thoroughly deserves.