Remember Me is a risky game. It is a new IP at the end of a console generation. It is the first game from a brand new studio, Dontnod Entertainment. It also stars a female protagonist, and a black female protagonist at that. It’s probably one of the riskiest releases of this console generation, but Capcom put faith into this project, even giving it a decent marketing push. Their faith was rewarded as Remember Me is a solid first effort from Dontnod. While it has its flaws, the team creates one of the most creative games in recent memory.
Our tale begins in Neo-Paris in 2084. The world has gone through a third world war, and Paris was decimated (it was rebuilt a little later on hence the Neo-Paris name). After the war, a corporation called Memorize has given citizens a way to get rid of these painful memories, by being implanted with the Sensen. The Sensen allows people to share their memories with one another, as well as get rid of unpleasant ones by offloading them to Memorize’s central server. Obviously, this gives the Memorize Corporation immense control over the population, and their governments, and they gradually form a police state. This has led many to rebel against their new corporate overlords, and these rebels are called the Errorists. Led by the mysterious Edge, the Errorist’s only goal is to bring down Memorize and return control back to the people.
You play as Nilin, an Errorist with the ability to both steal and remix memories (but more on these great powers later). At the beginning of the game you awake inside of infamous Bastille Prison, and have had almost all of your memory wiped by the Memorize corporation. With the help of Edge you are able to escape, and so begins your journey through Neo-Paris on your quest to topple Memorize and regain your memory. I don’t like to get too deep into story spoilers in my reviews so I’ll keep them light here as well. Remember Me’s story is presented at first on such a grand scale, but in slowly shows that it is a character study. It’s a tale of how our memories can affect all of our choices, and how changing them, even in the slightest, could change our entire outlook on life. Over the course of the 10 or so hour campaign the story can get mulled down, but proves to be one of the best tales told this year.
Nilin’s abilities are a major crux of the mission structure of Remember Me. Most of the 8 episodes start with you needing to steal a memory from a member of the Memorize Corporation, and you will often use that memory to complete some other objective, ranging from blowing up a dam to finding your way deeper into a fortress. The stolen memories often also give you Rememberances, which are the memories of what that person did in the past played out in real time in front of you. This is most often used for things like puzzle solving, and can be quite fascinating when done right.
Remixing memories is another core component of the game. When Nilin remixes a memory, she goes inside of another person’s mind and changes their memory completely. You the player then change different “glitches” in the memory and work toward creating a different outcome. One heavily shown off by Sega in the months prior to release was when you try to change a man’s memory to make it so he thinks he shot his wife. To achieve this objective, you can do things like take the safety off his gun, retract a footstool or knock a cigarette butt off of the table. As simple as many of these actions may seem, they often have a butterfly effect, causing many unexpected results. The remixing system is one of the selling points of the game, and it works incredibly well. My only gripes are the way it is controlled (which is by rotating the left stick as a way to move the story along, and stopping at the glitch by pushing the stick down), and that there are only about five of them in the game. These are some of the coolest parts of the game, and change the story completely. I would have loved to see them used a little more frequently but, I can understand Dontnod wanting to not overdue this brilliant feature.
In order to steal or remix any memories though, you have to actually go through the level, which involves significant platforming and combat. The platforming is serviceable; it’s honestly not necessarily bad or good. I do think the game holds your hand a bit too much in those segments though, as it gives you little orange arrows as to where you are supposed to next. This can be helpful at times, but I felt cheated in many ways. I want to figure some of these things out on my own. The platforming segments are also broken apart from the combat; I mean you can’t even punch unless you are in a specifically designated combat area. This creates a somewhat rigid experience. The platforming sequences also seem there to just add time to the game, not really add anything themselves. The game is incredibly linear, which isn’t always a bad thing, but goes to Remember Me’s detriment. Dontnod clearly had a vision for how they wanted their story experience, but I can’t help but look up at the amazing skyline of Neo-Paris and think that an open world title would have functioned perfectly in this universe.
From fighting off Saber Force (Memorize’s personal militia), to battling the broken minds of the Leapers, Remember Me offers grustrating but still good combat. The combat system is actually remarkably similar to the Batman Arkham titles, with Nilin flowing back and forth from enemy to enemy. Using either light or heavy attack’s Nilin can string together combos that do offer a variety of different effect, depending on how the player sets them up. With Pressens, you are able to change what effect each stage of your combo has. This effect can be things like adding extra damage, healing you, or reducing the cooldown timers on your S-Pressens. The S-Pressen’s function as special attacks, offering things like extra damage for an extended period, to attached a bomb to one enemy.
These gadgets keep the combat feeling fresh, but I always felt the cooldown was far too long. I would have equipped more of the cooldown reducing pressens, but I often found myself nearly dead because of certain enemy types. Later on in the game you encounter enemies who damage you when you attack them. As far as I saw, the best way to fight them was attack them with health recharging combos as they would basically negate the damage done by attacking. This can be a major problem in some combat sections, which would require certain S-Pressens to defeat different enemies. These S-Pressen requiring enemies frequently turned up in groups of two, and I would then find myself dodging for nearly two minutes while that pressen recharges. The choices of when the enemies arrive during these sequences can also cause much frustration, though the feeling of overcoming the challenge was great
The world of Remember Me is beautifully crafted, and seems incredibly possible. During many of your missions you will encounter people just trying to live their lives and survive in this scary world. It becomes entirely understandable that in the face of a new world war, environmental damage, and social unrest that your basic citizen would want to be able to get rid of these memories. People want to be happy, and that’s what Memorize offered them; the chance to lose their bad feelings and thoughts, while keeping the good ones. The world feels lives in and is aided by the always impressive Unreal Engine 3. The cutscenes were very impressive, and I noticed a consistently good frame rates. The animations on each character were detailed and showed enough diversity to allow you truly appreciate what the engine can do.
The voice actors each give good, but not great delivery to the characters. I found no real character lacking, but Kezia Burrows’ portrayal of Nilin had its ups and downs. She functions great during key story parts, but the delivery of some mid-combat lines can be somewhat cheesy. I’m going to be perfectly blunt here, Remember Me has one of the best scores I have ever heard. Composer Olivier Deriviere weaves such a brilliant mix of orchestral themes and electronica, that the best way to describe it is as John Williams meets Daft Punk. From bombastic horns to mixing violins with electronica, the score sets the perfect mood for the tale, and immerses you beyond what most scores are able to do across any medium. Even if you don’t play Remember Me, I still recommend you give it a listen.
Their were many points at which Remember Me could have fallen flat on it’s face, but thankfully, Dontnod performed quite well for its first outing. They crafted an entirely new world with a bold concept for players to explore. Your first playthough of Remember Me is an experience unlike any in gaming today. The world is so rich that you will want more from this world, and that is honestly also a fault. I wanted to experience this world even more then I had, and been allowed to just plain explore, but the linear track they kept the player on told a well thought-out story. The score and graphics allow you to become so immersed in this brave new world that you will occasionally want to just gawk at the great landscapes while the score bellows in the background. The biggest faults I can find in Remember Me are its broken apart gameplay. Merging the platforming and combat systems could have created an experience rivaling the Assassin’s Creed series. In the end, I understand why the team may have made these choices though, while I may not agree with them. I applaud Dontnod for Remember Me. They brought a good first effort, and I cannot wait for what they have in store next.
Final Score: 4 out of 5
By, Bobby Marquardt
Full Disclosure: I completed this game on Normal mode over the course of about 10 hours across four days. This review was done on a copy purchased from Gamestop.