As we enter that weird limbo where everyone is holding off the new IPs and ideas for the forthcoming gen of consoles, it is odd and surprising to see a new idea enter on the back end of the market. With the Last of Us and Remember Me, we have two companies making a risk. In the case of the Last of Us however, we have a proven developer, delivering a punctuation for this generation of gaming. Remember Me however, is a different kind of risk. A new developer, published by Capcom and dealing with entirely new themes. Is this a hit that sets up a new long running series or should this title be left forgotten as the current gen light dims.
One thing that works for Remember Me right away is the premise. It is unique and quite different from what we’re accustomed to in modern games. It paints an imperfect picture of a not too distant feature, where on the surface everything seems ideal, but as you dive deeper into the world you see the flaws unfold right in front of you. The backdrop is Neo-Paris, the Paris of 2084. A new invention, Sensation Engine (Sensen), a brain implant that allows people to upload their memories online, share and erase unwanted ones. It also gives Memorex an unwarranted amount of control and surveillance over the population.
You play as Nilin, an “errorist” (think terrorist), who combats Memorex. You start in La Bastille, about to have the last of your memory wiped from your head. Fortunately, an “errorist” leader and friend named Edge helps you escape, and from that point Nilin works to rediscover her memory and take down the evil corporation. The plot gets very confusing, cliched and muddled. Even so, the premise is strong and intriguing enough to support the gameplay. Even the final twist works really well and resonates with the rest of the game. Dialogue is laughable at times, like in most Capcom games, and unfortunately that takes away from a powerful idea that is behind Remember Me.
What stands out right away is the art direction. The world of Neo-Paris is stunning and creative. The team took a lot from modern day architecture and flipped it on its head. The world is well realized and incredible detailed, it appears to be something Paris may very well become. Unfortunately, you don’t get to experience it that much, only given glimpses and brief views of the stunning vistas. The rest of the time you will spend in tunnels and hallways, robbing you from the grandeur of the setting.
Character models seems a bit dated and there are a few visual glitches and clipping issues. The pre-rendered cinematics definitely look great, but unfortunately, the in-game cutscenes and actual action lacks diversity and visual polish of other recent releases. Nilin cannot interact with the world around her unless the progression intends her too, leaving players with a shallow feeling. Going inside someone’s head however is well carried out and carries a unique weight and feel.
The sound design is fantastic, complementing the backdrop of Neo-Paris. When the music kicks in, it complements the vibe of the gameplay or a particular level. When everything syncs, it’s a delight to play. Unfortunately, voice acting seems somewhat uninspired (can’t blame them because there really isn’t much to work with here). Some characters fail to lend weight to what they’re saying.
On the surface, it is your regular beat them up, using the same combat system popularized by Rocksteady in the Arkham series. Like all good imitators, Dontnod Entertainment does put their own spin on the mechanics. As you progress, you will unlock special traits, known as “pressens,” which you can slot into pre-determined combo slots to give yourself boosts such as a power boost, a cool down bonus or a healing pressen. Unfortunately, the system doesn’t feel as fluid as the Batman games. Dodging often seems out of whack and it’s sometimes hard to identify if there is a rhythm to the way you should be pressing buttons. Similarly, the clipping issues plague the visual aesthetics of the combat.
Other sections will involve platforming and a few puzzles, but nothing too challenging. Most paths are straight forward as Nilin cannot grab anything she’s is not supposed to. This goes back to the fault of giving us such an intriguing setting with no way to explore it. As you discover more of Neo-Paris, you naturally will want to climb on buildings and see the city for itself, but Remember Me will bottle you down familiar corridors and paths, and the sense of astonishment is soon forgotten.
Where the game gets interesting is that you have an unusual set of skills, including the ability to remix memories. Nilin can effectively go into someone’s head and change their recollection of events. The powerful skill comes with a lot of consequence and adds a moral edge to the game’s story. How easy is it to change who someone is? And what’s worse, they’ll never even know it happened.
Remixing memories is by far the most innovative gameplay idea of 2013 so far, and the way it is done, is inspiring. You go inside someone’s head and get to play around with their memory until you reach the desired outcome. It becomes a trial an error process of adjusting different prompts until you reach the finale. This should have been the prominent gameplay feature, but unfortunately, the remix sequences are far and few between, which also highlights the shortcomings of all of the other gameplay elements.
We received a review copy for Remember Me. All opinions are honest and of the minds of the Paranerds.com staff.