Introducing a new IP this late in the console lifecycle is bold. Capcom and Dontnod are doing just that with their cerebral sci-fi action title Remember Me. Attempting to mesh a futuristic setting with a mixture of hand-to-hand combat and platforming, this adventure delivers some truly inspiring moments. While the game play is par for the course, everything else surrounding it felt much more inspired. The level designs and overall aesthetic really drew me into the world, at least for the duration of the main campaign.
Unraveling the mysteries behind Remember Me’s story can be convoluted at times. Players take on the role of Nillin, a memory hunter who has, in fact, had her memory stripped away. She begins the game stumbling down a hallway as a mysterious voice comes over a communication device to break her out. Over the course of the experience, discovering Nillin’s past, and why the evil corporation MEMORIZE is in fact so, well evil, pushes the player forward.
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The story is complex, and confusing more often than not. There is a journal that precedes the game available, and I cannot recommend enough checking it out. In summation, the game takes place in 2084. Wars have ravaged the world and it has been rebuilt by corporations. One of those is MEMORIZE, who deals in the commoditization of memories. Memories can be stored, used as currency and even removed from prisoners. It is a scary concept, but one that makes for solid sci-fi fodder.
Performances operate at both ends of the spectrum. While Nillin comes across fantastic, some of her supporting cast lack the emotion necessary for certain sequences. There are some cheesy bosses and eye-rolling dialogue, but for the most part, I enjoyed the alternate take on the genre. The world of Neo-Paris is what sells the experience though. Each area is crafted with such lush detail that it is hard not to stop and take notice. The lights of the Eiffel Tower glisten in the distance, while the flooded streets below give that sense of defeat. This is a wonderful world that I was wishing I could explore more.
The game play is not quite as unique unfortunately. Remember Me is a mixture of platforming, combat and puzzle sequences that has Nillin remixing memories. The latter is obtuse at first, as I was given the basic instructions and left at it. Using the left analog stick to rewind the memory, there are various glitches that can be altered. For example moving a table or taking the safety off of a gun can slightly alter the events of that memory. Finding the proper combination is key to solving the puzzle. After a while, the game tosses out hints to help, but it feels less intuitive than it should be. Overall it is a fantastic mechanic that simply needs a bit of polish.
The platforming is truly by-the-numbers. Think of Enslaved and you get the idea. Linear paths are marked with over laid arrows from my hud, always nudging in the right direction. There are sequences where timing is key (Nillin can speed along pathways by holding down the right bumper), but they are few and far between. A chase sequence a little over midway through the game highlighted the issues I had with the system, most notably the camera. At times it focused on a high angle view of the environment, which impeded my view. Not game breaking, but certainly annoying having to re-center after every sequence.
Combat is where things really get interesting. On the surface, it feels like any other hand-to-hand system. Comparisons to the Rocksteady Batman titles are inevitable, but Dontnod mix it up with a customizable combo system. The Combo Lab is a unique take on the idea by opening up strings of button presses that can be customized with four separate types of attacks. As enemies are taken down Nillin earns PMP (XP), which in turn earns points to unlock new attacks. The strings are broken up by their amount of inputs. The four types, known as pressens, are damage, string, heal and cool down, with each one being assigned correlating buttons.
If this sounds complex, it’s because it is at first. Thankfully, the game only gives players a three-hit combo to start with that consists of hitting the same button in succession. Mixing and matching each type of attack in the string yields different results, and experimenting is half the fun. The actual combat in the game though takes some getting used to. I tried, like everyone else will, to play it like the Arkham games. Instead, Remember Me works more on a rhythm-based system. Executing the next button as soon as the original lands is crucial, and being able to continue combos after dodging takes some practice.
It all feels unruly at first, but the game forces its understanding. Most of what I was doing in Remember Me is fighting. The game loved to quarantine off areas and unleash waves of enemies; a practice I was not fond of by the end. Nillin also gains an arm cannon, not unlike Mega Man’s mega buster. It really isn’t prominent in combat, but it does offer up a crowd control device, as well as a solution to some of the later puzzles.
The final piece of the combat puzzle is Nillin’s special abilities. These are remembered over the course of the game, and offer up a huge advantage in combat. They can allow her to go invisible and take down one enemy immediately, stun a group of enemies and reveal invisible ones, string endless combos together, set bombs and finally turn robots against enemies. These are achieved by holding down the left trigger and selecting them from a menu. They require focus, which is earned by performing combos, as well as having a cool down timer, which is why there are cool down pressens.
The campaign lasts around 8-10 hours depending on how much time is spent collecting. There are various items to be found including notes that expand the universe. The more important items to be found increase health bars and focus gauges. There are also little scarab-like creatures that can be shot for bonus PMP. Honestly, outside of the text-heavy notes, I never felt compelled to find any of this stuff, but I did like how the developers hinted at finding them. Showcasing pictures of where they are, and giving players context on their location is a neat mechanic I hope to see more of.
Visually the game looks great running on max settings on the PC. The textures are fantastic, and Neo-Paris really comes alive. There are a few frame rate hitches here and there, and the troublesome camera really needed to be fixed, but it still looks amazing. The console versions are good as long as players don’t see the PC version. As is the case every time, seeing their lower resolutions after witnessing what the game could look like is jarring. Animations can seem stiff during combat, and some of the character models are downright atrocious, but everything else in the world is absolutely stunning.
The soundtrack is amazing. There are no better words for it. Composer Olivier Deriviere has crafted one of the most memorable scores I can recall. I have attached a sample from his Soundcloud that I recommend playing all the way through. There is so much diversity and life into each track, with combat music getting me pumped up to fight, and the right emotional pieces flare up, at just the right time. All of the music is of this caliber, and you can purchase it on iTunes today. Voice acting, as I mentioned earlier, is hit and miss, with some standout performances marred by some lacking ones. Effects are good, but nothing matches that soundtrack.
Remember Me is begging you that simple question. Dontnod wants you to remember the experience of Neo-Paris, but falls flat in a few areas. I loved my time with the game, and would recommend it to anyone looking for something completely outside the box. Combat takes some finesse and patience, but once it clicks, it is engaging. The soundtrack is fantastic, and the world of Neo-Paris is unforgettable. I hope that others gain as much enjoyment out of its world as I did. Remember me soon.
Review copy of game provided by publisher. Primary play on PC.
- Motherboard: ASUS P8Z77I Deluxe
- Liquid Cooling: Origin Frostbyte 120 Liquid Cooling
- Processor: Intel i7 3770K with Professional Origin PC Overclocking
- Memory: Corsair 8GB 1600 Mghz Vengeance
- Graphics Card: EVGA NVIDIA GeForce GTX 670