Memories are a tricky thing, as anyone who has seen Inception can tell you. Change one little thing in a person’s mind, and you can change everything they believe in. Altering the smallest detail can affect the entire world. It’s a promising premise for a game, and Remember Me revolves solely around this idea. No one will ever say that Remember Me didn’t try or have an imaginative setting, but that isn’t enough to make a great game. Remember Me is painful because it has all the elements to make a great game, but they aren’t tied together well enough to truly present a remarkable one. For this reason, Remember Me will be forgotten all too soon.
The setting of this game is incredible. It takes place in Neo-Paris in the year 2084 where memories can now be shared, stored, or forgotten. You can store a precious memory so you can share it with your children later, or have something completely taken out if it’s too painful. This is through a corporation called Memorize and the use of the Sen-Sen gear. This monopoly has allowed Memorize to gain substantial power and influence in this futuristic world. Luckily, there are the Errorists, who are the resistance against Memorize.
This is where you come into play as Nilin, who is supposedly the best memory hunter around, but you can’t exactly remember, because as the game starts, you are getting all your memories sucked out of you. It’s a classic case of amnesia as you’re led by a guy named Edge who is the leader of the Errorists. There is mystery surrounding everything, and thankfully, Nilin actually questions it instead of being like dozens of other protagonists who are pathetically obedient errand boys. Overall, Nilin is a pretty enjoyable protagonist. She’s realistic, emotionally driven, and down to earth while simultaneously still kicking ass. The story itself is good, but could have been better. It doesn’t quite reach the potential it was aiming for, especially since it sets up some pretty great ideas and concepts. That just seems to be the repeating factor in this game: not reaching potential.
Edge claims you are one of the best agents, not because you can steal memories, but because you have the unique ability to remix them. It doesn’t take long to see how this ability is incredibly powerful. An enemy who hates you can quickly be turned into an ally when the proper memory is tweaked. These memory remixes are done in a wonderfully artistic way. A scene will play and then you have the power to rewind or fast-forward. You tweak the smallest fragments of memory to create a chain of events which differ from the actual reality. Sliding a table two feet to the left may not seem like a big deal, but it makes all the difference in the end. These moments in the game are excellent once you get the hang of them, but they are more or less trial-and-error. As great as they are, there are only four in the entire game, which is a slight letdown with how creative these segments are.
The majority of the game is a mix between close-combat and platforming. The game is a pretty linear progression from point A to
point B. Not that the scenery isn’t beautiful and detailed, which it most certainly is; it’s just sad that you can’t really explore it as much as you would like to. The murky sewers and abandoned lower city slums stand in stark contrast to the perfected advanced city, showing the true dystopia that this Neo-Paris actually is. Every section of the game continues to paint the complex masterpiece that the setting is trying to present itself as. A robot servant carries a wealthy lady’s handbags, while not too long ago, you passed by a man couched in a filthy corner asking for a memory to get his next fix. There is a deep setting here, but the game doesn’t let you explore it at will, and that really hurts Remember Me in the long run.
With the setting being so well done, it allows the game a chance to really take off. The gameplay is what digs its feet into the ground to prevent Remember Me from showing what it could have been. The combat isn’t bad by any means, and it’s actually quite creative in its own way. Instead of just hitting and stringing combos together, you get to create your own combos using Pressens. There are four different kinds of Pressens when creating the combo string: damage, health, chain, and cool down. Eventually, you’ll have an attack string to do damage, healing string to give you health for every hit, and a cool down string that quickens the cool down rate of your more powerful S-Pressen moves.
All this sounds great and perfectly acceptable, because it is…acceptable. It isn’t as fun as it should be. There just seems to be something missing when it comes to the combat, because it isn’t satisfying in any meaningful way. After racking my brain for longer than I care to admit, I believe the answer is the lack of speed and fluidness. Every hit and dodge comes with a slight pause or delay. This combat should be flowing and fast-paced. The lack of a counter system alone slows everything down. You either attack or dodge, which can make for some very slow hit-and-run tactics. Even when stringing together a combo there are these strange pauses between hits. They aren’t long; I’m talking half a second or maybe even a quarter of one. Doesn’t sound like much, but a seven-hit combo then contains almost two seconds of pausing within it. Speed isn’t the entire reason the combat seems dull, though; the tricky camera certainly didn’t help, and once, I was stuck in a corner getting endlessly beaten without being able to do anything. However, what seems to be the real problem is the simple fact that there was never really any satisfying moments during the combat. Even landing a big combo wasn’t fun, and if landing big combos isn’t entertaining then whats the point of them?
What should have increased the fun in the combat is when you use one of your five S-Pressen skills. These are the overpowered moves that have long cool downs. One makes you become much stronger and swifter to land constant blows to enemies (with no pauses!). Another allows you to go invisible and immediately kill one enemy. They usually have specific reasons to use them, however, which means a lot of the time, they aren’t too useful. One lets you take control of a robot and another reveals invisible enemies. So those can really only be used in those particular situations. They mix up the combat a little bit, but not enough to really keep it refreshing.
The platforming sections aren’t too bad, but they aren’t anything special either. It’s pretty much what you expect, but even more simplified and easier than what you may have originally guessed. The game is pretty forgiving, so it’s almost impossible to miss a jump. The real problem is how slow and relaxed Nilin seems to be when jumping around obstacles. Even one moment when being chased by an airship I was amazed at her lackadaisical attitude of hoping over a rail. I guess I just imagined one of the best memory hunters would have a lot more agility than the lazy reactions of Nilin.
Remember Me is a game with tons of promise. Technically speaking, it did everything right. The presentation is incredible, and that holds true for every part of the game, from the graphics to the musical score. Even the camera angles were artistic when climbing to give the game that extra unique edge. Still, that doesn’t matter if the gameplay isn’t there, but the strange thing this time is—it is there. Just not enough of it to truly be considered entertaining. Remember Me doesn’t just have a foot in the door. It has an arm and a leg stuck through as well, as if desperately trying to stake a claim as being a renowned success. It’s almost there—almost. If a sequel was made, I have no doubt it will be absolutely remarkable. As it stands, Remember Me is simply a good game, and there is nothing wrong with that. I mean that, because the moment the credits ended, I immediately started a second playthrough to keep playing just a little longer, but I have no doubt this game will fade from my memory soon enough.
This review is based of a retail copy of the Playstation 3 version of Remember Me developed by Dontnod Entertainment and published by Capcom.