June 17, 2013 by Paul Curtin
Set in a beautiful futuristic Neo-Paris, new studio Dontnod (founded by original devs of Rainbow 6, Splinter Cell, Heavy Rain, and Burnout) has come up with a very intriguing concept brought to life by a stylish and vivid art direction. The year is 2084, and people’s memories can now be created, removed, and even remixed. Lead protagonist Nilan, a memory hunter who has had her own memory wiped, embarks on a journey to recover her past and stop the corporations who control the future with the power to alter any individual’s recollection of history.
Remember Me’s execution of the story is at times amazing. Nilan’s voice and animations are empowering while at the same time allowing for a frightened character you would expect fearing the unknown as a result of her amnesia. Voice actor Kezia Burrows’ performance is everything you could ask for in a strong female lead; however, the same can’t be said about her supporting cast, which seems to have a lot of voiceover work phoned in with weak dialog and almost no time spent in developing their characters.
As Nilan, you’ll experience a wide range of different gameplay mechanics throughout the eight-hour campaign. It’s clear that the team behind the project has gained a lot from previous titles they’ve worked on because Remember Me’s production values are on par with any other triple-A game. There’s solid fighting, platforming, and puzzle solving, which comes mostly in the form of the amazingly unique memory remixing sequencing.
The majority of the game is spent fighting various military forces and memory junkies. The combo-based fighting style is similar to that of games like the Batman Arkham series; it consists of leaping around dodging enemies and chaining together large combos for massive amounts of damage. There is no parry system, but the combo maker allows for players to swap the order of which strikes they use to favor fighting styles such as self-healing, harder strikes, or quicker recharging of special powers. Said specials help keep the average combo system from getting stale too quickly by having powers like invisibility or planting bombs on enemies.
While the combo system is a little too basic, the main problem isn’t so much with the gameplay mechanics, but with how linear of an experience Remember Me ends up being. Even the platforming makes a point of using chevrons to guide players to each and every one of their next jumps. Being told exactly where to go every step of the way takes the adventure out of playing an adventure game, and it quickly turns into mindless gameplay instead of exploring and discovering things on your own.
The constant player guides can be attributed to the camera that’s all over the place, switching between frustrating moments during combat to iconic shot after shot of Nilan scaling skyscrapers. The camera isn’t perfect, but having a powerful soundtrack helps you forget the bad times and enjoy the hectic combat and peaceful stunning backdrops that go on as far as the eye can see.
And it’s these stunning backdrops that serve as a constant depressing reminder of what the game could have been, teasing of a world that sci-fi geeks dream of… that’s off in the distance far far away. The art direction is so beautiful, and the city of Paris that Dontnod has imagined begs to be explored, yet the player is never given any sense of freedom and is held back by the limitations of the linear levels.
Let’s be clear: linear games aren’t bad, but back in August we were teased with what looked like an open world take on Neo-Paris with rainy city streets full of lively people, bots, and even a mini-map that allowed players to explore the interesting city and discover new objectives on their own. Sadly, that entire section of the game isn’t present in the final product (there isn’t even a mini-map), and it leaves you wondering just how much better the game could have been if it had stayed true to what we were originally promised in the teaser… or if Dontnod really thought we would just forget about all that and be okay with most of what we saw being gone.
Still, what was most memorable about the first look at Remember Me was the unique memory remixing sequences, and thankfully, those have not been removed and are still the game’s standout innovative feature. As a hunter, Nilan possesses the power to access people’s memories and change the outcome of events. These sequences consists of scenes that can be fast-forwarded and rewinded through as many times as the player wants to pick out memory glitches that can be used to exploit the person’s mind and change the outcome of how they remember an event. The only thing bad that can be said about the memory remixes is that there aren’t enough, and you’re left wanting more after beating all four.
Remember Me is a good game that I’m glad I played; however, I can’t help but feel that it could have been so much more. The potential of the idea and visuals presents so much opportunity, yet it never even comes close to reaching its full potential on either a technical or narrative level. There’s a beautiful futuristic Paris that Dontnot has created and begs to be explored, yet the linear gameplay prevents you from ever getting the opportunity to feel like you’re part of a living city as the first look at gameplay teased. Dontnod was likely forced to scale the game back due to time, budget, or system constraints — and if that’s the case — hopefully one day we’ll see a sequel or at least another game from the developers that can deliver on what we (and likely they themselves) had hoped this would be. It might not be one of the best games this year, but it’s definitely worth your time as a rental or worth your money sometime in the future when it’s on sale. Remember Me gets 3 out of 5 stars (Good).
- Amazingly unique memory remixing sequences
- Beautiful take on a 2084 Neo-Paris
- Nilan’s character development
- Solid combo-based combat and platforming elements
- Powerful soundtrack that always fits the atmosphere
- Game never lives up to what was teased in its debut gameplay trailer
- Story is a bit on the weak side and supporting characters are forgettable
- Fighting becomes repetitive
- Not enough memory remixing sequences