“Neo-Paris. 2084. Personal memories can now be digitized, bought, sold and traded. The last remnants of privacy and intimacy have been swept away in what appears to be a logical progression of the explosive growth of social networks at the beginning of the 21st century. The citizens themselves have accepted this surveillance society in exchange for the comfort only smart technology can provide. This memory economy gives immense power over society to just a handful of people. Remember Me is a 3rd person action adventure where players take on the role of Nilin, a former elite memory hunter with the ability to break into people's minds and steal or even alter their memories. The authorities, fearful of her knowledge and capabilities have arrested Nilin and wiped her memory clean. After her escape from prison, Nilin sets out on a mission to recover her identity, helped by her last and only friend. This search for her past leads to her being hunted by the very people that created this surveillance society. During the course of the story, Nilin will start remembering who she was and re-learning all the fighting moves that made her one of the world's leading memory hunters.”
Remember me is one game that had me rather excited when it was first announced. For one thing, it featured a female lead which is always something to look forward to as opposed to burly, overly-manly space marine dude; and for another it was another game that boasted a free flow fighting system that seemed to closed ape the one debuted in Batman: Arkham Asylum.
The game came to be, reviews were pretty luke warm and a sleuth of other games filled my schedule, so I never got around to buying or playing it. Skip forward a few months and it’s a free download for PS+ members. And thus I’ve come to play it and here are some thoughts on it.
The game is not flawless, nor is it a revolution in gaming...but the critics have been much too harsh on some elements of the game that would, in other more expensive cases, be swept under the rug or considered growing pains for a new IP trying to find its footing while battling tremendous odds against it.
For one thing, as I’ve said, you play as the memory hunter Nilin. A WOMAN! Shocking, yes, I know. It seems that such games in which a female lead actually has some human decency, hopes, doubts, FEELINGS, have become anathema to the mainstream market. With this year’s releases of Bioshock Infinite – debatable, yes, I agree – and Tomb Raider, I have hopes that Remember me gets...well...remembered in this quest of expanding the character palette of games as a whole.
High concepts and pitfalls
Nilin is the one great strength that this game has. She is one of the most interesting, most human female characters that I have encountered so far and her inner monologue is part of what makes the experience cohesive as a whole. I have not felt her to be overly simplified as a human being, nor was she ever, during the game, overpowered or underpowered to face the challenges ahead. No sexualisation, no fan service for the sake of fan service, no males to pull her out of the frying pan...loved it.
While some of her physical performances left logic holes to be filled by assumptions, and her past as a memory hunter never really comes up to fill in some story gaps, she nonetheless managed to remain relatable and human. In her own world she makes sense and feels like she belongs there, belongs in the cause and doesn’t feel out of place in a silly, almost wacky universe.
This is the second thing that manages to hold up the game. The world of 2084 Neo Paris is one that is RIPE for possibilities, for gameplay opportunities, for stories, all of it in spite of its inherent silliness. It put me in mind of late ‘40s – ‘50s Sci-Fi, of works like A.E. van Vogt’s The World of Null-A or anything by Philip K. Dick, silliness treated straight faced while still winking at you from time to time, without ever actually taking off the mask. It is...grand and fascinating and oh so ready to be explored and turned into other stories. The potential is here!
And Neo Paris itself is a beautifully constructed futuristic city, filled with breathtaking vistas and grand moments, with one of the most striking art styles since Mirror’s Edge – a game that I believe has had some influence in the art department here -.
That’s just it though. This game desperately needed an open world rather than the claustrophobic one that we trek through in the end. That may have been a bit more ambitious than possible though, especially on a budget, but every way in which this city was conceived and shown to us invited to exploration. Which exploration is almost completely missing.
This is where the first crack appears in what would otherwise be a very fun game: linearity. While I do not mind a linear game – Legacy of Kain: Soul Reaver 2 is by far my favourite game ever – with a good story, there are some moment when a little back tracking could improve things a great deal.
Cracking skulls and building focus
Every so often Nilin would unlock a new ability that would allow her to use certain buttons or doors...which had never appeared before as problems. That is a rookie game design mistake if you ask me, one in which a new ability more or less translates as a new way of pressing the buttons you were pressing before, with some feather weight puzzles thrown in for variety’s sake. It would have been nicer to be able to go and revisit previous sites, of finding collectibles that were previously unreachable etc. Wasted opportunity.
The linearity wouldn’t be much of a trouble if the story and gameplay would carry the impulse forward on their own, skirting any exploration.
But the story feels, like I’ve said, silly at most times and most of the in between moments for the good parts are filled with light traversal and combat. The traversal is standard fare, what you’ve seen in Uncharted and a sleuth of other games since and before it.
The combat, however, is a bit more interesting. I have seen complaints that the combo system is complicated or difficult to understand. That is an exaggeration.
The combat system in Remember me works rather simply: you fill a set of combat slots with one move or another, building unique combos depending on the moves you have unlocked. The timing for each move is identical and each move equals one button. What is interesting is that each move can only be used in ONE combo and each of the moves corresponds to a different effect: healing, double damage, special ability cool down or repeating and amplifying the effect of the previous move. This allows for quite a bit of experimenting with different effects and ways of fighting enemies.
Unfortunately, it also makes the boss fights piss easy. When every boss throws pawns at you mercilessly the whole fight becomes a series of AOE special ability, double damage special ability on boss, heal combo on minions, reduce cooldown combo, rinse, and repeat. This turns some interesting combat scenarios into real slogs where you’re simply going through the motions.
I remember it like it was yesterday...I think
Part of the gameplay...the most interesting part that is, that needs discussing is the memory remix ability. This allows players to enter the memories of characters, change a few variables around and get a whole new person almost. It is quite novel and interesting, even a bit challenging at times.
It is also criminally underused, which harkens back to my initial point about how this game needed to be open world, or at least more open to exploration, backtracking, interacting with NPCs. This is the truly wasted part of Remember me, the glimpse of greatness that it offers. It has good ideas but they are underutilized, the developers unfortunately concentrating way too much on the combat and just getting from A to B. I never would have thought I’d say this...but a few more minigames for some of the elements in here would have made things a lot better.
One final thing to consider before wrapping this up is the sound. Music is great, fitting and loud, with some really nice sounding tracks that accompany the game’s moments. Techno tunes fill in for the city’s heart beat and enable the mood to set it: far distant, familiar in a way, alien in many others.
Voice acting in itself is consistently good, even if Edge’s droning on and on about the cause gets tiring at about half way through the second chapter; also, some dialogue lines are hammed in and it’s just painful to listen said dialogue.
Parting thoughtsAnyway, let’s bring this convoluted piece to an end.
Remember me is a game that could have deserved a few more chances than it got. Brought down by some silly ideas in the script, a repetitive combat experience and underutilized elements, it also deserves props for trying to be something completely new in some regards and taking creative risks that go out and above the norm. There is some preaching in it, there are some great moments, there is a great character and a fun story to be told and experienced, even a meaty campaign – 9 hours is decent or a game like this if you ask me -.
While it could have used a lot of elbow grease here and there, Remember me has the potential of being a great series in the end...if it ever gets the chance of being one such thing.
Otherwise, it remains an unaccomplished dream full of hopes and possibilities, dying off like the likes of Alpha Protocol or Advent Rising. And that would be a shame.
Remember you soon.
Graphics: 9 (15%)
The old Unreal 3 engine can still crank out some really beautiful pieces. There was no screen tearing, no pop-in trouble on the PS3 version and the whole game looks stunning at times.
Most of all, everything feels hand crafted with love and care, to create a rather unique and personalized game environment.
Sound: 9 (15%)
Great voice acting and fantastic music make up the bulk of this rating, with some great special effects added in for good measure. Punches feel and sound meaty and strong, even if the fighting can turn out a bit cacophonous at times.
Story: 7 (25%)
While there are great ideas on display here for a story, and the script has some nice twists.
But there are also plot holes that could have been easily filled and a bit too many coincidences for my liking. Still, it’s not a bad story and it can keep the game going, even if the midpoint drags a bit.
The big props go for Nilin who is an absolute delight of a character. Maybe not the greatest thing since toast bread, but a fun, resourceful woman that has been pretty nicely rounded off at the moment after just one game.
Gameplay: 6 (35%)
This is it; this is where things hurt a bit.
While the game is not a bad game by any means, the gameplay needs a bit of tweaking for it to work well.
Useless upgrades that don’t feel like they’re impacting the game in any way – what is the point of gaining a new ability to unlock doors...if that has never been a problem before -, endlessly repeating tutorial messages, repetitive combat that only really gets going after the second half of the game and easy, rare puzzles mark off this game.
But the combat, once it starts going, can be exhilarating with a nice mix up of combos and super abilities.
The memory remixes are the easy highlights of the game, bringing in something truly fresh and welcomed into a genre that really needs it. I just wish there would have been more of them to fill in the spaces and the lull in the center part of the game.
Feeling: 8 (10%)
I have loved the feel of this game. Neo Paris is a fantastic place that I would like to revisit, Nilin is a character I would love to see in more games and the combat is something that can grow. With all its nibbles and all of its problems, Remember me still manages to be a good game that can be enjoyed by many if given a bit of a chance. It may not be perfect, it may not be stellar, but it is a good first effort.
Keep it coming.
Final score: 7.35 – Good.