[NYCC 2012] Remember Me deals in false memories and familiar gameplay
Capcom had many panels at the 2012 New York Comic Con, but it was the panel for Remember Me that was probably the most exciting. After all, not only were their other titles like Lost Planet 3 and DmC: Devil May Cry playable on the show floor, but we've heard a lot about them. Remember Me is shrouded in mystery by comparison. Thankfully, we now know a lot more about what kind of game Remember Me will be.
The panel included members of both publisher Capcom and developers Dontnod Entertainment, who are collaborating to bring Remember Me to PS3, 360, and PC in May 2013. The game's setting is Neo Paris in 2084, an Orwellion (2084, 1984, get it?) future that takes our current age of social media and rides it to a dark conclusion. In Remember Me's future, people record their memories through an implant called Memoreyes. With everyone's memories turned into tangible records those memories become a commodity. That's where the main character Nilin comes in. She's a memory thief capable of not only stealing memories but manipulating them.
When her memory is erased by the Memoreyes corporation she goes on a mission to recover it and get revenge. She'll accomplish this through at least three types of gameplay—Uncharted-esque traversal, hand-to-hand combat, and a memory remix mode that plays out like an adventure game puzzle. It's that last bit that seems the most interesting so far.
In the mission we were shown, Nilin scales the side of a building and comes upon the window of Frank Forlan, a man she's ordered to take out through her memory remix ability. By entering a memory of a fight between Forlan and his ex-girlfriend, Nilin is able to change the way the fight went down. First we see Forlan throw a vase in anger as his girlfriend storms out. From there the sequence rewinds to the beginning and players are given the ability to manipulate objects in the environment. By knocking over the vase and taking the safety off a pistol on the table, the newly remixed memory shows Forlan shooting his girlfriend. In the real world the freshly remixed memory becomes a reality for Forlan, who takes his own life as a result. The slight manipulation of a scene was evocative of Capcom's own Ghost Trick: Phantom Detective.
Nilin's memory manipulation tools can also be used for more action-oriented purposes. In one sequence we saw her thwart a flying gunship by sneaking past its hail of bullets and leaping onto the cockpit. From there she stole the pilot's memories and escaped. In another combat sequence we got a taste of Nilin's hand-to-hand combat techniques. Not only does she have memory overloading finishing moves, but she can manipulate enemies to temporarily fight for her. In a lot of ways, the hand-to-hand combat looks similar to Batman: Arkham City. Nilin can leap from enemy to enemy in a rhythmic fashion and her suite of special moves isn't unlike Batman's utility belt.
Still, one of the more interesting aspects of the combat is the ability to go into a menu and create your own combos. While the only combos we saw were simply strings of two buttons being pressed, it was more about what each button press can do. From what we were shown, each attack can focus on one of three disciplines: higher damage, health regeneration, or cooldown reduction. By creating a combo with several health regenerating attacks, for example, Nilin can fight her way out of a tight spot. By focusing on cooldown reduction she can fight to use her powers more often. Punching someone in the face seems like a counter-intuitive way to regain health, but you have to appreciate the aggressiveness of it.
Combining all the gameplay we've seen so far into one product, it's easy to imagine Remember Me being a deep and satisfying sci-fi action game when it comes out. It's just as easy to imagine a game that feels derivative beyond a couple standout features. I worry that Remember Me will fall into the latter camp, piggybacking off of the winning formulas of games we've already played rather than speaking for itself. After all, I can barely keep track of the number of heroes I've taken through a series of conveniently placed ledges. Uncharted-style traversal may be a novelty in this generation of games, but the generation has run quite long and it's time for something new.
Capcom clearly wants its claim of the Western audience. DmC, Lost Planet 3, and even Resident Evil 6 are all proof of a continuing effort to appeal to us, and Remember Me takes it even further. It's a game that resembles nothing of Capcom's library, but certainly looks a lot like other Western-developed games. That's probably more a result of Dontnod's development work than Capcom's desires, but with a game like Watch Dogs in the pipeline, a game that deals with similar subject matter in a refreshing and exciting way, it's hard to deny a sense that Remember Me might be late to the party in May of 2013. I hope I'm wrong.