Review: Remember Me entertains, but does not retain
On the surface, Remember Me seems like just another shallow sci-fi adventure: a futuristic title set in a war-torn world now being rebuilt by governments working hand in hand with massive corporations – in this case, MEMORIZE, a corporation that has managed to turn one's memory into a commodity. Using Sensen technology, citizens are able to store and upload their most private memories to the cloud, but in doing so have given immense power to the few in charge of this technology. And it's these few that you are tasked with bringing down. It's amazing how something as simple as one's memory can dramatically alter the course of events – as you'll learn while playing Remember Me.
The game begins with you as Nilin, a former memory hunter with the ability to break into people's minds and steal/alter their memories. You awaken in Neo-Paris's Old Bastille prison, robbed of your past memories and set for a complete wipe before being rescued by Edge, the mysterious leader of the “Errorist” movement. With no past memory, you are forced to trust Edge as he guides you to piecing back your memory and bringing down those in charge of MEMORIZE. But is Edge really to be trusted? Is this “Errorist” movement he speaks of really fighting for a just cause, or are you merely some pawn in a larger war? These are the questions that will keep you playing to uncover the truth.
The environment is easily the game's biggest tease. Dontnod has done a remarkable job re-imaging Paris in the year 2084. Neo-Paris is a glorious mix of old-world charm and new world tech; the neon lights that shine upon the marvelous architecture of open-air cafés serve as a cold reminder of a harsh, dystopian future. It's a jarring reminder that the warmth of this once-beautiful city has been torn apart by multiple wars.
The problem is that these environments serve as nothing more than a backdrop to the game. Exploring the city is as simple as getting from point A to point B according to the pathway laid out for you. This could range from simply running down hallways to jumping rooftops. But along the way, you are guided by little arrows directing you where to go.
There's no sense of interaction as you mindlessly run through linear corridors, stricken to the path laid out for you. Any illusion of a grand city dissipates once you realize that you are on a direct course. Your sense of exploration is limited only to searching the occasional side street for health upgrades.
The majority of encounters in Remember Me are limited to hand-to-hand combat. But it's not a button masher; rather, it's a rhythmic system that relies on carefully planned combos that you create yourself.
In the game, there are four distinct types of abilities, or Pressens as they are called: health regen, increased damage, cooldown reduction, and chains (which duplicate and double the effect of the previous Pressen). These Pressens can be combined into combat chains to your liking in what is easily the most attractive feature of the game, the Combo Lab. In this “lab,” you can create and customize your own combos by unlocking new moves and combining them in predetermined orders to fit your playstyle. If you are looking for more damage, simply create a combo filled with only Power Pressens. If you are struggling to survive, you may want to opt for the health regen Pressen.
While the actual combat in Remember Me is sluggish and, at times, repetitive, these combos and Pressens allow for some fun encounters and memorable moments like, for instance, finding ways to counter enemies that hurt you when you deal damage to them. The real fun in Remember Me's combat starts when you must creatively combine your abilities to take down waves of enemies with different defenses.
Throughout the game you'll be tasked with solving a few puzzles. Admittedly, I'm not a puzzle-solving type guy, but the ones in Remember Me are fairly simple and serve as a nice break from the monotonous encounters you'll experience while going from room to room. Puzzles can range from anything as simple as following the pattern of a stolen memory you may have to using your abilities to move objects in your environment.
But the most unique puzzles are the Memory Remixes. There aren't many of these, but they are definitely a welcome mechanic, used at pivotal moments in the game's narrative. In these segments, you are tasked with remixing the target's memory. You'll first watch the entire original memory straight through before scraping backwards and forwards, looking for memory glitches, or elements that can be altered to change the outcome of the memory. Unfortunately, with little clue at first, you won't know which glitch to change or what each will affect. It's a random shot in the dark that will result in tired thumbs from scrolling through and watching an entire memory before realizing what you did was pointless or wrong.
These memory remixes serve a much larger purpose than simply switching up gameplay. As I previously mentioned, with no past memory, you don't know what to believe. With each altered memory, Nilin is faced with moral dilemmas. Her intentions are good, but her actions are questionable. Are the methods for which she goes about solving problems justified? Is what she's fighting for even a just cause? Is what you are supposedly fighting for actually what you are fighting for?
Ultimately, though, Remember Me has a lot of the same issues that plague many third-person action adventure games: poor camera angles, repetitive gameplay, and generic platforming experiences. And really, that's the majority of the gameplay. The sluggish combat often results in missed combo opportunities, and wonky camera angles can really mess with your jumps while platforming. There are some unique aspects to the game, but these refreshing elements are far underutilized.
Remember Me is certainly an appealing title, making some bold moves and introducing some daring gameplay elements, but it doesn't offer enough of these risks to really make the game stand out. It's a nice first step for developer Dontnod, but I'd have liked to see them build upon the many intriguing elements that Remember Me offers.
Reviewed on PC.