Developer: DONTNOD Entertainment / Publisher: Capcom / Played On: Xbox 360 / Price: $59.99 / Release Date: June 4, 2013 / ESRB: Mature [Blood, Partial Nudity, Strong Language, Violence]
Life is a collection of experiences, positive and negative, that shape personalities in fascinating and unique ways. There are moments of sheer bliss you never want to forget, and there are tragedies you’d rather erase. So imagine a world where pain is eradicated; a world that lets you forget horrible memories and replace them with beautiful recollections of a couple’s first kiss or grander thoughts of winning the big game. This is Neo-Paris 2084, or at least that’s what it could have been, if it wasn’t for society’s skewed attitude to addiction, mutation, and loss of identity.
Remember Me is an action-adventure third-person game, and the first project to come from DONTNOD Entertainment. You play as Nilin, a memory hunter turned Errorist (yes, you read that) with a terrible case of amnesia. She’s an enemy of the government, stripped of all her memories due to taking a stance against society’s current state, thus rendering her oblivious to her journey thus far. A helpful yet ominous guide named Edge helps Nilin escape from further memory deletion, breaking her out of prison to continue her previous mission of bringing down M3MORIZE. M3MORIZE is the company running Paris, thanks to its SenSen technology— the means by which memories are digitized then stored, sold, and deleted. M3MORIZE has a monopoly on the digital industry, resulting in the Errorist Revolution forming in protest. Nilin’s escape is, of course, met with brutal opposition, and she has to fight for her life while simultaneously filling the holes carved in her mind.
Serving as both a platformer and a fighting game, Remember Me is a balanced combination of the two gameplay formats. As a memory hunter, Nilin is fast and unleashes an arsenal of moves earned over time, in addition to her skills manipulating other people’s memories.
The melee combat is built around combos; combos are crafted in the Combo Lab, an area that displays moves that are unlocked the more Nilin fights. These moves, called pressens, each have their own special traits. There are four different categories of pressens, such as the regen pressen that generates health and the chain pressen that doubles the effect of the pressen before it. The Combo Lab is never confusing or overwhelming. Where in the combo chain of three, four, or five distinct hits you place a pressen also changes its effectiveness, so it does involve some strategy. Furthermore, you can edit the combos at any time, even mid-battle, should you need to swap out a power pressen (that deals heavy damage) for some health, for example.
S-pressens are different more powerful attacks Nilin gradually remembers throughout her journey. Every time you hit or you’re hurt by an enemy, you gain Focus, which enables Nilin to unleash strong moves like logic bombs, a virus that spreads on enemies in the form of an explosion, and camo, the ability to turn invisible. For long-range combat, or for fighting robots that are immune to punches and kicks, Nilin has a glove called the Spammer that can shoot projectiles and manipulate objects.
Unlike straight fighting games, Remember Me requires inputting the button presses at a steady pace, not button-mashing, which oddly can be frustrating when you’re overrun. Thankfully the game’s combat variety picks up early on, with enemies of different strengths and abilities requiring more thoughtful strategy as you learn to dodge incoming attacks, and respond quickly with damaging (and possibly self-healing) counters.
The camera, however, is occasionally a silent enemy. Boss battles were a particular issue at times. A marker system points to your next objective, but there were times the camera wouldn’t show that direction. The flip-side is those moments the camera illustrated just how beautiful, tragic, and detail-oriented this Neo-Paris is, especially when Nilin is traversing buildings near the Eiffel Tower.
That’s what’s most intriguing about Remember Me: it’s the environment and the people living in it that makes Nilin’s world worth exploring. Virtual notifications of advertisements and bulletins hang everywhere amid the bright striking colors of the city; every citizen seems to have their own story to tell. Eager patrons at ATMs buy new memories, robot courtesans ply their oldest profession in the seedy neighborhoods, and junkies beg for their next fix. You can also read Mnesists dotted around the world—the cultural memories of Neo-Paris’ history—preaching “to fight all forms of ignorance caused by memory loss.”
Graffiti states, “you are what you remember,” which embodies this world’s essence: a time where people’s obsession with information digestion, technological comfort, impatience, and social validation rear a collective ugly head—publicly—though it doesn’t matter since it’s simple to erase any badness from memory. What can’t be wiped clean are the leapers—humans who have turned mutant after succumbing to their overbearing memory addictions.
There are four crucial moments in Remember Me that allow Nilin to use her most extraordinary skill: the ability to remix memories. Certain challenges in the game can’t be solved using methods Nilin usually reserves for enemies, so she will alter one important memory of someone significant, which affects their entire personality. Nilin hacks into a person’s SenSen to view the original memory, and then you have the option to rewind it. Digital distortions will flash on certain objects—termed memory fluxes—making these items open to changing the outcome of the memory.
Memory remixes serve as puzzles; if you alter the wrong item or change it at the wrong time, it can end up, in real-time, killing the wrong person. Though having to rotate the analog stick to rewind becomes a chore, it’s a fascinating puzzle concept that when solved provides context to the larger story.
Separately, Nilin also steals people’s memories for Remembranes, virtual representations of memories that help you unlock security codes or avoid enemy drones. Though they serve a purpose, I found them to be more of a distraction. It was interesting to have holograms show me the best route to enter government buildings, but when it requires me to listen to an enforcer constantly repeat a mnemonic that makes little sense, it gets irritating.
Nilin’s journey never does feel bogged down by useless errands, though there are quite a few times where she remarks that she’s not Edge’s errand girl, one of the finer moments to the dialogue given how cheesy a good chunk of it can be. That said, Kezia Burrows’ delivery of Nilin’s words are commendable, providing a depth of personality and emotion, an aspect lost on the rest of the cast, though that’s overlooked when the story hinges so completely on Nilin’s own struggles. Nilin is surprisingly believable in virtually all aspects of her character, down to her facial expressions—even if I never understood why she walked so seductively in the most blighted area of the city. The soundtrack is also an entertaining blend of orchestral music and audio distortions, complementing a world full of glitches and despair.
Requiring a good ten to twelve hours to complete, Remember Me is a mesmerizing investigation of a heavy technology-centric world, one that may hit close to home. Despite some misgivings about the combat and camera movement, the action always progressed at a fair clip. Remember Me’s unique take on user-influenced combat and a scary futuristic dystopia managed to make a lasting impression, one that everyone should consider adding to their memory bank.
+ Captivating digital age dystopia
— Slow combo registration
+ Nilin is a well-rounded protagonist
— Camera focus issues
7.5 / 10