Review: Remember Me
One of the games which seems to have slipped under the radar slightly in all the hype over E3 and The Last of Us is Remember Me, an action-adventure beat me up from Capcom which puts the player in a world obsessed with commoditising memories.
I had the chance to check it out recently, and I was optimistic about the game going in – you don’t often see concepts as original as this one which manage to make it up to release without mixing something a bit more commercial, like a taped on multiplayer or switching to FPS. On top of this it looked a lot like one of my favourite cult classics, Mirror’s Edge, and I had to find out if it would live up to my expectation in that regard.
Remember Me really is an interesting game, and above everything else it comes across as a fusion of genres. One part Deus Ex, one part Mirror’s Edge (although not quite enough of this to please me), your time is equally split between exploration/climbing sequences, melee combat and story development – although unfortunately not all of these components are of the same quality.
It takes place in the futuristic Neo-Paris, a city obsessed with Sensen technology – the ability to record and revisit memories. This central theme is found everywhere in the game, from the memory-focused storyline to the additional memory collectables you find along the way. In fact, the central theme of memories is so deeply entwined in every facet of this game that I almost found it off putting – I mean, I know the game is called Remember Me but do we really need to hear something about memories every 30 seconds throughout the entire 10 hour game? Apparently we do.
Neo-Paris is seemingly apocalyptic, with a large disparity between the inhabited “rich” areas and slums and rundown areas inhabited by memory-addled “Leapers”. The Leapers are Remember Me’s answer to Bioshock’s Splicers, cast offs created by some unexplained process who try to leech memories to survive – acting like drug addicts who “just need one more fix [of memories]” to survive. They are also common and plentiful throughout the games story. Which brings me to my next point – the combat.
As a beat-em-up brawler Remember Me features frequent fighting sections, and unfortunately these parts let down the otherwise high standard found in the exploration and story of the game. They predictably involve you squaring off against some police/guards or a pack of Leapers in a large open area, and are even easy to predict once you get a feel for the games design. Just jumped down into a square open area? Odds are you are about to be attacked. In a tight corridor? Probably not then.
The actual combat inherits a lot from the Batman: Arkham games. It’s lost the parry button, but features an evade-roll instead, encouraging you to avoid telegraphed damaging moves from your opponents while executing large combos. The combos themselves can be built from a “combo lab” for different effects, from doing damage to healing you to lowering cooldowns – or a mix of the above. This a well-though out system which suffers a little bit from the limited amount of combos in the game, by the end I had a total of 4 which any fighting fan will tell you is pretty sparse for a beat-em up title.
Wait did I say cooldowns? That’s right, in addition to the underwhelming combos there are five Sensen powers to be unlocked as you play. These actually add a lot of flavour to the fighting, and without them the game would undoubtedly feel boring as you executed one of the same four combos over and over regardless of the enemy. They vary between things like Sensen Fury, an all-out comboless rage mode which deals high damage for chain hits, and less obvious abilities like Rust In Peace, which takes control of a robotic enemy and either detonates it for extra damage to your enemies or turns it into your ally for a brief period of time.
But where Remember Me really shines is the memory re-mixing sequences. This is where you are given a memory, which plays out like a scene from a movie, and then you are able to rewind it and change small details – which can build into large effects that change people’s mentalities or motivations and assist you in the game.
For example (obviously don’t read this if you don’t want spoilers for one of these sections, there are about five in the game): at one point I was asked to remix a womans memory of a car crash so that it was her fault instead of her child (who had originally distracted her causing the crash). By changing things like whether the cupholder was out or whether her bag was open, it could build into a completely different crash – or, as I found out repeatedly, you could avoid the crash entirely. I’ve never felt quite so morbid as I did when I found myself resenting the lack of car crash for the third time in a row – why won’t you horrifically injure yourself already woman?!
The story is another major point in Remember Me’s favour, eloquently skittering between an Errorist revolution against the shady memory-corporation Memorise and the main character’s self-doubt due to her own lack of memories (they get wiped before the events of the game take place). As I said before it’s part Mirror’s Edge and part Deus Ex, and it weaves between these concepts with finesse – even if the ending doesn’t quite live up to the sophistication of the rest of the game.
All up Remember Me is a memorable title (sorry, had to do it) which stands out from a crowd of games frightened to take a chance. Sure it’s not perfect, but it’s also not a sequel and not like anything I’ve played before and both of these are strong points in its favour – I’d recommend it to anyone who wants to try something different, as you will no doubt find the streets of Neo-Paris unlike anything you’ve explored before.