One of the most fascinating things in the world of gaming is the launch of an ambitious new intellectual property by a developer just as new. After being founded in 2008, Dontnod Entertainment finally bursts into the gaming market with the June release of Remember Me. Set in 2084, Remember Me is the story of a woman named Nilin who awakes in a prison with almost all of her memories gone. She is rescued from losing the last of her memories by a mysterious benefactor named Edge. Edge explains that she is an Errorist, an underground activist fighting against a society ruled in de facto by Memorize; a company that holds an almost complete monopoly on the memories of the world. Nilin is a memory hunter, a person who utilizes hacker technology to steal the memories or other people. But she isn’t just any memory hunter: Nilin is the only known memory hunter with the ability to “remix” memories. This means that Nilin can literally rewrite a person’s particular memory to make the person believe a situation occurred differently. If the memory is a defining point in that person’s life, remixing that memory changes that person’s personality, outlook, and actions drastically. This and other unique elements combine to form an interesting take on the classic beat’em’up; though not of course without it’s share of flaws.
Remember Me combines two major and one minor forms of gameplay as the main experience: beat’em’up combat, terrain traversal in the style of Uncharted or Infamous, and the unique memory Remix. The three gameplay styles almost always stay separate throughout the game. The combat is usually delegated to the familiar flat open areas that pop up after a series of jumps, drops, and shimmying along walls and gutters. The parkour climbing is used for these just mentioned things as well as to show off the world of Remember Me and focuses on getting you comfortable with the idea of a strong female lead being able to do these things, while moving you from one combat area to the next.
The combat in Remember Me is focused on breaking down groups of opponents and finishing them off all while staying fluid in the situation, which is shown in the combo system and dodging. Throughout the course of the game you unlock combo slots for attacking that use four different types of attacks known as Pressens, as well as a category of Special Pressens. Each Pressen gives a different effect upon an attack connecting. Power Pressens deal extra damage, Regen Pressens heal you, Cool Down Pressens reduce the time before you can use an S-Pressen again, and Chain Pressens emphasize the Pressen that precedes it in the combo. S-Pressens are special attacks, and can only be used once a focus bar is achieved and the combo is not on cooldown. These special attacks range from simply hitting opponents harder and faster to becoming invisible to enemies.
Thanks to these different options, Remember Me is fun and fluid in it’s combat stages if somewhat over simplified. Combo lists are set in stone by button type, so even if you change up what attack type or the order they are in you will still have to press the buttons in the same exact order. This is a plus and negative because it allows you to tailor your combos on the fly to fit the situation, but it also means that you become very bored with repeating the same things over and over. In fact, for the first two hours of the game don’t expect combat to be fulfilling at all except for dodging. Whenever an enemy is about to attack you an icon appears above their head to alert you, and if you time your button press right Nilin will vault away from the attack and be able to continue her combo where she left off. If you aren’t prepared for a large fight with lots of focus bars and timers reset on S-Pressens, be prepared to dodge. A lot. That being said once you manage to get a hang of the combos and take down a whole crowd of enemies without them landing a single hit, you feel like a god. In fact possibly the best done boss battle of the game involves using all four elements of combat: ranged attacks, up close Pressens, S-Pressens, and lots of dodging in perfect harmony. Overly simple, yet satisfying when done right.
Between fights, the only other thing you really get to do besides looking for collectibles is traversing the world. Nilin shows off fluid climbing and jumping animations while moving from one target to the next; using the inside and outside of buildings, structures, and a multitude of outcroppings and cranes. While all this happens at a fairly smooth frame rate, be careful around edges as the game engine sometimes seems to hitch when you try to leap off. Just jump a little sooner than you would think necessary and you will be fine. Beyond jumping from ledge to ledge movement around the world of Neo-Paris seems limited for the scope that could have been offered, especially with the towering heights and easy handholds that seem to protrude from everywhere. It was slightly disappointing to see this fantastic world all around yet be stuck to a straightforward path that offered little to no challenge.
The last gameplay area that Remember Me focuses on is an all new type of gameplay called “Remixes”. At certain points in the game you are given the task of changing a person’s memories by watching their memories play out and finding any key items that could change the outcome of a situation. By doing this you have the potential to alter their personality, outlook, and most importantly, their actions towards you. It can cause someone who was trying to kill you only seconds earlier become your new ally in the fight, or in a more darker application can even force a person to take their own life. The remixes are a fun break from the other types of gameplay, however they occur far too little. If Nilin has this ability, why isn’t she using it on literally everyone who is against her? The ability to rewrite a person’s memory to become your most loyal ally seems godlike, yet Nilin only uses it sparingly.
Even with next gen games looming in the future, the graphical style of Remember Me is impressive. The stark contrast of the gleaming futuristic city and the dark dank of the sewers and slums below is extremely clear, emphasizing the distance between the two different people groups. Colors abound both in combat and out of it, providing a beautiful backdrop to the world around you. Time a dodge just right against a powerful enemy and you’ll see a beautiful slow motion effect take place that really puts you into the flow of combat. Enter a new area after a parkour session, and you’ll be rewarded with a zoom out panning shot of the astounding sights. In fact the beauty of these shots are what makes it so hard to accept that the game is so linear: you feel like you can actually go over to another area, but invisible walls stop you. Hopefully with Remember Me under their belt, Entertainment has enough experience to be able to provide larger playable areas in future games because the world of Remember Me is a piece of art.
Travelling around Neo-Paris isn’t just a treat for the eyes, but also the ears. Composer Olivier Deriviere breaks up different pieces of music exactly how Nilin breaks up and remixes people’s memories. A truly fantastic companion to this game, the score matched the mood and tone of each moment. It was actually exciting to find enemies because it meant hearing the electronic house music versions, and that meant being awesome, kicking butt, and taking names. The voice acting is also strong, even it doesn’t seem to bond you with Nilin or the other characters like you would expect it too. Still, hardly a large complaint for having a masterpiece of music in your ears for most of the game.
Remember Me is a single player only game. Although seeing the potential of this game screams for a memory mixing multiplayer, doesn’t it?
A new IP can be a once in a lifetime perfect hit, something terrible and not worth any consideration, or most likely: a set of great and new ideas that carry some flaws with them. As the first game coming out of fledgling developer Dontnod Entertainment, Remember Me is the latter of the three. Each and every detail in Remember Me is a great and wonderful idea, each with unique twists and potential that boggles the mind. However, a lot of them could have been used more effectively or even just…more. Some things can be frustrating, like repetitive combat or the same faceless enemies. Twitchy camera angles and magnetized jumping from point to point during Nillin’s freestyle parkour sometimes combine with hair pulling results. Not being able to explore certainly continued the story along properly, but felt too linear and stifling. But if you look past these flaws, you may find yourself having fun with a beat’em’up action game that has style, story, and enormous potential for a great series. It’s definitely worth buying, even if it’s not a perfect game.
Publisher: Capcom, Developer: Dontnod Entertainment
Release Date: June 3rd (PC), June 4th (NA), June 6th (AU), June 7th (EU)
Platforms: PC, PlayStation 3, Xbox 360 Digital: Yes
Price: $59.99 US, £47.99/€59.99 EU Rating: ESRB: M PEGI: 16
Online Pass: No