Remember Me is an interesting game I'd been following since its announcement at Gamescom two years ago. Originally titled 'Adrift,' it began development in 2008, when Dontnod Entertainment was formed. It introduces players to a futuristic, self-titled Neo-Paris in which you meet Nilin Cartier-Wells, a 'memory hunter.'
· A person who hunts for memories to access information otherwise unbeknownst to aid in a secret agenda.
It's 2084 and Neo-Paris had been segregated by social and financial status decades prior. Everyone has a levitating device called a Sensen installed on the back of their necks; it allows people to remove, add and modify their memories thanks to a company called Memorize. Similar to the Catwoman film in theme - the cosmetic product Beauline that had nasty side effects if you stopped using it - messing with your memories has hostile, zombie-like effects in the long run. Those who can afford treatment are saved, but the less fortunate are cast out like the leper. Memory alteration proves to be the [enter recreational drug here] of the future, as it appears to have addictive side-effects as well; players might walk past citizens in slums asking others for a memory upload just so they can experience something.
Nilin begins the game in the Bastille, a prison, with no memory of who she is - before we meet her for the first time, her memory has been erased. The Bastille in Remember Me is a prison of sorts, most likely named after the Parisian fortress, Bastille Saint-Antoine. Nilin soon gets her memory tantalised when Edge, an activist friend of hers outside of the Bastille hacks into her Sensen and provides instructions for escape.
Shortly after, Edge floods Nilin with piles of exposition and missions to help the activists' cause. As it seems, Nilin was the best memory hunter before her memory wipe and her escape has pinned her once more as Public Enemy Number One. As Nilin's old persona returns to her in bits and pieces, she finds herself with an internal struggle of what's right and what's wrong as well as which parts of her past she still identifies with. Throughout the game, Nilin wrestles with her past, but also with what she has done to others for the sake of the “cause.”
The theme and narrative is much like a futuristic, dystopian version of V for Vendetta; the meek have not inherited the earth and Edge and his group of activists are out to make the government as well as the upper classes fear the redemption of the castaways. However, it's almost as if the activists in Remember Me have never experienced a revolution before, as the violence and trauma they inflict do more harm than good.
Remember Me is a mixture of combat, traversal and the occasional touch of puzzle-solving. The combat attempts to take a similar fluid approach as made famous in the Arkham trilogy and Sleeping Dogs, pitting you against various memory-corrupted savages - think Doomsday and Hills Have Eyes - with combat styles that Nilin will remember throughout the game. These can then be chained to various combinations in Nilin's Sensen's "Combo Lab" to create a wide array of attacks fitting for nearly every situation you'll encounter, from chains that heal Nilin to dealing extra damage to enemies.
It's a nice concept, but as the seams show and the flaws leak out, it's blatant that it is not as good as it could have been. Remember Me's controls feel clunkier and much less responsive than that of Arkham Asylum and Arkham City. When fighting large groups of hostiles, Nilin must spend more time leaping about on the defensive than being aggressive in order to avoid getting surrounded. When she does - which is annoyingly often - the slow combat style and bizarre camera shifts prove problematic. You'll find yourself growing annoyed with the combat as enemy after enemy pour in just when you thought the area's fight scene was over. The more enemies there are, the more pointless the "flowing combat" really is, as it proves to be virtually useless.
Some have compared the traversing in Remember Me to that of Mirror's Edge and Tomb Raider. I disagree with that ludicrous statement for the aforementioned reason: Remember Me does not know what the terms 'fluidity' and 'flowing' truly mean. The game's mechanics are not at all up to par for that comparison. The lack of fluidity in Nilin's overall movements combined with the wonky camera angles often have you moving in an unintended direction and it is not ideal when you are being pursued. In fact, it almost seems as if the traversal elements were simply included to show you around the rather beautifully crafted Neo-Paris. The platforming elements are nothing special nor challenging and it is certainly disappointing, as they could have had much more potential than being a plate filler.
The platforming elements seem to be simply put in place to show you around the beautifully crafted Neo-Paris, and while slick, are certainly nothing challenging. Conversely the puzzle sections contain a few interesting ideas, specifically that of rearranging and tweaking a set of memories to get a different outcome, but sadly they're mostly just for show and not really exploited in any significant way.
Remember Me's strongest sequences are Nilin's memory remixes; she can change someone's personality and motivations by tapping into their Sensen and altering their memories of past events, both small and large. These sequences play out much like a film reel of data in which the player must view the memory, rewind to find points of interest and alter a combination of moments and objects to produce the desired result. For example, moving a cart into someone's intended path of travel or unlocking a wrist restraint. Players can deliberately create an incorrect combination just to view the would-be outcome before applying the correct one. Nilin just keeps changing the story until she can get the result she wants, almost like a sort of God-mode.
I had hoped for something a bit more special than what Remember Me actually brought to the proverbial table. It's certainly something innovative and original, but the overall execution is depressingly poor. Conversely, players get the opportunity to step into the shoes (or rather follow behind as this is a third-person experience) of an anarchist woman of colour - a rare commodity - fighting to reclaim her identity in a stylised world with real-world themes.
It's almost ironic when you consider the themes of Remember Me when compared to present day: consumerism is dominating society in a world where the meek have not inherited the earth and it was instead snatched away by the upper class that can afford to live in such luxury, the world around them does not exist outside their materialism. That and the rather humorous fact that Remember Me arrived near the end of the seventh console generation, as gamers chew on the idea of the future of used games and which next-generation console is a better bargain; class consciousness and a world obsessed with alluring technology.
Clocking in at between eight and ten hours long, Remember Me might not feel like enough to players seeking a long-term experience to hold them over until Grand Theft Auto V or Watch Dogs, but for those willing to overlook its missteps, it offers a lot narratively and thematically. There are quite a few video games that are metaphorically about...well, video games, but Remember Me goes beyond that to bring a narrative that addresses class, corporations, systems of power and consumerism.
While it's a pretty short foray into a future we're well on our way to in the real world, the game's ideas and visuals are ambitious and innovative. With that being said, if Capcom and Dontnod Entertainment are willing to correct Remember Me's issues for a future sequel, we could be looking at a wonderful new IP.