Into The Past
Under the radar, inside a mountain of coal, there is a diamond. A refreshing and original diamond that somehow has brought a mystical breath of fresh air into the 2013 games release schedule. Remember Me is one of those hidden gems that you might see sitting on a shelf and completely ignore because you might not have heard much about it. It’s Vanquish, it’s Bayonetta, it’s one of those games that everyone should play, but hardly anybody knows about it.
Set in a world where memories can be bought, sold, confiscated and stolen you play as Nilin. A memory hunter who has been arrested for a crime that she can’t remember committing. Having had the majority of her memory wiped in prison Nilin knows nothing about herself and while waiting in line to have the last remnants of her psyche removed from her head Nilin is contacted by Edge, a friend that helps her escape and guides her on a mission that will have her tracking down her own lost memories, manipulating the minds of others and in doing so discovering more about her past than she could have ever wanted to know.
As a big fan of a clever narrative I loved the originality of Remember Me’s story. These days most games are about saving friends, saving worlds, rescuing princesses or getting revenge. And while Remember Me has a few subplots that lightly touch on these basic concepts the overall setting was a delight to experience. The way it unfolded piece by piece is more than just engrossing, it’s absorbing. Even in between sessions you’re thinking about the next chapter.
Nilin is a tough as nails character with a true and believable human side. From the first few minutes of the game during which Nilin knows as much about the world as you do, the player immediately develops a connection to her which stays there for the entire campaign. Rather than learning about a game and back story from generic statements passed off as banter the player learns with the main character. This keeps the connection between player and protagonist strong throughout the experience and like magic, just as you begin to develop ideas and suspicions about what’s going on, so does Nilin. I’m obviously being as brief about the story as I can to prevent spoilers so I won’t go into any more detail. But I will say this, playing as a character who can’t trust her own memories has a very interesting impact on how you will feel while playing this game.
“a character who can’t trust her own memories has a very interesting impact on how you will feel”
Let’s talk about game play. Remember me is a third person action/fighter game but despite what you may see in the trailers it’s certainly not a random button masher. The majority of enemy encounters involve hand to hand combat however as Nilin has little to no memory of how to fight she must gradually re-learn her combat knowledge. As you progress you’ll unlock combos like any other game but in addition to that you will learn specific moves to put in to each combo. These are called Pressens and each one is a different move and has a different impact on both Nilin and her enemies when executed correctly.
For example, your first combo is a simple X-X-X button combination. Each button press can have one Pressen assigned to it (get it?) except the first one in a combo. When given the opportunity you can select from a range of X Pressens. One may be a spin kick that can break an enemies defences and do lots of damage, another may deal less damage but will also replenish Nilins health gauge. These can be re assigned and adjusted as you progress through the campaign and there are many situations where tweaking your Pressens can have a huge impact on how quickly you’ll progress through an area. The beauty of this is that while your Pressens may change the button combinations remain the same, so even after changing things around you don’t need to re-learn combos. The only negative aspects I found for this system was that combos are only made up of two buttons and by the end of the campaign I had only unlocked a total of 5 combos. While changing Pressens around has a significant impact on how the combos look, once you’ve mastered each of them and figured out the right timing the combat can get a little monotonous.
A good number of enemy types gradually introduced to you at what seems like perfectly timed intervals helps break up this repetition considerably. On the other hand though they aren’t the smartest guys in the world and when fighting one on one it’s too easy to box an opponent into a corner. Towards the end of the game you’ll find that the main challenge is surviving a few waves of enemies as the close you get to finishing Remember Me the more enemies you’ll face at a time.
Remember me also has some basic Tombraider-esque climbing sections which are aided by a clever augmented reality system that helps you see where you need to go next. Jumping and climbing is easy enough but running around felt a little gimped. Nilin doesn’t always seem to hit the mark or face the right direction that you’re aiming for and this became a little frustrating during the few basic puzzle solving sections. And while I’m on the subject; the puzzles were pretty inconsistent in difficulty. While the majority of them were challenging enough without being too difficult there were two that I just couldn’t get my head around. It’s been a long time since I looked up a walk through and while guides helped me get through those two puzzles I still can’t make sense of them.
The game is set in “Neo Paris” and like most current societies there are good areas and bad areas but here it’s done to an extreme. The rich up market areas are neat, tidy with assistant droids all over the place serving those that live a life of decadence. The less than pretty slums however reminded me of the city in The Super Mario Bros movie with garbage and filth all over the place. Neo Paris was a fantastically designed environment that I would have loved to explore in more detail but as the game is 100% linear this wasn’t an option.
With a fresh and original story, great visuals, a clever combat system and a beautiful musical score Remember Me ticks all the boxes for what we should expect in a new release this late in the current generation of consoles. It may not be a game that you’ll play through more than once, but it’s definitely a game that you’ll remember.
Developer: Dontnod Entertainment
Release Date: June 6th 2013 (Xbox 360, PS3 and PC)