Altering memories, amnesia, a futuristic cityscape, whenever elements such as these are introduced to a game our initial thought goes to Total Recall. Maybe at first it feels like reaching for a comparison, but then you’re introduced to a character called Quaid, and you realise that it’s clear first time developers Dontnod Entertainment took a little inspiration from Hollywood. That’s not to say it doesn’t have ideas of its own, even if some are a little underdeveloped.
The story focuses on Nilin, a memory hunter who at the start of the game has no memories of what happened to her. The story then unfolds as Nilin joins forces with some guy called Edge and begins her quest to bring down mega corporation Memorize and regain her lost memories. When you’re dealing with this sort of plot it won’t come as a shock that some things aren’t quite what they seem and it certainly does intrigue enough to make it through the campaign.
On the surface Remember Me is very much a third person action game, taking cues from other games in the genre. Combat is almost reminiscent of Batman (albeit with its own more unique ideas) and platforming is very much in the Uncharted mould. The downside is it tries to ape these games, but fumbles more than it succeeds. Combat is the more interesting of the two, allowing you to build your own combo’s. Defeating enemies earns PMP which in turn helps unlock Pressens. These Pressen are used in the Combo Lab to create various combos, ranging from simple three button attacks to the more complex nine button strings. The more tactical aspect of creating combos are the various types of Pressens that can be unlocked.
“Power”, “Regen”, “Chain” and “Cooldown” are at your disposal. Power works exactly as it sounds, with Chain essentially doubling the impact of the previous Pressen in the combo. Regen is used to regenerate health and Cooldown is used to regenerate S-Pressen energy. S-Pressen’s being powers unlocked throughout the game, ranging from controlling robots to stunning every enemy around you. It’s combining these elements into combo’s that is at the core of Remember Me’s combat. Low on health? Quickly alter your combo to utilise more health regeneration sacrificing power in the process. It’s just a shame the feel of the combat is a little off.
The impact of each blow landing never feels like it’s hitting with much weight. Particularly when bouncing from enemy to enemy, it feels like the damage you’re doing is miniscule and you really need that feel of impact to communicate whether your combo is working as expected. Many times combos got broken because the correct button was pressed too late or soon. It’s a shame when the core concept is interesting and feels unique. This becomes most infuriating during the many mob encounters or boss battles where you will desperately need to chain together attacks to stay alive.
Platforming fares a little better, if it is a little too streamlined. There is always a yellow marker pointing you to directions on which you can climb, so it’s not exactly challenging, with the exception of the Uncharted-style set pieces that feel like the bargain basement alternative to Naughty Dog’s spectacle.
Spectacle being something that Remember Me is trying to accomplish. There are very few games out there that could benefit from a larger budget, this is one of them. It often feels like the ideas outweigh the amount of money available to the developers, the Neo-Paris setting is a beautiful world; it’s just not one that’s fully realised. First stepping out into the big city is a highlight, it’s just that further exploration of this world doesn’t flesh it out in any meaningful way.
The most interesting aspect of the game is the way Nilin is able to change characters memories. There are certain story beats requiring Nilin to enter the memories of people and changing what they remember, using this to change how people react and behave. When inside the memory you’re able to rewind and fast forward the memory, picking out certain elements in the environment and interacting with them, whether it be unfastening a seatbelt or moving a table. There are a number of objects to interact with in each scene and the key is to find out the correct pattern of interactions needed to complete the objective. These are clearly the most interesting element of the game, but are few and far between, and as they play into the main story they feel very linear in their design. Just imagine if you could change characters memories during battle, maybe gaining their trust, or take a leaf out of Syndicate’s book and making them commit suicide. It’s an idea that we wish was more fleshed out than what it is in the final game.
For a first time developer, Remember Me appears highly ambitious. And while it’s got some neat ideas it never quite does anything substantial with them, instead providing an enjoyable, if forgettable experience.