Remember Me is Capcom’s latest, a dystopian adventure game set in the year 2084. Will it be an unforgettable experience, or an adventure that rivals a groundhog day nightmare? Robbie Palmer investigates.
Amnesia can be a real nuisance. You put down your keys, you forget where you put them. You have a kid, you forget when you should feed them: small things like that. It’s these familiar hints of amnesia that let you immediately relate to Remember Me’s protagonist, amnesia-riddled Nilin. She’s not just forgotten her keys though, and is instead travelling through futuristic Neo-Paris, combating mutant crazy people, known as Leapers, who insist on muttering random incomprehensible sentences.
If you remember correctly (sorry), French developers Dontnod Entertainment are a concoction of developers that worked on various games, including Rainbow 6, Splinter Cell, Heavy Rain and Burnout. You’d think with such noteworthy experience there would be an innovative tutorial system to introduce you to Remember Me’s mechanics the first time you get your hands on the game.
No such luck. The introduction to Remember Me feels like a training session grind. The tutorials of the game are presented via small text, which at the time felt frustrating as it segregated sections of the game I was eager to experience first hand.
Aesthetically, Remember Me is a refreshing change with its social division view of the future. There’s a great sense of segregation and divide in Remember Me, and the contrast from the slums to the upper-class is distinct. While the slums are the antithesis of wealth, there’s an interesting juxtaposition of it being riddled with sophisticated technology, including Blade Runner-inspired floating advertisements.
While the game may look visually innovative, the level of interaction with the world is disappointing. Dontnod Entertainment are clearly aiming to deliver a linear experience with Remember Me, which is fine, but there’s an excessive amount of interesting set pieces that serve no function other than as window dressing. It’s unfortunate, as Remember Me’s world contains plenty of allure, but all its shiniest possessions have a ‘look, but don’t touch’ sign stapled to them.
The game sections I experienced involved traversing an urban landscape and combating various mutant-like Leapers. However, the game reveals its linearity in the scaling of its buildings, as yellow markers direct you through a fixed path of Neo-Paris. With a world this aesthetically impressive, it screams to be explored, ultimately feeling like a missed opportunity. The combat scenarios I experienced couldn’t be avoided, adding to a constrained-feeling experience, but so long as that experience is extremely well crafted, then that’s not a bad thing.
Remember Me features an interesting fight system entitled the Combo Lab, in which you unlock new moves, known as Pressens, to chain a custom-combo together. Building customisable combos has its restrictions, as you are essentially picking pre-determined attacks and simply choosing the order. Attacks can have a multitude of effects, such as damage and health regen. The further you place a move in a combo the more effective the attack will be.
The combat was reminiscent of Batman: Arkham Asylum, in that Nilin would chain combos to attack various targets at once, and involved timing each combination press correctly to continue the chain. It felt satisfying to unleash a 5-hit-combination, but after various times of using the combos the same chains started to feel unvaried.
The game’s crowning glory, though, is likely to be its story, and there’s already the sense that Nilin’s journey through Neo-Paris will be as typically convoluted and winding as you’d expect from anything in the sci-fi genre. I got a heavy Binary Domain vibe from the over-the-top atmosphere surrounding the story, and it was pretty ridiculous, even in a futuristic context, but the voice acting lent itself well to the fantastical narrative.
The most impressive feature I experienced with Remember Me was the ability to alter other characters’ memories with glitches, and it’s surely what will set the game apart. Viewed through interactive cinematics, in one particular scene Nilin could alter time with the intention of causing a character to kill another person when they wouldn’t have done otherwise. I reversed time to cause an almost Final Destination-esque death trap. It’s immensely satisfying witnessing the end result come together, though even more enjoyable seeing my alterations fail, unintentionally leading to my own demise.
Remember Me in its pre-release state feels like an ambitious project. This story-driven action game feels like it carries a lot of personality, and Nilin’s quest to become the memory hunter she once was has potential. Whilst the combat felt satisfying over my hour of playtime, my concern is that extended time spent with the game will make brawls feel monotonous, and the linear nature may start to feel claustrophobic if you’re never given freedom to explore. I’m eager to see more, though, and won’t be forgetting my trip through Neo-Paris in a hurry.
Remember Me, by Dontnod Entertainment and Capcom, is scheduled for a May 2013 release for Xbox 360, PS3 and PC.