As a general rule, I try not to let myself get hyped up for new games unless I have very good reason to — I’m a fan of the developer, or it’s from a series I enjoy. But the moment I started learning about Remember Me, I couldn’t help but get giddy with excitement. A smart, story-driven sci-fi game with progressive attitudes and murky moral ambiguity? Sign me up!
Thanks to the Steam Summer Sale, I’ve just finished the game, and while it didn’t quite turn out to be the masterpiece I’d hoped, Remember Me is a very intriguing game that I will remember (ha) for a long time to come.
You are what you remember:
Set seventy years into the future in the city of Neo-Paris, Remember Me is based on the concept that memories have been digitized and commercialized. Your most intimate memories can now be downloaded, uploaded, bought, or sold. The game stars Nilin, an amnesiac memory hunter with the ability to “remix” memories and the goal of bringing down big memory.
The brilliant thing about this premise is that it’s so believable — in terms of culture, if not necessarily technology. One of the reasons I’m not the biggest fan of dystopian sci-fi is that I find it very far-fetched. Perhaps I’m simply over-optimistic, but I find it hard to believe people would be willing to submit to such nightmarish regimes.
But the world of Remember Me is just so comforting and seductive. The game begins with an advertisement for M3morize, the company behind the memory technology, and it’s one of the best pieces of advertising I’ve ever seen. I wanted to run out and buy the technology. I still do, despite seeing all its horrible side-effects throughout the game.
Imagine if you could download all the worst moments of your life and never have to remember them again. Imagine if you could relive the best moments of your life with perfect clarity, or even buy new happy memories from someone else. Imagine an end to all pain, all doubt, all regret.
Shut up and take my money, M3morize.
Now, with that being said, the story of the game is a bit inconsistent in its quality. It can ramble a bit, there are some fairly cliche moments, some of the characters are rather thin, and sometimes the dialogue is a bit cheesy. There are also some incredibly moving moments and one or two excellent twists, but the story overall could be better.
On the whole, I did enjoy Remember Me as a story, though. It’s amazingly thought-provoking, and that alone is enough to make me forgive its flaws.
In this, the story is typical of the rest of the game. I found virtually every aspect of Remember Me flawed in some way, but the flaws were never big enough to stop me from enjoying myself.
Mostly, I remember punching people:
Now, when you get down to the actual gameplay of Remember Me, it’s a bit less original — barring the memory remixes, which I’ll discuss in a moment. The game can broadly be divided into two parts: combat sequences focused on martial arts combos, and platforming sequences.
The combat is a mixed bag. When you’ve got your timing down and everything is going well, it’s a thing of a beauty. Nilin flows between enemies like water, dodging, striking, and obliterating all in her path.
Just as often, though, it devolves into a jerky frenzy of button mashing. The combat is never actually bad, but it is finicky and occasionally awkward.
The combat system is supported by the combo lab, which allows the player to customize their combos. You can’t change the order of moves in a combo, but you can change each move’s effect, such as bonus damage, healing, or a reduction in cooldowns for Nilin’s most powerful abilities.
I’ll agree with the majority and say that the combo lab was a missed opportunity. It could have provided a great opportunity for customizing your playstyle, but it simply takes too long to unlock new moves and combos for any real experimentation to take place. By the time you have enough options to really mix things up, the game is already over.
The other half of the game is its platforming sequences, which allow you to climb and jump your way across the cityscape of Neo-Paris. Now, these are incredibly linear and so easy that failure is almost impossible, but I still found myself enjoying them. I imagine serious gamers will scoff at them, but I loved scurrying around Neo-Paris like a monkey.
The most unique feature of Remember Me is the ability to remix memory. In these sequences, the player attempts to alter a person’s behaviour by rewriting their memories.
These remixes involve rewinding through a memory until you spot “glitches” that allow you to subtly alter events. Once you’ve made your adjustment, you watch the altered memory play out to see how it changes, and eventually, you can puzzle out the right combination of adjustments to create the desired effect.
It’s a very good system — despite a somewhat odd control scheme — that strikes a balance between requiring enough brain power to be engaging and being simple enough to not frustrate the player.
Ultimately, the greatest strength of the memory remixes is their power as a storytelling tool. All of Remember Me’s most powerful moments come as the result of the memory remixes, and they get to the heart of the story’s theme.
The ability to control memory is simply too powerful. Of all the horrors spawned by M3morize, I think the worst is Nilin herself. No one should be able to rewrite a person’s very identity.
I’ve heard people criticize the fact that the remixes are actually a very small part of the game, and I understand why, but at the same time, I feel like the remixes might have lost their power if they’d shown up in every mission.
An experience more than a game:
Aesthetically, Remember Me is a 10/10. When I saw The Secret World on my new computer for the first time, I thought I’d more or less found the limit for how beautiful a game could be with the current technology.
I thought wrong.
Remember Me is an unbelievably beautiful game. It manages to be photo-realistic and yet still maintain a very distinct and colourful style. The vistas of Neo-Paris are absolutely breathtaking, and when combined with equally excellent ambient sound, they make for an incredibly real and inviting game world.
The music is also stellar. It’s reminiscent of Mass Effect in that it blends traditional orchestral concepts with modern synth, but I found it more compelling than Mass Effect’s soundtrack on the whole.
Actually, the music isn’t the only similarity between Remember Me and Mass Effect. Both are more experiences than they are games. They’re more about story and asking difficult questions of the player than they are about game mechanics. Although I will say that Remember Me offers much more in the gameplay department than Mass Effect ever did.
Both are fairly progressive in their attitudes, as well. I like how Remember Me makes a point of not making a point of the fact its protagonist is a woman of mixed race. Nilin’s gender and ethnicity are both treated as non-issues.
Remember you soon:
Remember Me is a game with many flaws. There’s no aspect of the game that doesn’t have at least some minor hiccup — be it the controls, the camera angles, or the writing. But none of the flaws are game-breaking, and I admire the game for having the ambition to be different. It may not be as brilliant as I’d hoped, but it has far too much to offer for me to call it a disappointment.
Ultimately, I’d rather a game that reached for the stars and fell a little short than one that is technically flawless but lacking in soul or passion. (I’m looking at you, Rift.)
Overall rating: 8/10 Definitely recommended to anyone who welcomes the idea of video games as art.