Review: Remember Me
Remember Me tries to cyberpunk you to cyber hell and gone, and is an amnesiac when it tries to be a "jack of all trades".
- Worth The Time?Yes, if you are intrigued by cyberpunk tales. If you're a fan of cyberpunk Sci-Fi narratives this may be the game for you. Otherwise it may bore you to death.
- Things LovedThe cyberpunk narrative hits all the right notes and is interesting, the combo system and combat is a refreshing change from other third-person action adventure titles. The soundtrack is amazing as well.
- Things HatedWhilst the narrative can be captivating at times, it does suffer from some predictable twists. Enemy types are repetitive and this affects the nature of combat, where after investing much time into the game things become predictable. Remember Me attempts to be a "jack of all trades", by including platforming sections, third-person shooting and stealth elements which create a hodgepodge of mediocre game elements without a strong focus on a singular gameplay element. Add to this, terrible voice acting in parts of the game and the overall experience is somewhat tarnished.
- RecommendationIf you are into cyberpunk fiction like Blade Runner and Total Recall, this would be the game for you. Remember Me would also appeal to action adventure fans seeking something slightly different from the status quo.
- Name: Remember Me
- Genre: Action Adventure
- Players: 1
- Multiplayer: None
- Platforms: PS3, Xbox 360, PC
- Developer: Dontnod Entertainment
- Publisher: Capcom
- Price: R559 (PS3, Xbox 360), R379 (PC)
- Reviewed On: Xbox 360
Remember Me is a game that succeeds in parts and fails in others, which is quite a tragedy for such a promising new IP. But within its failures, there are some shining examples of good storytelling and interesting character development that are stunted by a misguided “jack of all trades” approach to overall game design. This is quite the pity as will be explained. Remember Me weaves a deep cyberpunk tale that covers all the basics of the genre, but doesn’t dare to go as far as possible and tread new territory within the sprawl of cyberpunk and Sci-Fi.
The story follows that in the year 2084, a person’s memories can be digitised, bought and sold like any form of currency. The word “privacy” has no meaning and society has become entrenched in high-tech surveillance and social networking, which are social norms. Society is run on the power and trade of memories, which are all facilitated through the use of Sensen technology, invented by the mega-corporation Memorize, which allows people to access their own memories and others’ memories. In Remember Me, you play as Nilin, a former elite memory hunter, an individual who hunts down people for their memories and has the ability to “remix” her target’s memories to achieve an objective for her clients. However, Nilin’s mind is erased of all traces of her former life and she is left for dead as an amnesiac. In the game, Nilin sets out to reclaim her long forgotten memories and find out who she really is, at any cost.
During her journey, she faces the ills of dystopian society, that of Neo-Paris, and fights mutated denizens known as Leapers, the power and authority of Memorize, and a slew of robots and soldiers. The narrative of Remember Me takes much from the works of William Gibson, with his notable work Neuromancer, Blade Runner and Total Recall and amalgamates them quite cleverly. But the effect of this is a predictable storyline that doesn’t truly surprise the player, but is ultimately interesting enough to warrant a playthrough. Nilin, as the main protagonist, is stuck between existentialistic crisis and revenge for what has happened to her, at the hands of Memorize, which creates uncertainty in ‘who’ this character truly is. Even when it’s made clear about what happened to her in the past, her character suffers from uneven character development that doesn’t come across as convincing. Add to this, a dull and corny supporting cast of characters including the overly cheerful companion to Nilin, known as Edge, and the experience can be a grating at times. Luckily the game is saved by the sum of its elements, rather than relying heavily on the narrative which despite its shortcomings is still serviceable and entertaining when it counts.
Remember Me caters to action adventure fans, especially those who enjoy the Uncharted series. There are added stealth elements which only come into play when the acquisition of memories is needed or you need to remix a target’s memory. Stealing memories from targets is necessary as through them you can retrace the steps of an enemy, via fragments of memories known as Remembranes, and make progress in taking down Memorize. Everything in Remember Me is influenced by memories and this is the central driving force of much of the gameplay. Yet it must be noted that the game is very much action-driven. For example, in one sequence you have to run and hide away from a helicopter pursuing Nilin through the high rise architecture of Neo-Paris, this set-piece requires well timed jumps and accurate platforming skills on your part as well as being able to be stealthy when required. The game is a weird mixture of platforming, combat, combos, third-person shooting and stealth sections. It is in this regard that Remember Me loses the plot and focuses on too many gameplay elements simultaneously, and neglects promising aspects of the game such as memory remixing, and the customisable combo system.
The most promising feature of Remember’s game design is memory remixing. This ability allows Nilin to manipulate the memory of a target. She can rewind, fast-forward and replay a target’s memory and effectively change the memories of her target during a mission. Essentially she can change anyone’s mind, and can make someone kill himself, or herself, from a simple remixing. Memory remixing seems deviously simply at first, but as you rewind a memory you’ll need to identify the correct “memory bugs”, elements of a memory which Nilin can alter, and change the outcome of a memory to suit the parameters of a mission objective. Therefore you may have to replay a memory numerous times, depending on the mission’s requirements, to address the mission objective satisfactorily. This is a fresh gameplay mechanic which sadly appears only a few times throughout the whole game, and could have been centrally utilised, instead of being sparsely used as a simple plot device in the narrative.
Combat is one of the finer points of appeal in Remember Me, specifically with the customisable Combo Lab. All you need to do is open up the Combo Lab menu, organise your combo sequences from unlocked forgotten fighting moves, and create a number of varied combos that are placed in Active Combo slots. The forgotten fighting moves that you regain throughout the game are called Pressens. You can have up to four Active Combos and have to customise your combo according to the combat situation with four types of Pressens which are: Regeneration, Power, Cooldown and Chain. To unlock an increased number of specific Pressens, to reorganise combos with, you need to earn PMP (Procedural Mastering Power). There are allegedly 50 000 possible combos available to experiment with, so you’ll have to test that out for yourself.
To create combos, you pick out different Pressens and slot them into one of the Active Combo slots, which is made up of a number of nodes, where you can place Pressens. For example, if you insert Cooldown Pressens into one of your Active Combo slots then your combo will decrease the amount of time dedicated to the cooldown period of a special move, such as an S-Pressen. You can be creative with this and insert a combination of Regeneration, Cooldown, Chain and Power Pressens to increase the effectiveness of a combo where you can double a previous move’s damage potential, following through with a healing section within the combo. All of this can happen within one combo, if you successfully pull it off. If you initiate a series of combos successfully than you can “overload” an enemy’s Sensen and finish them off swiftly. But in some situations, the enemy may have sufficient defenses, and you may need to use your super powered moves, known as S-Pressens, which are unique to Nilin.
S-Pressens consume energy from a power gauge known as the Focus gauge. To gain Focus, you have to land hits on enemies with combos and can alternatively take a sufficient amount of damage to render the same effect. S-Pressens include: the Logic Bomb that can shatter enemies’ shielding and can cause an area-effect explosion, Rust in Pieces which turns mechanised enemies into allies, Sensen Fury which gives Nilin unbridled power to initiate a near endless stream of combos, Sensen Camo where Nilin becomes camouflaged and can overload a single enemy from behind, and Sensen DOS which is a group stun attack that renders enemies defenseless for a short period of time. All of the S-Pressens have different cooldown periods and using the Cooldown Pressens helps to decrease cooldown periods. Combat in Remember Me requires careful consideration, as you need to be strategic in choosing the right Pressens and S-Pressens as Nilin has to combat many types of enemies which includes armoured mechs, flying robot sentries, electrified enemy soldiers and bosses.
Remember Me’s combat is enjoyable and takes a great deal of time to fully master, but this is stunted by the repetition of enemy types and overwhelming hordes of enemies that translates not into a challenge, yet more so into an irritation in some battles. Combos become difficult to pull of as you make your way through the game and the input of the combos is timed to the flow of movement as dictated by Nilin, which at times is slow and cumbersome to follow. The combat and combo system have depth and it is sad that the gameplay mechanics aren’t fully realised. Included in the combat arsenal are projectile-based weapons known as the Spammer and Junk Bolt which are used for third-person shooting sections in combat, such as dealing with airborne enemies or hitting a target in the distance. Said weapons can be used to hack into closed off sections of a level, or to make progress through an obstacle such as fracture in the wall that blocks a path. The third-person shooting is clumsy and select targeting becomes an issue when faced by hordes of enemies. It isn’t as refined as it should be, and does nothing to help lift the combat in any substantial way.
The art style of Remember Me is marked by a juxtaposition of clean ‘hygenic’ environments that represent the technological heights humanity has reached, set against the underbelly of poverty and rusted slums that a large portion of the populous of Neo-Paris have to endure. The visuals are striking and the juxtaposition of the aforementioned aesthetic dynamics creates unique level-by-level designs in the game which give you a sense of the cyberpunk world Nilin inhabits. Tall clean buildings, that Nilin climbs and traverses, make up much of the landscape, but as you make your way through the slums in the beginning of the game you gain an understanding of the actual world as affected by Memorize and their Sensen technology. The visuals truly highlight the dystopian aspect of Remember Me’s version of a future dominated by the control and trade of human memories. Nilin and the cast of characters that surround her are well designed and visually reflect the state of affairs in Neo-Paris. Remember Me is visually refreshing to play, and it is not the brown mess that is commonplace in other AAA games.
Complimenting the stunning art style is a stellar soundtrack which can be simply described as “electronic meets symphonic bliss”, where an orchestral soundtrack is layered with electronic modifications that remix the sound much in the same way that Nilin remixes the memories of her targets. The score suits the game’s design impeccably. Conversely, Remember Me does falter in some areas of audio design with unsatisfactory voice acting in the supporting cast surrounding Nilin, primarily with Edge who communicates with, and helps, Nilin along her dangerous journey. It just wasn’t all that convincing and left much to be desired.
Ultimately the main problem with Remember Me is that it doesn’t deliver on all of its promise and feels like a wasted opportunity. The game succeeds in parts and has an interesting story, and a great world to explore. Sadly elements of the game remain unbalanced, overcrowded with too gameplay mechanics that lack focus.