Remember Me Review
I can see Remember Me at one point being called "I Can't Remember Me" because as the game's heroine Nilin you have very little memory of your life before the Memorize Corporation wiped your memory clean. Why? Well, you have to play the game to find all of the answers, but I will tell you that the game takes place in 2084 in Neo-Paris, a city under the strict control of an authoritarian regime that keeps the elite of society comfortable in gleaming towers while the masses toil in the flooded streets below. In 2084, everybody is implanted with The Sense Engine, or SENSEN, a device that allows them to share memories in what may be the ultimate evolution of today's social networks. The SENSEN can also be used to alter, sell, and even wipe clean memories, which bring us back to Nilin. Faced with a final and permanent memory wiping process, a dazed Nilin finds herself the target of a rescue operation put into motion by the mysterious Edge, leader of a resistance movement known as the Errorists. According to Edge, Nilin was an Errorist who got caught, and not only that, she was the best of the memory hunters...
The thing I'll remember most about Remember Me is that it's a game packed with a lot of fantastic ideas that falls a bit short of fully realizing them. The long views you'll snatch of Neo-Paris are incredible, but Remember Me is not an open world game. In fact, the path it forces you along is claustrophobically constrained. The game gives you the ability to free climb high above the ground along ledges, pipes, and signs, but not only is there only ever one path available to you, the game constantly points it out to you. There's a custom combo system that lets you design your own attack combos and their effects, but it's restrictive enough to make you feel like you're just unlocking predetermined combos as you make your way through the game. And then there's the story, which at a conceptual level is fascinating, but it seems that the developers had trouble filling in the details leading to too many clich�d or awkward moments.
Before I get into the gameplay, I should note that I played the game using an Xbox 360 controller. It's possible to play the game with the keyboard and mouse, but as is the case with most games developed with console support first in mind Remember Me plays far more naturally with a controller. Now that that's out of the way...
At first moving around Neo-Paris is enjoyable, leaping across alleyways, shimmying along conduits, and performing similar acrobatics. However, far too quickly you'll learn that it's all just an exercise in follow-the-leader as you point the controller's stick in the direction of the next orange arrow prompt that appears on the screen. Those views of the Eiffel Tower, Montmarte, and other Paris landmarks will always be distant ones, leaving you stuck traversing one alleyway after another. You'll occasionally come to a fork in the path, but the side route is always short and there to lead you to a collectible pick-up. Accidentally select the main path first and you can easily find yourself prevented from backtracking, never to see what that collectible was simply because you made the wrong guess on which direction to go first.
When you're off of the sides of buildings and on foot again, you'll soon inevitably find yourself in a fight, usually with law enforcement or the Leapers, people turned into violent sub-humans from SENSEN induced brain damage. The fights are certainly fun to watch since Nilin is so nimble and acrobatic that she has some pretty incredible attack and dodge moves. During fights you'll attack by using the combo sequences you've created, careful to time the button presses to coincide with the strike resulting from the prior button press. When enemies are about to attack, they'll telegraph their moves with big red exclamation marks over their heads, and when you see one of these you'll need to hit the dodge button to get out of the way. The battles (and enemies) move along at a comparatively leisurely clip, so they're not really too challenging for anyone who's used to playing console-style action games.
As for the combo creation system, the game uses a Combo Lab screen that lets you arrange button presses with different effects into your combos. These effects, which the game calls "Pressens", fall into one of four categories, Power (damage), Regen (healing), Chain (doubles effect of previous buttons), and Cooldown (reduces cooldown time for special attacks). Now before you get all excited about building an arsenal of dream combos I'll have to point out that there's not all that much freedom in designing your combos for a game that lets you be free to make your own combos. The available Pressens are pre-assigned to either the X or the Y button, and the available combo slots are already assigned a button which the Pressen used in that slot must match. On top of that, most of the Pressens are locked from the beginning and the game is very stingy about doling out the unlocks. The net effect is that for a good portion of the game you're "designing" your combos by placing the only available new Pressen in the only available slot it will fit in.
At occasional points in the story you'll be given the chance to alter the memories of one of the characters in the story. This involves playing a scene from that character's memory in which you have full control over the "playback" of the memory, moving time forward and backwards in real or accelerated time as if you were controlling a video. A certain points you'll notice "glitches", which amount to objects that you can manipulate in order to change the events in the memory. Not all glitches will lead to the desired effect, and some will actually lead to an unintended outcome. If you make a mistake, though, the game will play out the consequences of your actions, let you know why it was a failure, and then let you try again. Since it's not at all obvious what objects will lead to changing the memory in your favor and which will have a negative effect or none at all, these sequences are pure exercises in trial and error - and another initially interesting and unique game feature not executed well enough to avoid leaving you feeling disappointed.
And that's the takeaway for everything about the game. Novel game ideas, an interesting premise, and a visually stunning world, none of which are executed well enough to make Remember Me the memorable game that it could have been. Combine that disappointment with the game's rigid linearity and excessive handholding, and you get a game that's more fun to look at and listen to than it is to play.
Final Rating: 68%. The good ideas need to be backed up with good gameplay.