Remember Me (June 4, 2013 – Capcom – DONTNOD Entertainment) starts with an intriguing premise. The year is 2084, and the citizens of Neo-Paris buy and sell memories. For the right price, Neo-Parisians can acquire memories to have “new” experiences and feel new emotions. Memory junkies hang out in the sewer, and an evil corporation has monopolized the memory market with an insidious product called Sensen. All of this is set in a lush dystopian Paris that is part Minority Report and part Blade Runner. In this Remember Me review, I will go over the story and gameplay.
It’s against this backdrop that our hero, Nilin, is being recruited by the leader of a resistance faction that is attempting to topple the evil Memorize corporation. Nilin is a former memory thief who has had her memory wiped. You play as Nilin as she navigates the futuristic neo-Paris cityscape, fights agents of the Memorize corporation, and dive into individual memories to change, or “remix” their recollection of the past.
As a background and backstory, this works as well or better than any game in recent memory. The game hits on themes related to the constructed nature of memory and by extension identity, it’s dystopian history is rich, and its internal logic is sound. The visuals are lush and detailed, cut-scenes are extremely well done, and the futuristic world invites you in to explore it. The narrative is presented in highly stylized cinematic sequences and commercials, which is reinforced on propaganda and graffiti on the sides of buildings.
In most areas, however, the actual gameplay fails to live up to the high level of the story and visuals. Most of the gameplay is either simplistic combat or navigating by running, climbing, and jumping through the city. Most discouraging is the linear, controlled progression of the game. While enticing visuals and unexplored vistas beckon you to explore Neo Paris on your own, you have very little space to do so. Breadcrumbs pull you along a path toward your goal. The game tells you where to jump and where to run.
The combat is not particularly inventive, either. Most opponents may be overcome by 3-4 combinations which can be mastered relatively early in the game. What originality there is comes from the Combo Lab, which allows players to assign effects such as damage and health regeneration to a particular sequence of attacks. This adds some creativity to the melees, but becomes less interesting and less-used later in the game once you have fine-tuned your sequences.
Where the gameplay really succeeds, however, are in the few sequences called Memory Remixes. In these sequences, you navigate and edit other people’s memories as if you were editing a video. You can rewind and fast-forward, and cut or splice in objects or action to change a person’s reality, often by changing the most insignificant details. In one section, for example, you must reshape the memory of a person to convince them that they have murdered a loved one. It’s only in these sections that you feel like the gameplay fully takes advantage of its storyline to create something really unique and interesting. These sequences are relatively rare, however, and most of the game is consumed by unremarkable climbing, jumping, and fighting, and longingly admiring unexplored vistas.
I would recommend this game. Although the gameplay itself does not match the quality of the backstory, cut-scenes, or graphics; the strength and originality of the latter, combined with the Memory Remix sections makes it a strong enough product to justify giving it a try. It’s not perfect, but it’s interesting, original, and very impressive visually.