A Future Forgotten - Remember Me Review
Imagine being able to forget your worst memories—past mistakes, past failures, past heartbreaks, traumatic experiences—forever. The basic premise of Dontnod’s 2013 (ironically forgotten) action title Remember Me revolves around this premise of memory and what would happen if human memory could be treated in a similar way to computer memory—we’d be able to both delete, reconfigure, and add memories to our liking… or against our will.
Remember Me follows the story of Nilin, a memory hunter on a quest to both regain her lost memories and put a stop to Memorize, the corporation that discovered how to commoditize memories. With the help of the mysterious Edge, whom Nilin knows only through his voice, and other characters, Nilin explores Neo-Paris to put a stop to the dystopian society that has formed because of Memorize.
Nilin can remix memories and alter people's entire perceptions of themselves and the world around them.
Nilin is a rare memory hunter in that she can not only steal memories, but also remix them so the person believes what she wants them to believe. It can turn enemies into allies, or reveal clues about the past. The story has a few bumps along the way, especially with plot holes involving some of the remixed memories, but the core story itself is a refreshing spin on the overdone trope of the protagonist having amnesia while tackling difficult topics of ethics, equality, terrorism, and classism.
The cast of characters is unique and manages to avoid typical tropes.
Perhaps the most striking aspect of Remember Me’s story is how diverse the cast is—the cast is full of men and women of varying races all of whom are multi-faceted and unique, though a few of the antagonists somewhat one-dimensional. Nilin herself is a woman and of mixed race, which is quite substantial considering the state of the industry and how Capcom pressured Dontnod to change her to a male because "You can't have a female character in games. It has to be a male character, simple as that.” The game’s voice acting was originally recorded in French, so the English voice acting is hit and miss, though generally above average compared to other first-time video games. Edge’s voice varies between being passable and unbearably bad, but Nilin’s voice remains strong and commanding.
Remember Me has two different forms of gameplay within its ten-hour campaign.
The first is platforming, which takes many cues from Tomb Raider. Nilin jumps and climbs from location to location while acquiring gadgets and weapons that allow her to traverse the linear environments in new ways. Some of the platforming holds players hands a bit too much with regards to arrows always showing exactly where to jump, but it’s relatively unoffensive.
Imagine the gameplay of Batman: Arkham Asylum and Tomb Raider mixed together.
Combat involves Nilin fighting numerous enemies at a time using a unique combat system that carries remnants of inspiration from the combat in Batman: Arkham Asylum. Combat uses different combos of just two buttons (or three, if you count the dodge button), but the most important and interesting feature is that of the Pressen System. Pressens are different versions of attacks—punches and kicks, each a respective button—that have unique effects. There are attack pressens that boost damage, health pressens that restore Nilin’s health, cool-down pressens that shorten the time Nilin has to wait before using special attacks, and chain pressens, that link previous pressens together for a greater effect. All pressens do damage to enemies, regardless of the pressen’s function, but the functions make some far more useful than others.
This combat system is impressive and unique.
The true magic of this combat system is how players can create their own combos to suit their own fighting styles. Some may use a short combo for healing only, and maybe a long one for intense damage, and a medium one for cooldowns, or mix them up. It truly makes combat an engaging experience that players can alter when they want. Combat occasionally grows irritating with specific enemies being more of a hassle to fight than they are truly difficult, but it tends to remain fresh and interesting throughout the game. Where the gameplay may be lackluster, the story carries the game along, and where the story may seem uninspired, the gameplay continues the momentum.
The first things you’ll probably notice about Remember Me, however, are the art direction and the sound design, which are among the best of any game within the last few years. The graphics are rather impressive alone, but the way the art direction adds to the visuals is too important to ignore.
The art direction and sound design are phenomenal both by themselves and together.
Both the art direction and sound design are stellar in their own right, but they combine in a way that few games manage to accomplish. The soundtrack is traditional in the sense that it is recorded by an orchestra, but it’s also remixed with fragments of distortion and more electronic noises—like the memories in the story. Remember Me's soundtrack is truly one of the best game soundtracks to come out in years. The art design is almost like Deus Ex: Human Revolution and Dead Space, but with a lot less... orange and brown. The UI of the world jumps out at you—explained by the use of the Sensen on the back of everyone’s neck, which is how memories are transferred, stored, etc.—in an engaging way that almost makes one want a Sensen. Bright, vibrant colors fill the world, the clothing is practical with hints of ridiculousness, and the world just feels alive, regardless of whether Nilin is in the rich or poor portions of the city.
Remember Me is a refreshing action game if there ever was one. It may be flawed in some aspects and fall into a few easy tropes, but the game excels in many places that few games dare to go and circumvents so many other tropes that it’s a truly remarkable game, especially for a new developer. Those who enjoy a good brawler, platformer, or adventure game would likely feel right at home in the world of Neo-Paris in this unfortunately too quickly forgotten action game.