Genre: Action Adventure
Release Date: June 4th, 2013
Rating: ESRB M
Platform: PC (Reviewed), Xbox 360, PlayStation 3
Retail: $49.99 (PC)/$59.99 (Console)
In 2084, a new technology has swept the globe: Sensen from the company Memorize has enabled its users to record, delete, and transfer their own memories. Couples share their memories to become closer with each other, victims of trauma delete their troubling memories to live better lives, and anyone else can buy, sell, trade, or remove memories with a regularity and commonality that is in a similar vein to today’s social networking trend. Located in what it now Neo-Paris, Memorize has a near monopoly of this technology along with the very people who use it. This is the dystopian setting of Remember Me, and if that plot line is not interesting enough, then there’s not much else this game has going for it.
I begin with that description because Remember Me is a very story-driven game, so much so that it does not offer much for those who are not a fan of soft science fiction with fictitious social commentary. By story-driven, I do not just mean dialogue or cutscene heavy, I mean that this is an extremely linear game designed to get you from one piece of narrative to another in order to experience the developer’s story. The game will continually remind the player on how to get to that next point or through the current combat arena with pop-ups that will point to the next destination, and tool-tips that show up even in the final battle.
As expected, the story and setting are definitely the strongest points of the game, with the setting excelling especially well thanks to the game’s beautiful art and graphics. Vistas are expansive and show off the luxurious Neo-Paris skyline, while each suburb has more detail than I have seen in the entirety of some games from this generation.
The story itself is full of twists and betrayals and “who is the real villain?” discussions both in-game and in the player’s head (assuming they are paying attention). Many of the twists are fairly cliché, but do not negatively affect the story and are used rather well. It is hard to describe the story without spoiling anything, but as a fan of the genre, it was enjoyable, though I would almost prefer it as a novel where it not for the game’s excellent visuals.
What I’m sure most people are interested in is the gameplay since, after all, this is still a video game. As I’ve said before, it is incredibly linear, and any time Nilin runs into a split in the path, the player can be sure that the secondary direction will only lead to an upgrade or collectible. To illustrate just how linear it is, I would like to compare it to another game with a similar play style: Uncharted. While both games feature some mild climbing/platforming, puzzle solving, and action areas, Remember Me limits the player to one hallway, one series of ledges, and more or less one button to press (outside of a small handful of riddles which are easily the most fun parts of the game).
The ledges are so constrained that invisible walls will occasionally be the only thing to stop a player from even trying to explore. Only ledges highlighted with a yellow marker can be jumped to which, in the beginning of the game, was explained as “the shortest and most direct route,” instead came to mean the only route. This game wants the player to see and experience the world, but only through the prescribed path dictated by the developers.
The heavily advertised combat system, with its ability to customize the attack combos, can be best described as “functional.” By the end of the game, there are four combos of different lengths and combinations of Punch and Kick. The combos themselves cannot be changed; they can only be equipped with modifiers that affect what each hit in the combo does. These include hard hits, healing hits, hits that shorten the cooldown timer on the Specials, and “chaining” hits that increase the power of the hit before it. By the end of the game, however, the player will most likely have these customized with one for strong attacks, one for heals, and one for cooldowns because intermingling the abilities in one combo makes it too weak to be worthwhile.
Along with this, single button dodges play an important role in both avoiding damage and keeping a combo going (as the combo’s progress is preserved during a dodge). Nilin is also equipped with different types of ranged attacks that, while originally designed to solve puzzles, do help mix up the combat a bit, though I personally did not use them except to harass the occasional enemy or take out a robot. All battles eventually come down to how far a combo can be completed before Nilin needs to dodge, or alternatively grinding away at cooldowns in order to use the one effective Special during the fight.
Another issue with the combat is how limited it becomes even after considering the lacking combo system. There are only three enemy types in the game (not including bosses and upgraded enemies), and there is a glaring issue with the robots: they cannot be attacked directly. Robots can only take damage from Nilin’s ranged attack, or her Special designed specifically for robots.
Concerning the Specials, they are all eventually balanced as there are enemies later in the game who can counter them. However, the final Special equates to an instakill that will be used on the one annoying enemy in any fight encounter leaving the standardized combos for the rest of the enemies. Boss battles boil down to standard enemy encounters where a Special needs to be used at the right time, a series of strong attacks mashed into the boss, and then a QTE. The only redeeming quality is that a failure of the QTE does not equate to an instant death, but instead only requires the player to repeat the last cycle of the battle.
Another oft-mentioned ability is the Remix, which features Nilin hacking into someone’s Sensen and modifying their memories in order to modify their personality. While these are usually somewhat well written and change interestingly depending on what is modified in them, the actual gameplay becomes a VCR where the player rewinds, selects a highlighted object, watches how it plays out, then repeats and modifies where necessary. Even more upsetting is the fact that there are only five in the whole game with hours between some and minutes between others.
Remember Me is a game that does exactly what it sets out to do. The game exists to show a futuristic setting and tell a story within that setting, nothing more or less. Unless the player is like me, someone who very often will play a game focusing mostly on the story and setting, this is not a game worth picking up at full price. However, if that doesn’t sound terrible, or it ends up on sale and a ~10 hour long game sounds like fun, there is so much worse out there than Remember Me.