Review by DrAkabane
"Not a forgettable game, but not one you'll remember forever either"
Remember Me is a title that I anticipated for quite some time, and while the game was quite enjoyable, I admit to feeling just a tiny bit unsatisfied upon my completion of the game. I can best describe Remember Me's style as a mix of Cyber Punk and Tech Noir.
Neo-Paris, 2084. A new technology that allows people to edit and share memories with one another is developed and integrated into society. It is called Sensen(or Sensation Engine) and is developed by the corporation Memorize.
The story begins with Nilin, the story's protagonist, in the cell of a large facility with her memory being wiped. A bot/drone is unable to wipe her memory completely, and she is to be taken out of the cell so a doctor named Quaid can finish off her remaining memories. As she is being led to what seems like a painful end, she is contacted through her Sensen by a mysterious man. This man then provides a distraction for her to escape and start to piece together exactly what is going on. I will not reveal more past this point, as that would be giving away too much.
At its core, Remember Me is a story about revenge, justice, and self-discovery. Not just about Nilin's lost memories, but you will find that there is so much more Nilin needs to learn about herself and her past. Even with her memories in tact.
The story itself is pretty strong for a game of this genre. Strong voice acting across the board brings the personalities of the characters to life. Nilin is immediately likeable as the protagonist. You will meet a variety of friends and foes along Nilin's journey; each of whom bring something to the table. Some characters are more developed than others, but I didn't really feel like there were any characters thrown in just to take up space or story time.
The gameplay of Remember Me is where the game both stands out and shows its flaws. The game looks and feels very polished. However, only when you play the game for several hours do the flaws become more apparent.
The combat is fluid, fast, and intuitive. Much akin to the Batman games: Arkham Asylum and Arkham City. The combat is almost entirely combo-based. There are nodes called Pressens that you add to a variety of set combo grids in your Combo Lab. There are four sets of Pressens. Red, Yellow, Purple, and Blue(Power, Regen, Cooldown, and Chain respectively). Each set has an X and a Y Pressen that coincides with those buttons on your Xbox 360 controller. You can mix and match the Pressens in any order you want as long as they match the set X and Y requirements on the combo grid. You start with a select few amount of Pressens you can use, but you unlock more by expending something called PMP that you gain by defeating enemies. Sound confusing? It really isn't.
As you progress through the story, the game unlocks new and deeper combat elements like new and longer combos, and special abilities called S-Pressens(I'll get to these shortly) and something called a Spammer, which works somewhat like a gun. As these unlock, it adds a lot of variety to combat, giving the player a choice in how they want to tackle each group of enemies. However, due to the game spoon-feeding the players these additions bit by bit, I felt like it took too long for the combat to fully blossom into something truly fun and addicting.
As you progress, you also learn special attacks called S-Pressens, which are often required to beat certain bosses and enemies. Each time you use your S-Pressens, there is a required cooldown effect until you can use them again. Additionally, you use up an energy bar that is right next to your health bar on the bottom left corner of the screen. Your energy replenishes as you continue fighting enemies. S-Pressens can be strategically used in most situations, but the fact that the game forces you to use specific ones in certain situations can take away from the freedom in combat.
Developers created an aesthetically satisfying world that is a wonder to view and discover as you continue through the story. Unfortunately, the world is extremely linear. The areas you traverse on your journey appear larger than they are, and they invite you to explore a futuristic Paris and everything it has to offer. There just isn't much to explore. Random NPCs and inanimate objects will be blocking pathways, and most of the time there is one general path to take for each chapter(of which there are 8). Occasionally, you will come across optional doors and hallways/pathways to take. Almost all of them either lead to dead ends or optional upgrades you can collect to strengthen Nilin. Health upgrades, energy upgrades, etc. There are plenty throughout the story, and the game even provides hints to their locations through digital screens in the environment. It takes five of each to upgrade a certain aspect of your character. There are also pieces of information to collect, called Mnesist Memories, that provide some additional information on the world and possibly some backstory.
However, there is a major problem with this design, and it has a lot to do with what I consider the game's biggest flaw. That would be its save system. You cannot manually save at all. The game uses a strict auto-save checkpoint system, which makes reloading if you miss an optional upgrade impossible. To compound the problem, the game doesn't let you know which path is the one that advances the story when these optional pathways are presented to you. So, if you choose the wrong path and advance the story, you will find yourself locked out of any chance to go back and explore a different section of the chapter. I consider this a major design flaw. Especially since the game so egregiously points you in which direction to go in during the platforming elements of the game(more on that later). Furthermore, your Pressens and PMP gathered are not saved until you reach a checkpoint. So, if you die, prepare to go through all of that work again.
Throughout the story, you will receive certain upgrades that allow you to interact with the environment in different ways. However, this is basically limited to switches, doorways, shutters, and things of that nature. The environments themselves, while pretty, offer no real means of interacting with them.
Remember Me offers your standard platforming elements. Climbing and jumping ledges, climbing up walls, jumping to various set parts of the environment. These are made extremely obvious to the gamer with little orange "notifications" onscreen to let the gamer know where to go next. This game holds your hand. A lot. All other boxes, crates, walls on the environment are pointless and may as well be invisible walls. Oddly enough, if you are a sucker for platforming, Remember Me may do just enough to tickle your fancy in this department.
Lastly, the strongest aspect of this game might be the Memory Remix Sequences. There are only four of these in the game, but they really are a lot of fun. Unlike most aspects of the game, these offer a lot of freedom to explore people's thoughts and accomplish story-set goals. The premise is to explore memories of key story characters and alter them in a way that benefits your cause. You fast-forward and rewind an entire sequence at your leisure and figure out which set elements to manipulate to get the desired results. It's a pretty cool feature of the game, and I think it could be made even better should any sequels be released in the future.
I only played through Remember Me on the medium difficulty setting(called Errorist Agent), so this review only covers that. Other difficulties may offer different challenges. It is moderately difficult at most. The game often suffers from difficulty spikes, where you'll be cruising on along with no challenge whatsoever, and then a large band of enemies is thrown at you without warning. This may prove to be an annoyance to some. I, myself, did not mind, because the game usually offers you health restoration after most fights, and if you die, you will start the checkpoint over with full health. Bosses are usually set up in stages, and a checkpoint activates after each stage so you don't have to start all the way over.
I rarely died during my first and only playthrough. In fact, I died more from mistiming and incorrectly angling jumps than I did during any combat situation. For those that are looking for a great challenge, unless the Memory Hunter(hard difficulty) setting offers this, you may be left unsatisfied.
Remember Me is a beautiful game. You will notice the attention to detail the minute you start playing for the first time. The lighting is solid, the textures are crisp, and the animations are fluid. During my playthrough, I didn't notice and pop-ins or sections of levels where the designs felt rushed or ignored. Impressive backdrops in outdoor areas make the environments feel genuine. If only we could explore more of them. That would have been a real treat. I could see the developers struggling to find a happy medium with the colors. Many elements of the game are so bright and vibrant, yet others are so dark and gloomy. I think the developers did a good job and blinding them in seamlessly so it doesn't look awkward. I never felt like something didn't belong or felt out of place.
The soundtrack is one of the game's strengths. It offers some beautiful tracks you would not often find in a game like this. Orchestral and ambient pieces that blend in with the game quite well. Other tracks are a mix of tech/pop/electronica that aren't in your face or obnoxious. They also blend in with the game nicely. Especially the tracks that play during combat. This was a pleasant surprise to say the least.
There isn't much here in terms of replayability. If you are a completionist, you may want to go back and collect all the upgrades and Mnesist Memories, but in terms of story and exploration, there isn't much to go back and see again. Trying out other difficulty settings will probably only hold your attention for so long. If you are a gamer that demands a game that will keep you busy for weeks, then this probably isn't the game for you.
Remember Me is a game that I would definitely recommend to any gamer. It has its flaws, and is often quite linear, but the pros far outweigh the cons. It is fun, pretty, engaging, has an interesting story, and has good overall production values. Dontnod Entertainment would do well to build on what this game does extremely well, and expand on the overall freedom of the game, while polishing up some other aspects. The game is quite short. I'd say about 10 hours give or take, depending on how fast you game. So if length is a big sticking point with you, it may be best to wait until the game has a significant price drop. However, if you are desperately craving a fast-paced futuristic action game, then go out and give it a purchase.
Final Score: 7/10
Reviewer's Rating: 3.5 - Good
Originally Posted: 06/11/13, Updated 06/13/13
Game Release: Remember Me (US, 06/04/13)
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