(Posted to my Facebook page on June 16, 2015)
“My name is Nilin. I am a memory hunter. I can know everything about you, and I can make you believe whatever I want. This is my gift. My legacy.” – Nilin
Remember Me was a game released to somewhat lukewarm reception back in 2013. I heard it had a rather strong story, so I checked it out when it went on sale. For the life of me, I can’t remember much marketing about this game two years ago. I vaguely remember hearing about it and seeing some images from it, but for some reason I kept getting it mixed up with “Beyond: Two Souls”, so they two kind of bled together and I ignored them both. Now I have a chance to go back and take a look at this game. Is it a hidden gem worth remembering, or is this a game better left forgotten?
Remember Me takes place in 2084 in “Neo Paris”. Don’t let that staggering imagination fool you, we’re just getting started. In this world, memory is power. A company called “Memorize” has monopolized memories, allowing people to purchase memories, store memories… or even have them stolen. Still, this has led to memories almost becoming a drug, people willing to sell everything they have to buy a good memory that doesn’t belong to them rather than live it themselves.
You play as Nilin, a young woman who has recently woken up in a maximum security prison missing most her memories. Before having what remains of those memories destroyed, Nilin is rescued by a mysterious man contacting her via a com link. This man calls himself Edge and says that before you lost your memory, you were an Errorist, a group dedicated to taking down Memorize and freeing the population from their grip. In addition, Nilin is the most skilled memory hunters around. Memory hunters steal memories from others to sell on the market, but Nilin surpasses them all, as she also possesses the ability to remix memories, causing the victim to remember that event differently. Edge wishes to use this talent to overthrow Memorize and release the world from the hold that the company holds on the world, returning memory to all. Nilin wants to recover her memories, finding out who she is in the process.
Let me start out by saying that this games had some very good ideas, and that they were actually executed fairly well. Remixing memories is a very strong gameplay mechanic that drives the story well. Poking back through a memory and making slight altercations and seeing how they play out is an experience unlike any other and does an excellent job of fleshing out some characters and quickly getting across certain plot points. On another hand, exploration and free running is fun and, while the controls are a little clunky (at least on PC), it makes getting around very enjoyable. The combat uses a “Build Your Own Combos” system, which is surprisingly rare in games like this. You build your combos with a combination of punches and kicks, each strike being tailored to doing more damage, restoring health, reducing the cooldowns of your abilities, or amplifying one of the previous three. The combat feels very similar to the Batman Arkham games in a way, but both more complex and somewhat shallower at the same time, if that makes sense. My dreaded foe Quick Time Events rear their ugly head here, but they’re not too awful; they’re generally only used for finishing moves on bosses and doesn’t punish you too badly if you fail with them.
The game is utterly gorgeous. Neo Paris ranges from dirty slums overflowing with memory addicts and hooker-bots to a pristine city shopping mall, and the attention to detail is great. Little electronic billboards tell you about shops (even if you can’t visit them), advertisement billboards are constantly chatting about the newest thing, and the world on a whole felt fairly alive, which is surprisingly for a game as linear as this. The characters as well, on a whole, are fairly likeable. Nilin has to confront the shadows of her past and the sins she committed in her past life, struggling with the choice of doing something awful for a greater good or doing nothing and letting the world crumble. Edge has an air of superiority and almost a god-complex about him, but his care for Nilin and everyone in the city seems quite genuine. The two compliment each other well and make for an interesting narrative.
Now, with all that said, this sounds like a pretty great game, doesn’t it? Highly recommended? Well, there are some faults that I would be remiss if I didn’t mention. This is a very linear game and suffers from a surprisingly short campaign which, according to steam, took me about eight hours to complete. On top of that, while the combat and memory remixing mechanics are good and work, they’re both very cramped in this game, having to share room with the other in what is ultimately a pretty short game. The memory remixes especially are rare, with only four in the game! The combat begins to get very samey at about the halfway point in the game, which is a shame with how deep it could have been. The enemy variety isn’t the worst problem here, it’s mainly just that the game is forced to focus on combat and doesn’t push its interesting system as hard as it can. Free running, while fun, feels very linear and directed, which makes the game feel a little scripted and claustrophobic. The cast of characters, as I previously mentioned, is good, but unfortunately because the game is so short the good supporting characters hardly get any screen time, which is very disappointing. One character in particular I expected to end with a huge confrontation with towards the end that simply never happened, the character herself only being involved in like two or three scenes total.
Lastly… the story. Now let me say right away that because of the strong characters and well crafted world that I did enjoy the story. However, like many other parts of the game, it feels unrealized. With a story trouncing around with amnesia, memory manipulation and the sharing of memories, you’d expect some huge plot twists that leave you completely shocked. While there are a few twists in this game, they were very underwhelming. I watched Yahtzee’s review prior to writing this and he put it well, saying that he was trying to spot the plot twist throughout the story and when it finally came, he realized that all the twists he came up with were way better than the real one. That’s kind of where I ended up: I wanted the story to be more invasive, more surprising, and deeper. What I got wasn’t bad… just a little disappointing.
On a whole, however, I was pleasantly surprised with Remember Me. It isn’t exactly a sleeper hit, but it had enough interesting mechanics and a world crafted with enough care that I’m certainly happy I experienced it through at least once. If nothing else, it makes me hope for a sequel where some of these mechanics can get overhauled and given the attention they deserve. More importantly, a deeper story that explores this world in much more detail. Until then, while I wouldn’t recommend this game at a full retail price, you’d certainly be able to find it at a more than reasonable price on steam. If you’ve got the cast and some time for a unique game, I’d recommend giving it a shot.
I give Remember Me a 3 out of 5.