Remember Me for Xbox 360, PS3 and PC
I so, so wanted this game to be good. The premise intrigued me so much that I desperately hoped that I’d be able to see past the flaws suggested in the mediocre reviews and reach the interesting game underneath. I had hoped that this game would be a diamond in the rough. Well, there may be a diamond, but it’s tiny and the rough is made of disappointment and bad voice acting.
Remember Me takes place in the late 21st century, in Neo Paris. Memory has been comodified, with the vast corporation Memorize having released the Sensen, which allows people to upload and share their memories, as well as exorcise negative ones. The rise of Memorize has also led to the arrival of the Leapers, those who have become addicted to memories, leading them to become mutated for reasons never adequately explained and living in the sewers. Our protagonist, Nilin, is a ‘memory hunter’, an expert in extracting and altering memories. She is an ‘Errorist’, a member of an organisation which seeks to take down Memorize, but has been captured and almost had her memory erased. The timely intervention of the mysterious hacker known as Edge saves her, and lets her escape the clutches of the company before embarking on a journey to reclaim her stolen memories and take down the company that took them.
So, that sounds pretty cool right? On paper, Remember Me has a pretty interesting plot which plays with big ideas such as the importance of memory in what constructs humanity, and the attempts of the private sector to commoditise every aspect of the human experience. The execution however is absolutely, at times hilariously, terrible. This is one of the most ineptly told game stories that I’ve ever seen, made all the worse for it’s potential. The voice acting is wooden, the writing is hammier than ham and the tone is all over the place. Plot twists which should be exciting are either rote or non-sensical, dramatic character moments which should be engaging are robbed of all emotion by a complete lack of context. Remember Me seems to expect you to be completely engaged in its cast, whilst making absolutely no effort to develop them or even give them introductions before introducing the mawkish drama. Against the backdrop of these fascinating ideas, we have a cast of some of the dumbest, goofiest villains you’ll ever see. If done well, this can actually work, with Metal Gear Solid being the prime example. Remember Me is no Metal Gear Solid however, and these characters are at best laughable, at worst actively infuriating. One thing Remember Me does do well is in its wide range of female characters and people of colour, generally unrepresented demographics in gaming. In fact, Remember Me has one of the most pleasantly diverse casts in recent memories. It’s just a shame that it happens to be in a game with such a dumb plot as this one.
The gameplay is…fine. There’s a lot of Assassin’s Creed-esque scrambling, which is heavily signposted by orange waypoints. The combat is your standard Arkham-style brawl that has become the norm, but it’s not as good. There are your standard moves, as well as special moves, called ‘S-Pressens’ for some reason, which can be activated when enough ‘focus’ is gained through combos, with individual attacks having a cool down timer to prevent spamming. The most interesting combat mechanic is the ability to create your own combos from a series of moves with different effects: red basic attacks, yellow healing strikes, purple to speed up the cool down timer and blue to greatly amplify a previous effect. The further down the combo an attack is, the greater it’s effect. It’s actually pretty cool, and the combat is perfectly functional. It’s just not that much fun. There’s not much else to it. Remember Me is a very linear game, and will mostly see Nilin climbing, jumping and fighting through a series of levels. There are a couple of really cool set piece moments, but they don’t make up for a lack of actual gameplay.
The most hyped gameplay feature of this game was easily the memory remixes. This is where Nilin alters the memory of a target to change their behaviours. This is accomplished by playing through a memory, identifying areas that can be altered, and finding the right combination to create the desire deffect. It’s a cool idea, but incredibly simple, and only occurs a handful of times in the game. It’s a shame, because if greatly expanded and made the actual focus fn the game, we could have had something really cool here, but instead Capcom played it safe and focused the game on those safe mechanics of climbing, jumping and brawling.
Where Remember Me does shine however is in its art design. In fact, I’m pretty sure all of the major talent in Remember Me must have been in the concept artists, without having a good enough game to back it up. Neo-Paris is a vivid location, but the poor character animation and static feel to the world make it seem sterile. This is that rare game which looks better still than in motion, which is not a good thing. Still, the artists behind this game should be commended. The music is actually quite good too, with the faintly techno-operatic backing music fitting the setting well. The voice acting is a disaster however; at its best it’s wooden, and at its worst it’s absolutely terrible.
Remember Me does some things right, and it certainly has some nice ideas and ambition. The execution falls flat nearly everywhere however, I rolled my eyes ten times for every genuinely cool moment. Those moments are there however, and when they pop up they make it even more depressing that it all culminated in this mediocrity.