I feel for the creators of ungoogleable products. Stephen King’s It, the U2 spy plane and the late Labour leader John Smith will all fade into anonymity within the century, no thanks to the singular neuter pronoun, terrible rock band and the pseudonym of The Doctor. So it is with Remember Me, which unfortunately shares its name with a film involving Robert Pattinson being horrifically killed. This is either an incredibly clever marketing move by attracting the searches of those who want to see R-Patz in a heartwarming love story/crushed to death by a plane, or it’s a tremendously dumb cock-up by a Capcom drone who immediately needs to be fired. Only time and sales figures will tell.
See, I made the mistake of looking at some review scores before receiving my copy of Remember Me (a combination of European release dates and a slow postal service having hampered my efforts to review this a week ago) and one might get the impression that this is an utterly pedestrian dystopia only distinguished by an interesting but rarely-used memory-altering mechanic. I am thus left to wonder if those reviewers were playing the same game as I was – because if Remember Me is anything, it’s certainly not boring to discuss.
The year is 2084 (in a beautiful nod to Orwell that only about twenty-eight million people will spot) and this is Neo-Paris. A beautiful, soaring, majestic, dirty, cramped, slum-riven hellhole where the French elite swan around like Eloi in their barricaded boutiques in blissful ignorance of the half-humans swarming below, driven mad by the lure of happy memories. The SenSen, a device implanted into every resident of the city, is a DVR of the mind, capable of loading and playing any memory one can find – for a price. But he who controls the memories controls the consciousness of the city, and it falls to a few rebels – the Errorists – to challenge the dominance of the Memorize corporation.
Enter Nilin, the protagonist. Awakening in the Bastille prison with most of her memories wiped, she escapes a security bot and emerges blinking into the lights of Neo-Paris. Soon afterwards, she joins the Errorists, who reveal her ability to steal and remix memories. You can probably see where this is going.
The stylistic pedigree that’s been put into Remember Me really clicks. The visual style and story building blocks of Dreamfall combine with the platforming of Mirror’s Edge (only with a more forgiving camera) and combat style of Batman: Arkham Asylum to deliver a really solid overall package. Nilin may be lacking in personality outside of cutscenes, but in the early stages of the game that’s basically forgivable due to the whole amnesia thing. What’s more is that despite the developers being told the game wouldn’t sell with a female protagonist, they’ve ploughed on with her character and developed someone who, while highly-trained in combat, has realistic, human responses to her actions (questioning her loyalties after drowning lots of oblivious and rich, but basically still human, residents of an upper-class area, for instance). Much like Faith Connors or Zoe Castillo, she is female without that being her defining feature, and it’s encouraging to see.
In combat, Nilin proves herself to be a highly-skilled martial artist, first plying her trade against near-zombies in the sewer but moving on without too much fuss to private police officers, a wrestling champion and invisible monstrosities only perceptible under heavy flood lighting. Dodging with flips and rolls between a mob of pursuing foes is immensely satisfying and pulling off the user-customisable combos, one feels a good amount of weight has been given to each blow. If there was one criticism of the combat it would be that the Metroid-style arm cannon is given too much preference after it’s introduced. While it’s an effective method of engaging enemies, the environments are typically too small to make any great use of it and I’d much rather more flexibility was given in melee and the arm device reserved for puzzle-solving.
Well, when I say puzzle-solving, I really mean ‘finding the thing you’re supposed to interact with and then pushing a button’. It’s not the most intelligence-challenging game around, and most of the real threat to your progress comes from the combat. If a cinematic game is what you’re after, then you’re very well served, but Portal this ain’t.
Still, the game is beautifully presented, with excellent lighting effects, running in 1080p on the PS3 and demonstrating that the years are still being kind to the old girl. Animations are smooth, the camera angles are conducive to easy platforming and the level of detail given to world building, with French graffiti (things like ‘every day I wash my brain with Memorize’) adding a sense of inhabitedness to the slummier sections of town. This stands in stark contrast to the sort of sanitary white corridors we saw in Mirror’s Edge, the game to which Remember Me will inevitably be compared.
A lovely soundtrack accompanies the game, adding suspense and excitement to more tense sections, while still containing relaxing classical tracks for the quieter explorative moments. It’s a strong reminder that even seventy years into the future, Paris has still maintained its romanticist identity. Man-with-most-French-name-possible Olivier Deriviere is responsible, and you can get hold of the soundtrack here for $9.99 – even if you don’t buy the game it’s well worth a listen.
Remember Me managed – ironically – to be forgotten in the lead up to E3 this year. However, it’s a great piece of art and though it’s lacking in challenge and the combat can get repetitive or frustrating on occasion, it still stands head and shoulders above most of the games I’ve reviewed this year. 88%.