Memories are among the most precious human treasures we posses. Encompassing what we’ve seen, what we’ve done and plan to do, they can bring endless amounts of happiness as we reminisce about the best times of our lives. Then there are the memories we’d like to forget, the painful ones that eat away at us with each passing moment, causing us to relive the same horrors and sadness again and again. Sometimes these memories are so strong they lock themselves away from us for our own well-being, but what if they could be removed for good; exorcised like an infection, allowing us to go on with life without their constant torment.
Remember Me places you in a Neo-Paris future where such a thing is possible. Where memories are not only removable, but can be altered; remixed to a person’s liking to make them believe whatever they desire. Those who possess this ability to go by the name of Memory Hunters, chief among them our protagonist Nilin, who through ironic circumstances has herself lost her memories and is on the verge of being discarded when she is saved by Edge, a revolutionary attempting put an end to the memory altering that is slowing bleeding the world dry.
From the onset I was intrigued by the premise, one which is quickly shown to be extremely dark in nature, and the excellent voice acting quickly drew me in. With so few strong female characters in games, Nilin is a refreshing change from the muscle-bound soldiers and buxom dames we normally play as. Strong and very capable, she carries the plot largely on her own shoulders and for the first half pulls it off with pizzazz. Disappointingly, as revelations begin to unfold later on, the game takes a melodramatic turn and seems to lose its own plot numerous times before ending in the most trite and shamelessly video game like way it could have. It had a chance to do so much with its plot, that I’m almost more frustrated that it took such a clichéd path than because of what actually happens.
Combat, unfortunately, suffers much the same fate (and encompasses the bulk of the experience). The idea here is that you are intended to create your own combos by mixing and matching pressens (which give you different abilities depending on which you choose, from restoring health to being extra powerful), and as a result form your own strategy by which to take on your numerous challengers. The problem then is it is never given room to grow. While you can alter the pressens within them, you are still restrained to the same four combos (which themselves take time to unlock, leaving you with even fewer options early on). This makes combat both stiff and painfully repetitive, made even worse by the tiresomely long enemy encounters (which makes the modest 8–10 hour length drag long before it nears the end).
REMEMBER ME IS FULL OF INTERESTING, UNDERDEVELOPED IDEAS
More aggravating than the stifling of its own mechanics is how terribly clunky fighting is. You are forced to create combos to kill enemies, but dodging or switching which enemy you are currently fighting almost always ends it halfway. As you are often faced with upwards of a half-dozen enemies at a time, this becomes problematic as finishing combos almost always requires you luring an enemy into a corner and pounding on him before his comrades can catch up. It’s poorly designed and not enjoyable to utilize in the slightest. Some of the ideas at work here are undoubtedly interesting, but the with how poorly they’re executed it doesn’t even matter.
However the most original ideas of Remember Me lie in the moments when you get to remix memories yourself. Skipping through scenes and altering them just slightly, it’s a rare case of trial and error being interesting to experience, as you watch each moment to moment unfold differently as you interact with them. For such a highly touted feature, it’s underutilized to the point it feels almost like an after thought. I would have liked to see a lot more of it than the handful of times we do, but alas it has been relegated to the level of a common minigame used to progress the story at key intervals.
Where Remember Me has sunk all its points is in its copious amounts of style. Characters are oozing, well, character from the unusual hairstyles to the cities infatuation with bizarre piercings. The abstract architecture is magnificent and allows the world to bleed seamlessly between what is real and what is in someone’s head. Aside from some minor texture pop-in, it’s an impressive visual showcase that opts more often than not for being slick than raw spectacle.
While there is nothing wrong with the English voice acting, something about the French audio track created an even more perfect atmosphere. Maybe its the fact the game takes place in a fictional Paris, but it fits like a glove and I had no desire to go back after I decided to try it out (as I would suggest you do, even if you’d prefer the default English). An original score blending instrumental symphonic tracks with eletronica-esq skips and scratches is absolutely brilliant, and is something I wouldn’t mind listening to outside the game.
Remember Me seemed to have everything going for it. The premise blew me away with an exceptionally bleak opening, and the gameplay mechanics on paper seemed to be brimming with fantastically original concepts, with an outstanding presentation to back it all up. But in trying to differentiate itself from the norm, Remember Me only clings more closely to the tired ideas of so many action adventure games before it, restraining its ambitions at the best of times and causing it to fall over itself in failure at the worst. It’s not hopelessly lost, nor unplayable, but as it stands I have rarely been so disappointed that so much potential was put to such little use.