When it was announced that Remember Me would be releasing on the 360 I was giddy with excitement, looking like Lara Croft had a run into the world of Mirror’s Edge, RM looked stylish, littered with lush graphic design elements and set in a cyber punk world. It certainly ticked all my boxes and it immediately jumped to the top of my most anticipated list, but will Remember Me live up to my expectations?
Set in Neo-Paris in the year 2084, you play as Nilin, a memory hunter, ironically it is her memory that is being wiped – well almost. It seems the efforts of Nilin’s captors haven’t been entirely successful and before they can finish her off she escapes and tries to piece back the fragments of her broken mind.
RM is all about memories, the ones we hold dear, the ones we wish to hide and the ones we choose to share with other people. By using Sensen technology memories can be visually shared and in some instances remixed or stolen. It is this ability that makes Nilin so dangerous, she is the key to something big and throughout the 10+ hours of the game you’ll learn more about the Memorize corporation and their Sensen technology.
The combat of RM tries to introduce a new idea to the usual beat ‘em up formula of combos, mostly it works. By dodging enemy attacks when a visual warning is displayed you must utilise different combo chains to defeat your foes. Each attack has buffs that can be customised in the combat labs menu, these Pressens are abilities which when unlocked give your combos an added kick. There are four different Pressens: The Regen Pressen will return some of your health, vital when going up against enemies whose armour is electrically charged, The Power Pressen deals additional damage, perfect for the larger enemy or boss fights, The Cooldown Pressen reduces the recharge time of your special moves and the Chain Pressen increases the ability of the previous Pressen in the chain.
This may sound confusing and initially it is, but soon the use of Pressens will slot into place and you’ll be customising your combos like a pro, although it’s a shame there isn’t more depth to them. Each combo is executed in the same way, a slow plodding set of button presses, you only need to remember four different chains with the smallest at three buttons and the longest at eight. Each successful combo chain treats the senses to a funky beat ala Rez.
Later in the game you get to use a stun device that is built into your glove (which is also used to manipulate the environment) but it’s never integrated into the combos. Combat becomes a bit stale, a little too familiar and lacking depth especially when compared to other adventure beat ‘em up titles out there. Unless you are playing on the hardest difficulty the need to mix up and create new chains on the fly through the combat lab isn’t as necessary as I would have hoped. That said, the combat does deliver a satisfying thud.
Nilin has several special moves up her sleeve, each needing to cooldown before they may be used again. These abilities give a real edge to combat but should you misuse an ability and not significantly bring down its cooldown by using the correct Pressens in your combos, combat can become a grind when you face an enemy who can only be defeated via a certain special move. Whilst this is largely down to user error it does take the shine off of some combat sequences.
As you navigate the awesome environment of Neo-Paris you are continually teased by its inhabitants and many shops, no they don’t point and laugh, rather they completely ignore you. The world of RM is rich but you are merely an onlooker traveling through, unable to interact or influence the world around you. This is a real shame because Neo-Paris is just begging to be explored and it’s here that I longed for the style of Tomb Raider’s open level design. Augmented reality queues guide you through each level which makes climbing a rather dull affair.
There are times when jumps don’t quite work. Instead of jumping up for a ledge Nilin would only jump forward, I had to stop, take a step back and try again to get her to jump up and grab the ledge. There were also times when the camera would swing unnaturally making me completely miss a simple jump. Movement also felt a bit floaty, like I was running on ice with a wild turning circle.
The highlight of RM was remixing memories. The sequences are slick and wouldn’t be out-of-place in an Animus sequence from Assassin’s Creed. Remixes are puzzles that require you to scrub back and forth through a person’s memory to alter its events so that it turns into something that benefits Nilin’s current situation, whether that’s avoiding an assailant or retrieving some critical information. Although the four remixes are well placed in the game, I felt that there isn’t enough of them and that they could have been more tricky or had multiple solutions.
Nilin can also use her memory abilities to activate ‘Remembrance’ sequences, these are stolen memories which show passage through areas, codes to doors or solutions to riddles. These play out like a digital ghost with the riddles towards the end of the game being rather devious which does change-up the pace.
Remember Me doesn’t rest in one direction, dipping into several different game mechanics it flirts with many ideas but never goes deep enough to make them primary to the game’s genre, however, it’s this style that keeps the gameplay fresh.
Remember Me is a gorgeous looking game, the music is beautifully composed, its theme interesting and the story superb. I particularly enjoyed having the control over my combos and being able to pick what effects each successful blow would cause, it made a change from just mindless button bashing. The remix sequences were a high point and while the characters didn’t offer much depth, Nilin’s character was a standout performance, only a few notches from the excellent performance of Camilla Luddington’s Lara Croft.
Remember Me’s biggest downfall is that I couldn’t help but feel like I was restricted, being herded through each level and although there are vertical elements to navigate, each level was too linear with the augmented reality markers holding your hand far too much. Regardless of these shortcomings Remember Me is still a fantastic title, DONTNOD have delivered an interesting new IP one which I hope will grow and other developers may take some influences from. DONTNOD certainly have a bright and interesting future ahead of them and I hope to see Nilin again, maybe next time with a more comprehensive move set!