Remember Me is the new game from DONTNOD Entertainment focused around this concept of memory and human identity. The setting is nothing short of incredible. It might be because I read the art book already, but I'm fascinated with the setting of Remember Me. The world looks fantastic, with so much detail that I would kill to get to walk around and explore Neo-Paris at my whim, but sadly the game maintains a tight hold, basically railroading players along a scripted path, which is a huge lost opportunity in my opinion. The different sections of Neo-Paris feel dramatically different, and I wish more time was spent in each of them. A nice touch to the setting design is how the Sensen displays information about the environment in real time. No need to advertise for your shop on a giant billboard or put up warning cones when those facts can be displayed straight into the mind of a person. DONTNOD also did a brilliant job sticking to their themes and telling the story through both setting design with prominent use of colors like white, black, and orange and the cube motif. The music is even better, comprising classical music with flairs of techno alterations, as if the music is glitching. As great as it looks, the presentation of Remember Me does get some points shaved off because too little of that hard work is put to good use with much of the game taking place in just a few locations which simply aren't the most interesting the world has to offer, and for the difficulties using the display thanks to the non-obstructive HUD. I spent so many damn moments trying to find the orange objective marker or the white key symbols in a sea of white and orange colors that the inclusion of just one more color would have helped out immensely.
The story of Remember Me could have benefited from more time to unfold. Nilin's tale is the sort I could see making a good and full season of television or a few years of a comic series (This is further reinforced by the Matt Kindt Remember Me comic that came with preorders.), but as a 10-hour game, it's not enough time. Plot points are rushed, and since Nilin doesn't know what the hell is going on, neither does the player. Not a lot is explained until the story gets moving at a good clip. I did grow to care for some of the cast, but no one in Remember Me is ever going to make a top video game character list, except maybe Jax the panda toy, who is simply adorable. Nilin is a worthy addition to the halls of women video game protagonists, falling right in line with the likes of Lara Croft as a strong woman who still shows a vulnerability and a humanity to her, but the characters, including Nilin, aren't helped by average voice acting, which is simply not good enough to stand out, but good enough not to make you cringe. While the character work is sloppy, the plot is enjoyable and the themes the game explores about identity and what memories mean to different people hit their mark. Think about the possibilities: hanging onto a loved one's memories after they're gone or removing the painful memory of an accident. There's a lot of motivation here and plenty of possibilities to explore.
Remember Me has a lot of good ideas that aren't executed here to their fullest extent. The combat system involves the ability to determine the effects of certain combos based around the four pressen (move) types: power, regeneration (healing), S-pressen (super move) cooldown, and chains (which empower the other three kinds). This system can be altered on the fly. Getting your a-- kicked and need a combo to boost your health? Head to the combo lab and throw in some regen pressens. Need to stay ahead of a group of enemies just long enough to regain the use of your Logic Bomb? Head to the combo lab and throw in some cooldown pressens. Earlier in the game, I found myself altering them a lot on the fly, but, as the game progressed, I settled into having a couple of combos as my big damage dealers and a couple designed to build back up health and cooldown in varied amounts. Building combos was a lot of fun, especially since each move corresponds with a different animation. I spent plenty of time building my combos to make them look as cool as possible. Alas, only two buttons are ever used for building combos which makes the depth rather limited. Furthermore, unlocking new pressens is slow, and there is hardly ever any real choice on what to pick, which is another gross limitation of the system. What's there is solid and enough fun that I really hope these ideas make a return in another game.
So, that's building combos, what about actually using them? The melee combat in Remember Me is fast paced and fun. Fights are largely centered around staying ahead of enemies long enough to make use of one of the S-pressens. Each of these has a different feel such as the Logic Bomb which explodes and takes out multiple foes or the Camouflage that allows Nilin to cloak and sneak up behind one enemy to overload them. Deciding which S-pressen to use is oftentimes more of a puzzle, with only one real solution, but when the game isn't being picky, these are a lot of fun to string together and play around with. The puzzle-like element comes into play with regards to the kind of enemies on the battlefield. Some enemies can only be taken out at a distance, such as various Sabre robots, using a tool known as the Spammer, while others are empowered by minions who must be taken out first, such as some of the memory-degraded beings known as Leapers. Still, others can't be hit at all without sustaining damage, requiring the use of a powerful S-pressen or wearing them down while regenerating health on unprotected enemies. Some fights might seem overwhelming at first, but once the order to defeat enemies is nailed down, it goes quickly. Boss fights are a little lackluster, feeling barely more than a regular fight, but always end with a quick-time event, which is unsatisfying, but that's pretty much true of every game that uses QTEs these days.
The real star of Remember Me is, unsurprisingly, the ability to play with memories. Stealing and reliving memories is relatively simple and nothing unique, but remixing memories is something else entirely. When remixing, you view an event from your target's life and then rewind and fast forward, finding glitches to exploit to alter the scene and achieve different results. Say the remix is set in a hospital room: the medication could be altered, the patient's restraints could be removed, and a myriad of other objects can be manipulated. Playing around and seeing different results was incredibly satisfying, made more so by the number of trophies tied to these alternate results. There are two things I'd like to have seen from remixing memories: 1.) More of them. The game only contains four of them and could have easily supported double that amount. 2.) More control. Being able to roam around and manipulate items and build the outcome in different ways. If the controls were done right, an entire game could be built off of remixing alone.
As for the other sections, the stealth gameplay is a joke and the platforming is dull. These two sections of gameplay only serve as vehicles for Remember Me to show off the great setting or take Nilin to the next fight, the next memory remix, or the next plot point. Platforming further suffers from sweeping camera angles that show off the city, but sometimes make it difficult to time that next jump.
An excellent first game from DONTNOD Studios. Remember Me is an enjoyable experience that suffers from a lack of polish, but manages to throw in some ideas that make it stand out as an original and fascinating game.
Story: 8.0, Presentation: 9.0, Gameplay: 7.5, Overall: 8.0