First and foremost, this is Remember Me, the 2013 debut from Dontnod Entertainment, not the 2010 American romantic coming of age drama film starring Robert Pattinson and a forced, offensive 9/11 plot twist. Which I’ve not actually seen, but sometimes you really can’t avoid spoilers for anything in this day and age. Anyways, the game is its own thing, been sitting on my PlayStation 3 for many months now, and so far pretty fun, though I’m only up to Chapter Four at this point.
In Remember Me, you play as Nilin, an Errorist imprisoned in the Bastille Fortress and on the path to having her memory completely wiped by Memorize, a corporation that invented a new brain implant called the Sensation Engine (Sensen), which enables roughly 99% of the population to share their memories on the net, as well as remove unhappy ones. A mysterious man called Edge helps her escape the prison and reach the slums of Neo-Paris, where Nilin meets up with fellow Errorist Tommy. Between them and the turned bounty hunter Olga Sedova, Nilin has plenty of friends to help fill in her memory gaps and get her back on the path to revealing Memorize for all its evil and taking them down.
Gameplay is a combination of handholdy new Tomb Raider, that fluid, bouncy combat from Batman: Arkham Asylum, and…well, there’s no third thing to really compare its futuristic, atmospheric setting and tone. Not like Blade Runner, not like Deus Ex: Human Revolution. Remember Me does that really well on its own, offering hints of triumph and despair at the same time without forcing either down your throat. Either way, those first two attributes are far from perfect, but work okay enough to keep me going from one locale to another and see what bonkers big baddie Nilin runs into next or what trick of technology is on offer in this alley or that marketplace.
First, there’s exploration. Though saying that is not very accurate. Remember Me is extremely linear, with a main path to follow, but there are, on occasion, a side path to venture down, often to find collectibles or power-ups. Some areas come coupled with a digital screenshot of that area from a different perspective, highlighting where a hidden stash is, and it’s up to you to figure out where it is and how to get it–I don’t think I’ve missed any of these yet, they are effortless at best. When it comes time to climbing up stacks of crates and leaping from pipe to pipe just like Lara Croft…well, every single action is forecast for you with an orange arrow showing where to go next. You literally cannot get lost in these parts, and instead of using the environment to indicate these things or letting the player experiment, the game simply shows you where to shimmy, where to jump, when to climb. It’s mindless and disappointing, especially when you consider some of the neat-looking, neon-tinted locales ripe for exploring.
And then there’s combat, the solution to enemies. Players can create and customize Nilin’s combos in the Combo Lab, which uses four families of fighting moves called Pressens that can be reorganized by creating chains, earned through gaining PMP (Procedural Mastering Power). The four Pressen families are as so: “Regen” (healing), “Power” (damage), “Chain” (duplication and doubling of previous moves), and “Cooldown” (regeneration of S-Pressen energy). Evidently, Transistor took a note from Remember Me as there are 50,000 possible Pressen combinations. Anyways, this probably sounds a lot more complicated than it actually is, because, unfortunately, Nilin is rarely fighting one on one, and these combos require specific timing to nail, which is always ruined when two to three other enemy goons are trying to kick her from behind. You spend more time Batman-flipping and flopping from one guy to another than punching. So boo to that. I mostly get by with this astoundingly deep combo attack: Square, Square, and then Square again. You also get some special attacks like being able to repeatedly attack or perform a stunning shockwave, as well as able to shoot projectiles via the Spammer and Junk Bolt add-ons. I love the idea of building your own combos, but so far, the majority of the fighting scenarios aren’t set up for them.
Oh, and there’s memory remixing, though I’ve only gotten to do this once so far. Basically, you enter the memory of someone and start tweaking minor things to change it for the bigger picture. It’s a puzzle, and you can rewind and fast-forward to see how things unfold. A bit like Inception, which is just fine by me; hopefully I’ll get to do it a few more times before the credits roll.
So yeah, I’m not thrilled with the exploring or combat, and yet I’m going to keep playing. There’s just something about Remember Me, some remarkably neat ideas buried under blander by-the-book concepts to keep the game accessible to a wider audience. Plus, you get to play as a strong, non-sexualized female lead, very much capable of taking matters into her own hand, and that’s not something you come across too often in videogames. It should be appreciated, experienced. I’ll be back with more once I’m done with the game; based on the Trophies list, I think I’m about halfway through it. Get ready, Neo-Paris. I’m returning for more.