If I had actually played Remember Me in 2013 and not dragged my feet to getting around to it, this heartbreaking tale of mind and memory most likely would’ve made my list of my five favorite games for the year, knocking out Doritos Crash Course 2. Yes, in spite of its shortcomings, of which there are several, it’s still that good, and I urge anyone reading this that has even the slightest interest in checking out Dontnod Entertainment’s debut to bite the bullet and do it. There most likely won’t be a sequel, and there might come a time when you won’t, ironically, even remember this came out.
I covered a lot of Remember Me in my last post, which saw me just entering the game’s fourth chapter. Also known as the halfway point for this roughly seven-hour journey. The second half of the game is still formulaic, more of the same platforming, punching, and pondering, but with tougher group and boss fights, as well as hard-cutting plot twists, one of which actually honestly caught me by surprise. No, really. I leaned forward and muttered, “No way.” You got me, game. Some later beats I saw coming, but not in execution, so that continued to keep me on my toes, because in a world where anything and everything is malleable, even hopes and dreams and memories, nothing can be expected.
Remember Me‘s premise is so dang good, and I’m not just saying that because I love movies like Inception and Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, short fiction by Philip K. Dick, and, of course, George Orwell’s 1984, where playing with one’s mind is the key to making things work. At least for a time. It’s perhaps not as byzantine as those previous mentions, but it still packs a punch, holds power, and proves poignant, especially when talking about how personal pain can result in far-reaching consequences for the ones we love, even entire cultures. It’s certainly a cinematic adventure, but it’s handled quite seriously and personally, unfolding at a great clip with enough interaction peppered throughout to not slip into Metal Gear Solid 2 territory, where you only watch things happen as a passive player.
Something I neglected to comment on in my previous Remember Me post is that it features a fantastically strange soundtrack by Oliver Deriviere. Every time I’d scroll past Remember Me on my list of PlayStation Plus games, I’d get a one-second tease at the futuristic tunes that back up all those glowing signs, futuristic buildings, drones, and chaotic fights. It’s an orchestral and electronica mix, spiced with a number of glitches and synthesizer bleeps, which creates rather appropriate cyberpunk music. You might not ever notice when a song starts, but once it begins to amp up, it’s all you’ll hear, and it is used to great effect, especially during boss fights and the last chunk of the game.
Sadly, I will say that I felt no desire to search for the collectibles in Remember Me, unlike the feelings I got for Agility Orbs in Crackdown and shards in inFAMOUS 2. I finished the game with over half of the Scaramechs found, which are the parasites feeding on ambient memories in each level, generally located by the static-like sounds they emit; when you shoot them down, you get a slight PMP bonus. The most straightforward collectibles are the Mnesis memories, which are found in the environment. SAT and Focus pick-ups expand your health and energy after you collect enough of them. I don’t remember how much health Nilin had by the end, but she definitely only had two pips of Focus, so I missed a bunch, but again didn’t really feel driven to snuff every single one out. Plus, with the health-restoring combo attacks, you can get by on very little.
Again, Remember Me is a game you should play. It’s a smart, confident sci-fi adventure that’ll most likely take you ten to eleven hours on the middle difficulty level, with enough combat customization to keep things interesting and challenging, though there really isn’t any point to replaying it a second time, unless you missed some Trophies and collectibles. All the events will play out the same regardless, but man, what a series of events, lead by Nilin, a strong female protagonist capable of doing her own dirty work, and only sexualized in a few shots where the camera angle lingers a bit too long on her lower backside. She stands tall next to heroines like Jade from Beyond Good & Evil and Konoko from Oni. She, and her tragic tale of learning who she is and how she ultimately became Nilin, the Memory Hunter, is unarguably worth remembering.
Like you, I played this a year or so after I should have. And, like you, it made its way onto my favorite game of the year list.
Did you see the news that Dontnod is making a new game?! It’s called Life is Strange and seems to have some time-rewinding mechanics to it. I wonder if the memory remixing lead to that.
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