Remember Me is an intriguing specimen. On one hand, it clings to archaic convention, such as its scantily-clad, bland protagonist devoid of a memorable personality. On the other, it’s so delightfully bizarre you can’t help but become entranced. For every samey mechanic it falls back on, it’s bolstered by ten other weird and wonderful ideas that keep you playing. I fell in love with Nilin’s world, and surmise you will as well.
Capcom’s brand new IP is the first game from French developer Dontnod, unraveling the strange tale of Nilin, a memory hunter of Neo Paris. It’s the year 2084, and she happens to live in a world where memories are recorded, stored, and played back like tangible video files. The public is blissfully unaware of the monopolization of this technology by the enormous, obviously malevolent corporation known as Memorize. Things look pretty bleak.
Nilin’s memory has been wiped when we first meet her, but only halfway. Aided by a mysterious stranger, she’s able to escape certain death and is immediately plunged into the seedy dystopian society of Neo Paris. where memories, identity, and personal struggle are only a minute subsection of the issues citizens face on a daily basis. With all the finesse of a Philip K. Dick novel and the aesthetic of memorable cyberpunk artists, it’s an intriguing thrill ride to be sure. Combined with a delightfully weird and varied electronic soundtrack, it’s positively Blade Runner-esque, in all the right ways.
Of course, the way it looks and sounds is only a small concern next to gameplay, and that area delivers as well, for the most part. Remember Me employs an interesting hybrid of platforming elements and melee to propel its meaty narrative. Plenty of acrobatics are interspersed with extensive melee combat sections that bring to mind Batman: Arkham City or the smoother elements of Mirror’s Edge – namely, the glowing orange markers denoting each jump. There’s always some sort of guide to ensure you’re on the right path, and though this may be a turnoff to games who’d prefer to explore, it adds a welcome balance to the banal combat. It sports some novel ideas, but ultimately pales in comparison to dazzling environments and set pieces.
You’re in control of creating combos for use in each scuffle, stringing together preset moves executed by button press. You can create a devastating finishing move or a mid-level damage dealer with a side of healing magic. It’s fun to tinker with at first, but it quickly becomes obvious there’s not much to play around with – you’ll be wishing to skip past combat sequences for more story sequences to unfold.
Boss encounters, or memory remix sequences, are definitely a big draw, considering you’re essentially rearranging someone’s honest-to-goodness memory. Each remix is satisfying in its own way, mainly stemming from the fact that you’re given what feels like an enormous amount of control over someone’s destiny. The puzzle solutions can be difficult to come across, but half the fun lies within arriving at your solution.
Nothing (except for perhaps the enemy types and Nilin’s character design) in the game can be accused of trying to stay within the status quo. Combat may become unappealing after engaging in it so much, but its core ideas are inventive, as are the narrative, environments, accompanying musical tracks, and the messages the game is trying to convey. Remember Me isn’t perfect, but it’s attractive, engaging, and unique on many levels. We may never see a sequel or another journey through Dontnod’s new and unique universe, but it’s certainly a franchise with promise.