Remember Me

Remember Me wants to push boundaries and leave you slack-jawed pondering a future crippled by repressive technology corporations. But it forgets to make sense of the story, and the creative combat dilutes itself to become solid but too much admin work towards the tail-end of the eight-hour adventure.

It’s a game with an amazing world and a perplexing premise that doesn’t quite live up to the lofty standards idealistic minds will expect, but that doesn’t mean it’s a disappointment. It’s still a good third-person action game that hands the player unprecedented combat control weaved with moral dilemmas about accessing and defacing our most sacred privacy: memories.

Set in Neo-Paris in 2084, Remember Me follows Nilin, a freedom fighter living in a world where memories are sold by a megalomaniac corporation called Memorize — and they’re as easy to buy as walking up to a vending machine.

I killed a man destined to live and made another defy fate by accidentally murdering his absconding girlfriend by tampering with seemingly insignificant objects.

Nilin is special because she possesses the highly sought after ability to remix memories. Not everyone can change the future by altering remnants of the past. As society gets hooked on consuming memories they never experienced, Nilin embarks on a dangerous mission to remix the past and undo Memorize’s corruption of the mind.

But it all goes horribly wrong when all but one of the freedom fighters, Edge, are captured during their ambitious escapades and sent to prison, where memories are erased upon incarceration. Nilin, being of strong mind, requires multiple treatments to remove rebellious aspirations and uses all of her cunning to escape in the nick of time — but not before partial amnesia deteriorates her sense of self-being. Confused by her surroundings and following the guide of a familiar yet distant voice, Nilin stumbles into the slums of a Bladerunner-esque Paris.

It’s unfortunate that such an amazing world is established, but never explored. It’s one of the most linear games I’ve played in recent times, yet surrounded by what looks like a lively neo backdrop that you mustn’t touch. It’s further tarnished by a convoluted narrative that promises so much during the opening hours, but never evolves and fails to offer a rewarding conclusion — it always feels like it’s never really going anywhere.

But perhaps this isn’t a game about story, even though it should be. Maybe the revolving plot is merely serving to progress the interactivity.

Nilin’s parkour approach to exploration has her scaling walls and leaping between buildings before hitting a roadblock forcing her to solve a serious conundrum to clear the path ahead. It takes clear inspiration from the Uncharted and Tomb Raider playbooks.

Combat is initially a little disorientating, but easy enough to pick up. Its foundations are built upon the well established kick, punch and counter-attack, but those alone won’t keep Nilin alive.

Remember Me’s point of difference is instilling full control to create your combos using Pressens — different types of attacks — in a Combo Lab.The Pressens system splits X and Y attacks (on Xbox 360) into four categories: damage, health, cooldown and chain.

The three hit combo, for example, could be made up of damage-damage-health — if you execute the whole combo without being hit, Nilin will dish out damage twice, and then regain health with her third strike. The further a Pressen is embedded in the combo chain, the more powerful it becomes. In this case, health would be the most rewarding because it’s placed at the back. You’re entrusted full control to respec combos throughout the game, as more Pressens are unlocked and unique situations call for an emphasis on different abilities.

These combos are teamed with five special moves called S-Pressons, which drain energy from the Focus Bar filled by executing combos. Most of these unleash significant damage, and seem to be essential against bosses that share being impervious to standard damage combo.

It’s an interesting system that seemingly thrusts complete control into the hands of the player — whether you want it or not — but isn’t as deep as I initially suspected. You only have a few templates to work with, and the Pressons take fair too long to unlock. Furthermore, during the first half of the game, I was chopping and changing to get the best out of Nilin’s abilities based on circumstance, but once I’d unlocked enough abilities I set them up and never bothered to change them again. That could be attributed to blatant laziness, but about halfway through you hit a point where the challenge subsides and there’s no need to tweak the balance in your favour — it’s already there.

Remember Me’s niftiest trick is Nilin’s ability to remix memories. I killed a man destined to live, and made another defy fate by accidentally murdering his absconding girlfriend by tampering with seemingly insignificant objects.

It’s amazing to tweak the subtlest of minor details to see absolutely nothing change in a three minute recited memory. But as soon as four or five changes come together, someone dies. It’s trial and error framework that has you try the scene with a footrest tucked under a table, and again out in the open to see if it makes any difference. Perhaps not alone, but try moving the beer bottle on the table and its position might become imperative. It’s exhilarating to watch the manipulated scene unfold once you’ve finally cracked every piece of the puzzle. The only problem is the staggering gaps between memory remixing events. I can count the total number of manipulations on one hand, which is a shame, as the game’s standout feature.

Remember Me is full of outstanding ideas that never fully eventuate. Remixing memories is exhilarating but scarcely implemented, and the manual combo system ends up becoming too much work. While inconsistent, Remember Me is a solid and enjoyable action game that needs some love if we’re to get what could be an amazing sequel.