The lights are on
Okay, I'm going to do my best to make this review the most comprehensive review on the game Remember Me out there currently, because I owe several of you (the community) a grand explanation of the game, and why it isn't as bad as some have rated it, and even better in my opinion than its own rating here at GIO. Let me start by saying that, while this review will not by any means give away specific story and plot details, it may allude to them, and therefore may ruin tidbits of the game for you once you purchase it- should you deign to do so, and make the connections that I alluded to prior to your purchase. Also, please note that I have lovingly and painstakingly taken Remember Me for a long spin these past four and a half days or so, and have completely devoted the majority of my time to it, when not doing intensive work. I've put in well over fourteen hours into the story and special combo labs, earned 47 our of 50 achievements- the only ones I didn't receive being MemHunter Elite, Queen of the Hill, and 400 (look them up if you want to know the requirements for each). I've earned 880 of the 1000 gamerscore available on the Xbox version, briefly playtested the Playstation version at a friend's place to compare details, and asked a trusted associate about the PC version's capabilities. I'd say I'm something of an expert on the game for now, at least compared to others who've played it. That having been said, let's look at the way things were set up for Neo Paris and Nilin's adventure...
The whole entire basis of Remember Me is essentially memory. The entire game is full to the brim with promising story and combat exploits, as well as a plethora of collectibles and challenges to wrap your mind around during one or more playthroughs. Memory, personal identity, and ambition are the key three components in the game's story and scope, and for the most part, they deliver when the time comes. Your character, Nilin, is presented with a pretty predicament- the loss of her memory, and the ball rolls on from there. As much as it might seem like the beginning to some grand Elder Scrolls RPG- waking up in prison with no memory of your past crimes, setting out to create a new life and visage, etcetera, etcetera- Remember Me is unique in its very own way, but no less grandiose. All that you really figure out to begin with is that Nilin was, and is a covert operative known as a memory hunter, who specializes in placing and removing specific memories from opponents of her employers and other persons of interest. Using these skills, throughout the game you will have the opportunity to slice and dice your opponents' memories, alter personalities, and much, much more. Remember Me's complex simplicity is beautifully realized, and delivers for the most part. The game does have its faults here and there, however, its accomplishments more than outweigh them for the better part of your adventure. Developer Dontnod has done an excellent job with the game, especially for such an ambitious official first project.
In order to leave you with the lasting impressions of the game's greatness, I have decided to begin with the complaints I had at times with the game, which, I know, is a little out of the ordinary for my reviews (normally placing complaints at the end or wherever else is relevant). The excellently realized cutscenes showcased throughout the game really help to flesh out the narrative and setpiece moments, however, sometimes I feel as if they can drag on a little too far before allowing players to resume control of Nilin. The arc and breadth of the storytelling id often presented as a double bladed sword throughout Remember Me's gameplay- you can choose to either soak up and enjoy the cutscene moments in their entirety at the expense of your gametime, or you can skip said scenes, miss the majority of the story, and completely ruin your experience by being in the dark. This leaves you with two choices- to embrace the game's notably lengthy pauses from the action and absorb any and all of its story points, or to fly through by the skin of your teeth (it's a saying, seriously) and experience the game as just another generic brawler. This simple component alone can make or break your experience with Remember Me, as I fear it has for some already...
My second and second to last complaint about the game- as I only have three major complaints to speak of, is also a relatively simple one: exploration. For the large and uniquely interesting dystopian world that Neo Paris is and has become, Nilin is limited in where and what she can actually explore. Similar in part to games like the recently released Tomb Raider and 2011's Deus Ex: Human Revolution (both Square Enix developed titles, notably), Remember Me does an excellent job of putting on an open-world facade. Granted, the worlds of all three of these games are remarkably expansive in their own rights, but there is a difference in open and linear world designs- and these games, while more open than others (Uncharted, Call of Duty, etc.), are still a little more tightknit and compact than they should be. Rarely will Remember Me allow or prompt you to leave the "beaten path" and explore what is available to you for anything other than stray collectibles or items. Even these are scripted in, and placed far enough away as to seemingly give the world that "open" appearance though, when looked at later on. I love the little playground that Dontnod has willingly provided us with to harness our memory hunting powers in, but it is hardly anything compared with Grand Theft Auto or Mercenaries, to name a few open world sagas.
And, this brings me to my third and final complaint of the day (majorly, wise)... The entire gimmick of Remember Me was the ability to screw around with, not time, but memories, and for the most part it worked out pretty well in small ways. However, in the big 'Memory Remix' sessions spread throughout the game, which are- don't get me wrong, pretty darn cool to mess with and see how many different outcomes there are, there are only four remixes in the entirety of the game. Okay, so there's nothing wrong with the remixes themselves per se, as they were all pretty well carried out in my honest opinion, but only four?! Now that just seems to be a bit cheap if you ask me, especially in a game with an entire basis in the conceptual elements of memory itself. Come on Dontnod! You could've easily added in about three more, or even one in each chapter, without ruining the important feeling of these sessions- if that is what you were afraid of doing. The remixes really make you feel like you're seeing things through another's eyes, changing their outlook, and slowly even making them go insane. Whichever way you play it, these memories are easily the most fun and important in the game, but they could've had more content and support, which would've been a lot better indeed.
Now, don't get me wrong- as you've probably guessed with my comments thus far, and my thoughts these past few days as well, I definitely have enjoyed my time with the game, and it has done some things finely. It's the sequences that involve delving into the past that bring out the finer points of the game, and gives Remember Me a memorable reputation in my humble opinion. With these remix sessions being few and far between however, this means you are going to be spending the majority of your time either watching cutscenes or in tense combat encounters of the third kind. I'd compare the combat most closely with that of the Arkham games- simple, brutal, and invigorating. Once you nail down the combos, piece together your own with the abilities unlocked in the combo labs (which I will talk more on later), and level some attacks up so to speak, you'll be more in-tune with combat scenarios and be able to more readily solve the combat puzzles and attack usage as well. The only minor complaint I'd have against combat is that there is no parry or block command, so you'll have to dodge every attack before countering, instead of being able to hold your own ground- giving you more of an evasive and defensive feel in combat as opposed to an all out assault. Honestly though, I could see why Dontnod went this route if they were trying to tie that in subtly with Nilin's character, as she is a shadowy errorist and hacker or sorts.
Now, onto combo labs- one of the most intriguing and experiment worthy modes present within Remember Me's experience. From customizing attacks and combos, adding in 'pressens' that can add to your regenerating health or damage inflicted, and being able to access the lab at any time, during combat or when exploring, Combo Lab is quite an entertaining getaway from the moment. You also have S-Pressens, which allow you to build up some really devastating combos, and are upgradeable as you gradually unlock them throughout the story. Each S-Pressen is created really for a specific enemy type in mind, and as you encounter those enemies throughout the story, you may have to use that combo or attack to take them down, uncover them, or otherwise incapacitate them in some way or form. These spice up combat a bit by not only making things more interesting, but by creating a sort of puzzle element to combat when facing certain hardier or wilier enemies. Sadly, they do have a significantly longer cooldown timer than most other combos or attacks, so it can kind of break of the flow of combat at times to pull out these pressens. In this remastered and reinvented version of Paris, there are many dangers to be faced, not all of which can be noted by Nilin's specially enhanced eyesight and on-screen prompts that follow. One thing that doesn't necessarily add up all of the time, but kind of amplifies the experience story-wise as well, is the character development, or sometimes lack thereof- where Nilin might be fleshed out, but most NPCs other than bosses, are not. It adds almost a faceless quality to the foes from Memorize and elsewhere, which means it makes it all the sweeter to take them down, and makes you almost embrace the errorist cause.
Another large chunk of your time may be spent platforming or traversing the environments of Neo Paris, and its outlying slums as well. Doing almost what Uncharted has successfully integrated into its linear climbing sequences, Remember Me's platforming is quite linear at times, but still fun and holds some promise and action as well. Sadly, two drawbacks are that you can never fall to your doom or detriment (does that really count as a drawback?), and you have the constant overbearing fourth wall in your face that is the glaring yellow marker arrow telling you what objects you can and cannot hold onto or leap to successfully. This kind of ties back into the linearity of the exploration as mentioned earlier, as your following of that arrow basically renders your mind of any useful thinking, and gives you no reason to break from the nine or ten hour campaign arc without given cause. I myself only managed to eek out around fourteen hours because I completed my first playthrough in nine and a half hours, and started a second to experiment around a bit, and toy with what exactly was possible in the game. Given the time and effort, Dontnod could really cash in with Remember Me though, by either releasing some spectacular DLC that learns from the base game's mistakes, or possibly a sequel that really builds on the story, characterization, and finer details.
One of the equally interesting and not-so-interesting aspects of Remember Me is that there really is no constant struggle against death to keep you from taking unnecessary risks or jumping into immediate danger. When you misjudge a jump, you are pulled onward towards the rooftop or ledge regardless of how far off your calculations were, which can be both a godsend and an annoyance, if you were trying to ragequit and suicide. If you get beat up so bad as to go into a coma or bleed out in combat essentially, you'll restart like nothing really happened, and like it was simply remembered wrongly- which is neat, but means you can basically do whatever you want with no regrets or consequences. Now, sure- I wouldn't want the game to have something so severe as lack of checkpoints, a certain number of saves, or permadeath or something- but at least make things marginally challenging on something other than the MemHunter Elite level of difficulty (Hard). Now, of course, you're basically reverting to a previous checkpoint just like you would if you had actually died- but it's a small touch that makes you assume you didn't die, and the loop drives onwards.
Overall, while a lot was done to really convey the soul of the city of Neo Paris itself- its inhabitants, the corruption of the Memorize corporation and its total control over everyone, and the characters themselves, as uninteresting as some were at times- some things just don't add up, and those are the only aspects of the game truly keeping it from greatness, as I am sure many will agree with me in saying so. Remember Me is a good game, but not a great game- above B Material, but a tad below the A cutoff. The lovingly crafted and painstakingly created and detailed cutscenes are well presented, but sometimes a little too much, as mentioned previously. They really give you the full scoop, sometimes too full, by cramming it down your throat if you aren't aware of their length, and easily attribute to nearly a quarter of the campaign's time in length. The interactivity is well planned out, the cameras always precisely located during the action and reaction, and the small visual and interacting aesthetics really presented finely and in mint condition- often offering up some replay value for sheer experimenting's sake. The gameplay is well-rounded, offering some interesting gadgets to tinker with in and out of combat, such as the spammer- as seen in the Test Chamber video, and also adding puzzle elements even more in combat and gameplay. What's there is there, and works well while it is in play, most definitely. There aren't too many noticeable glitches to speak of, at least that I've encountered, and the gameplay is quite solid- making this quite a memorable experience for me personally, even if it might not have garnered a high enough review rating for you to go out on a limb and purchase yourselves.
The bottom line is that, while lacking somewhat in a true storytelling area, and character personification and semblances, Remember Me is a worthwhile combat and scenic experience, and one that I would highly recommend, although not at current retail price. Do yourself a favor if you enjoyed games such as Deus Ex: Human Revolution and Mirror's Edge- wait about a month or so for the game's price to drop before purchasing it, or if you are wavering on whether or not to buy it, feel free to pick it up on Gamefly or some similar market and give it a whirl. You shouldn't be too terribly disappointed...
Concept: Explore a near-futuristic Parisian landscape as a memory shifting and altering operative with a particular set of skills and a deadly effective arsenal of gadgets and tactics-based weaponry and methods.
Graphics: No complaints here about the visual style and interpretation of this game's Paris, but it'd certainly be nice to explore said city a bit more often and in-depth.
Sound: The voice acting and soundtrack aren't anything particularly special or groundbreaking, but they are decent enough and far from terrible. Competent would be the word, I suppose.
Playability: The semblance of freedom in fluidity and exploration is just that- a semblance, but the experience is a worthwhile and enjoyable one nonetheless, despite some misgivings and hiccups here and there.
Entertainment: The game does many things right, and certainly shows some bright and promising futures in ideas down the road, but as with the city it centers around, it also has some underlying and obvious flaws in the clockwork.
Replay Value: Moderately High
Overall Score: 8.0