The lights are on
Remember Me, the first production of DONTNOD entertainment
is one of the games I was most looking forward to this year, while I didn’t necessarily
know whether or not I would like it, every aspect of fascinated me to no end.
And so I waited anxiously for the release date to roll around eager to
experience it first hand, and how does it hold up? Well…
Visually, the game oozes style, from the grand cityscape of
Neo-Paris, to the dilapidated slums, to the digital polygons that appear everywhere;
the games visuals are always captivating. The soundtrack does a lot to help set
the mood as well, creating an atmosphere that can be both tense and thrilling
at just the right times. The story, while not especially original, is very
engaging, with the main character Nilin succeeding in being both vulnerable and
capable without feeling forced or ham-handed. So to put it in simple terms the
presents itself beautifully, if only it played as well.
Without a doubt, Remember Me’s biggest problem is that
DONTNOD has a lot of ideas that it’s eager to show off, but not polish to any
great degree, the simple act of moving Nilin around is more unruly than it
needs to be, I wandered into traps simply because I nudged the analog stick
just a little in the wrong direction. And while Neo-Paris is a sight to behold,
you’ll only get to see glimpses of it as you climb your way to the next
objective. Climbing across walls and rooftops gives the game a nice sense of
verticality, but it doesn’t have any sense of weight or danger involved, especially
when the game is constantly telling you where to go. Oddly enough, even with
the games linear focus, the environments are such a cluttered mess that it can
be quite easy to get lost and start going around in circles just trying to
figure out what to do next.
The combat fairs a lot better though, simple punching and
kicking your way through baddies has a nice satisfying rhythm to, and being
able to customize the attribute of each hit with your in-game “Pressens” opens
up a wealth of experimentation. My favorites ended up being a combo that
alternates high-damage strikes and healing strikes, as well as a combo that
boosted the recovery time of my special attacks or “S-Pressens”. These moves
are essential for the right situation, and they’re all a blast to unleash in
the heat of battle. With a nearby button dedicated to dodging, Nilin has an
almost balletic grace as she hops from foe to another, when it’s all working right,
combat is invigorating, but it can’t help but lose its appeal, and it’ll happen
sooner than you expect.
But by far, where this game is at its best is when you’re
remixing someone’s memory, watching these scenes play out and react to your
input bring a whole new level of engagement, I felt a chill of excitement go
through me every time I got to see how my influence could affect what happens, and
when it all goes as planned, the feeling of satisfaction stands head and
shoulders above anything else the game can offer. Unfortunately these moments
are far too few, and once there over the game comes crashing down to the same game
play that’s probably already gotten old.
Remember Me left me more perplexed than any game this year,
on one hand the story is engaging and the game play is sprinkled with little
flourishes of good ideas, but it all starts to feel like work far too soon, and what we're left with is a fledgling title that’s brimming with potential, a
free-roaming sandbox setting could have made this game so much better, but it
wasn’t meant to be. As it stands I can recommend it as a solid rental but not
much else. I really hope to see more from these developers because I really
think there’s a fantastic game in here, and hopefully we’ll get to see it in an
upcoming sequel. If that day ever comes, I’ll be waiting with the same enthusiasm I had for this, but until then, I’m left yearning for what could have been.
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