The lights are on
No one can accuse Dontnod Entertainment of not taking a risk with Remember Me. Its
story centers around a strong female protagonist, which is supposedly a
big risk according to several people within the games industry. Dontnod
more than likely knew this going in and said “screw it” and made the
game anyway. I commend them for that. However, Dontnod also decided to
turn Remember Me into a third-person action-adventure beat-’em-up. Therein lies the problem.
Remember Me borrows elements from Philip K. Dick novels to
craft a tale of mystery, deception and, oh yes, memories. The player
controls the aforementioned strong female protagonist, Nilin, as she
takes on MEMORIZE, an evil corporation that manipulates peoples’
memories, allowing them to be happy pretty much all the time by erasing
the bad stuff from their minds. OK, the story is kind of dumb. It’s
filled with ridiculous words like “Sensen”, “Pressen”, “Remembrane” and
“Errorist”. It tries to be smart sci-fi, but ends up playing out like
something you’d see on the SyFy channel at 1 a.m.
Nilin spends the entirety of Remember Me chatting with a
mysterious entity named Edge, who is the leader of the (ridiculous word
time!) “Errorists”. Edge helps Nilin to remember her past as the story
progresses, which leads to some silly twists that wouldn’t feel out of
place in a David Cage game. Nilin comes across as kind of an awful
person because of some of the decisions she makes along the way, but the
game never explores that. The story just screeches along, filling
itself with even more plot holes until the credits roll.
That being said, the world Dontnod has crafted is pretty cool. It’s
called Neo-Paris and it will reward the patient player with amazing
sights and sounds. It is, thankfully, what the player will be staring at for most of the duration of Remember Me. It
almost makes up for Dontnod ruining the relationship between Nilin and
Edge with the game’s dumb ending that succumbs to all the worst cliches
of action games. It’s rare to see a game almost completely collapse
around itself in its ending, but Remember Me just about manages to do it.
Combat in Remember Me is extremely simplistic and ultimately
boils down to pressing two buttons (one to punch and one to kick).
Dontnod tried to make it look better by calling the individual elements
that make up combo chains “Pressens” and “S-Pressens”, but all those two
words mean are “normal attacks” and “special attacks”. The “S-Pressens”
have different effects, such as healing Nilin when used in accordance
with other attacks, which is very useful in the latter parts of the
game. On the surface it seems to be a winning combination.
But it’s boring. Once I tinkered around with the attacks and
pieced together functional combinations, I never wanted to enter the
“Pressen” menu again. I didn’t care. Plus, the controls are absurdly bad
at times. Nilin’s lock-on ability has a habit of not working, leading
to a lot of frustration. Nilin won’t always do what you want her to do,
and this usually leads to a checkpoint restart. I couldn’t help but wish
I were playing one of the Arkham Batman games the entire time I was playing Remember Me.
The platforming in Remember Me is fun when the camera isn’t
working against the player. Jumping from ledges and swinging from poles
is what you get here, and if you like that sort of thing, you’ll get it
in spades in Remember Me. The margin of error for some
sections, especially later on in the game, can be annoying, but it’s
nothing to make someone want to stop playing the game. No, the combat
serves that purpose.
The most intriguing parts of Remember Me are the memory
remixing sequences. These are basically scenes that players can rewind
and fast-forward through and alter through “glitches”. The “glitches”
are usually objects in the scene that the player presses a button on,
changing the rest of the scene. For example, I removed a dying man’s
surgical mask so he could say a few last words to his girlfriend. It’s a
cool idea, but the thing is, only four of these sequences exist within
the game. Also, they’re linear as hell in that they can only lead to one
possible outcome in order to advance the story.
Dontnod has filled the unique world of Remember Me with
atmosphere. Neo-Paris is a sight to behold. Buildings beckon from the
distance. The crowded streets emanate a strong sense of humanity. Dark
alleyways set the mood for upcoming battles. Really the only way to
describe Neo-Paris is to say it’s utterly alive. It’s quite impressive.
However, character models leave much to be desired. Nilin’s design is
fine and some of the bosses are cool to look at, but get ready to face
off against the same armored cops and grotesque white creatures several
times. Literally the only two enemy types players will face off against
for 95 percent of Remember Me are cops wearing black armor and
pale-skinned former human beings called “Leapers”. It makes the
proceedings more a drag than they already are.
My favorite thing about Remember Me is its soundtrack.
Olivier Deriviere’s score is one of the best I’ve ever heard within a
video game. It adds even more immersion to an already fascinating world.
I would absolutely advise anyone to purchase the soundtrack even if
they were to never play the game. It’s altogether stunning.
Remember Me has a few things going for it, but in the end it left me empty. I admire Dontnod’s ambition, but Remember Me just
isn’t that fun to play. That being said, I’m really looking forward to a
sequel if Dontnod should ever choose to make one. Now that they
actually have experience with making a video game, I think with their
ideas they could go on to do great things. I wish them all the best.
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