New franchises are hard to find near the end of a console generation, but Capcom is delivering some fresh ideas with Remember Me. The game takes place in the future, where power-hungry corporations have refined the technology to influence politicians by tapping into their thoughts. My hands-on time begins several stages in, assuming control of a woman who once possessed the power to reshuffle people’s minds.
My extensive demo begins with Nilin, the main protagonist, being dragged out of a casket-like pod in the dredges of Neo-Paris. Gangly memory-wiped abominations haunt the seedy underbelly of this 2084 version of Paris, hunting for anything that can give some sort of memory. Nilin can’t remember who she is either, but a voice in her head tells her that she was once a trained memory hunter. Memory hunters are like mental assassins, rewiring or erasing the minds of political enemies. The voice in her head is Edge, a mysterious man who wants to help her rebuild her former memories. She recalls enough to defeat the pack of freakish enemies, then Edge tells her to travel toward a bar run by Headache Tommy.
Capcom previously showed off Remember Me’s unique combo-creation system, but this the first time I try it out myself. Nilin recalls her former fighting prowess by leveling up, and players unlock attacks as she does so. These attacks are slotted into custom combos, which can be optimized to deal damage, restore health, or reduce the cooldowns of special abilities. Button mashing is unacceptable here. Players must time their strikes carefully in order to deliver dramatic, slow-motion takedowns. Enemies will move in to attack Nilin, and exclamation marks above their heads cue players to dodge them. The rhythm of combat feels similar to Rocksteady’s Batman titles, but with a more technical edge.
When players aren’t knocking out groups of brainwashed mutants or private police squads, they traverse the busy architecture of the futuristic, Orwellian city. Nilin’s path to Tommy’s bar is treacherous, filled with perilous jumps and electrified hazards in addition to all the goons. Shimmying across ledges and jumping between high-rise balconies feels similar to the Uncharted games. One sequence involves sidling across a huge vertical support for a gigantic, dynamic billboard. Slats rotate sequentially to reveal a new ad, which players must speed past or to avoid being knocked down.
Eventually Nilin arrives at Tommy’s Bar by following Edge’s advice. Tommy seems familiar with Nilin, but his face isn’t ringing any bells in her addled mind. After a warm yet awkward welcome, Tommy directs Nilin towards a room where she changes into her old memory hunter clothes. Her old get-up comes complete with a stylish black arm sleeve. This combat glove bestows Nilin with the unique power to tap into people’s memories and alter their past. Tommy just begins to warn Nilin that a bounty hunter may be after her when someone suddenly nabs her from behind and presses a blade to her neck. It’s Olga Sedova, a deadly hired gun made even more dangerous due to her desperate need to acquire funds for her husband’s medical needs at Memorise (Nilin’s former employer and the party responsible for wiping her brain).
Nilin takes advantage of Olga’s proximity by tapping into her recent memories with the combat glove. In the flashback, Olga is strapped and hooked up to one bed in a hospital room, while a gray doctor hovers over her sedated husband on the other side of a transparent partition. The doctor is apparently giving Olga’s sick husband a memory transfusion, syphoning past experiences from her mind into his. The game prompts me to fix Nilin’s predicament in the present by manipulating Olga’s recollection of past events, which will make Olga remember a sequence of events more suited to Nilin’s goals: the doctor killing her husband instead. Rotating the left analog stick rewinds time, allowing Nilin to interact with the technology present in the procedure room. I begin by reversing the memory transfusion machine. Upon playback, Olga screams and convulses as the emptiness of her husband’s brain spreads into her own. I corrupted her mind to the point of death. Mission failure. For my next attempt I disable her husband’s anesthesia, tinker with his IV fluids, disengage a wrist restraint, and scoot a robotic instrument train behind the doctor. When I play things forward, Olga’s husband reacts violently to the faulty IV fluid, jolts awake without the sleeping gas, and reaches out to grab the doctor’s throat with his free hand. The doctor stumbles backwards, crashes over the tray, and calls an emergency order to kill the rampaging patient. Mission success.
Warping back to the present, Olga suddenly releases Nilin. A switch has flipped inside her. Seconds ago she wanted to exchange Nilin’s life for money to fund her husband’s care at Memorise. Now, following the horribly botched procedure, she wants to make Memorise pay. It’s a win-win for Nilin. She’s freed from the clutches of the bounty hunter and gains an ally in the hunt for her own memory.
All of Remember Me’s individual components make it an intriguing new IP, from the unique premise to the custom combat system. But the memory remixing session inside Olga’s mind stands out as a fascinating new gameplay experience. I’m excited to see how Capcom’s ambitious new title shapes up as a whole, but I hope to rewire many more character’s pasts by tinkering with their fragile minds.
This preview is as it will appear in issue #240 of Game Informer