Everybody has bad memories. Memories of lost love, memories of pain and sadness, some people have worse memories than others, but it is certain that everyone has them. Memories are a key part of what motivates and changes the human race as a whole and as individuals. One single traumatic experience can leave someone bitter and hateful for a lifetime. If you could take those away from someone to change their personalities and actions, to suit your own wants, would you? If you could take away your own bad memories to try to make yourself stronger, would you? Remember Me is a unique game that allows the player to explore the concepts themselves by giving them control of a Memory Hunter – Nilin – and watching her actions when approached with these questions.
The game opens with an advert from the company Memorize whom are selling Sensen Technology. Sensen Technology allows users to store their memories in an external hard drive which has its advantages as explained through first person accounts in the Memorize advertisement. Some chose to store clear memories of deceased loved ones, some chose to store the memories and share them with their partner so they can experience first-hand their feelings, others chose to store their memories so they can share certain humbling events with their children in the future. These are a few of the many possibilities that Sensen Technology creates for humanity. Are you sold yet? Neo-Paris certainly was. The people of Neo-Paris chose to run with Sensen Technology with all the force they had, choosing to edit and delete any bad memories that caused suffering. A noble and ideal world in theory, but the best laid schemes of mice and men and all that.
In practice Sensen Technology has led to a society that’s very segregated – the privileged few, the Leapers and the bits in between. Leapers are cast off semi-humans that live in the slums of Neo-Paris. They are cast offs with their memories wiped who have become deformed. Sensen Technology has resulted in ‘memory junkies’ who can remember nothing but will pay for a good memory to just experience a glimmer of positive emotion one ‘last’ time. Of course, a new uprising of the rich through such complex and expensive (I assume!) technology just wouldn’t be complete without an uprising from those who feel excluded and downtrodden. This is where you – Nilin – and the Errorists enter the scene.
Nilin wakes up dazed, in pain and confused after having most of her memory wiped, luckily there is still a bit of her left – she remembers her name, nothing more. She is taken to an area by a Memorize worker where all subjects who have left over memories must go to have the final bits wiped out of their head. Thankfully before this happens Nilin hears a voice communicating with her, Edge, who is the leader of the Errorist uprising. He informs you of your lost Identity, you are Nilin, one of the most skilled and feared Memory Hunter’s working for the Errorists. You have the ability to steal and remix people’s memories and it is, according to Edge, only you who is capable of breaking down and destroying the corrupt society that runs along the streets of Neo-Paris.
As you can see from this brief of the story Remember Me is a game packed full of great concepts, a theme which is not only limited to the story but to the gameplay and aesthetics too. A feature in Remember Me that was particularly notable is the combat system. Players are able to unlock fighting abilities called Pressens of which there are four types – Power Pressens for damage, Regen Pressens used to regain health, Cooldown Pressens which reduce cooldown times of S-Pressens (which I’ll explain later) and Chain Pressens which gain and multiply the effects of previous combos. The player is given a set combo, for example X-X-X or X-Y-X-X-Y, to which the player can assign the Pressens that are unlocked via points gained through battle. This gives players a lot of room for creativity as we are able to change combos mid-battle giving the game an element of strategy which you don’t often find in third-person beat ‘em up scenes. For example, there are enemies in the game that damage you every time you hit them, so in order to combat them in the most efficient way possible it would make sense to assign Regen, Power and Chain Pressens to the combo – X (Regen)-Y(Regen)-X (Power) – X (Power) – Y(Chain) – in order to regain health, deal damage and then at the end of the combo use the Chain Pressen to duplicate and multiply the previous damage and regen you created. Combos that you are performing appear in the bottom left so that you can keep an eye on what works, what doesn’t (think of the training modes in Dark Stalkers 3, Street Fighter, Marvel VS Capcom 3, similar to that) and make changes accordingly.
In addition to Pressens there are Special Pressens which really come in handy during the more difficult/time-consuming battles. There are five S-Pressens in total, I won’t talk about all of them to avoid ruining the game for anyone who hasn’t played it yet, so I’ll just talk about my personal favourite, the Rust In Pieces S-Pressen. The Rust In Pieces S-Pressen gives Nilin the ability to shoot at any near-by enemy robot resulting in the robot shooting at any local enemies (useful for those enemies that damage you when you hit them!) and then eventually leading to an explosion knocking down surrounding enemies. Most S-Pressens are equally as powerful, so in order to avoid being overpowered developers included a cooldown time to avoid S-Pressen spamming, which is fantastic. It encourages the player to make use of creating their own combos as they will need to implement the Cooldown Pressen in order to use their S-Pressens faster.
Whilst we’re wading through the depths of combat, it’s worth mentioning that it flows very smoothly within this game. Hits are well-timed, dodge’s are perfect and look tight, the in-game music syncs well with the visual output of the game, however too much of a good thing can make it boring. This is an issue Remember Me suffers from more towards the end of the game due to there been rather time-consuming and large battles quite often with not enough walking/action in between.
Speaking of beauty, Remember Me is one of the most aesthetically pleasing games I’ve ever had the pleasure of reviewing. I can’t put my finger on it, but if I had to describe the aesthetics I would have to say it’s a strange but pleasing mix of Mirror’s Edge and Ghost in the Shell. Everything about this game visually just feeds the whole cyberpunk concept, from obvious ways like making the inside of people’s memories all cubed like pixels to subtle things, such as the flickering of red and grey pixels over the screen when Nilin is close to death. If I had to describe it in one word it would have to be abstract. It is absolutely packed with cyberpunk goodness in both a visual and narrative sense, not to mention some of the best in-game architecture I’ve ever seen. However, it seems that a lot of people who have played the game wish they could have explored Neo-Paris more due to how visually pleasing it is. Whilst this is indeed a good and valid point, I’m not sure how well this would fit in the game. Nilin is a key aspect of a social uprising, she doesn’t have a memory but she is clearly a very headstrong and determined individual. She is obviously someone who likes to get things done straight away and efficiently to get where she wants to be, giving the player the option to explore Neo-Paris would contradict Nilin’s personality. The linear nature of the game is simply a reflection of that. However, as a reward for completing the game (the main story takes about nine hours, so not very long) it would have been nice to be able to explore Neo-Paris in more detail.
The key aspect of Remember Me that I’m sure is what made everyone curious about the game in the first place is memory remixing. There are several points in-game where Nilin must remix (alter) people’s memories in order to change their actions/attitude in the present, for example, relieving someone of bitterness by making them think a situation was their fault. This is a very unique and captivating aspect of the game, albeit a little disturbing at times. Throughout the game Nilin convinces people to destroy themselves and convinces them loved ones are dead. In order to do this you must re-wind memories and find ‘glitches’ in them that are subtle, but will result in very different outcomes. Glitches are often very subtle, for example removing a cup-holder, moving a trophy or activating a robot bear. Players are forced to watch through these carefully and repeatedly in order to find the ‘correct’ outcome. Sometimes this can be a little difficult to watch as they are more often than not traumatic memories, for example, a car crash. This may seem rather extreme but the player is experiencing Nilin’s current position as she would, which explains why Nilin often gets short and sarcastic with Edge. Outside of altering people’s memories via their Sensen, Nilin can also steal people’s memories and view them via Rememberanes, a virtual projection of digitize memory that allows players to experience others memories in real-time. This is used to get through pathways of mines, find your way through complex corridors and find out the passwords for certain doors/areas.
Nilin herself is a well-developed character, it would be a shame to write a review without praising the Remember Me team for creating such a believable multi-racial female protagonist, especially due to some of the criticism that the team received for creating a female protagonist as Creative Director Jean-Max Moris has discussed*. Gender aside though it can be very difficult to create a believable character when they are in an un-believable world. Dontnod Entertainment approached this in a sensible way, giving Nilin a realistic and believable personality which isn’t displayed through bits of text or off comments, but through her communication with Edge. She questions him, talks back to him, she’s sarcastic and sometimes just downright unlikeable, but she is human and she is believable. In between episodes of the game players will see Nilin walking inside what we can only assume is her own Escher-esque memory, contemplating her actions and what is going on around her. Is she doing the right thing? Why does she and is she right to follow Edges orders, does she even have a choice? Is she a militant for doing what she’s doing? Do the ends justify the means? This is character development at its finest. Nilin has an attitude and lethal skills, but she has a conscience too. Sadly Nilin’s inner monologues are all we really get to see of the ethical and philosophical issues that Remember Me’s story provokes. In the story it’s very clear who we are meant to think the good/bad people are, there isn’t really grey area which is a real shame as there’s a lot of room for creativity in those grey areas, not to mention a deeper engagement between the game and the player. If a game can make a player question anything at all that’s philosophy and ethics related that it’s almost a guarantee the game is doing something right.
Remember Me is one of those games that really tries hard to push concepts. The story is great with a few twists that you don’t expect to see, visually it’s both very meticulous and abstract without being too complex and distracting. The music is fantastic and adds to the cyperpunk atmosphere of the game as does everything else – building designs, character outfits, the names of products – all of which help create an in-depth and compelling world. However it is a shame that we can’t explore this world any further than the paths already laid out for us. Additionally the lack of consequences for Nilin’s actions is a little disappointing. The ends always justify the means and nothing ever comes back to haunt her or the Errorist revolution. This is relevant to the lack of philosophical and ethical discussion – Nilin does ask a few questions herself, but none are ever really answered due to the story being so black-white, good-bad, with no variety in between. Apart from the combat getting a little stale towards the end of the game these are the only true complaints I have about Remember Me. It is a little short, but there are plenty of achievements and three difficulty settings if you want re-play value. Remember Me has lots of exotic and extravagant concepts which have only really being touched on the surface within this game, perhaps if a sequel was made that could dive in a little deeper and explore the further potential of the Sensen and Memorize company, or the questions raised by the existence and popularity of the technology, or perhaps both. Overall Remember Me certainly brings something new to the table. If you are a fan of in-game beauty, anything abstract and cyberpunk then I would heavily recommend Remember Me. It falls a little short, but had big aspirations. It’s impossible to not admire and praise.
Disclaimer:All scores given within our reviews are based on the artist’s personal opinion; this should in no way impede your decision to purchase the game.