Welcome to Neo-Paris in the year 2084. Imagine a time when augmented reality and memory digitization are standard practice. Memories are stored, bought, sold, traded, and even stolen. Privacy is a relic of the past. Citizens have given up their rights in exchange for convenience. Sound familiar?
Capcom’s Remember Me sounds like a dystopia that we’re already well on the path toward. The developers envision a creeping surveillance state with robotic drones sweeping the streets and cameras watching your every move. It’s a 1984–
You play as Nilin, a memory hunter whose own memory was mostly wiped clean by the Memorize Corporation, a gigantic corporation whose brain implant called Sensen allows users to wipe unpleasant memories as well as share memories with others. Just as Nilin is about to have her entire memory erased, an “Errorist” named Edge helps you escape.
The story is the main draw of Remember Me. The grip of tyranny is palpable throughout the game world. Hapless mutant sub-humans have developed as a result of memory overloads and malfunctioning brain implant hardware. Remember Me is a compelling example of video game narrative.
Unfortunately, the gameplay mechanics are not nearly as strong. The developers mixed third-person adventuring along a mostly linear path with a combat system that is limited in its depth. Memory remixes (more on that later) offer a third main element. None of them come together very well.
The combat system is fairly limited. You start off with literally one combo and eventually “remember” new ones. The one aspect that sets Remember Me apart, in a gimmicky sort of way, is the combo lab. You will unlock “pressens” as you gain experience and advance through the story. These pressens focus on specific abilities, such as health regeneration, damage, reducing cooldown for power-ups, and a chain pressen that duplicates the previous pressen while doubling its effect. Each pressen corresponds to either the triangle or square buttons (PC and Xbox 360 users have a different setup), which is then filled into the combo.
I will give the developers credit for thinking outside of the box, but the idea is a little more complicated than it needs to be. Honestly, it gives a false sense of customization. While you can fill specific pressens into your combos, most of them are unlocked in a certain order. Even more importantly, the combos themselves have pre-set buttons. So, for instance, each pressen type will correspond to a certain button, but the combo itself is already set. All you decide is whether you want that button press to give you health, extra damage, etc.
The memory remixes are the most interesting and unique part of the game, but they are limited. There are a total of four of them. Nilin’s special abilities allow her to alter people’s memories. From a gamer’s perspective, you will watch a video sequence that can be fast-forwarded and rewound, trying to look for memory “glitches” to change the actions of the characters in the memory. The goal is to plant memories to change their self-image and perspective of the world. It’s a clever system that should have played a more prominent role.
Overall, Remember Me has a bit of an identity crisis. It doesn’t know if it wants to be an Uncharted/Tomb Raider-style adventure game, a story-driven game like Heavy Rain, or a combo-driven beat ’em up with boss fights. The memory remix parts are the strongest piece of the entire set. Had they built the game almost entirely around this rather than the action and adventure filler, it would have been a much better game.