Capcom aren’t exactly known for their faith in new intellectual property (IP) these days, but during the Xbox 360/PlayStation 3 era we had numerous new franchises. Exactly why Remember Me isn’t mentioned in the same breath as Dead Rising or Lost Planet is a mystery. Especially when the title ranks as one of the most inspired new IPs birthed in the final throws of the generation.
Little has also been made of Nilin, Remember Me’s strong female lead. She is arguably as worthy of attention as any revision of a young and impulsive Lara Croft could ever have been. Nilin is a rebel assassin. She is capable of taking out enemies not by killing them. Though she is unquestionably a close combat expert, she has the ability to enter their thoughts and change their memories to suit her needs. Set in Neo Paris in the year 2084, a company called Memorize has developed a monopoly on memory storage. A wet wired implant several decades on from that seen in the underrated Strange Days whilst still retaining the ability to transfer from one person to another. Some have been corrupted by these memory exchanges – be it an addiction or simply overwhelming bad memories – while other have profited from them. Nilin is part of a group that set out to change this. Only they lost.
The player begins as a prisoner, unaware of why or how they got into this situation. Nilin’s memory has been wiped, and her first job is to escape. A remote communication from your former commander, Edge, creates a distraction and points you in the direction of how to escape. But its Nilin’s athleticism that is the key to success. A large portion of the action on Remember Me is platforming that bears more than a passing resemblance to that of the original God of War III. This isn’t acrobatic like Prince of Persia nor fluid like Tomb Raider. This is a set aside moment of traversing from A to B. The occasional spectacle en route, and almost always challenging the player to think before they leap. Thankfully the checkpoint system is very generous both here and in combat.
The combat system is most comparable to that of Batman: Arkham Asylum, which is no bad thing. The player is able to customise their combos with new attacks unlocked through earning Remember Me’s take on experience points. Players can also break a combo with a dodge manoeuvre, even after having committed to the input. Furthermore, the system expands with special abilities such as the Sensen Fury, which allows Nilin to ignore set combos and deliver blow after blow with rapid presses of X and Y. Each strike is more damaging than normal and can deflect most enemy attacks. Special abilities are limited by a cooldown period, and a small variety is included to keep things fresh.
Remember Me appears to balance it’s core design as a mix of platform and combat sections, with the memory jacking acting as an aside. A moment’s respite that helps break-up the action and vary the gameplay. At distinct moments in the linear adventure you will be given a cutscene that details a memory of a character you are interacting with. It’s your job to change this memory. Thusly changing the outcome of an event involving them. For example, if a man is committed to his wife and refuses to leave her she’s not as vulnerable as she might be alone. Convincing this man that she cheated on him, thus breaking this bond, might see him less inclined to stay by her side.
Achieving such a goal is a less grand affair that it may sound. The player simply rewinds the memory and presses B to change a highlighted aspect. Then play it through again and seeing what difference it makes. Multiple changes are typically required and not necessarily all those which are available. This often makes the process little more than a case of trial-and-error. It’s truly a shame that the memory jacking aspect of Remember Me can be boiled down to such a basic formula as it’s one of the aspects that makes the title stand out from the crowd. A unique selling point which is sadly far less interesting than the plot, combat system and platform action.
Throughout the campaign Remember Me looks simply fantastic. From the skin textures on the enemy models to the densely packed environments bursting with detail, Neo Paris is alive with corruption and poverty. It’s genuinely surprising how much colour has been injected into the archetypical clean science-fiction future. The development team thankfully opted for Blade Runner’s pristine chaos opposed to Demolition Man’s artificial beauty. The sheer amount of variety in Remember Me’s locations is staggering, especially when taking into account the claustrophobic detail in each. The fact that it’s so far ahead of the run-of-the-mill goes to show that the horsepower of the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 are frequently underestimated.
2013 saw dozens of fantastic videogame titles. From unique experiences such as Metro: Last Light and BioShock Infinite, to high quality genre pieces like Tomb Raider and DmC: Devil May Cry. Remember Me is an enjoyable an adventure as any of these titles. However, it’s let down by a single poorly executed mechanic that was intended to be its highlight. Capcom were right to put their faith in Remember Me, and gamers would be foolish not to give Nilin a chance to shine. Even though a sequel may be out of the question a decade on, it would be welcomed should the development team at DONTNOD be given a second crack.