The pedigree of Dontnod Entertainment and their brilliant Life is Strange series had gotten me curious about their debut title, Remember Me, so much so that I broke my rule of not buying Capcom games to play it.
Credit where it’s due though, it’s been said Capcom was the only publisher willing to back the project with its female protagonist intact. On a side note, where the issue of gender representation is concerned, 2013 was a very turbulent year for the medium. The Gamergate harassment campaign reared its ugly head around this time, and Tropes vs. Women in Video Games was investigating how problematic things had become in more recent years.
Remember Me is set in Neo-Paris 2084. People’s memories have become a digital commodity, and elite hunters like our heroine (Nilin) have manifested the ability to steal and reconfigure the minds of fugitives. In true video game fashion, Nilin has her own mind wiped by an evil corporation, so now she’s taking it on the lamb in hopes of restoring her memories and bringing this dystopian nightmare to an end.
What follows is a short and somewhat derivative sci-fi adventure where sinister corporations betray their employees and ordinary people struggle to retain their humanity in the face of technological progress. It’s standard issue story detail in the Deus Ex mould, with endless pontificating on the morality of humankind’s actions, as a downtrodden populace fights back against the oppressors of their dystopian society, that sort of thing.
This is a third-person action-adventure that played out almost exactly as I expected it to. Indeed, about halfway through the game I noted nothing particularly surprising was happening. Basic platforming and combat sections, uninteresting NPCs you only meet once, and of course, walk n’ talk segments narrated by the handler chatting in Nilin’s ear.
“Remixes” are the most notable deviation. These are predetermined vignettes reminiscent of an Ace Attorney mini game where Nilin performs inception on an unwary victim: implanting their brain with false memories to change what they believe is true. In the earliest instance, Nilin remixes a rival bounty hunter called Olga to try and switch her allegiance. Nilin does this by changing Olga’s memory of her husband’s death so she remembers it being a result of corporate negligence. As a player you essentially act as a video editor, searching the feed and manipulating preset objects to make the scene reach your desired outcome.
I think players are meant to get a kick out of how morally dubious this mechanic is, only the drama is rendered flat by awkward controls and the tedious need to slowly rewind video footage. The pacing sinks whenever you have to do these remixes and really, for all the effort involved, they’re just not very fun.
On a more positive note, Remember Me is not a difficult game. Combat is primarily melee-based and there’s only a few combo strings of punches and kicks to memorise. The campaign gives players a pretty easy time of it, even at the hardest difficulty setting.
Things are made easier by how tightly the game holds your hand. There’s not a single climbable ledge that isn’t highlighted, and likewise, every mission objective is clearly signposted to stop players getting lost. There’s a Legend of Zelda vibe to this at times, and if the straightforward combat and jumping mechanics weren’t a clear enough influence, Remember Me also has collectables in the form of little spiders which Nilin can recognise via their distinctive chittering noise. Sound familiar?
Some players may enjoy a mellower journey in this sense, but the plot is too self serious and combat doesn’t excite much because the character upgrade systems are so basic. The special powers don’t feel very special either. When compared to the technical and charismatic masterclass that is Bayonetta, for instance, Remember Me feels a bit lifeless.
The graphics still look incredibly sharp on a modern PC with a 360hz monitor, only certain cutscenes seem to be rendered in 480p, so those look and sound terrible. And on the subject of cutscenes, almost none of them can be skipped. This causes considerable frustration when you’re reloading chapters for missed collectables, and is more basic stuff you’d hope the developers would get right.
Overall, Remember Me doesn’t feel like it has much going for it aside from being short enough not to outstay its welcome. Despite all the good intentions its creators demonstrated here, it just isn’t a very exciting game at its core and ends up feeling, ironically enough, rather forgettable.