Capcom has taken some big risks these last few years, but publishing DONTNOD’s first newborn is probably the biggest of them all. Remember Me is DONTNOD’s very first title in development. This is particularly interesting since not a lot of publishers are taking such risks, by releasing new IPs this late into the current generation’s life cycle.
Many of us have painful memories that we would rather forget. A terrible accident a few years ago or that brutal mugging by a gang. These are the sort of memories that can leave someone scarred for life. The people of Neo-Paris are free of such memories thanks to revolutionary memory storing technology. Anyone is free to share, modify and even delete memories with the help of Sensen.
But as usual, not everything is this simple and that is where the memory hunter Nilin comes in. Players first meet her as she is about to get what is left of her memories permanently erased. She manages to escape and subsequently starts a chain of events that will unlock her past and future.
Nilin is capable of physical combat which is handy as she will have to face many enemies along the way. Interestingly enough, combat isn’t down to mashing buttons as quickly as possible. Instead, it asks players to press buttons with right timing. Naturally, it’s difficult at first but it works out quite well. Perhaps the only downside of this approach is the fact that players have to constantly look at the lower screen to see what buttons have been input.
These attack combos are all picked by the player in the Combo Lab. At first only one simple combo sequence is available. Pressens(fight moves) are used to fill these combos and each has a certain button assigned to it. Each Pressen helps Nilin in a specific way, such as regaining health or dealing additional damage. It’s certainly handy, but it may result in relying far too much on specific combos.
Defeating enemies will then ensure that Nilin unlocks further combo sequences and additional Pressens to help fill them. Admittedly, some of the combo sequences are quite complex, and so i’s satisfying to pull them off. Specially since some of the later fights involve fighting large numbers of enemies.
To help even out the odds, Nilin gains new abilities as the story progresses. The initial ability is called Sensen Fury and makes it possible to hit enemies without the constraints(short amount of time) of the combo system. Some restrictions are set in order to ensure players don’t rely on these abilities.
Fighting enemies fills up Focus icons that are used to activate each ability. There is also a cool-down period for each ability. Players are then encouraged to engage enemies in combat by making use of Pressens that accelerate the cooldown process. It’s actually quite impressive how the team has managed to link all these combat elements, so that each cleverly compliments the use of another.
Nilin has another very unique ability that makes her a formidable memory hunter. She can steal people’s memories, just like every other memory hunter. However, she can also modify a memory so that it results in a person’s whole recollection of his/her life changing. This Remix process takes place in a simulation where Nilin can see the memory play out. She then takes advantages of variables in the memory to change the outcome.
It’s not always clear what the best way to ensure that a desired outcome occurs. However, it’s amusing to view the various outcomes. The very very thought of being able to change someone’s life is provocative. These Remix sequences are few, but perhaps that is what makes them all the more special. There is no danger in losing either, since tNilin can rewind the memory at any time. Any changes made are also cancelled and it’s all up to the player to figure out what works best.
Another unique feature is the use of memories to guide Nilin. These so called Remembrane will show her the best path to take or secret codes that unlock doors. It’s a clever idea that makes it more interesting to progress through the game.
Much of Remember Me is spent exploring the different sectors of Neo-Paris. Nilin is naturally agile, given her profession, and can easily climb any structure. It’s all very exciting to go around climbing up buildings. Every once in a while Remember Me likes to check that players are still paying attention too. It introduces sections where the player must move quickly, such as when platforms are collapsing.
There are a few puzzles that players will come across. Each of them involves using one of Nilin’s ability. Some of the later puzzles are quite challenging, but it’s still a welcome break from the other sections. An eye augmentation tool provides hints for anyone that gets stuck in a puzzle.
There are many types of enemies to face. Initially, it’s the deranged Leapers that get in the way. These creatures were once humans who have overdosed on memories. It’s this disease that the more fortunate citizens of Neo-Paris choose to forget.
These Leapers are mostly dangerous when in large groups. However, different types like Skinners make an appearance later on.
There are also less insane enemies who are employed to keep the city safe. These mostly consist of enemies that attack Nilin with shock attacks. But for example, new enemies found later on will cause Nilin to lose health whenever she hits them. Naturally this may seem like a bad design idea, but anyone that makes good use of the Pressens will find a solution.
Perhaps the best aspect of combat is the fact that each enemy type requires a different strategy. Some enemies are only defeated when attacking them in a certain way. Later on, there is an ability that makes it possible to turn robot enemies against their human masters.
Dodging enemies usually breaks up combos but is necessary to stay alive. Combat later on involves a lot of dodging. Mainly due to the sheer amount of enemies that Nilin faces. It’s definitely a challenge to try and keep up. Anyone used to the camera automatically moving will find it difficult to adjust. The camera is moved by the player with the right stick, whilst in combat. It’s a bit of a strange design idea, but it’s not one that makes it difficult to still enjoy playing.
The art style is easily one of the best aspects of Remember Me. It’s almost surreal to explore the city of Neo-Paris as current and new technology create a believable futuristic vision of what is to come. The streets are filled with signs that pop out as Nilin comes near them. It’s a magnificent look at a futuristic Paris that is both stylish and inspiring. On-screen prompts show the way and ensure that Nilin never gets lost.
Exploring the different levels of society shows stark differences between how each class lives. The poor suffer below whilst the rich continue to live comfortably above. This is the very reason that Nilin continues on her mission to liberate the city.
The story itself is fascinating and is told in a manner that has players slowly piecing all the facts together. In fact, some of the story elements are reminiscent of current world conflicts that anyone can easily find out about in the media.
It’s refreshing to see that the game will keep players busy for a fairly long time. There are also typical collectibles to find. There are secret panels found as Nilin continues on her quest. These reveal the location of the collectibles, and it’s up to players to find these areas. Extras like concept art becomes available after obtaining more collectibles.
Accompanying the game is a soundtrack that is just as unique as the art style. The music even changes during combat depending on how well the player is doing. At times it may seem out of synch, but that’s just another reminder of the chaos inside Nilin’s head. Sometimes a music track is playing and the right section comes on just as the game decides to highlight another glorious backdrop of Neo-Paris.
Nilin is a competent main character and one that players can associate with. It’s the fact that she doesn’t require typical attributes to stand out. If anything, she often doubts herself and sometimes even protests against what she is set out to do by her resistance leader, Edge. It’s understandable, given the fact that most of her memories are missing. Other characters aren’t quite on her level, but there are still a few sinister traits that will make some of them unforgeable.
DONTNOD’s first video-game is one that many will find it difficult to comprehend. Albeit not perfect by any means, Remember Me is a rough diamond in a sea of sequels and titles that look the same. It’s an unforgettable experience that will leave many thinking about it long after finishing the story.