What would happen if your memories could be traded, stolen and bought just like any other resource or commodity in the world? What if, your deepest darkest memories and your brightest moments in life were all up for grabs, or even under the control, of various different corporations? Remember Me, the latest action game from Capcom and DONTNOD Entertainment, examines what the world might be like if this were the case. The game takes place in a futuristic version of Paris (Neo-Paris) in the year of 2084 in a world where the exchange of memories is so ingrained in society, it resembles the social networking craze of our current generation.
The player controls Nilin, an elite memory hunter with the unique ability to literally remix and change the memories of others. Nilin begins the game with her memories wiped as a prisoner of Memorize, a large corporation that has a monopoly on the entire memory management market. A strange voice guides you out of the prison and you begin your journey to regain your lost memories and stop the bad guys from doing bad guy things.
While the initial setup may lack originality, the core concepts and setting are extremely rich with detail. As you walk the streets of the slums, you'll see lots of graffiti that seems appropriate, run-down areas that look about like higher-end areas of today's society. Once you travel to the upper areas of town, robots roam around the streets selling goods, cleaning or shopping for people. By using the Sensen technology (mental implants, notice the floating icon behind people's heads) augmented reality has evolved beyond even the up and coming Google Glass to display advertisements and messages in real-time within the environment.
Due to the detailed nature of the world, it's unfortunate that these areas were few and far between. A lot of the game is spent either indoors, or in the streets and rooftops of areas that could easily be in 2013 Paris, not 2084 Neo-Paris. Granted, it is a real-world location so it may be more difficult than usual to dream-up fantastical locales, but that's the thing - as you can tell in the game several times, the thought actually is there. Neo-Paris is simply beautiful. I wish I had gotten to explore the city and actually see it a bit more during my time with the game.
Compounding this issue even further is the game's need to throw mediocre platforming segments at you between every battle for stretches of time. Not only do they lack creativity, but also fail to achieve any semblance of difficulty due to the blatant and intruding yellow arrows that literally point you in the correct direction at all times. I don't mind being told where to go, but if Nathan Drake and Lara Croft taught me anything, I enjoy finding my own path, to some degree, instead of always having my hand held.
If you enjoy a solid challenge, however, don't worry, because the combat is actually quite unique and challenging. As you defeat enemies, you unlock longer combo strings and attacks. Attacks are split into four groups: those that deal the most damage, regenerate health, reduce cooldowns on special attacks and attack amplifiers. By placing the amplifiers at the end of a combo string, the previous type of attack has its properties amplified significantly. The interesting thing about the combat is that you are free to mix and match which types of attacks you utilize at all times - you create your own combos.
As the game progresses, strategies open up more and more in terms of the tactics of gameplay. I found myself reserving my short combos for purely health regeneration, just in case I needed a boost mid-battle, while my longer combos I reserved to do as much damage as possible; I often utilized these on bosses and bouncing between enemies. The system allows you to be as creative as you want and create your own strategy - it truly is innovative and works surprisingly well.
In the final chapters of the game however, I found myself kind of dreading fights, not because the combat wasn't fun, but because the enemy variety was lacking. Instead of creating more unique scenarios, it seems like they ran out of ideas near the end and decided to just throw dozens of enemies at you at a time to "up the difficulty," which frustrated me to no end.
With that being said, boss battles are incredibly satisfying and don't feel forced and the graphical presentation is absolutely top notch. Combined with a wonderfully unique futuristic sounding score and the overall polished presentation, it's an entertaining game from start to finish. While the middle third of the story takes a bit of a lull as expected, the final couple chapters will keep you on the edge of your seat.
Remember how I said Nilin can remix memories? Well, on four separate occasions in the game, you get the opportunity to do so. These play out similar to point and click style adventure games, but without the tedium. Once you go into the mind of a character, you watch how they remember an event. After doing so, you are free to rewind, pause and fast-forward your way through the memory - similar to any video player. By doing so, you can highlight "glitches" in their memory, or foggy parts that you can interact with and change. When you change a part of their memory, it could very well change their attitude and motivation for whatever is going on in their life. These moments vaguely reminded me of the feeling I got while watching Inception, especially the final memory remixing at the end of the game.
Remember Me may not be an amazing experience from start-to-finish, but I also don't think anyone expected that. Instead, it's a solid and capable action game that takes place in a surprisingly vibrant, attractive and immersive world. The concept and setting are incredibly fresh, as well as the combat mechanics, which are all tied together by a great story and set of voice actors. Equal parts touching and exciting, Remember Me is a game you won't soon forget.
This review was based on a physical review copy of the game provided for the PlayStation 3 by Capcom.