The thought of deleting painful memories in favour of embellishing the happier times is an interesting and comforting ideal, or so Capcom would have you believe in the first thirty seconds of Remember Me, an in-game advertisement for Sensen technology which allows the above luxury (among other, more authoritarian things) that is designed so similarly to Apple’s typical iPhone reveal trailers that it makes me very, very uncomfortable. Especially when watching the next scene, in which a woman is writhing on the floor in pain, having her memories violently purged from her Sensen (which, it turns out, isn’t a daisy on the back of her neck). Meet Nilin, former public enemy number one turned underdog protagonist. She has no memory.
Amnesia is a fairly common plot device in video games, and is definitely convenient for the writers–at least this time it actually fits in. Since the entire scenario (i.e. who characters are and how they are related to Nilin, their intentions and their predicaments etc.) needs to be explained to the player, while the protagonist would logically already know this information, making it unreasonable that someone would explicitly tell her–but then that is what is necessary for the player! Ah! Boom! She has no memory, so now everyone needs to say “Hey Nilin, remember me? I’m that really important guy”, so players can say “Ahh I see, he’s that really important guy. I get it now.” Nice move. The dialogue is the typical banter-y stuff we expect from modern titles in that it’s hit and miss, with some offhand comments sounding badass on an unprecedented level, while jokes fall flat and lines of dialogue are totally unnecessary. At one point, where an enemy character is clearly going off his nut, “Edge” turns on his mic to tell me “He’s totally lost it”. No shit, Edge.
The plot itself is about as well as I expected in that each event has obviously had thought put into it, but these events are not linked tight enough to make the overall story convincing; Nilin just does what she is told (Do this thing. Now go here. Do that thing. Now go there.), only questioning her orders in cinematic soliloquies while still following them until the impending resolution is finally made clear. The final act takes a very Deus-Ex: Human Evolution-y turn for morals and the debate between unhindered expansion of technology vs. humanist ideals. Overall, the story and its twists are appreciated, but not close to the revolutionary levels of Bioshock or Fight Club. Not that I should ever talk about that.
Much of the game is based on parkour-ing your way around slums and cities which is made super simple with a guide constantly showing you where to jump. Effective combat relies on using customisable combos against the increasingly difficult groups of enemies and bosses by unlocking moves called Pressens that can be organised to make specialised combos. To heal, Nilin must use a Regen Pressen, while to maximise damage she’ll want to use Power Pressens. It’s all very clearly explained and encourages you to choose whether to specialise a combo for maximum regeneration or whatnot. Though I did find myself constantly pausing combat and re-designing combos when a situation made a certain combo specialisation necessary, which broke the fluid combat that is supposed to go hand-in-hand with a combo system.
The combat and jumping around is broken up with segments inspired by thoughts on memory manipulation, which, initially coming across gimmicky and shallow as game mechanics, are unique and amusing. Remembranes are events that require you to follow the footsteps of ghosts from stolen memories to unlock doors. Now that I think about it, that’s just about all those segments were about; opening doors. Remixes are far rarer and more interesting affairs; players are shown a victim’s memory from start to finish (maybe thirty seconds long), and must then identify and activate glitches in order to change the victim’s memory and thus their behaviour, usually by having a particular beloved person killed in said memory (most of the time that’s what the puzzle is; get this person killed). These activities are very simple and as linear as the rest of the game, but are delightfully unique moments that add darkly amusing morsels of story.
Remember Me is an interesting game, to say the least. I definitely it’d definitely be better if it was composed mostly of Remixes and Remembranes, but I guess that probably wouldn’t sell… I’ll still dream my dreams. The rest of the game felt either very similar to many same-y titles I’ve played before or not used to full potential. I’m going to play through it again on a much lower difficulty (I’m a bit of a sucker for achievements sometimes), so I’ll see if playing on the hardest setting forced me to play in a more disciplined (i.e. less fun) manner, but I doubt it. There is evidence of deep thoughts on the relationship between technology and humanity throughout Remember Me, even if it doesn’t show through its linearity and often-times terrible dialogue.
Also quit making up silly names for things. Remembranes. Pressens. My word document is plagued with red underscores, dammit.
Select Start Media was provided with a review copy of Remember Me by One To Another, on behalf of Capcom.