Giant Bomb Review

149 Comments

Remember Me Review

3
  • PC
  • X360

Remember Me is an elegant premise executed problematically.

Memory can be a depressing thing. Often some of our fondest memories end up lost to the ravages of time, while some of our most traumatic linger endlessly, like a punishment. So, what if you could excise those memories? Or input new ones? What if you could experience the life of another through their own past experiences? It's a dangerous-sounding and fascinating premise, one that Remember Me, a new third-person action game from first-time studio Dontnod, almost manages to successfully realize.

Almost.

Nilin's adventures through Neo-Paris make for a story worth remembering...

Where it falters is unfortunately where so many other thoughtfully written games tend to: its mechanics. Remember Me is a better story than a game, a mixture of Philip K. Dick-style plotting and Luc Besson's sci-fi aesthetics grafted onto an initially nifty, but ultimately repetitive gameplay design. There are a few characters here worth caring about, a story that twists itself effectively around the troubled morality of forever trying to erase one's own painful history, and a visual palette that's absolutely gorgeous. But in-between the margins of Remember Me's best elements are sluggish combat, brainless traversal, and a fractured sense of progression and purpose. This is a game of many highs and lows, with little middle ground to speak of.

Fortunately, one of the highs is the character you spend the most time with. Nilin is a memory hunter ensconced in the seedy underbelly of Neo-Paris' civil war. When the game opens, Nilin's memory is in the process of being wiped clean by nefarious scientists of a corporation that more or less runs the whole show. The company's Sensen technology is ubiquitous in Neo-Paris, with all walks of life sporting implants that allow them to access others' memories and dump unwanted ones. Unfortunately, it can also grant access to those with Nilin's special skills, who might be looking to play around inside of your mind.

Though Nilin has lost much of her memory at the outset, a strange voice appears and helps guide her out of the prison she's mysteriously found herself in. The helper, an omnipresent "Errorist" leader named Edge, tells Nilin bit-by-bit who she is, what she's a part of, and what her mission once was. It's a fairly typical case of rebellious anti-corporate terrorists looking to bring down Big Memory, but how that struggle is framed against the slowly returning memories of Nilin is where Remember Me most definitively succeeds.

Remember Me is deliberate in its meting out of information, introducing you to other characters of varying degrees of villainy over the course of its roughly eight-hour adventure, and then proceeding to give you a bit of insight into how they came to be what they are. The characters the script bothers to flesh out are often strong presences throughout the game. However, a few too many characters are tossed into the mix for brief periods, only to be tossed aside later with nothing worthwhile learned about them. I mention this only because the story is at its best when Nilin is allowed to dig deep into these characters' motivations. Some of the less-interesting characters, like the miserable warden of the new La Bastille prison, are simply psychotic and horrible. Others, like the husband and wife duo that run the corporation, have more nuanced reasoning for how they came to be so powerful, so merciless, and so deeply destructive.

These memories are presented to Nilin in separate gameplay sections, which task you with remixing defining memories in their lives. There's not much to it, in that you essentially just rewind the memory until you find exploitable glitches, which you can then use to completely alter the scope of what's happened. Though it amounts to little more than a bit of extra button-pressing, the consequences of those changes become immediately apparent, and result in some of the more thoughtful storytelling moments in the game.

...Unfortunately, too much of Remember Me revolves around inelegant combat and repetitive traversal puzzles.

Unfortunately, not enough is done with these memory remixing sections to make them more than an occasionally meaningful distraction. The rest of the time, you're punching and jumping your way through the various slums, skyscrapers, and scientific facilities of Neo-Paris, taking on enemy soldiers, robots, and Leapers. Leapers are essentially memory junkies, grotesquely deformed dregs of this futuristic society that can scarcely hold a coherent thought, and lash out at anyone not similarly deformed. The Leapers are a sad, tragic enemy that nonetheless never evolve into a more consistent threat than anyone else in the game. They, like the soldiers under the company's employ, simply lash out at Nilin every time you enter a battle arena, and proceed to die at your hand.

Were the combat better, or at least better-paced, fighting them might have been a more engaging experience. As it stands, hand-to-hand fighting is largely Remember Me's weakest link, a hodgepodge of basic button-mashing combos made far more complex by a system that requires precision and trial-and-error to be most effective. Each move Nilin learns can be manually placed in the structure of a larger combo. There are four distinct attack varieties, each which does something a bit different, bonus-wise. Some attacks help restore health, while others reduce the cooldown time on Nilin's special moves, which can range from intense blasts of memory disrupting energy, to circuit-scrambling attacks that bring robotic enemies over to your side.

It's a nice idea, but it falters in execution. Each hit requires a fairly precise timing to continue to the combo string, and the volume of enemies you often face simply doesn't allow for much precision in your fighting at all. Nilin's attack animations also have a tendency to run a bit long, which makes parsing out the combo timing a real pain early on. Eventually you'll get the hang of it, but it never becomes much fun to fight, no matter how tricky the enemies eventually get.

The rest of the game is peppered with traversal puzzles and the occasional actual riddle to be solved. These suffer from a similar problem of repetition to the combat, where you simply find yourself darting from highlighted ledge to highlighted ledge, or solving the same basic door-opening puzzles over and over again. Granted, there's no reason to really explore Neo-Paris much, outside of a few collectibles and other hidden bric-a-brac. But even still, the fact that the game essentially tells you exactly where to go at all times is emblematic of Remember Me's unwillingness to let the player off the leash. All the game's levels are linear to a fault, often rather cramped, and frankly just not that interesting to explore.

Manually building your own combos sounds neat, but the actual fighting mechanics aren't strong enough to make it worthwhile.

It's too bad, because Remember Me's art design is phenomenal. Neo-Paris' landscapes look both appropriately futuristic and horrifically dingy, the kind of lived-in dystopia you'd want from a game so clearly inspired by Dick-ian sci-fi. Though the textures and other environmental details do look a bit better on PC, the Xbox 360 version of the game looks strong as well. Unfortunately, both versions have the same stilted, often awkward-looking character animations, which tend to detract from the scenery even when they aren't specifically glitching out.

That art design, the game's intriguing story, and the terrific score by composer Olivier Deriviere are ultimately betrayed by Remember Me's slavish dedication to a game design that just doesn't quite work. There are great ideas in this game, ones that deserve better kinds of interactivity than what's presented. Sadly, the plot and the game design never quite enmesh, leading to fascinating moments being broken up repeatedly by mechanics that just aren't much fun to slog through. There's a story and a universe here worth remembering; sadly, it's the wonky and repetitive gameplay you'll most often have trouble forgetting.

Alex Navarro on Google+
153 Comments
  • 153 results
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
Edited by RazielCuts

I'm getting a Joanna Dark vibe from this girls head, highlights and all.

Edited by Video_Game_King

Wait, Remember Me is on the 360? I thought it was a PS3 exclusive. Why the hell have I been mixing this up with The Last of Us for so long?

Edited by SatelliteOfLove

Sounds like another game where this generation's version of "hyper-common random battle" has struck again.

Edited by BaconGames

As much as Alex says he likes the story, his descriptions sound less than stellar from my perspective. The gameplay with that in step means I will probably be skipping this one entirely. Shame, considering this is a game where everyone else kind of screwed over the art department on visuals and music.

Great that they tried something different but in a lot of specific ways they didn't do nearly enough.

Edited by Ravelle
Posted by Nekroskop

I will remember you when you're on sale on steam at 85% off.

Edited by PurplePartyRobot

I'll pick this up when its on sale. I'm a big fan of games with well-written stories and am willing to put up with all kinds of stupid gameplay mechanical jank- just not at full price.

Edited by insane_shadowblade85

I will remember you when you're on sale on steam at 85% off.

Son of a.... God dammnit! *flips table and storms out of apartment*

Posted by redelectric

@tourgen said:

Why are our interactions with game world still so childish and simple?

Literally every other aspect of video games has improved immensely.

The majority of game interactivity is still punch, shoot, jump. "Oh an NPC I am allowed to interact with? Can't talk to it? MURDER IT IS THEN!"

Ok, First off, I love you for this. Secondly, I firmly agree with you. The first time i saw this i was hoping for a cyberpunky, neo-noir type of feel with...not really stealth, but escape style elements, if that makes any sense. Like, combat <i>may</i> happen, but if it does, you don't want none, and escape is always the goal.

Edited by Mystyr_E

seems more like a "Steam sale" rather than an "avoid like the plague" game.

Edited by Anonymous1c4

@hichael said:

That's quite unfortunate. I was hoping this game was going to be more like God Hand. I feel like its almost got it with the custom combo thing. Maybe one day someone will revive a game like God Hand. Thanks for the review Alex.

god, i wish. that was what intrigued me about this review. why can't anyone just make spiritual successor or something :(

Edited by MormonWarrior

I can't understand forgiving a game entirely just because it had an interesting premise. If it's got crummy mechanics and sloppy execution, there's no way I'll enjoy it.

Heck, pure mechanical execution and very little atmosphere jives with me more 90% of the time. Super Meat Boy's premise doesn't resonate with me, but dang if it's not a ton of fun to play. The Persona games are unique in premise and execution, but they're also very solid JRPGs.

Posted by manbot47

Between this and Fuse everything i've been keeping tabs on seems to be falling short. Last of Us has to be the one to break the cycle

Edited by kerse

Still sounds interesting to me, but I may be immune to repetitive gameplay stuff at this point after playing every JRPG I could get my hands on since the SNES era. I'm willing to put up with that stuff for what sounds like a good story.

Edited by Sweetz

I'm a little disappointed by the "I'll wait for a sale" comments. It shouldn't be the way things work in an ideal world of course, but this is the reason we don't get more original IPs.

Granted it would be nice if the gameplay was as good as the other aspects, but as long as it's not egregiously bad to play, sometimes it's worth supporting flawed, but creative new IP.

By most accounts, the gameplay of Bioshock Infinite isn't particularly great, yet it earned very high marks on the strength of its presentation and story - which I think is perfectly fine.

I think Mass Effect 1 is actually egregiously bad in pure gameplay terms (especially when replaying it with the perspective granted by the much improved sequel), but I still think its a great game overall.

Most of the industry called Binary Domain a 3/5 game (and bet that's the score it would have received from Alex had he reviewed it), but Vinny and Patrick came out of it saying they had a great time and highly recommending it. I bought it on release myself and don't regret it a single bit even though I've played better playing games.

I'll be buying Remember Me because I think it's worth supporting something as unique as this, even if they didn't get it 100% right out of the gate.

Posted by Strife777

Seems like kind of game I'll wait to buy at a bargain. Another Spec-ops: The Line I guess you could say.

Edited by Levio

Man, if only games could progress to a point where they don't need tacked-on gameplay to sell copies, we could get way more fun out of these story/atmosphere focused games. Like with Deadly Premonition, if they had spent all the time they had put into the shooting into even more crazy story moments, that would have been a win-win for the player.

Posted by PerfidiousSinn

"Dick-ian sci-fi"

Hee hee. Dickian.

Posted by Jack_Lafayette

@headphonehalo said:

@pixeldemon said:

It's a shame this probably won't succeed. It's always nice to see new IPs and strong female protagonists.

How do you know that she's a strong protagonist? Seems like people are making the assumption that this is going to be a good game simply because she's not depicted as sexual.

Fortunately, one of the highs is the character you spend the most time with.

Seems relatively clear.

Edited by mattoncybertron

:( I'm bummed that this seems to be the consensus going around, but still down to rent this or check it out after a price drop.

Edited by RenegadeSaint

I'm willing to put up with a lot of gameplay problems for a great story, so I'll definitely pick this up at some point.

Edited by SpaceRunaway

@headphonehalo said:

@pixeldemon said:

It's a shame this probably won't succeed. It's always nice to see new IPs and strong female protagonists.

How do you know that she's a strong protagonist? Seems like people are making the assumption that this is going to be a good game simply because she's not depicted as sexual.

Fortunately, one of the highs is the character you spend the most time with.

Seems relatively clear.

Could just be that Alex is an ass man.

Edited by crazyfire24

In the second image it just looks like she's got a fryed egg stuck to her head.

Posted by wightboy

Nice review Alex.

Posted by Brendan

@sweetz: Sorry, you're not guilt tripping me into playing a just okay game on day one. If I want a great story, there's always a better book.

Posted by bkbroiler

I love that every single image of this game, including the box art, shows off the girls ass.

Posted by ObsideonDarman

Excellent review as always, Alex!

I may pick this up when it drops in price.

Edited by Gerhabio

@pixeldemon: Is she a "strong female protagonist" or a "strong and female protagonist"?

Posted by boolean

Interesting that this is the polar opposite of the destructoid review, which said the mechanics are somewhat competent but the story is absolute, nonsensical drivel.

Edited by Korolev

For a first-time studio, it sounds interesting. I hope that Capcom sees the potential in the universe and funds a sequel which improves on the flaws of the original.... but that ain't gonna happen.

Posted by Brad3000

@headphonehalo: Maybe he actually read the review in which Alex called spending time with her one of the high points of the game, instead of jumping straight to the comments to make snarky replies.

Edited by cdon

@divina_rex said:

Everytime I see or hear about this game the first thing that pops into my head is this:

this. he will be missed.

Posted by MonkeyKing1969

I think I will still pick this up. I'm actually willing to slog through the game play to see the story and visuals. It just sounds like a neat idea, and sometimes a neat idea is worth the effort to experience. Nice review Alex!

Posted by falling_fast

I tend to like games that are better at plot than gameplay, actually... and I was totally expecting this to be the other way around. can't really afford to buy it atm but it's on my radar now and when I do get it hopefully it can sit up there with alpha protocol, psychonauts and planescape torment, I guess.

Posted by walterbennet

I'll probably play it for the setting and premise alone, then just swallow the gameplay bits painfully.

Edited by Sweetz

@brendan said:

@sweetz: Sorry, you're not guilt tripping me into playing a just okay game on day one. If I want a great story, there's always a better book.

Hey if polished gameplay is all you want, that's cool, then you should be more than happy playing <insert annual/semi-annual shooter franchise here> sequels for the rest of time, they're all very polished ;)

I'm kidding of course, it's perfectly rational that some people aren't willing to bet $50-60 on whether they'll find the gameplay acceptable. That's a chance I'm willing to take just because I've bought games in the past that the press rated 5/10-7/10, yet I ended up enjoying a lot (aforementioned Binary Domain being a good example).

I only say it's a shame because so many are expressing some interest in playing the game, but won't purchase it in the period where it makes a positive difference towards seeing more games like this.

Posted by WolfmanJenkins

The only thing worse than a terrible game is a mediocre one that had a lot of potential. Unfortunately, it seems like Remember Me falls into the latter.

Posted by Brendan

@sweetz: Uhh, did you really just discount every indie game that's fun to play, and every original big budget game that's also got great gameplay? Here's a hint, you can have something that's new, and great. I'm not going to throw money at a game that's not that fun to play. I'll wait for the thing that is. I'm a consumer, not a fucking activist for games. How about you spend some time being on a high horse for issues in the world that actually matter?

Posted by Mofaz

Get rid of the star ratings, because after playing the repetitious mess that was Bioshock: Infinite and seeing you give this 3 stars because it has the same issues is sort of idiotic.

Oh wait, everyone lauded Bioshock's broken and terrible gameplay with health-sponge enemies, endless hordes of arena based fights, dull weapons, dull Vigor selection, and borderline irritating hunting for items that were absolutely necessary to fully understand the story.

Really, I haven't played this game, but it's obvious Giant Bomb still has a bit of the "expensive" IP blood in them.

Posted by Hailinel

I didn't even realize that this was a beat'em up until I read the review. That's how little I knew about this game before today. And strangely enough 3 Star beat'em up review = greater chance I'll play it, since I've noticed that I take more to this style of game than the staff typically does.

Posted by Cold_Wolven

I never much cared for how the combat looked in previews and since I'm not good at skill based combo systems this would wouldn't be much fun for me to play. Gonna give it a pass for now.

Edited by PillClinton

Am I the only one who just doesn't care all that much about story in games? Don't get me wrong, when a game simply has a great story that pulls me in involuntarily, it's great, but I feel like too many games these days have forced bits of narrative sprinkled throughout (often way too heavily). If a game has interesting, worthwhile mechanics (still the most important thing to me), I often feel bogged down by even having to deal with these forced bits of narrative (Tomb Raider 2013, Borderlands 2 spring to mind). I don't want to fucking read/listen to all your documents/diaries/audio logs; just let me play the damn game!

So, with that, I don't think Remember Me is a game I'd like.

Posted by myslead

looked very subpar technical / mechanical side

is probably very subpar

is subpar

Edited by Deusoma

Glad to hear that the story elements are strong, that's always the most important part of a game for me. Despite the overall negative tone of the article, the downsides in the gameplay mechanics don't sound too awful, and I'm a big proponent that a good plotline can do a lot to make up for other lacking areas in a game, so I might just check this out. :-)

Edited by Minos

@mofaz said:

Get rid of the star ratings, because after playing the repetitious mess that was Bioshock: Infinite and seeing you give this 3 stars because it has the same issues is sort of idiotic.

Oh wait, everyone lauded Bioshock's broken and terrible gameplay with health-sponge enemies, endless hordes of arena based fights, dull weapons, dull Vigor selection, and borderline irritating hunting for items that were absolutely necessary to fully understand the story.

Really, I haven't played this game, but it's obvious Giant Bomb still has a bit of the "expensive" IP blood in them.

PFFFF.... Somebody's having a shitty day.

Edited by Mrsignerman44

@brad3000 said:

@headphonehalo: Maybe he actually read the review in which Alex called spending time with her one of the high points of the game, instead of jumping straight to the comments to make snarky replies.

Yeah, that still doesn't explain how she's a strong female protagonist. His comment had some truth to it.

Edited by sear

@minos said:

@mofaz said:

Get rid of the star ratings, because after playing the repetitious mess that was Bioshock: Infinite and seeing you give this 3 stars because it has the same issues is sort of idiotic.

Oh wait, everyone lauded Bioshock's broken and terrible gameplay with health-sponge enemies, endless hordes of arena based fights, dull weapons, dull Vigor selection, and borderline irritating hunting for items that were absolutely necessary to fully understand the story.

Really, I haven't played this game, but it's obvious Giant Bomb still has a bit of the "expensive" IP blood in them.

PFFFF.... Somebody's having a shitty day.

Not really. BioShock Infinite was a piece of shit wrapped up in pretty graphics and a story that only makes sense if you don't think about it.

Posted by Slag

The premise is enough for me , still going to buy.

Posted by saidaioujou

@heatdrive88: I see teens, foreign exchange students and older women wearing tight jeans left right and center. It's not like they look like a pair of boobs in the wrong place like so many other female character models.

  • 153 results
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4