Giant Bomb Review

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Remember Me Review

3
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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+
152 Comments
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Edited by gogosox82

Everything you described makes me more interested in the game, not less so I'll guess I'll give it a try. I'm of a mind that storytelling, visuals, art direction are just as much gameplay mechanics and combat and exploration so I think this is right up my alley.

Posted by Zleunamme

An excuse to show a Sarah McLachlan video on Giant Bomb. At first it seemed funny but the more I listened to the song ... pardon me for a moment. I have something in my eyes.

Posted by dudeglove

I think I'll check this out come sale time either way.

Posted by JoeyRavn

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.

Different folks, different strokes, I say. I'd take a good story with mediocre gameplay over good gameplay with a mediocre story any day.

Of course, the comparison between Super Meat Boy and Remember Me is not very apt for this case. The former is a game that makes absolutely no attempt at having a plot besides "get to the end of the level, save Bandage Girl", trying to imitate classic games like Super Mario Bros. The latter is a game where the plot is integral to the game itself: it justifies the gameplay mechanics of the game and gives cohesion to the world. A better comparison would be between two games that try to have a decent story, where one fails at doing so while the other manages to succeed.

Edited by Shiseiten

Is this the game with Ellen Page? If so she looks nothing like Ellen Page.

no that's Beyond two souls which will be releasing in October.

Posted by m2cks

@sear said:

@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.

It's fine to have opinions, but it's not fine to say incredibly eye-rolling "edgy" accusations of Giant Bomb having some kind of bias towards AAA games, which is laughable considering their past history.

Posted by Eaxis

I have enjoyed countless of games that's gotten average scores. Ordered this game now since I think it looks fun. I do think Bioshock Infinite was so overhyped with it's top reviews when it came out that I expected more from it, and I had issues with it that reviewers seemed to give a free pass. After the launch the huge influx of people pointing out flaws filled the discussion.

Posted by MEATBALL

I'm actually surprised because I've heard a lot about how the combo timing is odd and hard to come to grips with, but I've taken to it extremely easily. That said, the combat is certainly nothing special, in spite of the neat "pressens" concept.

Enjoying the game so far, totally seems like a 3/5, but a really interesting/enjoyable one.

Edited by probablytuna

I would play an open-world game set in Neo-Paris. Sadly this isn't that game.

Posted by Avanzato

Several reviews mentioning this has a similar issues to Enslaved has actually got me interested in the game as I really like Enslaved despite it's problems.

Edited by Parsnip

Sounds like my kind of game.

Also, I haven't played this yet, but the descriptions of the combat system weirdly remind me of combat in Vagrant Story.

Posted by Damodar

It seems weird to me to use the term "button-mashing" and then talk about how the precision timing required for said combos was frustrating.

Edited by AssInAss

Yeah, but you get PMP points. Do you get to acquire a PMP hand?

Posted by dropabombonit

I think I will give this a miss for the time being because The Last Of Us is out next week and I only have enough money for one new game this month. Might check out Remember Me when it hits £20 or under

Posted by golddeathmonkey

@roulette1986: That comment made my day! Harsh but fair - you wonder why designers who take a risk on story aren't prepared to take a risk on mechanics and try and produce something good instead of another third person action game with no depth and inferior gameplay to the big budget titles.

Edited by Pezen

Glad to hear it's not a complete burning pile of garbage. I've been interested in the premise/setting since I first heard of it and I'm glad it seems the story and atmosphere of it is good. So I'll definitely be picking this one up.

Posted by headphonehalo

@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.

My take away from the review was that the game was poorly written.

Posted by RuneseekerMireille

@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.

So...Mirror's Edge combat? Wasn't that considered the weakest part of that game, specifically because it was extremely difficult to take enemies on? Even though I like Mirror's Edge, I hate grunt enemies that I find I have to run from. I wouldn't want to see that mechanic come back ever.

Story is the most important thing to me in video games, so I will definitely be picking this up as soon as I can.

Posted by Ganthet2814

Well I guess that means the game is not a fun time. I suppose more time and polish might have helped, but I guess we will never know. Good article Alex. Other game for the bargain bin at your local big chain store. Sad.

Posted by Zevvion

Clear review.

Seems like it could have been more under the right conditions, but still sounds like a decent game. I will play this. I've really liked 3 star-7/10 rated games before (I've heard this being compared to Enslaved and Mirror's Edge from a reception perspective; two games I enjoyed a lot more than general consensus) and I'm interested in this.

Posted by iAmJohn
@redelectric said:

@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.

So...Mirror's Edge combat? Wasn't that considered the weakest part of that game, specifically because it was extremely difficult to take enemies on? Even though I like Mirror's Edge, I hate grunt enemies that I find I have to run from. I wouldn't want to see that mechanic come back ever.

I always thought the problem with Mirror's Edge was that you essentially couldn't run away from fights (or could never consistently do it fast enough without massive amounts of trial and error), forcing you to either have to contend with the bad gunplay or pause to disarm every enemy in sight. At least in my experience, escape was always the thing you were supposed to do in scare quotes but never really able to do without engaging in combat, which is why I really didn't like that game.

Remember Me sounds pretty interesting, though, and I love me some Dick-style dystopia. When this hits $30 in the Steam sale in a couple weeks, it shall be mine.

Posted by cAnDyMaN69666

I'm loving the game it has some interesting combat and the story is very intreging. They talk about how it's all repetitive but has an insane story yet Bioshock infinite was fucking repetitive as shit had a decent story nd it gets 5 stars. A no name dev comes a long and makes a new ip that has a bunch of new ideas that work and create a really cool setting and it gets sup par shit. I know everything is each there own opinion, but its pissing me off. Same shit with Nier, Binary Domain and Spec ops.insane stories each trying to do something different and they are almost never games you hear people talk about. Bioshock has been almost identical to the T since system shock. I love all those games I've played them All and enjoyed them. Just seeing big triple AAA titles that do the same thing in each game (uncharted series which I love is guilty of it to) and new stuff trying new stuff just get the eh it's ok. End rant going back to playing it.

Posted by Arx724

I'm only about halfway through the game, and while I agree with just about the entire review

Each hit requires a fairly precise timing to continue to the combo string

just isn't true. You can mash the next button until its animation plays out. You can wait half a second and then press it. You can dodge over the person you're fighting and then continue the combo by pressing it.

Posted by afabs515

Price should drop fairly soon. Sounds like a good 20 - 30 dollar game to me.

Posted by MormonWarrior

What I'm getting from this review is that the story isn't fulfilling or very good and the game play's annoying and mediocre. That seems to be a general consensus. At least Enslaved had solid gameplay to go with its interesting characters and world. This game looks like lukewarm suckiness to me.

Posted by HerbieBug

I knew nothing of this game before reading this review but "Neo-Paris"? Come on man.

Japanese Europe Neo Max Plus Zero.

Edited by Andromedius

@herbiebug said:

@oscar__explosion said:

I knew nothing of this game before reading this review but "Neo-Paris"? Come on man.

Japanese Europe Neo Max Plus Zero.

Yeah... pretty ridiculous... Who could possibly choose such a name for a great city ? ...uh... New...York... New-York ? Nah....

Posted by Jost1

@teoball said:

"That art design, the game's intriguing story, and the terrific score."

That's all I needed to hear. Mechanics aren't nearly as interesting or important to me as those things.

Quoted for the effin' truth. Day one for me. Finally something fresh. And yes the music is mindblowingly good.

Edited by harinosho

I knew this game looked iffy when I saw the trailers, could not figure out what it was besides the stupid Neo-Paris city. Sad yet happy to know my gut reaction came true.

Posted by General_Boredom

Where's the Quick Look?

Posted by skooks

I'll still check this out once it hits a decent price-point.

Posted by Sword5

No surprise that it had bad gameplay. The PR campaign makes sense now.

Posted by Landmine

Alex nailed a few points that I've been mulling over after my brief time with the game.

It's too bad that the combat design is lacking, everything on the visual and audio side has seemed fantastic, but I really just want to explore the world and so far it doesn't seem that it will open up and Alex all but confirms that in the review.

Posted by ike7779

3 stars from Alex means I'm probably going to love it as much as I did Gravity Rush. Not very far in yet but really enjoying the atmosphere and impressed by the graphics.

Posted by Lind_L_Taylor

Definitely looks like a Steaming pile that I'll wait for a Steam Sale before I consider picking it up. FUSE looks like another pile-style game waiting for a deep, deep discount as well. These two games complement each other.

Posted by Efesell

This combat seems enjoyable enough to me, but I really wish it had a counter. Dodging away from everything just doesn't have the same oomph.

Posted by GunstarRed

I have played up to chapter four and while the game does have issues that have been mentioned in almost every review for the game (combat/platforming) I have really enjoyed my time with it. The music is outstanding, but the thing that really surprised me was that the environments are possibly the nicest I have seen in any game I have played all year.

Posted by HellknightLeon

Agree with the review. :(

Posted by sekou

Very well said; I'm playing it now and am very frustrated with the exact same mechanical issues mentioned. I'll finish it, as the story's decent, but I wouldn't recommend it as the fighting is so imprecise, all ever feel inclined to do is button mash.

Posted by Tennmuerti

Having just finished the game i think Alex's review is spot on, with the exception of the combat.

I really had no issues at all with the combo system or the combat overall. The timing required to string together attacks is ridiculously generous. As long as you are not just mashing the button non stop like a crazy person even a tiny delay will be enough. Nor do any of the moves require any specific individual timing either. I've been experimenting with combos and changing them through ought the entire game, you really only need one rhythm for all of them, making execution quite simple. Dodges likewise allow you to continue a combo as long as it is on the same enemy (tho it would have been better served to making combo not break on a different enemy imo).

If there is an issue with the combat is that all the non basic melee attacks, (your abilities basically) are not part of the combo system, they just stop the flow dead, you have to use them very specifically vs an enemy, or pause to select a power on the wheel, the "gun" likewise breaks the flow. Unlike say in Batman games where all your gadget powers could be incorporated seamlessly into the combat flow.

I was kind of disappointing how few remixes there are too.

The sound and graphical design of everything in the game is great tho! Also I have played it in french with english subtitles and thus the voice acting was also not an issue.

Posted by AlmightyBoob

I'm a few hours in and the game really deserves more than it's getting. The combat may be bland and the controls may be kind of sloppy but the art design, story, music, and just general feel of the game make up for it. It's really enjoyable and amazingly gorgeous.

Posted by glanesb

Such high-hopes for this game. Man, I get so friggin stoked when I see these CG trailers.

Should of learned my lesson with Knights Contract.........

Still this one is fun to breeze through with the story and visuals.

Posted by spankingaddict

I just got done playing the first two hours of the game , and don't really wanna play it again . Its repetitive and boring :( How long is this game anyways ?

This game reminds me of Enslaved

Except its not very good at all .

Edited by Viggo

Still waiting for a damn price drop.

Posted by siaynoq

I'm almost halfway through the game and I really don't mind the combat honestly. The combos took quite awhile to figure out, but I'm liking it okay. The most annoying part that I'm surprised the review didn't mention were the extremely disruptive tutorial that's constantly interrupting the flow of the game. And it's very annoying that if you're not doing combos all the time, the game via on screen text prompt is constantly reminding you to do combos. There's no option to disable all any of this and it's just way to in your face.

I think this game definitely deserves a try. Honestly I'm having a really good time with it. I simply don't recommend, however, paying full price for it.

Posted by Atwa

I just finished the game, and I don't see whats wrong with it at all. The combat isn't GREAT, but I also don't think its bad. Its kinda alright, gets the job done. I do however think that everything else is just fantastic. The art direction is the strongest I have seen in any game, for a WHILE. Bioshock Infinite Columbia in all honor, but Neo-Paris blows it away. I was constantly stunned by what I saw seeing and its genuinely one of the coolest game worlds I have seen.
The voice acting is great, some of the characters are hit or miss, but Nilin is awesome. As for the story, I think it worked. There are certain plot points that don't work all that well, but generally I think its a cool cyberpunk story that is well worth experiencing.

Puzzled why it got such a bad rep.

Edited by Humanity

I'm a few hours in and the game really deserves more than it's getting. The combat may be bland and the controls may be kind of sloppy but the art design, story, music, and just general feel of the game make up for it. It's really enjoyable and amazingly gorgeous.

Indeed Bob, alas it has been robbed by the gaming press.

Edited by macker33

Great looking game but why has a french babe got a posh english accent?

Edited by granderojo

I remember reading this review at the time, and not buying the game due to the review. I bought the game on the steam sale and I am absolutely in love with everything surrounding this game. Honestly speaking I am a bit upset at myself that I didn't buy the game at the time for full price. It's seriously wonderful.

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