Giant Bomb Review

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Remember Me Review

3
  • X360
  • PC

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 Roulette1986

Sounds shit.

Posted by peritus

Was hoping for an unexpected hit, but im still gonna play it.

Posted by Oscar__Explosion

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

Online
Posted by Pixeldemon

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

Posted by mlarrabee

It's sad to see hampered potential.

Posted by spacehobbitz

This game reminds me of Enslaved

Edited by Hichael

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.

Edited by mellotronrules

well, this sounds like it'll be a rad steam sale game. too much to buy new, but i'll take a walk through any well-constructed sci-fi world (at 75% off).

Posted by JoeyRavn

We knew it was a 3-star review, Alex! I say collusion, sir! COLLUSION!

Posted by cdon

I really wanted this to be a day one purchase too. I guess I'll pick it up after it drops to $40. I just hope the story isn't she was actually in charge of security for the memory corporation, which is why she can fight so well, and then while on a job found out too much information so the corporation wiped her memory. And the guy who enlists her to fight actually knows who she is and knows she can be the one to expose the truth.

Posted by megalowho

Nice closer.

Sounds like something I'd like to try someday once the price drops. Want to reward the risks they're taking, but not for $60.

Posted by WolfHazard

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

Edited by Teoball

"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.

Edited by smcn

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

Should have been Nouveau Paris.

Posted by Tobyus

I kinda expected it wouldnt keep up. Its very fresh, very new, ill admit that! But I saw some gameplay from it and the fighting parts just everything looks so dull, and quite boring. not that satisfying. I dont think im gonna buy this game.

Posted by Reisz

Still looking forward to this, thanks Alex.

Posted by Pie

Weird. Sounds like a game I would really want to play for the story but at the same time ehhhhhhh crappy gameplay. Wonder if this will become somewhat of a "cult hit" like your Enslaveds.

This game reminds me of Enslaved

Yes

Will probably pick it up eventually.

Edited by The_Vein

So if I really like good stories in games, would it be worth slogging through the mediocre combat? I'm the kind of guy who really liked Spec Ops The Line.

Posted by TheManWithNoPlan
Posted by bybeach

@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.

I've been finding myself a few steps over that way. As long as I can get through it, potentially it can be forgivable. Mechanics are still important for me though. I will never forget this one frustrating sequence in Shadows of the Damned..funny as it was. Finally I turned the sound off and followed the visual cues to do the correct things, I was so annoyed.

Posted by weegieanawrench

Thanks for the review, Alex. I, too, will wait until a steam sale. I just tried playing Alan Wake for the first time, and could not get past the game play, so I'm sort of burned out.

Posted by dr_mantas

So if I don't care too much about the mechanics, more about the visuals and the story, this would be worthwhile for me?

Posted by HaltIamReptar

enmesh

Posted by wumbo3000

This sounds like a perfect game to buy when it gets a price drop because, let's face it, this game probably won't sell very well.

Edited by headphonehalo

@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.

Posted by Osaladin

Hopefully they learn from their mistakes and fix them all in a sequel, because this world is really interesting.

Posted by Pixeldemon

@headphonehalo: I haven't played the game, so I don't know. Impressions seem to be reasonably positive though, and not doing the typical "lowest common denominator" fantasy is at least a good start.

Posted by sirdesmond

This seems like a game I could love since I tend to love games with big ideas and not so great execution (although I love great execution, as well). May have to pick it up when it's on the cheap.

Posted by jap_2002

I'm interested in the setting and what I know of the story. But like a lot of people, I'm waiting for the price drop.

Posted by Efesell

Sounds great to me.

If only my Pre-load on Steam was working.

Edited by Krakn3Dfx

This is a bummer. I was hoping for more of an Assassin's Creed with some cool stealth, but I had already watched a couple of developer interviews on Youtube and realized that wasn't going to be the case.

Posted by heatDrive88

*Game designers and executives seat themselves in a meeting room*

"So would anyone object if we made her pants tighter?"

*Silence envelops the room for a full 10 seconds*

"Well alright then."

*Everyone exits the meeting*

Edited by Nardak

Why is this review not shown as the newest item available on the Giant Bomb site? Instead we have a quicklook of Gunpoint, Castlestorm and Patricks worth reading article switching places on the front page.

One would think that the newest thing on site would get the most visibility but for some reason we are shown articles and quicklooks which were made 3 or 4 days ago.

Edited by ZeForgotten

Still gonna give it a go, even at the price it is on Steam.

Edited by blacklab

Bummer.

Posted by development

The future needs better zoning laws.

Edited by Paindamnation

Quik look?

Posted by PollySMPS

@efesell: I think they made the same mistake they made with Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon and only uploaded the redistributable DirectX stuff. Mine's topped out at 164mb.

Posted by NoK

@nardak: It's the first thing I see....

Posted by altairre

Yet another example of why review scores alone don't really matter.

This and Fuse both got three stars (and both of the scores seem justified and in line with the text itself) but while I gave even less of a shit about Fuse after I read the review I'm extremely interested in Remember Me now.

I'm willing to forgive a lot of missteps if the story, characters and ideas are interesting (like in Alpha Protocol). Of course it is unfortunate that the mechanics aren't great and I'm probably going to wait a bit before picking it up (Last of Us is near) but I'll end up playing this for sure.

Posted by tourgen

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!"

Edited by ApolloBob

@nardak said:

Why is this review not shown as the newest item available on the Giant Bomb site? Instead we have a quicklook of Gunpoint, Castlestorm and Patricks worth reading article switching places on the front page.

One would think that the newest thing on site would get the most visibility but for some reason we are shown articles and quicklooks which were made 3 or 4 days ago.

It's my experience that the front page displays content that I haven't viewed yet in an attempt to keep things fresh. This review was the top feature on the site for me, but after clicking on it and reading the review, my top feature is now the Gunpoint QL (which I haven't watched yet).

Posted by Asmo917

I've read 4 reviews of this today, and they're all pretty similar to Alex's - so I'm super excited to play this. If the story, visuals, and soundtrack are as cool as everyone says, I've got no problem knocking this down to easy so the traversal and combat are just easy breeze-through filler while I experience the rest. I hope it does well so that some of the ideas can make a return, either in a sequel or in other games like how The Club became some kind of weird inspiration for games like Bulletstorm and that Call of Juarez mode.

Edited by Divina_Rex

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

Posted by Hilfemaster

Edited by Jayzilla

Nice work on the "EPEP" alliteration in the byline Alex. Probably your best byline since that column you had at gamespot years ago.

Edited by Jolt92

Well-written review, too bad the game doesn't come together as well as you'd like it to.

Edited by SpaceRunaway

Sensen technology

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