Remember Me is often rescued by its powerful music score and memory “remix” sections
A quick glance at review scores on the Internet is likely to dissuade you from even considering a purchase of Capcom and Dotnod Entertainment's latest action/adventure title, but let me tell you this: Remember Me can surprise you. I'm not saying that the review scores are not justified, but if, as an experiment, you were to consider checking out a game not necessarily in your comfort zone, you could do a lot worse than Remember Me. It's not refined, yet it doesn't lack polish; it's a game that plays very well to its strengths, but is somehow let down by the very mechanics that make it interesting. It is philosophical, beautiful and emotional — it is also impossibly linear, plagued by strange design choices, while aiming to confuse the player with a barrage of poorly translated Zen-inspired techno-babble. Sounds lovely, doesn't it?
The year is 2084, and the setting is Neo-Paris. The game will have you believe that the future's version of Facebook is the world's populace uploading and sharing their actual memories over whatever succeeds the Internet, with the ability to delete, modify or even add memories that didn't previously exist. A neural implant called the Sensation Engine (or Sensen) developed by the Memorize Corporation makes this possible — the people behind it are evil enough to take advantage of the situation, spying and manipulating unsuspecting citizens. Memories also contain addictive properties — humans who download too many memories end up suffering brain damage as a result of abusing the Sensen. On the other end of the spectrum are the “Errorists”, a rebel group who are looking to take down Memorize. Playing as Nilin, an imprisoned Errorist, your journey begins in La Bastille, a fortress-prison, where you have been brought to have your memory wiped.
What seems like traditional science fiction fare at first reveals itself to be a sum of its many parts. First, there are the visual elements, which find balance in cyberpunk surrealism. Powered by Epic's Unreal Engine 3, Remember Me can look spectacular when it wants to impress you, or incredibly plain when it doesn't. Even the UI elements (tool-tips, navigation icons, cosmetic abstracts) are very contemporary, “European”, and entirely unobtrusive, while adding tremendous value to the game's visual appeal and interactivity. The game is as much about its visual style as the game mechanics — a couple of which are quite innovative. The customisable combo system allows you to add boosters called “Pressens” to your attacks — these could regenerate health, reduce cool-downs of your specials or just cause more damage. There are also memory “remix” gameplay sections which let you alter individuals' past memories Inception-style, allowing behaviour manipulation of said individuals in the “present”. There are just about the right number of these sections, and they pop up at perfect points in the story. On a forgettable note, the game's platforming is absurdly linear, while some of the design decisions such as scripted combat and insta-deaths could have been avoided.
The writing is rather straightforward, but it is hard to take it seriously given that a lot is lost in translation — this was a collaborative effort between an independent French developer and a Japanese publisher, after all. Yet, its philosophical interludes, which explore everything from loss to the meaning of life, and one's purpose in the universe, are strangely moving. Then there’s the fantastic music score composed by Olivier Deriviere — a surreal mix of big orchestral sounds, solo instruments and peppy electronic music. Remember Me would have been a very different game without its music, which sets the tone and literally carries the game when the mechanics and story do not. The game is available on PC, PS3 and Xbox 360.