by Matthew Thompson (images courtesy of Dontnod Entertainment’s website found here)
Shortly after the PS4 launch, I decided to start up a Gamefly trial to try and snag some PS4 titles which I had no intention of buying (Knack and AC4 in particular), but would give me something to do with my new console other than play the brilliant Resogun and the disappointing Killzone: Shadow Fall. This was unsuccessful due to the new system’s titles being in high demand, so I decided I might as well put my trial to use catching up on some of the 2013 titles I missed out on for other platforms. One of those was Remember Me and with the game recently popping up on PlayStation Plus’ Instant Game Collection in the US, I figured now was as good a time as any to take a look back at some of my thoughts on the title.
Remember Me was certainly a flawed experience. For everything it did right, it felt like it faltered elsewhere. The art design for the game’s futuristic Neo-Paris was beautiful and made for a game worthy of exploring. Unfortunately the game was extremely linear, so exploration was very limited. And I’m not one to knock a game for being linear. In fact, I get frustrated when people randomly suggest a title should go open-world with a sequel for seemingly no good reason. Linear can be best in some situations, but this was exceedingly so. Just some wider level design here would have gone a long way towards helping me enjoy the sharp design and wonderful sights of the city more.
The combat was another mix of good and bad. Remember Me gave players the ability to craft their own combos, a neat idea and something that on paper seems like a fantastic idea. The combat itself played out a bit like the recent Batman games which while a bit overdone in the wake of those titles, isn’t the worst game to try and copy. But the devs handcuffed you too much in their clever new system, with only a handful of combos able to be created and a slow progression when it came to unlocking enough moves to really fill them out. There was an interesting element of strategy to assigning the different button presses too. Some inflicted damage on enemies, some regenerated your health, some filled your special meter while others amplified the effects of the button pressed after them. This was another positive for the game… until you found the right set of combos which pretty much made changing them a waste of time.
One thing that I loved without exception however was the game’s memory remixes. In Remember Me, you play as Nilin, a Memory Hunter. One of her special abilities is that she can hop into someone’s mind and change their memories. It doesn’t change history, but just the way that person perceives it. You can imagine the kind of ripples this sort of thing can cause and it makes for a fascinating mechanic and narrative hook.
From a gameplay standpoint, these play out in the following way. You’ll watch a scene as it occured originally. You can then rewind it. And as you do little glitches will pop up which you can mess with. It could be as small as knocking something off a table or as big as switching the safety off on a gun. And all these changes will alter the outcome of the memory. Your job is to find the right combination to achieve the ending you are seeking.
If it sounds like it involved some trial and error, that’s because it did. But even that didn’t work against this mechanic. Because when you did things wrong, you weren’t just greeted with a screen indicating your failure. Instead you saw another possible outcome which could be fun in and of itself. The game even included some trophies for arriving at a particular unintended end to the memory.
Of course, diving into someone’s mind isn’t exactly the most moral thing to do. The whole process feels a bit unsettling especially when you see some of the effects of your handiwork. But that isn’t something Remember Me shied away from. It knows how messed up what you are doing is which makes the uneasiness you feel a point in its favor… at least from my perspective.
The only drawback to this particular aspect of the game is that there are only four of these sequences. I so wish there were more, but regardless of the amount, they helped shift me to having an overall positive attitude about the game. Despite some of the flaws I mentioned (and some truly forgettable travseral *grumble grumble*), Remember Me was a game I am glad I played. For its stellar art design. For its music (oh man the music!). And most of all for its memory remixes. Remember Me is definitely a mixed bag, but if you have access to it on PlayStation Plus and some free time on your hands, you might just find something you like in there. I know I did.