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Remember Me
Remember Me
No, it's not an Other M spinoff starring Anthony Higgs.
Published by Brandyn
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Remember Me

Release Date: 2013
Platforms: Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, PC
Developer: Dontnod Entertainment
Publisher: Capcom

Have you ever played a game that wasn't what one would call "great", but clearly had the potential to be great? Remember Me is one of those. I remember reading an article about it in Wal-Mart Game Center Magazine (since those are free) and saying that it looked unique and cool. But unfortunately I didn't Remember it (pardon the pun) and it slipped under my radar when it released until it was made free on PSN for Plus users. So I may not have paid for it, but was it worth my time?

To be fair, it's probably a bit of a turnoff when the name of the company that made the game sounds like they are begging you not to sleep. Developed by French studio Dontnod Entertainment and published by Capcom, Remember Me is a new IP. But is it worthy of a sequel? It's kind of like Newton's Law of Motion where every action has an equal and opposite reaction; everything that Remember Me does right, there is also something equally wrong:

It presents you with a beautiful dystopian cyberpunk setting - but the game is so linear it's almost claustrophobic. It gives you a creative combat system that is more than just mindless button mashing - but the amount of damage required to defeat even a basic grunt enemy is so much it's not even funny. It has a very cool premise - but the story doesn't fully utilize it.

Remember Me puts you in the shoes of Nillin. At the beginning you wake up in this strange prison-like facility, but are soon guided out by an enigmatic freedom fighter named Edge. At the beginning Nillin has no memory of who she is or how she ended up in this facility. We learn that in this universe, you can have memories altered, deleted, or implanted thanks to the evolution of technology. In some cases, memories are even like drugs as some junkies will do anything to get happy memories implanted, and this technology is indeed abused by some corporations and their leaders.

To the game's credit, Nillin is a cool and very likeable protag. She has the whole "I may be a girl but I can still kick the snot out of a man twice my size" thing going on, yet she isn't afraid to let herself be vulnerable sometimes. And they manage to make her a strong female protag without the use of any sexualization. Most female leads have an obligatory shower and/or underwear scene.

The game is made up of three basic components: combat, platforming, and memory mixes. The combat is more or less the same combat system that has become standard since Batman: Arkham Asylum but with a twist. Every punch and kick you do has a different property (called Pressins). You are given a list of preset button sequences and you get to choose which Pressins to use in a combo. So for example, if the button sequence is Square-Triangle-Triangle-Square, every move starting with the first Triangle will have different offensive and defensive properties. These range from Health, to more power added to the hit, to using it to recharge your special moves. And you get to choose the Pressin for each hit as you unlock more through progression.

While it sounds good on paper, the combat has some problems. For starters, it's clunky with no sense of fluidity or rhythm. Nillin's moves may be stylish, but the same cannot be said for how she handles. I am not saying that every game's combat system needs to be cloned exactly from Batman, but if you are going to use that combat system as a template for your own, at least make it as compelling. While Pressin combos are more powerful and effective than mindless button mashing, you can only pull off the full combo if you consistently striking the same enemy. Being forced to interrupt the combo for whatever reason will reset it. Finally, the enemies take way, way, way too many hits to kill. Even a basic grunt enemy takes at least 30 hits to put down. As you can imagine, fights against huge waves of baddies (and don't worry there are plenty of 'em) are extremely tedious and frustrating.

Nillin clearly graduated from the Uncharted school of platforming. It's so linear and scripted that you might as well be on autopilot. If you have to stop and think about the path for three seconds, an arrow will promptly direct you to the next ledge. The thing is, linearity usually doesn't bother me. After all, I am the type of gamer who likes to blast from one story point straight to the next one and not touch side missions or do random exploring on the first playthrough anyway. But in such a beautiful and unique looking game world, Remember Me leaves no room for that.

Finally, there's the Memory Mixes. This was the most heavily advertised feature in the game. And for good reason. Sure enough, these alone are worth the playthrough. Using Nillin's ability to alter, plant, or erase memories, there will be times where you have to manipulate someone's memory of a particular event to get them to act a certain way.

In these segments, you go into their memory and watch it play out like a cutscene. Then when it's over, you have to rewind and watch it again, this time looking for memory glitches to utilize. As you rewind and fast forward the scene you have to find the correct combination of memory glitches to produce the desired outcome. So for example in one of the mixes you have to trick a man into thinking he accidentally killed his wife. Memory glitches include taking the safety off his pistol, moving the coffee table over so that he trips on it as he drunkenly threatens her for trying to leave, etc.

These parts are as cool as they sound. And it is fun manipulating these scenes and seeing the different possible outcomes before you finally get the correct one. The only problem is, these are far and few between. There are only 3 and a half of these in the game (half because in one of them you are remixing someone else's memory of performing a memory mix. I guess the devs had watched Imception that weekend.) It's a shame because these are the game's saving grace and if the game primarily consisted of just these segments I would be satisfied.

For all the critiques I gave the game though, I still stand by when I said the game had potential. It has plenty of great ideas that were either poorly executed or simply not taken as far as they could have been. But in the end, we can't factor potential in when we grade things, and it's the final product that matters. Remember Me is not the worst game I've played, it's not terrible, but I would hesistate to call it "good. " Remember Me might make for a decent rental, but it's not worth owning. Even if it's dirt cheap. If I had paid only 10 dollars I would have taken it back for an exchange (the perks of being a PS+ user).

I don't regret my playthrough, but the overall game play outside of the memory mixes is simply too tedious and not compelling enough to merit a second playthrough. With all that said however, I can cut the game some slack since it is a new IP. I would be willing to give a sequel a chance based on the potential I feel the game had, assuming they fine tuned the combat and made the game world more explorable as well as featuring more memory mix sequences. But if this is where the Remember Me legacy ends, I dare say it is doomed to be forgotten.
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