Remember Me opens with an ad for Sensen – a neurological implant that allows the host to retain their memories and share them with their loved ones. You can keep those memories safe, ensure they can be passed like a legacy, and in the case of our protagonist Nilin, they can also be erased. Scraped of all of our memories but our name, our adventure begins screaming on the floor as our past streams from our Sensen in the back of our neck. Stumbling to our feet, questions swirling in our skull, we follow a robot to destroy the final remaining memories in our head. Our only savior, a voice that breaks into our mind, helps us to escape to freedom, raising even more questions. Bienvenue to Neo-Paris, 2084.
In the future, a corporation called Memorize has figured out a way to digitize memories, allowing people to re-experience them at will. A first date, their first romantic kiss, an epic victory. Beyond that, memories can be transferred and traded with others. Naturally, the second someone figured out that memories had become a commodity that could be traded, they found ways to monetize it and began selling people their own memories. People began to live in the past, becoming addicted to reliving their own experiences. Those without pleasant memories began to beg for “just a hit” from others. Memories are the new drug, and everyone is addicted.
Remember Me revolves around Nilin, an “Errorist” who has the unique talent to be able to remix a subject’s memory. With the power to alter an experience, sample it, or even remove it, you can imagine that Nilin is a very wanted individual. With the help of her friends she intends to take down the powerful Memorize corporation, restoring some sanity and reason to the world before everyone becomes like the twisted memory-addicted freaks that inhabit Slum 404.
Obviously this setup is a fairly unique one, but one that borrows from books like William Gibson’s Neuromancer, We Can Dream It For You Wholesale by Phillip K. Dick, and George Orwell’s 1984. Even now, scientists from the Medical College of Georgia in Augusta and the East China Normal University in Shanghai have made recent progress removing a specific memory from a mouse’s brain using protein manipulation. The very real possibility of a world like this in our future creates a great backdrop to sell this solid-but-quirky storyline. To describe the story would quickly ruin it, so I’ll instead move onto the similarly-unique combat mechanics.
Pressens – your key to combat
3rd person adventure titles typically have fairly shallow combat mechanics. Pressing Square for kick and Triangle for punch, and maybe you can string together a basic combo, but overall there is little substance other than that. While Remember Me does lean on just those two buttons as well, the way it is used is vastly different.
As Nilin has lost her memory, she has also lost all of her combat abilities. As her memory returns she slowly unlocks those powers, but Remember Me takes it in a completely different direction that the norm. In your Sensen you have a Combo Lab. In this lab are “Pressens” – fighting moves you can unlock by earning experience (PMP, or Procedural Master Points in this game) unlocks an attack in one of four categories – Power, Regen, Cooldown, and Chains.
Put simply, you’ll get a blank canvas in which to build your own combinations. The Pressens are all locked in the beginning and greatly change the way combat unfolds depending on how they are placed within the combo chain. For instance, a combo of Square, Square, Square can be set up with all Power Pressens for maximum damage, or you can mix in a Regen Pressen to recover some health in the middle of your combo. As Nilin unlocks more of her memory she’ll eventually remember how to unleash special Sensen attacks (aka S-Pressens). As an example, Fury lets Nilin attack relentlessly for additional damage, Logic Bomb unleashes an area of effect attack on nearby foes, and Sensen DOS reveals and stuns hidden enemies. All of these attacks require focus, but they also have a cooldown timeframe. Mixing in a Cooldown Pressen takes a small chunk of time off that timer with a successful strike. Chains are pretty rare Pressens to unlock, multiplying the effect of the previous Pressen in the combination. This is important as the further the Pressen is pushed into the combination, the more potent the effect. In the beginning of the game you won’t have enough Pressen to create out a specialized build, but as you work through the story you’ll find yourself swapping out your attack selections based on the types of enemies you encounter.
As Nilin’s power grows she’ll pick up a ranged attack (the Spammer), as well as the ability to Overload an enemy. When a foe has taken a solid beating, occasionally Nilin can reach into an enemy Sensen and literally yank the memories out of their mind, killing them. She’ll need this level of power too as the enemies in this game are no joke. I’ve already mentioned that one type can disappear (you’ll have to power up a nearby floodlight or use your skills to reveal them), there are a few that can crawl on the walls (the Spammer takes them down), and one that becomes more powerful when flanked by his minions. Non-mutant foes can carry shields, reflect all damage, and hit you with Brain Lock that makes you lose all your focus and puts all of your S-Pressens into a Cooldown state. You’ll also encounter a few robotic enemies, but they can only be damaged by the Spammer. Switching up your Pressen and learning the powers of your enemies makes for combat that has a little more depth than you might initially think, and landing longer strings of combinations gives additional bonuses to your PMP.
Remember Me is a very cinematic game, and nowhere is this more true than the boss battles that often punctuate the end of a chapter. These battles are usually fairly tough, and always culminate with quicktime events leading to an often-spectacular finish. Thankfully, the quicktime events are confined to these battles, relying on the strength of the combat engine for everything else.
The PC Connection – by David Roberts
Remember Me’s futuristic aesthetic shines through on PC, though some quirks keep it from being the ultimate version of the game. The increased resolution of the PC version makes some parts of the game pop — namely the city environments and those random bits of text that float around as you walk near doors, vendor stalls, and the like — but it also highlights some of the low-res textures that crop up.
The PC version of Remember Me is also riddled with bouts of frame rate drops, especially when whipping the camera around or entering new areas. For the record, I have a pretty decent computer — I was able to run Tomb Raider on max settings (except for those fancy hair effects) at 1080p, and it ran at a fairly steady 30 frames per second. I’ve tried to lower the resolution, the anti-aliasing, and the texture quality, all to no avail — the same frame skips appear no matter what I do. Unless you have a significantly beefy PC (or an incoming patch fixes these issues) you’ll likely experience them too.
Luckily these issues aren’t enough to affect the core experience — the brawling and clambering that makes up the bulk of the game. I spent most of my time playing with an Xbox controller (it’s clearly the way it’s meant to be played) but keyboard controls are surprisingly smooth. There are only two attack commands, and since they’re relegated to the mouse buttons, you can easily zip around the various battle arenas with the arrow keys and manage combos by left- or right-clicking.
It’s not a perfect port (and definitely not Capcom’s best), but it’s more than competent if this is the only way you can get your hands on this incredibly inventive, if flawed, futuristic fighter.
Mnesis, Scaramechs, SAT, and Focus
There are a good deal of collectible goodies in Remember Me. The most straightforward are the Mnesis memories. These packs are found randomly in the environment, as are the SAT and Focus items. SAT and Focus expand your health as well as your focus which is used to unleash special attacks, but Mnesis are special historical memories. The Mnesis carry even more backstory for the game, giving a deeper look at the city, it’s history, and the people that inhabit it. It also goes over some of the technology that has allowed the world to become the way it has, doing a great job of expanding the fiction. There are also critters called Scaramechs that serve as a secondary collectable. These parasites feed on ambient memories in the environment, and shooting them gives you a slight PMP bonus.
Beyond the parasites and power-ups, completing episodes in the game automatically unlocks artwork. It is amazing how close the game’s visuals came to the original concept art. In addition, there are three difficulty levels – Script Kiddie, Errorist Agent, and Memory Hunter, though Errorist Agent is already a very well-balanced level for combat and story.
Outside of the Scaramechs there is another bug that I ran into that offered me a different bonus – the chance to replay the hardest battle in the game for the second time. After defeating a busload of enemies, the trigger to move forward didn’t trip, forcing me to quit and engage those same enemies for the second time.
“Everytime you think of your father, you resurrect him.” – Clyde Dsouza
With another nod to the real world, Remember Me reminds me of what I expect Google Glass has in store for us. Little popups as you walk through a marketplace listing food prices, apologies for the litter on the ground, or warnings of unsafe areas in the environment fill your vision. Even the inanimate world is alive and in motion at all times. The world of Remember Me is very much an augmented reality.
The freshman effort from most game companies doesn’t turn out looking like Remember Me. Using a heavily-modified Unreal Engine 3 as a base, Remember Me hits a fantastic graphical stride. With a rock-solid framerate, Remember Me looks like the sort of game you would expect from a company with a great deal of practice at building game engines. As beautiful as every aspect of the presentation is, I’m most proud of Nilin.
Like Lara Croft in the most recent game, Nilin is a bold, self-reliant, and powerful protagonist. There are no fan-service moments showing Nilin looking like some sort of tarted up eye candy to attract a younger audience. This game treats the protagonist as a serious player in this world, dangerous in her own right, and requiring no one to save her.
Nilin will get opportunities to take “Remembranes” – memories from friends and foes that allow you to experience their memory for your own. This can provide navigation advice on a particular area, gives specific paths through dangerous grounds, or even shows the proper method to breach security. This “ghost mode” from your Sensen is cool, but it’s memory remixing that takes the prize.
As I mentioned before, Nilin has the unique power of being able to remix memories. This allows her to change the reality of the memory of the subject. For instance, you might alter a memory to make the subject remember that person dying instead of being saved. By rotating the left thumbstick you can move forward and backwards within the memory. When you’ve spotted glitches in the memory, you can trigger them to try to cause the outcome that best suits you. Push too far however and you can cause a poor outcome. I’ve included an example of a memory alteration that has gone wrong below. In this memory, Olga is asking a doctor to help save her husband by transferring positive memories into his mind to help sooth his condition.
“History…becomes present, if we can see the past with Augmented Reality” – Clyde Dsouza
As beautiful as Remember Me is, we have come to expect a certain level of graphical fidelity on the PlayStation 3. What I didn’t expect was the fantastic score from Oliver Deriviere. Orchestral and electronica mix with glitches and modulation to create music that completely fits the cyberpunk nature of the game. It’s the way that it is presented that is so damned cool though.
When you engage in combat the music is subdued a bit. Engaging multiple foes and unleashing successful combinations slowly adds to the soundtrack, punctuating it at the height of the battle. The music and sound effects are the auditory icing on the cake and just one more example of the polish and immersion of Remember Me.
“Virtual reality is the first step in a grand adventure into the landscape of the imagination.” – Frank Biocca
As the credits roll on this 11 hour journey, I’m pleasantly surprised to see such a great title come out of a brand new studio. The team at DONTNOD Entertainment have brought something unique to the table, giving us not only beautiful graphics and incredible sound, but also a new combat approach wrapped around a very engaging storyline. All eyes are focused on E3 2013 in just one week, but don’t let this game pass you by. This will be a title you’ll remember for a long time.