Remember Me (PS3 (Review system), 360, PC; Dontnod Entertainment; Capcom)
Probably one of the few times in my life I’m ever going to say this but here we go; this game should have been made by David Cage and the Quantic Dreams crew. Considering the fact that a lot of people aren’t too big on Fahrenheit, Heavy Rain and Beyond: Two Souls, I’m sure there’s at least a few people saying “Well, why the hell is this idiot saying he wants a game made by people that DON’T EVEN MAKE GAMES” (I hate that idea anyway, but not the point here). The thing is, the parts of Remember Me that work best are the same things that work best in Quantic Dreams games; it has some interesting ideas on how to incorporate new ideas on gameplay, it has a wonderful setting and concept for what makes the story unlike other games, and it’s linear as they come. And funnily enough, the parts of Remember Me that really drag and make the game worse are the things that would be taken out if it was more of an interactive movie kind of game, like what Quantic Dreams produce.
To elaborate, the game has pretty crappy combat, the linearity of the game is a bit of a chokehold, the balancing can be pretty rough, the platforming has smooth animations and can feel nice but is often unnecessarily bloated out and the game does far too much setup of Neoparis that it then can’t deliver because it needs to structure areas to fit its needs. Almost everything this game does that isn’t a fairly new idea from the developers is not done that well. It’s a game that succeeds in innovation, but fails in basic systems emulation. I’ve played my fair share of these action games that work on a simplified combat system, and this is not one of the better ones; same goes for the platforming, though as I said, it does have nice animations which is good to see at least. And the combat balancing, that’s a complete clusterfuck. One of the enemies you face does damage to you when you hit them, yet the game gives you no real way of beating them until the chapter after they’re introduced and then they come at you in such numbers that this one method is of little use; similarly there are a group of enemies that can only be seen and attacked in light or when stunned with a special move, but often the game just punishes you cruelly by throwing them at you en masse despite their poor design.
Also like I said, the game sets up the idea of Neoparis far too much; across the 8 chapters, you’ll only see 4 different places in the city really, and the only one that has any real distinct cultural value is La Bastille, though you’ll only see its high-tech innards so it may as well not even have the name. Sure, Ward 404 has the Arc De Triumph, as far as I could tell, and you go to the Saint Michel district, which sounds like it could be a currently existing place, but let’s be honest here; you want to go to Neoparis to see the sights like the Eiffel Tower. In another game set in Paris, The Saboteur, a huge point was made of the fact that the player would obviously want to go to the Eiffel Tower and there’s a huge payoff at the end of the game as you climb up it; Remember Me just takes you to a generic futuristic building that doesn’t currently exist or mean much to the story up to that point for the final chapters.
Which brings me to the story as well; why this game is quite as long as it is, I don’t know. Ignoring the fact that the combat and the platforming and the odd puzzles the game forces you to do all feel like filler between story beats and the sections worth playing, the story has some real odd pacing and is told in a very odd manner. I feel like the game was going for a Fight Club style system of “Oh shit, that’s the real truth about this all” but also the game never really gives you a consistent idea of who the people you’re going after are and the linear nature of the game as well as the forced focus on gameplay means that the game doesn’t get much time to focus on it; you are basically just told “Go find this person to do this thing with their head, they’re not very nice, it’ll help our revolution a load if you just get on with it” and because it’s a linear game, you just tank along. What this really means by the last quarter of the game though is that it has very little real momentum. The man you chase in one of those final chapters is just a guy who was introduced as a boss to beat earlier in the game; he is purely defined as “He’s that cop guy who had a helicopter and tried to kill you earlier, oh and now he’s going crazy”. And none of this touches on the completely inane M Night Shymalan level crap the game really tries to pull with the final two memory remix sequences, or with the final boss; it very much descends into twists that have no set up and exist just for the point of trying hard to be interesting.
And this is what bugs me really in the end; Remember Me has some interesting ideas. Like the game I often find myself comparing it to, Assassin’s Creed, it’s a game that could have led into a lot more. It had at least the beginnings of some interesting ideas all of its own, and those ideas already played well; the memory remixing is a really interesting process, even if it can become quite obvious what events are necessary to win or will make you fail, and I personally really enjoy the combo creation/mixing process as it allows you to put together combos to suit your purpose. I also enjoyed the little touch that each combo move has its own animation, so the animations on your combos also mix up as you change the combos. But the game only has 4 of those memory remix sequences, and one tiny aspect of the combat being original doesn’t make the whole thing all that much better. And as beautiful as Neoparis may look, and as smooth as the animations look, it all rings a bit hollow.
So it’s a weird position I find myself in with this game. My thoughts here clearly scream “DON’T BUY THIS, ITS A SLOG AND ITS NOT THAT WELL DESIGNED OR MADE AND YOU CAN DO BETTER” but really, I’d love to see the game do well enough that a new female-led action game IP could get time to flourish. Or at least, I’d love to see what more could be done with the high tech dystopia, and the memory remixing concept and the combo creation and the little bits that are really enjoyable within it all. So I don’t know, I guess pick it up cheap and see if you can get your way through it, but it’s at least worth experiencing in my opinion.
Joe Trail is the editor-in-chief of Don’t Be A Pixel. Mostly because he says he is, not because he has other writers to edit over. But such is the life of a busy editor-in-chief, obviously. He’s also an avid writer for the site. Of course.