- Developer - Dontnod Entertainment
- Publisher - Capcom
- Platforms - PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, Microsoft Windows
- Release date - 7 June
- Price - £39.99
Remember Me kicked up a stink back in March when director Jean-Max Moris told Penny Arcade how some publishers had flat out refused the game because the protagonist was female. Women characters have long been marginalised by videogames, as highlighted recently in Anita Sarkeesian's YouTube series Women vs Tropes in Gaming and Crystal Dynamics' Tomb Raider reboot. For that reason alone, Remember Me is a good game; it's good that it's out there; it's good that it, eventually, got published.
But apart from that, there isn't a lot here to shout about. We'll start with Nilin, the aforementioned female lead. Like all of the game's characters, she hasn't got much to do, or say. The writing's dreadful. A by-the-numbers sci-fi romp, complete with shady organisations, social discord and technological MacGuffins, Remember Me's plot is boring and typical.
It's set in France in 2084, a future in which, like in that episode of Black Mirror, everyone's brain is fitted with a chip that records their memories. Captured at the start of the game by a shadowy government group, Nilin has her chip wiped and loses her memory. In turn, she joins an underground network of rebels trying to bring down the politicians and take over France. Everything's not quite as it seems, though - the rebels are kind of nasty themselves - and Nilin ends up going her own way to recover her memories and discover who she really is.
You can't help but sort of shrug at Remember Me's story; who cares? There's not much new or intriguing to it and the whole memories/mind-hack thing has been done before and a lot better. There's just no spine to the writing here, no fierceness. You never get a sense of the stakes, all the characters are undercooked and the memory stuff is handled with washy sentiment and faux-poetical whimsy. There's a moment where Nilin looks inside the memory of one of her enemies and says: "I looked inside his mind. It was a like a bubbling sea of anger and hate." It's that kind of thing throughout and it's really turgid.
Pretentiousness, actually is Remember Me's thing. Since the characters are so basic, appearing for just a few scenes to provide exposition or hand out guns, there's a really laboured attempt to give the plot some substance by plastering quotes from Camus and other writers on screen at the start of every level. It just looks silly. Remember Me's plot structure is the worst kind of functional cliché, with Nilin's amnesia serving as an excuse for support characters to fill plot in directly without it having to be weaved properly into dialogue. And when they're not being functional, the characters are just dropping clangers: "Who were those guys?" asks Nilin, after fighting a group of soldiers. "Sabre Force" replies her friend, Edge.
Anyway, writing aside, Remember Me's OK. It definitely looks good. Paris is a great sideways choice of location and there's a vibrant mix of slick, white sci-fi buildings with plasma screens on everything, and nature, with areas like Saint-Michel popping with green grass and sunlight. The artificial areas are gorgeous too.
The slum which Nilin and the other rebels call home is nakedly inspired by Blade Runner, littered with neon signs advertising dive bars and cheap food. When you walk past shop fronts or newstands, little data windows with opening times, special offers and so on pop up a la Google Glass. Remember Me is pretty, definitely, but also a bit sterile.
A lot of the time the world feels like it's behind a glass case. Apart from rudimentary and context sensitive actions like opening doors or flicking switches, you can hardly interact with it, and instead find yourself just gazing at these scenes that play out without acknowledging you. It never comes alive; there's a vista of a bustling sci-fi world, but it's all rehearsed and fixed and untouchable. Instead of actually being somewhere, it feels like you're surrounded by TV screens all looping video footage. Like the plot, it's empty; it feels distant.
On the contrary, the mechanics are incredibly familiar. The combat in Remember Me will already be second nature to anyone who's played the Batman Arkham games and the platforming is very Uncharted. This stuff is all fine; it works. You chain combos by alternating pressing square and triangle, and dodge attacks, which are telegraphed by an exclamation mark above an enemy's head, by pressing X.
You can customise your moves as well, creating enormous combo chains with different kinds of punches. Your first hit might be a power punch, followed by a kick which, when it lands, restores some of your health. You can also chain together punches which reduce the cool down time on special abilities called S-Pressens, which do things like make you super powerful for a short period or reveal the location of invisible enemies. You end up with a combo that goes power punch - recharge health - power punch - recharge Pressen - recharge health - punch. It's a neat system, adding a bit of something new to the otherwise Arkham-y fighting.
Remember Me's real trick shot though is Memory Remixing. These are special, set-aside sequences where Nilin jacks into someone else's memory and alters it to make them think something happened which didn't. A great example was shown at last year's Gamescom, where Nilin hacks into the mind of someone she's trying to assassinate to make him "remember" that earlier that day, he'd shot and murdered his wife.
In fact, they'd just had an argument and all he'd done was threaten to shoot her, but by rewinding and fast-forwarding the guy's memory, and looking for "glitches" Nilin can subtly alter things, "removing" the gun's safety catch so that, as far as the guy can remember, it went off, killing his wife. Suddenly overcome with grief, he apologies out loud to his wife (who, unbeknown to him, is still alive and well) and shoots himself in the head.
These moments are great. It's fun to explore all the different ways to tamper with someone's memory (not everything changed will have the desired effect) and it's always kind of icky the way it works out. You feel a bit bad about altering someone's mind; that's about as close to emotion or substance as Remember Me gets.
Despite the writing and the plastic world, Remember Me is still pretty good. The combat is functional but made a little more interesting by the combo customisation and the Memory Remixing sequences are dead inventive, and really nasty sometimes.
The game's seriously let down by the dialogue and the plot; for all the interest piqued by Remember Me's leading woman, Dontnod does nothing with her, or any of the characters for that matter. The story's just flaccid and uninteresting. The lead character's a woman which, sadly, in videogames, is still kind of remarkable, but after that, there's little to bite into.
- Gameplay: 7/10 - Functional but very familiar combat and limited interaction with the world around you is helped out by the combo customisation and the great Memory Remixing sequences.
- Sound: 8/10 - The competent voice acting struggles against bad dialogue, but Olivier Deriviere's score is tremendous.
- Graphics: 7/10 - Remember Me is a beautiful looking game no doubt, but it's all a facade and the pristine world never comes alive.
- Writing: 4/10 - A real stumbling block. When Remember Me's plot isn't ticking the box of every character and plot structure cliche, the dialogue is clunky often gigglesome stuff.
- Replay value: 6/10 - Remember Me is unashamedly and purposefully linear, but there are few optional areas to explore and hidden trinkets to pick up.
- Overall: 7/10 - A perfectly solid, good looking action adventure that totally bungles the script but has a few smart ideas.
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