Remember Me Review: Total-y Recall-ing Blade Runner

Worse are the boss fights, which on their face aren’t exactly bad. Usually, they’re challenging and sometimes even thrilling, but they’re also usually dependent on a certain special move, which means you need to use it, then deal with its cooldown for the rest of the fight. Again, cool idea on paper to make players manage their combos smartly in the middle of a battle — but in practice, not nearly as fun or strategic as it’s meant to be.

Remember Me is screaming for a stealth or counter mechanic to mitigate all the fighting, or more crowd-control capabilities, and as a result the fighting is generally middling with only a few flashes of being really fun. At its worst, especially in boss fights with infinite respawning enemies meant to provide combo-fodder for cooldown Pressens, it can turn into a grind.

That the combat is basically your primary mechanic is made worse because there is something better: the Memory Remix. Nilin has the ability to not only steal memories out of people’s heads, but to also pop into their brains and change their memories. This has the effect in specific instances of changing people’s motivations and even their allegiances, basically by lying to them with their own minds.

The remix sequences let you watch another person’s memory, and then mess around with certain elements. For instance, you might have to convince someone they killed their significant other during the yelling match the couple had the morning before you meet him or her, and that means moving the murder weapon to a place where it’s handy, removing other obstructions, and otherwise changing the circumstances of the memory. The person’s mind fills in the gaps, and the result is the person remembering the event differently than it happened. Changing a character’s own internal history then changes their actions and beliefs.

It’s such a cool, Inception-y idea that not making remixes a more central game mechanic leaves them criminally underused. They function almost as boss fights unto themselves, although there’s no lose condition during them.

And yet, the vast majority of gameplay in Remember Me isn’t about memories at all; it’s about punching dudes in their faces.

The remixes are some of Remember Me’s coolest content — the possibilities inherent in being able to alter enemies’ memories in order to convince them to help you, or whatever else, are totally fascinating from a gameplay perspective. It makes you wonder what the game would have been like if you’d been forced to constantly remix enemies for different effects.

And yet, the vast majority of gameplay in Remember Me isn’t about memories at all; it’s about punching dudes in their faces.

In fact, that’s Remember Me’s greatest downfall. There are some really cool ideas here, and given more attention and space to grow, the game might have been something truly special. But there’s a feeling that maybe Dontnod and Capcom felt they had to hedge their bets — if they were going to make a game under a new IP with a female protagonist and a fascinating future world, they also needed to bring it back to the mainstream with Batman-like combat and Tomb Raider-like climbing. And overall, Remember Me is significantly weaker for both.

I remain pretty positive on my experience with Remember Me, though, despite its faults, and I must admit a great deal of subjectivity in that feeling. Remember Me hits a lot of the neural buttons tied to my favorite science fiction ideas, and its often-glossy take on Philip K. Dick-esque darkness is something I find extremely appealing. Because of that, there’s a great deal I’m personally willing to forgive when it comes to Remember Me, and I have a feeling there will be other players who feel the same way.

But ultimately, that feeling really is enjoying this game well enough while also seeing serious promise in the Remember Me franchise’s future, more than what’s actually available in this game. In most things, Remember Me is perfectly competent; unfortunately, in most things, it will actually be somewhat difficult to remember.

The occasional flashes of brilliance, promise, and beauty, however, make Remember Me worth a look. There are players out there for whom Remember Me will resonate. Ironically, those players may be in the minority, despite the game’s dogged insistence on appealing to the mainstream.

Pros:

  • Gorgeous, beautiful graphical look and aesthetic
  • Phenomenal soundtrack
  • Female protagonist Nilin is an intriguing, wicked ass-kicker
  • Fascinating game world is lush and expansive, although highly linear
  • Competent Tomb Raider or Uncharted-style climbing
  • Combat sometimes has flashes of being very fun
  • Memory Remix sequences are the game’s most interesting moments

Cons:

  • Despite some potentially unique ideas and setting, moves to the mainstream with fairly generic gameplay elements
  • Combat is full of ideas that work better as concepts than in execution
  • Combo system is sadly under-utilized because of fights with swarms of enemies; can get grindy, especially in boss fights
  • Remix sequences have no consequences for failure, are more or less trial-and-error and are way underused
  • For all its good ideas, not a lot that makes the game unique
  • Story is decent but certainly not mind-blowing; would have made a better summer blockbuster than a video game

Final Score: 70/100


Game Front employs a 100-point scale when reviewing games to be as accurate about the experience as possible. Read the full rundown of what our review scores mean.


Read more of Phil Hornshaw’s work here, and follow him and Game Front on Twitter: @philhornshaw and @gamefrontcom.

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1 Comment on Remember Me Review: Total-y Recall-ing Blade Runner

Andrés

On June 17, 2013 at 6:15 pm

I don’t care what anyone says, the ending of this game was amazing! I’m trying to make up my mind whether it’s better in English or in French.