‘Remember Me’ plagued by forgettable combat, gameplay
Stars and Stripes July 9, 2013
Memory is tricky. Recollections of certain events can be highly detailed and intense — like when your favorite team won the Super Bowl.
But other things slip away easily — like when your wife asked you to pick up a gallon of milk on the way home.
Memories are key elements in “Remember Me,” an action game developed by Dontnod for Capcom. The game is set about 70 years in the future in Neo-Paris, where a huge corporation has found a way to collect, store, share and delete memories. You can forget what you don’t like or you can relive old times — yours or someone else’s.
However, this Sensen technology has bestowed great power on the elite and created a huge gap between the wealthy and poor. It has also created an underclass of dangerous people whose minds have been short-circuited and who have been exiled to the sewers and dark corners of Neo-Paris. Of course such conditions don’t last for long before resistance pops up. Naturally, that’s where you come in.
You play as Nilin, a former memory hunter who’s so skilled that she could break into people’s minds and twist and shape their memories. Such power makes the elite nervous, so you begin the game with Nilin in prison with her memory nearly erased. However, it’s only a few minutes before you’re escaping with the aid of a mysterious resistance leader known as Edge.
You then begin a quest to discover who you are and what you need to accomplish to help set things right in Neo-Paris. Along the way, you meet an assortment of interesting characters and dangerous foes. As a result, you’ll spend a lot of time fighting.
Your most common opponents are the fried-brain leapers and the oppressive security forces. Both can be pretty vicious and require quick fingers and a good knowledge of the fighting system to defeat. Boss battles definitely demand some skill and can be very fun.
The basic fighting system relies on punches, kicks and evasive leaps. These can be pretty cool to watch, even at the start of the game. However, you won’t get too far before you will need to use special powers and attacks triggered by button combinations.
The combo system is rather complex. As you progress, you unlock different “Pressens” that can be plugged into your button combos. The different kinds of “Pressens” regenerate health, cool down special powers, deal extra damage or duplicate the previous “Pressen.” As you go through a combo, you can regenerate health and cool down your special powers while smacking the snot out of your enemies. While this adds a new dimension to fighting, the system generally works well only for short combos or when facing solitary foes. It’s very difficult to complete a long combo when multiple enemies are attacking you.
As you whack on your enemies, you build up “focus” that will allow you to unleash special powers, such as a free-flowing super attack and an assault that stuns all enemies by shutting down the Sensen devices implanted in their heads. These can be very effective and fun.
When you’re not fighting, you’re likely to be climbing, leaping and running over the buildings and through the sewers of Neo-Paris. This platforming is pretty lightweight. All you have to do is follow the designated path and hit buttons at the right time. There’s practically no thought involved.
Four times during the game, you get to invade someone’s mind and rewrite their memories. First, you watch the true memory unfold and then you replay it again looking for glitches that you can exploit to change what the target remembers. The result will benefit Nilin and advance the story.
The problem is that there’s way too much generic fighting and “exploration” and not enough memory remixing and interaction with interesting characters. In addition, it takes a long time to feel connected to Nilin. Sure, she needs to rediscover herself as the game unfolds, but there’s too little there for too long. As a result, the game feels rather flat.
The controls are laid out well, but their response can be sluggish and loose.
The graphics are a mixed bag. Characters are passably rendered and animated. However, the city scenes are often quite good. Neo-Paris ranges from decrepit slums to high-tech luxury havens for the wealthy. You’ll notice a few famous landmarks but they’ve been overrun by newer construction.
Bottom line: “Remember Me” offers an interesting concept but doesn’t quite deliver gameplay to match.