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Platforms: Xbox 360, PS3, PC
ESRB Rating: M for Mature
Remember Me was a game that wasn’t on my radar until the last minute. I hadn’t heard a thing about it until a month or two before its release, when stories started coming out about DONTNOD having difficulty finding a publisher because of the female hero. I started doing a little more looking into the game and was eager to play it before release. I have a very particular taste in Sci-Fi, and this was hitting right in my perfect preference of dystopian modern society with hints of impossible technologies.
Never before have I been so disappointed in a game that I had hardly any hype for.
Remember Me starts off strong, with its heroine writing in pain on the floor as her memories are violently ripped out of her before going into what we can only assume would be a disposal process. She is saved through quick communication from the game’s mission-giver and guardian, Edge.
She then starts picking up the pieces of her previous life as an “Errorist” Agent, as she rewrites, steals and deletes memories from key personnel within “M3MORIZE”, a corporation that has made its millions off of deleting unpleasant memories and selling positive ones. The whole society functions off of them, with some people finding themselves addicted to them like drugs, and others, who have had their minds completely overloaded or erased, turning into feral zombies, or “Leapers”.
But the upward momentum stopped suddenly after the second or third chapters, once you start realizing how absolutely terrible the dialog is and how pointless any variation in combat feels. Nilin (the protagonist) can perform different combos, customized by the player in the “Combo Lab”. Different combos do different things—some overpower enemies, others regenerate health, and others still reduce cooldowns of special abilities. While this may sound handy, the slow, clumsy nature of the combat renders any combos beyond two or three presses of a button useless. Nilin frequently faces off with too many enemies at once to make use of her longer combos, and because you have to wait until the previous move is nearly finished to act out the next part of the combo, fighting feels slow and drags on. Enemies you meet later on that drain your health also make combat unnecessarily frustrating, giving the illusion of additional strategy when it really just requires that you kite enemies a little longer until you can catch one alone.
Remember Me is linear, and I’ve seen many people tout that word as a bad thing. Personally, I have no problem with linearity, and I presume the millions of people that played the Uncharted series didn’t, either. However, while Uncharted is painfully linear with its ridiculous platforming at times, its saving grace is its dialog—quick, witty, and full of funny banter. Remember Me would actually need to have memorable characters in order to have that same advantage. In addition to all its characters being pretty much the same, the way that they speak at times is overly florid and ridiculously complicated. At times, some of them sound as though they’re awkwardly delivering prose at a High School Poetry Night—whether that was an intentional request on behalf of the voice director or a choice on the actor’s part is another story for another time, but it definitely didn’t work.
The mocap also makes the voice acting awkward at parts, with some characters compensating with their body for their lack of vocalization—the most obvious of these examples being Dr. Quaid, one of the scientists at M3MORIZE who you face off with eventually. His stilted, awkward vocal performance makes him difficult or at times impossible to understand, due to his quick, mumbly reads and random pauses mid-sentence. I understood the intention behind the choice, but I feel as though this was one of those performances that came off better in the booth than it actually did in the final product.
Without mentioning any spoilers, the end of the game is a rushed mess with a half-assed message crowbarred into the ending cutscene. Gaping holes in the storyline and Nilin’s past remain unanswered (which I thought was the whole point of the game, but I guess I was mistaken), and a few problems are solved in an obnoxiously easy way (such as the fact that a family that was estranged for 20 years is magically fixed by rewriting one memory).
In all, Remember Me is underwhelming. Not entirely incompetent, but bringing absolutely nothing new to the table. Unfortunately, the best part about the game itself is the world, which the player spends little to no time getting to know, unless you bother to gather up little data fragments that you can read that go into detail about the history of memory storage, landmarks, and the like. Were Remember Me a sandbox game that were similar to games like Assassin’s Creed, I feel as though it could have been a great game. But unfortunately, it feels like nothing but a draggy, mumbly mess of purple prose.