Of all the demos I played at PAX East, one of my most anticipated was for Dontnod’s upcoming action-adventure title Remember Me. There’s a lot to like about the studio’s vision for the game, besides the fact that it’s an original IP. For starters, the setting takes place in Neo-Paris; a cyberpunk-esque city greatly inspired by the likes of Blade Runner. For another thing, Remember Me’s theme is heavily intertwined with the subject of social media and the idea of the consequences of oversharing personal information. Finally, the game features a strong female protagonist, Nilin, who, much like Wolverine, is the best there is at what she does. Also like Wolverine, what she does isn’t very nice. Specifically, there’s the fact that she can remix people’s memories and therefore alter their mental state and personality on a fundamental level.
Memories, you see, are a most precious commodity in the world of Neo-Paris. In this world, folks upload, store, and share memories through the use of a newfound technology owned and controlled by a corporation known as Memoreyes. As you can imagine, having the power to collect memories is probably something that goes to your head. This leads to a world where people become addicted to experiencing other people’s memories. It basically takes living vicariously to a whole new level. Making matters worse is Nilin, a special agent of Memoreyes who possesses the unique ability to not only capture, but remix memories. Basically, whenever Memoreyes wants to gain a little influence over someone or bend political or social ideologies to their will, they send out Nilin like a black ops agent to breach an establishment and “remix” the person in question. After the process, the victim of a remixing will have their personality and memories altered to suit the needs of Memoreyes; furthering their agenda which I presume is something along the lines of world domination.
However, through events that are a mystery to both Nilin and the player, Memoreyes betrays her and leaves her locked in a cell with no memory of her past. Ironically, this is the one game where amnesia isn’t just used as a form of lazy writing. Thus, the journey of Remember Me begins. Nilin will spend the majority of the game trying to piece together who she is, why Memoreyes betrayed her, and what their ultimate end goal is (which she’ll probably go ahead and thwart.)
Now, onto the demo itself, which takes place a few hours into the game. It begins with Nilin entering the slums of Neo-Paris. The player gets their bearings with a brief tutorial followed by some basic Uncharted-esque platforming. You could argue Prince of Persia accomplished and refined 3-D platforming first, but the overall level design and style is much more aligned with one of Nathan Drake’s adventures. I’ll touch more on this in a bit. Not more than a couple minutes into playing , Nilin is introduced to an enemy type, a group of robotic, husk-like creatures, which gives us our first look at combat.
Combat in Remember Me will feel extremely familiar to anyone who’s played the Arkham series by Rocksteady. The fluidity of counters, combos, and finishers all feels just like you remember. The enemies will even have an exclamation marker appear over their heads when it’s time to counter an attack. The added bonus here is that Remember Me features a completely customizable combat system. What this means is that at any time players can enter the “Combolab” and experiment with new types of melee moves. Light and heavy punches can be assigned unique abilities: Such as extra damage, health recovery, or stamina recovery. Stamina in this case is needed to reduce the cool-down time for special moves. As I mentioned, the beauty of this feature, in addition to the complete customization it affords the player, is that combos can be adjusted on the fly. So if for example, you’re getting your butt handed to you in a fight, you can create a pre-set combo pattern tailored to recovering Nilin’s health. Then, once you’re back to full health, you can switch over to another saved and pre-set damage chain and put the hurt on your opponents. For all you fence-sitters out there, you can of course mix and match and create a combo chain that does a bit of extra damage, nets Nilin a small bit of health, and recovers just a bit of stamina.
After dispensing her cybernetic adversaries, Nilin heads to the rooftops for some more platforming and combat. This turns into a big action set piece very similar to the Uncharted series, as Nilin attempts to climb higher but is thwarted by rusty pipes and crumbling walls. After eventually reaching the top, Nilin comes face-to-face with a single new enemy; one bigger and stronger than the husks we’ve fought up until this point. This brute’s attacks cannot be countered and he blocks all of Nilin’s basic attacks from the front, so timing is crucial as Nilin leaps over the enemy’s head as it is about to attack; leaving the larger husk-like creature vulnerable to attacks from behind. After a brief skirmish, the Skinner, as it’s called, receives some backup in the form of Leapers; basic enemy types that when in close proximity to Skinners grant him a damage buff. This is our first look at situational variety in regards to combat, where Nilin will have to come up with an optimal strategy with which to best take down her opponents. In this case, the most efficient tactic is to defeat the smaller Leapers, therefore weakening the Skinner back to the previous state where it can be better damaged. Once the fight is over, Nilin is informed by a contact on the other side of her voice comm that Leapers were once citizens of Neo-Paris and were transformed by some unknown means.
The next objective is to reach a bar owned by a man named Tommy. As before, the player must find the appropriate route by platforming across the slums. While the city seems open and endless, the routes appear very linear. As with Uncharted, the path may split at some points but the overall traversal experience is very linear. The road to the bar turns into another action set piece as the floor beneath Nilin crumbles while she races to a nearby ladder and clings for safety. The demo ends upon reaching the Bar, as Nilin breathes a sigh of relief and comments how she can finally rest for a bit.
The most unique aspect of Remember Me, and frankly the one I’m most looking forward to, is the “Memory Remix” segment. Unfortunately, the demo decided to cut us off before we got to experience the one part of Remember Me’s gameplay that is totally original. I’m not sure who made the decision to only showcase the combat and platforming segments, but not including a segment about remixing came as a major disappointment. While we’ve yet to get an estimate on the breakdown of gameplay, my worst fear is that the majority of the game will focus on platforming and combat, leaving the remixing segments to warm a spot on the bench and be tragically underused. In my opinion, the only part that’s genuinely exciting about Remember Me is the story, and remixing seems to be an integral part of that. To undercook these segments and overlook their potential use as defining plot moments that can reshape the outcome of the narrative would be a huge mistake. And if the demo is anything to go by, Capcom would rather sell us on combat and platforming we’ve already played than pique our interest with something new. That’s a damn shame in my book.
Much in line with the overall theme of the game, Remember Me is a remixing of various games you’ve played before. It’s the action-adventure of Uncharted merged with the combat of Arkham City. Whether or not this restructuring of what you’re used to playing will end up being a good thing or a bad thing remains to be seen. Hopefully, Remember Me will feature enough original gameplay mechanics to stand on its own merit, rather than merely refining what’s come before. To be fair, the combat and action segments play very well; but after Uncharted and Arkham City already worked out the kinks and set the current standards, I’d really expect nothing less. The Combolab is a refreshing twist on customization and truly allows for a more tactical approach to combat, which will hopefully alleviate the mundane task of repeatedly beating down small groups of enemies. I still stand by my claim of keeping Remember Me on your radar, but after a generic demo that left me wishing for a lot more, I’d recommend going in with cautious optimism and not much else.
Do you guys and gals have high expectations for Remember Me? What are you hoping for out of the experience? Let us know in the comments below.
Oh, and for all you visual learners out there, here is some off-screen footage of the entire demo courtesy of IGN. Whoever’s playing doesn’t utilize the Combolab, which is a major mistake on his part, but whatever. C’est la vie I guess.