Remember Me review
Set in a cyberpunk vision of Paris where memory is currency, Remember Me is a third-person action-adventure teenager. It badly wants to impress its peers – and you – with its sheer weight of selfconscious stuff. On top of all the conventional action-adventure jumping and running, it throws in stealth sequences, rooftop chases, platforming and a splash of something uniquely its own. Heck, there’s even a heroine who isn’t a walking pair of mammaries, just for good measure.
Much like a teenager, Remember Me is a little awkward, and prone to taking its cue from others. As its protagonist, Nilin, wobbles theatrically into the introductory sequence, the credits cutting in at intervals, it’s hard not to feel a painful twinge of cyberpunk deja vu. It’s the oldest story in the dystopian book: amnesiac ex-badass finds herself inexplicably embroiled in a revolution and also the quarry of a menacing mega-corporation.
"Almost every location feels like it should have been part of a big-budget animation."
Still, there’s nothing necessarily wrong with being predictable. Remember Me succeeds when it’s being familiar, a triumph that can be partially attributed to its spectacular looks and terrific musical score. France in 2084 is an absolute sight. From the neon-lit labyrinth of the slums to the beatific Saint-Michel district, almost every location feels like it should have been part of a big-budget animation somewhere, and the developers know it. You’ll find no shortage of dramatic camera panning here. Walk into a new location and you can be certain it will be presented with the greatest fanfare possible.
Unfortunately, such cinematic moments are only possible because Remember Me is about as linear as they get. Paris 70 years in the future feels like it’s been redesigned by city planners as a straight line. Unfettered by distractions, there is neither an open world nor side quests to pull you away from the narrative. NPCs will, at best, provide token acknowledgment of your presence – a few lines, a scream, a look. Because the game utilises neither a loot system nor equipment, you don’t even have shopkeepers to shoot the breeze with. It’s a jarring change from what we’ve come to expect from modern videogames. And in a way, it works: Remember Me just about convinces you that its revolution demands urgency.
Despite its predictability, the story builds with impressive momentum. Characters are smoothly introduced. You meet Tommy first, a jovial Memory Hunter who, unlike Nilin, had everything stripped from his mind before he was rescued. Next up is bounty hunter Olga and along with her, our first opportunity to dive into someone else’s head and engage in our first Memory Remix.
This is easily both the best and the worst part of the game. Memory Remixes ask you to change a vignette from a character’s past to suit your goals. In this instance, you have to convince Olga that her significant other is not, in fact, in good medical care but a victim of malpractice.
"Objects meld into the clip as it plays out on a floating platform in a white-washed space"
The whole procedure bristles with style. The camera will swoop through a melange of faces and snapshots before finally settling onto the scene. Objects will slowly materialise out of thin air, melding into the clip as it plays out on a floating platform in a white-washed space. Your job here is to play film editor: wind and re-wind through the memory, watch for glitch-like openings and then activate the right ones. But while the theory behind Memory Remixes is borderline genius, it’s complete murder in practice. Learn to draw little circles with your cursor at exactly the right speed or you’ll have to keep doing it all bloody night.
Once you’re done converting Olga to your cause, you’ll be herded on to your next errand and from there, well – you’ll see. Remember Me starts building towards its climax around the third episode but where it should continue soaring higher, it ends up nosediving. Nilin’s convictions become as malleable as other people’s memories. If this had been a better game, the trope-punctuated storyline would have been more tolerable, but while Remember Me excels at being achingly beautiful, it stumbles at being an action-adventure-platform-thing.