The Cult Gamer Won’t Forget Remember Me
I know new IP lovers were really hoping for something special with Remember Me, I know I was. We get a cool sci-fi concept, a worthy female protagonist, memorable characters and a solid story. What could go wrong right?
Well, despite an admirable effort on the part of Dontnod a few things did go wrong, but for you cult gamers that’s no reason to disregard this game altogether. I just finished up the campaign on the PS3 version and if one is to judge by the Metacritic scores that just might be the best one to play.
Since I’m arguing in favor of playing this game I’ll tap into the good stuff for you first. Right off the bat I could tell there were high aspirations for this title by its developers, and it is immediately visible in the visual presentation. Using the Unreal 3 engine it achieves the visual fidelity of Mass Effect 3 but without any of the frame rate troubles or cut scene freakouts. The animations are very tidy as well, from the lithe movement of protagonist Nilin to the loping stride of the disfigured Leapers it makes for a lively picture all around.
The world of Neo-Paris is also finely crafted, whether you’re slipping through upper class apartments where androids are doing the daily chores or scrounging in the muck of Slum 404 you always feel like plenty of work went into crafting the environments. As you move along the city comes alive with popup menus and notifications that tell you about the cityscape around you.
The sound quality excels in most places, especially the special effects. The music bumps in the right spots and fits Neo-Paris like a memory hunter’s glove. Aside from a little overacting here and there the voice work is dynamite. Nilin really delivers the drama of her personal crusade in both an active and narration role while the supporting characters play their parts with distinction. Nothing is vanilla in this department.
The gameplay gives you a wide range of capabilities, many of which are minor innovations on traditional gameplay elements. You get some platforming a la Uncharted, two projectile attacks, some keycard monkey business, dodge-the-drone hijinks, move-the-crap out of the way with your hacking glove moments, collect the stuff quests, puzzles, and of course the combat. The combat is based on a few lines of combos into which you custom input one of two styles of attacks that have different effects. They can add health, speed up special attack recharge, multiply effects, and give more physical effect. You chain these together and hit the jump button to flip over your enemy when they are about to attack (you get a digital warning) and you can continue combos after a flip.
In addition to this basic setup there are special attacks that require a recharge timeout. You can do a Sensen Frenzy which makes the combat a button mashing experience and makes you move faster and deal more damage. There’s the DoS attack that stuns enemies and interrupts electronics. Rust in Pieces hacks nearby robots. There is also a bomb you can strap to enemies and the ability to go invisible and sneak up on others for an overload attack.
Sounds like some decent variety right? I’ll jump back to that wonderful setting for a second. While Neo -Paris is a very cool place to look at that’s about the most you’ll be doing, looking. All those gameplay things I listed are tightly controlled in a very on-rails production and you are mostly prompted to use them when the designers see fit for you to do so. There’s very little to figure out for yourself and the fact that you can’t even do the moves unless the game sets you up for it makes it feel confining. For instance you can’t free aim your glove’s spammer at things, it just auto-locks when a target is nearby.
The combat is a great idea poorly implemented. It doesn’t even start to get cool until you close in on the end (everything opens up very slowly) and even then the basics are just tapping three buttons in a few memorized orders. There’s some enemy variety with different status effects to mix things up but I think this part of the game along with the linear on-rails gameplay is what dragged most scores down because there are still a lot of good points no matter what you think of the gameplay. Just don’t expect to ever feel like a badass or even like an effective human weapon. That said, the memory remixing scenes (of which there are only a handful) are a nice change of pace and are very cool sequences to work out.
The biggest strength and best reason I can recommend this to cult gamers is the story itself. I already told you the characters are well done, but the story is probably not something you’ve heard much about beyond the plot. Nilin is a memory hunter in 2084 where the city of Neo-Paris is ruled by memories and the company that controls them: Memorize. Her memories get wiped and a mysterious personality frees her and helps her on her quest to regain what she lost. That may not sound ground-breaking but the storytelling is what is important.
Ultimately I had to choose to enjoy this game in a certain way, and that was as an extended high quality science fiction experience with some highly lacking gameplay. I played the whole thing, most reviewers haven’t so I can tell you that this is a quality script with a tight narrative that, while utilizing some basic sci-fi roles, doesn’t fall into the trap of being generic. The story isn’t vast, but is tight and dramatic not unlike a Ninja Theory production. There are plenty of surprises and even solid drama to be found. The fact is this experience beats up the cheesy predictable-ness of what you can expect from big budget Hollywood sci-fi movies. I also enjoyed reading the collectable notes about the world scattered around (something I never do).
So as strange as it sounds I’m recommending this for the overall experience, that is, a game in spite of it’s gameplay. Science fiction fans, folks who like strong female leads, and people who can sit back and enjoy a linear game without whining should pick it up for $30 or less and then sell it off to another cult gamer.
Cheers fellow cult gamers, remember you next time.