My thoughts on: Remember Me (Video Game)

I finally got around to finishing Remember Me today, a title that has had me in a bit of a tizzy, so I thought I’d jot down my thoughts on it. By the way, this is for the video game, not the damn Robert Pattinson movie, so go ahead and cry your little Twilight hearts out.

I’ll try and not mention anything that’s spoiler material, but I might let something slip. You’ve been warned. These thoughts are also from the PC version of the game, so don’t ask about the console ports.

Remember Me caught my attention with their very first trailer, sparking my interest with its concept of memories becoming a shared commodity and specialized people being employed to pilfer and steal everything from small secrets to entire identities. In entertainment, I’m honestly not sure if I have ever seen something with a concept such as this, with the closest examples being Deus Ex in video games and Total Recall in films.

In Remember Me, you play Nilin, a memory hunter who’s been imprisoned and had her memory erased. Upon being broken free from captivity by a form of resistance that apparently has some measure of history with Nilin, she goes about trying to track down the truth about her past.

Now, this is the first time I have made a “My thoughts on” about a game, so I’m going to make a separation between the story, settings, and characters compared to the gameplay, engine, and sound assets. In this title, it actually will be quite helpful.

~ Story, setting, and characters ~

I’m not going to mince words here, the setting and main characters in Remember Me were brilliant. Seeing the world of Neo-Paris was, at times, breath-taking. I remember seeing the Eiffel Tower the first time and just stopping to admire the amazing scenery. On top of the world’s aesthetic, all of the holographic and digital displays and warnings that appear out of thin-air truly did give me the idea that this was a world of ours that had moved beyond us and our technological understanding.

Nilin, as well, became a protagonist that I latched onto stronger than most. By watching the trailers and promo footage, and even by playing the beginning of the game, you get the feeling that she’ll play out as a stereotypical “badass action chick” character. Perhaps it was just me, but there came a point in the game where a pivotal plot point occurs that seemed to break that illusion and reveal a scared little girl underneath it all. To me, I found her character more human than most protagonists I find in gaming. It also helps that her voice acting was top-notch and helped convey the emotion behind the character.

The story was a bit confusing at first, but it eventually played itself out to a point where it was both comprehensible and refreshing. As large as the story seems to be in scope, it actually scales down to the story and fate of three characters. When I learned that it was actually smaller in focus than it seemed, I found myself enjoying it more.

In total, the game is one that reaches for the stars with its concept and themes. It’s refreshing and new, with an aesthetic and characters that populate it in a way that had me interested and carried me through the title.

~ Gameplay, engine, and sound assets ~

This … is where Remember Me struggles. Where as it reaches for the stars with theme and characters, it stumbles and falls a bit flat with its actual mechanics. From a gameplay standpoint, I found myself having to use my 360 controller for an input method, rather than my mouse and keyboard, due to the imprecise movements and actions. By genre, it’s an Action Platformer, but there are far better titles for both. You have essentially no freedom at all for the platforming, forced to follow guiding arrows or else you go nowhere or die. The combat, as well, relies upon you building and stringing together melee combos, but it becomes aggravating when you keep getting interrupted and lose your combo.

The engine, as well, has some issues. Between stuttering and texture popping, there comes points where it feels like the tech just couldn’t quite support the theme and aesthetic they were aiming for. At the same time, such issues were uncommon for me, and the level of detail felt solid enough to not make me note anything that detracted from the visual works on display.

For the sound assets, it’s a bit of a mixed bag. The voice acting, with the exception of Nilin and another character you meet towards the very end, hovers around “average” and, sometimes, dips down into “poor”. This isn’t helped when the written dialogue for most of the characters, with the exception of Nilin and the other character, goes from “tolerable” to “cringe-worthy”. The best defense of the dialogue is that Dontnod, the developer, is a smaller French developer, so it might simply have been something lost in translation.

The music takes cues from the aesthetic and setting, sounding like a techno-remix of a dubstep album. The thing is, for this title, it works brilliantly. It blends in with the setting in a mesh that feels completely natural and helps augment the experience. While it isn’t something I’d listen to in my car or at work on its own, it helps the experience.

~ Conclusion ~

Remember Me is a title that I have a difficult time wrapping my head around. It bets everything on its characters and setting, leading the actual gameplay mechanics to fall behind a bit. Perhaps the combat and platforming aren’t as bad as I am making it sound like, but when you see how much promise the title has, the slightest fumble feels like they’re throwing themselves off a cliff. I really hate saying this, especially given the fact that it’s such a new, fresh setting that has a few great ideas in it, but it does suffer from the gameplay.

If you’re trying to make up your mind about whether to buy it or not, I’d say wait and see if you can get it on a good sale. If you’re bent on getting it or have already got it and haven’t tried it, I’d implore than you try and approach the game with the story and characters as your main focus. When you go in for the combat and platforming, I think you’ll likely be disappointed. In hindsight, I enjoyed my time with it, but I also play games with a heavy focus on story and characters, so I can look past a lot of gameplay and technical quirks.

Anyways, that’s just my thoughts on Remember Me. I hope this helps you decide if you want to take a peek at the game, but I just wanted to have a brief talk about it. Now, off to go get some more writing done.

~ James.

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