“Remember Me“, from the reviews that I have seen, is generally accepted as an average or mediocre video game. Complaints range from the gameplay mechanics to the overall story, with general feelings of disappointment. Now, granted, I’m not an expert on video games; I haven’t studied them extensively, and I have no real credentials. However, I am an avid player of video games, and I can fully admit that my surprise purchase of this game did not disappoint me in the least.
The story and themes of “Remember Me“ are some of the most powerful and thought-provoking that I have ever encountered in a video game. The game begins with the protagonist, a woman named Nilin, having her memories removed by a corporation known as Memorize in the year 2084. She goes to have the last of her memories removed when a mysterious man named Edge contacts her and helps her escape the vicinities. Soon she learns that Memorize has created a chip that allows people to remove unwanted memories, share memories with others, and upload them for viewing. This has led them to complete control of Neo-Paris, allowing for a super-surveilled state. Nilin also learns that she used to be a Memory Hunter, meaning she can steal and remix people’s memories to her will. She used that skill to aid a rebellion group called the Errorists in an attempt to bring down Memorize. After reuniting with her old Errorists friends, she sets off on a quest to get her memories back and, hopefully, bring down Memorize entirely.
This concept of memory loss in a dystopian or post-apocalyptic world is very similar to a popular young adult book series, “The Maze Runner“. I recently finished reading the trilogy myself, and the themes of memory loss and how memories can control you rested very heavily with me. “Remember Me“ uses those themes and pushes them to really make the player think; who are we without our memories? Do our memories make us who we are? Are they private? Can they be exploited? How can you judge the humanity of something you can never really see? All of these questions and more are explored within the game and the player’s mind as they travel through the twisted world of Neo-Paris. A huge example of this is in the game’s main enemies, called Leapers. Leapers are people who have become so over-loaded on memories they became almost insane or inhuman, and have been sent to live in the sewers and alleys of Neo-Paris, so as not to destroy the beautiful facade. They remind me a lot of the Cranks in “The Maze Runner“ series, which are the zombie-like creatures who have been infected with a virus called The Flare, and have turned into almost cannibalistic, insane inhumans. In fact, there are tons of parallels between these stories that I’m realizing as I write this. Wow! Physically, they remind me of the mass-produced homonculi from “Fullmetal Alchemist“. Most of them appear pale, with elongated arms and legs. Memorize has actually started taking the Leapers and controlling their brains to be used as servants, in an effort called the Humanization Project. Once again, it brings up questions; is this morally correct? Are we allowed to manipulate them because they are insane? Are they even human? The list goes on.
The biggest thought-provoking aspect of the game was in Nilin’s unique ability called Remixing. The sections are spread out throughout the game, but are crucial to the plot. Remixing involves diving into someone’s memories and changing details about them so as to make the person believed something else happened. The first Remix you do in the game is convincing a devout bounty hunter of Memorize into believing that their scientists accidentally killed her husband, when, in fact, he is alive and well. From there on, the bounty hunter helps escort you to places around Neo-Paris and gives you inside information on Memorize. As helpful as that is, there is something morally wrong here. While Nilin and the rest of the Errorists are fighting to take down a corporation that controls people with memories, they are out doing the same thing! You could say “the ends justify the means”, but it is still controversial and almost hypocritical, but definitely a deep subject, especially when one Remixing drives a man to suicide over thinking he killed his girlfriend. It makes the player start to wonder who the real enemy is, and whether Nilin is a “good guy” after all. Nilin thinks the same things of herself and Edge in her internal monologues in the visual projections of her mind (which, by the way, are AWESOME. They’re so symbolic! As she puts her memories together, more platforms appear in the mostly empty space. At the climax, she sees herself running around, disoriented and confused. It’s a great way to see her internal progress and she fights to get her memories back).
The gameplay mechanics of Remember Me takes on a variety of different elements; some may say that it can’t decide what it wants to be, but I disagree. The combat style is like a combination of the latest “Batman” games and a traditional fighting game like “Tekken“. Looking on from a third person view, Leapers or other enemies come in from all sides. Changing perspective from enemy to enemy, using quick evasions and takedown moves share very similar elements with the Batman games. However, there is a twist; rather than button-mashing (like I do) and hoping for the best, you can strategically customize combinations to get the best out of every battle or situation. These attacks are called Pressens. You can combine them to heal you, build up charge to use special abilities called S-Pressens-which are extremely helpful-, use them as power moves against bigger opponents, or to multiply the damage of your chain. There are over 50,000 combinations to use, and you can easily adapt them to help take control of the situation you’re in. This mechanic forced me to shy away from my traditional button-mashing technique and put real thought and strategy into my fighting style, which I thought was a great touch that shies away from normal third-person fighting mechanics.
The gameplay of movement and traveling through the world shares very similar elements with the popular series “Assassin’s Creed“. Using parkour-like movements and scaling buildings, the player moves Nilin through the massive world of Neo-Paris to strategically avoid detection, get around enemies, and avoid dangerous paths. Using this mechanic helped keep the traveling sections interesting while allowing you to observe the world of Neo-Paris from multiple perspectives. This is a smart choice; the world of Neo-Paris is so huge and immersive that I can’t imagine ever viewing it purely from the ground. Remembranes are also a useful tool in which you take someone’s memories and watch them in front of you, which allows you to copy their movements and avoid hazardous situations. There are also various kinds of technology you can use that you receive throughout the game, such as tools for unlocking doors, attacking robots or destroying shields. While many people think that this is too confusing and indecisive, I believe that it successfully takes enjoyed elements from many video games and combines them into a smooth and enjoyable experience.
Graphically, the game helps to incorporate the themes of the game within its setting. As mentioned before, Neo-Paris is very immersive and open. The use of mainly blue and orange helps create the futuristic setting similar to another popular game, “Portal“. The scale of the buildings help add to the feel of how huge the world is, and the contrast when in the seedier areas where the Errorists and Leapers are helps visually demonstrate the facade that Memorize has attempted to build up within Neo-Paris. The colors are vibrant and the quality is great. While it’s not as pretty as some other games I’ve played, it sure isn’t bad.
Overall, “Remember Me“ is an underappreciated work from a new studio, Dontnod Entertainment, who recently released Life is Strange, a game I’m looking forward to playing once all of the episodes are out. It has a strong female protagonist who isn’t white or overly sexualized, which to me is awesome. It also has an original and innovative setting with thought-provoking themes, as well as unique gameplay that adds to the experience. I purposefully left out the majority of the plot because I urge everyone who hasn’t played this game yet to please give it a chance. You won’t forget it.