Throughout the course of human history, many different methods of punishment have been used to deter criminals. Ultimately, none of them truly work, as there is still crime everywhere in the world. Many countries try their hand at rehabilitation with varying results, but maybe we are looking at things the wrong way. Maybe the way to truly erase crime is to literally erase the criminal. Committing crimes is a choice, a conscious decision. If we remove a person's memory of ever making those decisions, and if we could remove the desires that lead them to crime, the possibility lies that they may not commit crimes going forward. A person would literally have the proverbial clean slate. The only issue with that is just how much of that person's mind would you have to remove to achieve said result. If you go too far, the treatment becomes a crime as well and we have a vicious cycle.
SENSEN AND SENSIBILITY The year is 1984 and a genius is born – Antoine Cartier-Wells. He spent his entire life cultivating his dream of memory management. Tragedy in his life almost made him give up but it also gave him incentive to finish his work. For more information on his story, go here.
Fast forward one hundred years; it is 2084 in the city of Neo Paris. Inside the maximum security prison known as the Bastille, Nilin is experiencing the agonizing pain of a mindwipe. The technician that interviews her after is shocked that she still remembers her name. As she is led to her final fate, a character named Edge hacks her sensen and speaks directly to her mind. He facilitates her escape and tells her who she was. Nilin decides that she wants to know why she was so feared that they tried to erase her memories to stop her. She is afraid that if she was the type to associate with Edge, that she may not like what she finds. Regardless, she wants to know the truth, wherever it may lead her.
KEEP ON PRESSEN Nilin is extremely agile and her movement through Neo Paris is done in a platforming style similar to older Tomb Raider games. As you move through the game, you see a lot of pop-up messages and icons that tell you where you are or where to go. Dontnod did this to better immerse you in the game world and make players feel closer to what Nilin is experiencing. When the time comes to take on enemies, the game mixes several brawler styles to try to give players a fresh experience. What we end up with is a lot of button mashing, but that does not mean it is a bad fighting system. The Combo Lab can be customized at anytime, even in the middle of a fight and that makes for an interesting fight mechanic. Being able to replenish your energy or make enemies dizzy based upon the combo you choose to use and being able to rework your combos when you are having little to no effect on your enemies makes the combat feel a little less repetitive. There is one more component to the gameplay that is the standout feature of Remember Me and that is memory remixing. It is unfortunate that it is not used more throughout the game because it is a cool minigame. You have to take someone’s real memory and twist it to serve your needs by taking advantage of memory glitches. The best way to try and explain that would be to ask you to think of a memory where there might be one or two details you are unclear on – “Was that door open or closed when I first got here?” The first time Nilin uses this, she turns an enemy into an ally by making her target’s memory of a recent doctor visit change drastically. Depending upon how quickly you solve the puzzle, remix moments can go by in a few minutes or last quite a while, since you cannot progress without successfully completing the event. That may be the reason it was not used too much; the developers may not have wanted too many breaks in the action. In terms of action, don’t expect anything on the level of the recent Batman games or even that of the last Spider-Man movie game. Those games had multiple combat and play styles that seamlessly meshed together. Remember Me has a few styles that are independent of one another. They are used one at a time and are not interchangeable. Unfortunately, Nilin is not able to use her platforming ability as an advantage in combat. There is no real stealth in this game; if you see enemies in your vicinity, you will have to fight them. Regardless, Nilin’s arsenal of attacks are cool and while not absolutely necessary, the combo system is worth mastering if you are a completist. A sequel would benefit from more of a Prototype approach where you can memory jack enemies to learn more of the story. Collecting the mnesist memories just doesn’t feel right with the theme of the game and her abilities could have been better utilized in that sense.
WELCOME TO PARIS (REMIX) This game is almost begging you to do what its title says when it comes to the graphics. There is so much to look at and even the filth of Slum 404 is beautiful in being so vibrant and colorful. It is a shame that the game is on rails and that your exploration capability is limited to going down the opposite hallway to find a collectible. When I play the game and look at Nilin and her surroundings, I see the potential for so much more. When I see all the shops and sites like transportation hubs I am saddened when NPCs are strategically placed to prevent me from exploring. Imagine a world as bright and colorful as a Final Fantasy town with a character as lithe and limber as Arkham City’s Catwoman and you just have to ask, “why can’t I go there?” Whenever I have “complaints” like this, I think about the flow of the story. When you start this game, you know one thing, your name. You basically know less than Hand Banana. Maybe she is capable of all the things that players might feel are missing but she doesn’t remember how to do them. Dontnod put themselves in a good position to create a sequel or another title within the same universe that will really let players explore. Hopefully the game does well enough for one or both of those things to happen.
The music in this game is put together just as well as the graphics. It simply fits in a world that goes from dystopia to utopia as easily as turning a corner. Orchestral sounding pieces flourish in while you are in Neo Paris and more electronic to almost dubstep type music comes in when you are in the slums. I am going to have to look up the soundtrack for this game for sure. Even the trailers had me loving the music.
If you are interested in this game, you will see that critics are very split on how they feel about it. I happened to read some of those reviews (especially the bad ones) before I purchased this game and I want to speak to some of the complaints. First of all, let me address the linearity of the game. I agree that Nilin should have more freedom of movement, but there were complaints about the icons that show you where to go saying that the game holds your hand every step of the way. I can somewhat understand that gripe as there could have been an option to turn those icons off, but to consider that a drawback is short-sighted. I said earlier that Dontnod really tried to immerse you in Nilin’s world and that had to include you seeing the way she sees. The Sensen system is like having a HUD in your brain and the icons that are there are what she would see, providing her with a path to her goal. That is how I look at that and in a way it makes sense for the game to be linear because she barely knows what she is doing until later in the game. The complaint of the combat being dull and repetitive to me is the mark of someone that is just jaded by games. Think about the last five or so games that you played. Better yet, think about the last five good games that you played and tell me that the gameplay was not repetitive. Every game from Pong up to the billion selling Call of Duty series does the same thing throughout the game. All games are repetitive to some degree, why do you think we used to get “Nintendo Thumb?” Remember Me actually allows you to challenge yourself. I am playing the game on MemHunter Elite (hard) mode. I died in my first fight more than once and the Combo Lab allows you to customize Nilin’s attacks to prevent that. The dodge maneuver will only get you so far, especially with the 360° camera that does not follow you without your input. Creating regen combos potentially means that aside from missing a jump, you might never die. The pressens in your combos work even when enemies are blocking. I find the complaints about the voice acting to be ridiculous; while I have not played it in French as yet, I was sold once Kid Christmas took the stage. Is some of the dialogue cheesy? Yes, absolutely, but it’s a game and you still have a better story than a lot of Hollywood productions. To put it plainly, if you are a sci-fi fan and have enjoyed past games like Tomb Raider Legend, Beyond Good & Evil, etc., then Remember Me will be an enjoyable play for you. It probably should have been one of this year’s games that retailed for fifty instead of sixty dollars, but that does not mean you should not try it out.