Remember this game. Not for its lackluster, button-mashing combat, but for its beautifully original sci-fi. Remember it because it’s doubtful that we’ll get another gift like Remember Me.
Most games do not create their own sci-fi. They are merely inspired by others works. This is not a knock on them, but it’s the truth. In fact, it happens in other mediums like literature and film. Rarely, do we someone come up with something fresh and captivating. Thankfully, Jean-Max Morris and the team at Dotnod did just that.
Set in Neo-Paris in 2084, memories are the new cellphones and tablets. Instead of sticking your face in a black rectangle to take a picture of that pizza, you are now clamoring for the latest in Sensen technology. This device allows you to relive your happiest memories and share them, literally, with loved ones. No longer will you have to suffer the humiliating memory adding the wrong filter to that picture of your cup of coffee. Thanks to Sensen, that memory can be forgotten, replaced with lavish bathroom selfies and sweet comments, further inflating your ego.
But, much like the devices of today making you dumber, Sensen ruins lives. The technology is built upon the backs of poor souls who turn into slum-dwelling ghouls after undergoing experimentation. People become addicted to happy memories and end up like that annoying family member of yours who always seems to be asking for 20 dollars, even though you just gave some to him yesterday.
It has also created a great divide in Neo-Paris between the super-rich who have benefited from Sensen and us poor schmucks. This is where Nilin, our main protagonist comes into play. An amnesiac from the get-go, Nilin is told by a mysterious figure named Edge that she was once an Errorist, a rebel group who fought the digitization of memories. Now she must fight here way out of the slums and into the heart of Sensen itself, Memorize.
Slowly, she pieces her memory back together and uncovers the mysteries of her past. At certain times, the narrative can become a bit dry. This is largely due to the fact that Nilin will start getting into one-too-many tussles with bland soldiers and Leapers (the cast-offs of Memorize). Overall though, the premise helps carry it in the weaker parts.
Nilin is also a memory mixer. It gives her the power to go into people’s memories, adjust them, and shape the present. This is carried out in scenes that have you rewinding the memory, looking for glitches to expose, which alter the person’s reasoning for doing what they’re doing currently. It can be tedious as you’ll most likely fail numerous times, but it’s so clever and unique that it simply cannot be passed off as, “a good idea that comes up a little short.”
These memories are also few and far between, making them more treasurable and wanted. Sometimes you’ll be begging for them when you run into another batch of monsters that you easily dispose of by dodging attacks and slamming kicks and punches.
This can, once again, be easily overlooked though thanks to the game being carried by its fiction. What can’t be neglected is that Neo-Paris is extremely linear. It’s a damn shame that this gorgeous, futuristic version of the “City of Lights” is hardly navigable. Slum 404 teems with soiled, dilapidated glory, all the while housing the Arc de Triomphe. The Eiffel Tower basks in a hauntingly pulchritudinous neon glow. Being able to explore these futuristic wonders would’ve been an absolute thrill, but alas, we can only sit back and be spectators. The only consolation to the restrictive world is that there are notes and pages you can find that further explain the history of Memorize, Neo-Paris and its key-citizens.
We are able to indulge in one thing: the soundtrack. This wonderful set composed by Oliver Deriviere (Alone in the Dark) combines electronic beats with orchestral backgrounds that will have you stuck at the opening menu every time you boot the game. Hell, it even improves the combat as the tracks during enemy encounters and bosses are quite exemplary.
It’s easy to understand why Remember Me has received such a mixed reaction. It’s a linear adventure polluted with dull combat. But sometimes, games can transcend those issues. Remember Me is one of those games. We’ve seen the combat done a million times, but what we haven’t seen in a while is a game gives us a fresh new world, new lore.
We’re also treated to the rare, bi-racial female protagonist. And yes, while her individualism and power are somewhat stripped by the unknown male leading her along, her sex is never made out to set her apart. A lot of games featuring women as the protagonist bring to light certain aspects that remind you that you are playing as a woman, and/or the race which she is. Nilin does have a semi-sultry, provocative slow walk, but other than that the game does not stereotype her race or gender in any way, and proves that playing as a woman can, and should be, no different than playing as a man.
Remember Me will be forgotten, if it hasn’t already, sadly. All you have to do is watch one video and be able to deem it as “generic.” But, aside from combat, it’s the complete opposite. Original and fascinating sci-fi along with an astounding soundtrack help breathe life into Dotnod’s first – and hopefully not last – game.