I first heard about Remember Me when developers Dontnod talked about having issues securing a publisher, just because they had a female protagonist.
Having not read any reviews of the game, on June 14th I saw some nice high-res screenshots posted on a forum I use, and suddenly thought, I want to play this game. This is a world I want to explore, I adored the look of period architecture meshing with futuristic skyscrapers, ornate stonework, aged statues and neon lights. Relentlessly in pursuit of the story and the character progression, I finished the game just two days later which is a ridiculous feat for me, this was how I spent most of my weekend, I was hooked, and as you’ll see I couldn’t stop taking screenshots.
One of the reasons I feel compelled to write about the game is because the enjoyment and the quality took some abrupt dips along the way, I’ve been trying to recommend the game on Twitter, but it makes so much more sense to get this down in detail, so I can explain what was so great and at times so frustrating about it.
Visually, the setting has been fantastically realised from concept through to the finished game, with expansive backdrops, towering buildings and vibrant surroundings, this is where Remember Me is at its strongest. The design feels a little restrictive, play is linear, although you can sometimes go around a hidden corner or jump to a different ledge to grab a collectable item. The restrictive feel is exacerbated by Nilin’s selective ability to traverse the environment, where you’re supposed to go, she will always reliably jump huge gaps and scale any appropriate signs or ledges even if they’re at an awkward angle, but if you’re interested in taking a deeper look around there’ll often be objects lower than what she usually climbs that, in more instances than not, seal you in. I love the look of Neo-Paris and I would’ve loved to be indulged in seeing more of it.
Even when the game takes you to more closed-up indoor environments with repeating corridors, they’re broken up with regular bouts of combat, which with the games’ standard enemies threw up a good mixture of satisfaction and challenge.
I found Nilin to be a fantastic character, her opening as a protagonist reminded me of Final Fantasy X somewhat. By throwing Tidus into a new world, with new characters that were almost entirely new to him, players learn about that world through his naive line of questioning, we don’t have to read a chronology to get a grip on our surroundings and history, the other characters all narrate it to him.
We meet Nilin in a hospital just as she’s had her memories wiped out, this allows us to digest the world and its inhabitants through her discoveries, through her ability to steal and alter memories from others, and also as she manages to locate her own stolen memories, it’s a convenient way to get on board with things without feeling like your character is asking questions they should know the answer to, or having your surroundings too heavily explained.
She’s a strong character, with a confident walk, a cautious run and a striking silhouette. She’s neither dressed nor shot by the camera gratuitously, and while being strong, Nilin doesn’t often have straight forward conviction in her actions, and pleasingly, diving into others’ memories gradually moves closer and closer to home, which for me, allowed the impact of the ending to escalate – tampering with memories is questionable from the start, however nearing the end of the game those actions become even more surprising, involving ever closer characters. Without spoiling anything, it felt set up so well, and I had a good emotional cry.
Moving onto the boss fights, this at times is where the game completely fell down for me. The combat system allows some customisation, so you can string moves together to regain health, cooldown special abilities and deal more damage. There is one fight against a robot (which is depressingly duplicated later on in the game), where you are suddenly the combat system you’ve been using this entire time is no longer applicable. Don’t punch the robot, nothing will happen. Instead, run away from it in a continual circle. Dodge at specific intervals. Repeatedly shoot it with your bad gun. Do a quick time event. Shoot it again if you fail the quick time event. Rinse and repeat until you either manage the QTE or run out of health and rage quit (I did the latter).
During several of the boss fights the game neglects to provide information (such as a health bar), and I found myself succumbing to internet help several times because I had no idea if I was doing what the game wanted me to do. The only other element that frustrated was keeping out of patrolling drones line of sight, which in itself is fine, but the slowly wandering camera and Nilin’s own movements don’t lend themselves to precision, which is needed when getting seen results in instant death. A few times the sound cut out completely, pigeons froze mid-flight and I found an idle character stuck in the T-pose… but really these are small complaints, and they’re largely overcome by fun combat, a gorgeous world, and an enjoyable story, I haven’t felt so involved and so driven to complete a game in a long time.