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Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Remember Me

CPU: Intel® Core™ 2 Duo 2.4Ghz or better, AMD Athlon™ X2 2.8 Ghz or better
Direct X: 9.0c
Hard Drive:8 GB HD space
Graphics Card: NVIDIA® GeForce® 8800GTS or better, ATI Radeon™ HD3850 or better

Remember Me

Ryan King

It's pretty but it's hollow - read our Remember Me review to see why Capcom's latest doesn't live up to its potential.

Published on Jun 3, 2013
The worst feeling to experience when playing a game is ‘if only’.

Well, okay, not strictly true – the worst feeling is blind frustration to the point where you pass out in rage and wake up hours later with shards of pad between your teeth.
But ‘if only’ ranks up there too, because you know that after all that hard work, the finished product has fallen a little short of expectations. If only the gameplay was a little tighter. If only the story was a little better. If only the voice actors hadn't read their lines with as much emotion as someone reading the ingredients on a packet of crisps.

If only.

Remember Me inspires that feeling more than any other game in recent memory so let’s start with the one thing it gets very, very right – the visuals.

Remember Me - The Visuals

One comparison that popped up often in preview coverage was Blade Runner, the lazy shorthand for ‘dark urban sci-fiwith lots of neon lights’. Remember Me doesn’t often dip into that though too often though. If anything, it’s more like Aeon Flux – there’s a surreal slant to the sci-fiso while it feels grounded, it doesn’t feel like something that could ever happen in our future.

Whether you’re clanking down a metallic corridor lit up by red alarm sirens or gazing at distance buildings climbing towards the sky, Remember Me is stunning to look at. Neo Paris drips with dense and unique detail around every corner, and each section looks like it has been individually crafted by an artist’s hand rather than filled in by textures lifted from elsewhere in the game.

But the artists must be furious with the rest of Dontnod because as pretty as the world is, it’s completely empty and almost entirely devoid of meaningful interaction. It serves zero function. It’s full of street vendors you can’t talk to, areas you can’t explore and dead ends whenever the linearity is threatened. Invisible walls shuttle you towards the next checkpoint, with only the odd hidden item tucked away in corners providing and rewarding exploration opportunities.

Remember Me - Awful Story

Remember Me’s world is pretty but there’s little reason for you to slow down and study it, unless you care about learning incidental detail about the story and the world – and you won’t care, because the story is awful. The writing is abysmal.
This is a game that’s so sure you’ll invest in its story that it hurtles along with just the thinnest strands of coherence tying it together, stuffed with terms like Errorist and Remembrane along with characters like Bad Request and Edge. The story is also, somewhat ironically, completely forgettable.

Remember Me also has the worst voice-acting we’ve heard in any game since Two Worlds, Nilin’s voice actress reading the script as though it’s the first time she’s seen it. What’s particularly infuriating is this was highlighted as a huge problem with Remember Me when Nilin first opened her mouth in the reveal trailers many moons ago, and nothing has been done to change it.
Perhaps Dontnod believed the voice-acting was okay, perhaps it was too late for the voice-acting to be changed. The latter is more likely but whatever the reason, it’s awful and the lack of change from the preview stage means you just have to sit through any of the Remember Me trailers circulating YouTube to hear how bad the voice-acting is.

Remember Me - Platforming And Fighting

Platform sections and corridor fights are how you’ll spend most of your time in Remember Me. The platforming sections are easy enough to navigate that they’re neither particularly challenging nor particularly satisfying. Giant orange arrows highlight where to go next and while the occasional puzzle or stealth element is thrown into the mix, there’s nothing too taxing here that it will slow your progress down or frustrate you.

However, the combat feels like a missed opportunity. It’s based around Combo Lab, an idea that had potential. It allows you to string together a series of combo animations with different effects as you unlock them throughout the game – damage, health regen, focus regen for Nilin’s special moves and so on. The idea is that you create combo trees that cater for different situations.
But there’s no flow to combat, and combos look like a series of canned animations that play one after the other. And that’s even if you get to see the entire combo. Without a strong crowd control move, Nilin rarely gets more than two or three hits into her combos before she’s forced to dodge from a nearby threat.
There’s no real rhythm to the combat and no real depth to explore in it either. It’s simply a case of learning patterns and then deploying the right canned combo, rather than improvising your own patterns as seen with a Devil May Cry or God Of War or whatever else. The genesis of a good idea is here but Remember Me’s combat needed a lot more tweaking to realise its potential.

Remember Me - Memory Remixing

The one genuine highlight of Remember Me is the memory remixing, when you get to jump into the memory of your target and change it. Interactivity here is limited – you can only use certain objects at specific points in the memory – but this is one of the few instances where the limited interactivity doesn’t hurt the idea too much, because it’s fascinating to see how the memory plays out once you poked and prodded at a few items.

That could have formed the cornerstone of a more interesting, involving experience but memory remixing is a story-driven mechanic that only happens a handful of times during Remember Me. It’s a shame too because they’re always interesting and fun to play around with and one of the few occasions Remember Me excels and stands out as something worthy of your time.

Outside of that, the quality level peaks and dips depending on whether you’re being force-fed banal story, fighting your way to the next checkpoint or gawping at the world around you.
There’s a lot of potential here for something special and we really wanted to champion something like Remember Me, that at least tries to break the mould in various ways with its ideas and memory remixing. But this feels like an awkward first step rather than a finished product. As it stands, Remember Me is a series of mediocre gameplay ideas stapled to a pretty, hollow shell.

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