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Remember Me Review: Beauty and Innovation Marred by Misogyny
Remember Me, developed by Dontnod Entertainment and published by Capcom, snuck up on me earlier this month. It’s a third-person action-adventure game which relies heavily on melee combat. From the outset, it seemed to be the full package, with stunning visuals, a fascinating female lead character, and a compelling story. But is it a game worth remembering, or a game you’d rather soon forget?
Platforms: PC, PS3 (Version Played), Xbox 360
Developer: Dontnod Entertainment
Genre: Button-Smashing Memory Mixer
Release Date: June 4, 2013
ESRB Rating: Mature
It’s the year 2084, and in Neo-Paris, Sensen is all the rage. It’s a way to share memories with other people, everything from beautiful things you want to share with your significant other, to storing memories before you lose them as you grow older. You play as Nilin, a memory hunter who is part of an underground organization bent on destroying Memorize, the company that created Sensen and controls the memory market. Nilin herself begins the game with amnesia, and is lead out of the prison facility by a voice on her communicator, that of Edge, the leader of the rebellion against Memorize.
There is so much to like about Remember Me. The combat system is intricate and innovative, with customizable parts that work with whatever style you prefer. As you fight enemies, you unlock Pressens, which are buttons that do different things. Well, really, it’s just Squares and Triangles, but each one has a different application. There are options for hitting harder, healing, and cooling down your special abilities faster, as well as one that ups anything it’s attached to in the chain.
Each combo is pre-set by the game. For example, the first combo is simply Square-Square-Square. The first one is set, but the other two can be anything that you choose to unlock – for example, the second Square in my series was to hit harder, and the third was a cooldown Square. So if I pulled that combination off correctly, I would hit harder with my second punch, and my cooldown would skip ten seconds on the third punch.
It sounds confusing, but once you hop into the combat system, it quickly becomes second nature. The S-Pressens are equally fascinating. They use up Focus, which can be built up with melee attacks. Once you’ve built up enough Focus, you can choose a special attack – even choosing two in a row if your Focus is built up high enough. There are several combos that work very well together, and many that quicken the occasionally tedious fights.
There’s plenty of climbing, platforming, and puzzle-solving, but what there is more than anything is combat. There are even some Quick Time Events snuck in there – don’t say I didn’t warn you. The most appealing aspect of the game was the memory remixing, in which you go into a person’s mind and change a memory in order to influence them into doing something for you. You rewind and fast forward through a memory and change small things in it, turning the outcome to your advantage. Nefarious? Absolutely. Actually, it’s quite a silly thing as well – if you change someone’s memory to think that someone is dead, wouldn’t they find out the truth pretty quickly as soon as they left you?
Plot holes aside, the story of Remember Me hit a theme so overused it was almost comical to see it in this futuristic story. While I ended up enjoying it, at first it felt so unbelievable that it actually took me out of the game, destroying the immersion I had built up. Once you warm up to the ideas and start interacting with more characters, that eases up a bit, and I was able to enjoy the rest of the story without too much incredulity.
Another neat item that can be categorized with the memory remixes are the Remembranes, in which you take another person’s memory and then use it to get through a puzzle. By activating their memory, you can find the correct path to get into a closed door, and then Synchronize (read: tap buttons quickly) to get the door to open. Some of the puzzles are very satisfying, which is a word I would use about a lot of the combat as well: when timed right, much of what happens in the game just feels good.
Collectibles abound in Remember Me, which is something the completionist will absolutely love – I know I did. You can find health and Focus upgrades, as well as Mnesist Memories, which give you background on the story. However, they are massive bricks of text, which can often fall into the TL;DR category.
For the most part, I enjoyed the game. In fact, the only real problem with Remember Me had nothing to do with the fights that could be repetitive, or the story that was somewhat anachronistic, but rather with some of what was said during combat. The first fight with soldiers left me with a bad taste in my mouth, as they repeatedly said condescending things about me being a “little girl,” and as they hit me, they would say things like “Yeah, you like that, don’t you?” It was disturbingly creepy, and made me uncomfortable more than once. Being constantly ganged up on by a group of men who are jeering things like “You’ll be sorry you came!” is something that should have been caught in testing – if they had any women testing the game at all. If it was a male character, such rape-like threats would never have been uttered.
I would say Remember Me is a good summer game to hold you over until the heavy hitters start coming out. It’s not very long – I finished the game in three sittings – and while it’s got a lot of neat collectibles, it’s not really robust enough to warrant additional playthroughs. But in today’s video game market, it’s one that is worth playing at least once – it is a beautiful and unique world that you should experience. While there are some things that turned me off to the game, I think it’s a good addition to your action-adventure library – but definitely not for $60. Wait until that price tag goes down, or rent it, unless you think your afternoons are worth spending that much money on a single game.
Review Disclosure: A review copy of Remember Me was provided by Capcom for the purposes of this review.
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