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Old 06-15-2013, 06:14 PM   #1
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Arrow Please rate this review: Remember Me

We'll Always Have Paris

HIGH The story turn during the break in at Memorize

LOW Nothing worse than the guy giving you instructions on the radio for the whole game who sounds tired and pouty.

WTF not being able to pull off a 6-hit combo no matter what I did.

I was fascinated by this game's high concept design and story elements for some months leading up to it's release. The visuals had the polish of Syd Mead's Blade Runner styling, and the gameplay looked to be borrowing from the better parts of Assassin's Creed and the Longest Journey.

I found the idea of memory swapping being used as a metaphor for the sublimation of personal information and identity on the web a terrific place to kick off a story. The designers at Dontnod admitted that Facebook and it's effect on culture were a shaping influence n their work. I was hooked.

Controversy over the difficulty in finding a publisher left Remember Me looking like it wouldn't find a home outside of Europe. The statements that big publishers didn't want to risk money on a game with a female protagonist left me feeling depressed. When the game was released, early reviews were lukewarm, and I wondered if the controversy had been ginned up to get attention. At this point I was ready to skip purchasing it altogether, when I reminded myself I was basing my decision on criticism instead of my own feelings and expectations, and I like to support art that intrigues me, and Remember Me did, so I picked it up on Steam.

I heard Brad Gallaway mention on Twitter, and I would second a comparison to Enslaved:Odyssey to the West, another science fiction platform brawler, with nice art design. I would say that Remember Me has a better story and less enjoyable combat.

There is a simple X/Y combo system that allows you to plug in different effects for each hit... damage, cooldown for special abilities, and healing. In theory, it sounds fine, in practice, my tendency was to button mash and no amount of studying the fight choreography made me time my presses any better. I never felt like I was progressing with the combat, and the repeating enemy types didn't help this feeling.

There are different tactics to use on different enemies; knocking wall crawlers to the ground, shooting unshielded robots to expose weak points, and so on. It was enjoyable in short bursts, but more than once I felt like I was playing a souped-up version of Square's 'the Bouncer'. That's not a good thing, to me. Enslaved, for the shallowness of it's combat, at least had a satisfying feeling of immersion, of smashing things with the club. I never felt like I was connecting in Remember Me.

At other times I felt like I was playing Final Fantasy XIII, running down beautiful, highly stylized corridors without being able to interact with much of anything. There were doors to open and some puzzle design involving platforms and carts, and also a lockpick that can only open one door at a time by swapping energy from door to door. In this way, forcing you to progress through certain areas in a certain way, but this lockpick was never really utilized more than one level. It felt like a loose end.

The worst issue for me was the nagging exposition dumps over a radio from the mysterious Errorist leader Edge.. voiced by Nathan Nolan, the biggest letdown in the game. Had he voiced the character quietly and unemotionally, it would have worked so much better than the pouty, shouty way he did it. Kezia Burrough's voicing of Nilin, on the other hand, is terrific. The chapter starts where Nilin talks about fate and her next objective and where her loyalty lies as she stalks a Matrix-y void are the best I've heard in this genre, maybe ever. It's unfortunate the frustrating chasm in voice acting between the 2 leads plagues the whole English translation. Playing the game in French might be a better option. Just saying.

The musical score by Olivier Deriviere, is very strong, and uses glitchy stuttering breaks within the framework of an orchestral score to suggest the discontinuity of the main character's presence to great effect.

The heart of Remember Me are the memory remix segments, which punctuate the later chapters of the game, and ultimately center on one critical moment, and this I found fascinating from a dramatic standpoint. That is, in a game like Heavy Rain, revisiting a scene to try something different invalidated your past experience and made the game feel weaker as an experience. In Remember Me, the memory changes you inflict on others are scripted, yet they cause paradigm shifts in the central characters relationships to eachother. This is the core theme; that healing trauma by erasing memories has made the world a nightmare, and erased the heroine from existence. Everything Nilin does in the game revalidates and reintegrates herself back into her own life. This is a different and welcome kind of empowerment dynamic. I really cared about the changes that occurred in her and the antagonists, because it was all character development in the direction of warmth and connectedness, and it felt very satisfying to reach the end.

A perfect game? Not at all. Fascinating and worthy for the attempt? Definitely. I will keep an eye on Dontnod.

Purchased on Steam, played on PC with XBox 360 gamepad. Completed one time on easy level, approx 9 hours.
Some strong language and violence, not bloody, but disturbing dramatic contexts in the cutscenes, focus on terrorism.
Game includes subtitles in several languages, and imminent enemy attacks are highlighted.

Last edited by RandomRob; 06-15-2013 at 06:18 PM.
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