6.26.2013

GVN Review: Remember Me

 
Developer: Dontnod Entertainment
Publisher: Capcom
Released: June 4th, 2013
 
Remember Me is quite possibly one of the most stylish and unique game that I have experienced in quite some time.  Remember me finally caught my attention when I saw gameplay footage that was released by Dontnod, the game's developer.  What they created was a game that involved a good balance of combat mixed in with platforming in a game with a setting similar to a cyber punk, Bladerunner setting.  Remember Me has amazing graphics, excellent voice acting, a beautiful world, and a good combat system all rolled up together.  However it is marred by some small hindrances like questionable controls, limited immersive experience, an inconsistent character driven plot, game length and little replay value.

Remember Me's setting takes place in a not to far off future of Neo-Paris.  It starts off with our heroine Nilin resisting a memory wipe treatment.  After her doctor leaves, she is instructed by a mysterious being called Edge, on where to go for escape.  Along the way Nilin is told by Edge she is a Memory Hunter and that she is part of an underground movement called the Errorists who is trying to undermine the overgrowing presence of Sensen and Memorize.
 
Sensen is a product of Memorize which allow everyone to alter their memories, purging the bad and replacing them with more delightful ones.  Sensen also allows for anyone to receive or take the memories of other people.  However there is a dark side to Memorize which is found through their dangerous experiments that eventually drive people mad and dumping them onto the underworld of Neo-Paris.  Those unfortunate souls end up becoming Leapers, babbling crazed humans that attack anyone that they can cypher fresh memories from.
 
As Nilin you will travel through the desolate underworld of Neo-Paris and it's high class society to try and take down the leaders of Memorize.  No matter where you are the world is brimming with a mixture of excitement and despair.  The underworld is decrepit, full of sorrowful and hopelessness, and crawling with danger.  The higher class, so-called more civilized part of Neo-Paris is a sight to behold flowing with gorgeous architecture, busy streets full of people shopping or sightseeing and not a care in the world. 
 
The holographic projections that are scattered throughout the game give off a level of immersion I've never really experienced before.  Deus Ex Human Revolution is the closet game I can think of that comes close to this level of unique presentation.  And just like Human Revolution, Remember Me is obsessed with a strong color presence, in this case lots of orange and white.  Stores and vendors project images like billboards for promotion  It's a gorgeous world and full of amazing sights that begs for exploration.
 
The game in general draws heavy influence from George Orwell 1984 and you can see how it is adapted in relation to the game's central theme of memory alteration.  As we follow Nilin throughout the world of Neo-Paris, her conversations with Edge show us how such a device of mind alteration can easily leave the world in ruin not to mention the potential for being used as a weapon.
 
The plot does have a few good twists to it, but unfortunately the rest of the game is predictable and kind of standard.  As a character, Nilin is a very driven person no matter the cause.  She is a strong willed and focus character but shows flaws and at times, doubts what she is doing to be the right thing.  The writers did an excellent job of connecting her with the player engaging her with narratives between each chapter putting into focus the conflicts arising in her mind.  She is also voiced brilliantly by Kezia Burrows, whom does an excellent job of executing all of Nilin's emotions. 
 
Remember Me's supporting cast unfortunately don't carry themselves as well as Nilin and are quite the mixed bag.  This is mainly to do some of the weaker spots of the story but while most have a weak delivery, they don't exactly hurt the plot as much as you would think.  With exception to Edge and Scylla Cartier-Wells, and a psychotic Police officer, all other character have small or one off moments in the game which don't really allow for much of a connection to be built upon.  Edge is generally the other main character in the game but he is only a guiding voice until the very end.
 
The game's plot is heavily character driver and it's really a shame they didn't put more time to develop most of the one off personalities.  Now the two biggest moments in the game's plot revolve around an encounter with Mrs. Cartier Wells and finally meeting the enigmatic Edge.  Only the plot twist involving Mrs. Cartier-Wells seems to provide any kind of real revelation in moving the plot forward.  Meeting Edge at the end of the game was a mixed bag as I predicted the scenario of which how we would meet but at least there was a nice twist at the end with a bit of deus ex machina.
 
One of the great parts to Remember Me was it's musical track which was composed of by Olivier Derivière.  Olivier Derivière has written musical tracks for other games like Obscure  and it's sequel.  While Olivier is more classically driven with his music he took a lightly different approach with Remember Me's tracks.  The mix-up of classical and electronic definitely fits the tone of the world.
 
Now while I have already raved about how gorgeous the world of Remember Me is, I do want to touch some more of it's graphical amazement.  Aside from the game's great art direction, it truly is one of the most vibrant and colorful world I have had the pleasure of venturing through.  All the textures are remarkable with varying degrees.  In the upper world the buildings are clean and and majestic while the underworld of Neo-Paris is rightfully rundown and dirty.   Places like the sewers and the La Bastille prison facility are full of machinery and great dynamic lighting effects to help improve their atmosphere.
 
Other places like the inner workings of big office buildings seem to have a more boring approach however.  Their mostly white walls with glass floors and lights and holographic billboards scattered throughout.  It isn't until the entire city goes to hell that they seem to get a little life in them with the amount of added debris, destruction, and even barricades scattered throughout.
 
The best looking environments in the game however are when you are performing a memory remix or doing battle with a boss in a virtual reality world.  Here's the minds at Dontnod took charge and showed off some of the most vibrant and dynamic areas in the game.  You can see the floors shifting and mold as you move around during a boss battle.  The environments are overflowing with the aforementioned White and Orange color schemes and while that sounds like a boring combination, it oddly enough works and carries a sense of unique style. 
 
The mechanical inhabitants of Remember Me are also well designed and give off a vibe that they definitely are a product of the world they reside in.  You have androids and drones littered throughout the world performing various tasks.  The androids all look alike with exception of difference in color to their exoskeleton.  You can see wonderful detail put in to each and everyone of them with wires running up their necks and the amount of pistons and gears shifting in their legs as they move.  The towering assault androids that hunt you are some of the most well made creations in the game.  They tend to use holographic teeth along with roaring to intimidate and they show lots of damage detail as your fight with them progresses.
 
The human populous that you run past or meet throughout the game are all uniquely designed as well.  It's a shame however that you only get to see some of the great looking character designs only once or twice during the entire game.  I would have loved to have done battle again with Kid Xmas, who I found to be one of the more memorable cast members because I felt he had a great design that fit with his personality.  A big heavy hitting brute that is always looking for the spotlight. 
 
Our heroine, Nilin is probably one of the best designed females in gaming history.  She has a great sense of style and an athletic build that is definitely believable with the amount of acrobatics she performs.  Her clothing looks like a variation of something Han Solo would wear but tailor made for a woman.  What makes her most unique is that she is of mixed race decent, half black, half Caucasian.  To be honest I think trying to design a female of mixed race is so much harder than designing a mixed race male lead, and I believe Dontnod pulled it off perfectly.
 
Other areas of Remember Me's graphics that stand out are the special effects you see scattered everywhere.  During combat you can see data streams that connect certain enemies together, giving the leader a glowing shield to protect them.  As you take damage you can see the screen glitching like a dirty Nintendo cartridge.  And you have the memory overload attacks that look like incredibly violent explosions shooting forth from an enemies head.
 
Now gameplay wise, Remember Me is a fully loaded mixed bag.  On one hand you have some great ideas like the Memory Remix segments, boss battles, custom combos and decent combat.  On the other you have some questionable controls, standard fair platforming, and the memory remix segments.  There are even elements of an RPG system here where you can accrue experience points to unlock more attacks for combos, find cases throughout the game to increase your health, or learn new abilities as the story progresses.
 
Since it fits in both categories I will divulge about the Memory Remix portions of the which.  This concept is what the game is truly all about, going into someone's head and altering their memories.  Here we are given an event that once we watch through it, we have to alter by modifying certain elements in the memory.  We can remove a cup holder, unlock someone's restraints, or even make a vacuum cleaner malfunction to achieve the game's goal.  It's one of the few consistent puzzles in the game and they are incredibly creative and fun to figure out.  My only complaint however is that there are only four remix segments in the game.  If they were able to squeeze maybe a couple more into the game, it would have helped increase the length of Remember Me in a positive way.  While I enjoyed them, I am disappointed that there just wasn't more of these moments.
 
Some of the good elements of Remember Me stem from its robust combat and leveling system.  As you go through the game you will have to battle off hoards soldiers, droids and leapers who all have their own objectives for stopping Nilin in her tracks.  The combat engine is extremely unique because it offers you the ability to learn new attacks and to put together your own combos.  Each attack you unlock comes in one of four variation with their own unique properties like combo chaining for extra damage, regaining health or landing a hit that can make an enemy open to attacks.
 
You also gain some unique abilities like the Sensen Pressens and a projectile weapon that can double for door opener or moving various objects.  The Sensen Pressens are 5 unique abilities you gain as you progress through the game which give you unique abilities like invisibility, a sticky bomb, and increasing your strength.  You can use these after you build up enough meter with your custom combos giving you the ability to start whaling on your foes. The projectile weapon as mentioned has some abilities that can be used outside of combat.  This more or less plays into the other weaker puzzle elements in the game but more on this in a bit.
 
Other elements of combat revolve around dodging, using your environment and trying to reveal enemy weakness to get the upper hand.  You will find yourself in multiple situations that actually require you to think of your feet as the enemies start to become a bit more difficult and in greater numbers.  You'll find yourself engaging invisible leapers that can only be seen when you activate a light source.  There are some soldiers that have force feedback shields making them difficult to take on head first forcing you to either suck it up at throw down or look for alternative approaches.
 
One of my favorite moments in Remember Me comes from the enormous boss battles.  While there are only a small handful of these, this is where the game's true challenge is held.  You have unique boss encounters like Kid Xmas and Johnny Greenteeth that offer a good challenge.  You also have very memorable moments like the battle with Madame fighting in her virtual reality arena.
 
Outside of combat is where Remember Me starts to feel like a by the numbers platformer.  You have to ability to scale buildings by climbing and jumping from ledge to ledge.  You have some minor puzzle solving to perform but honestly they are incredibly weak.   Not once did I find myself stumped or contemplating for more than a few seconds when trying to solve some riddles to progress.  Once you are done you then continue down your linear set path.
 
Now here is where one of the biggest issues I have with Remember Me rears its ugly head.  I am upset that Remember Me doesn't allow for any exploration whatsoever.  The game follows a linear set path to follow with no alternative routes or deviations.  There is the occasional branch path here and there that has a hidden item for you to collect, but aside from that short venture, it's back to the true path.  Remember Me constantly throws in your face how fascinating the world is and its quite disappointing that you cannot delve deeper into the game's world.
 
One of the unfortunate results of not allowing for further exploration leads into another issue with Remember me, it's length.  The game is a brisk eight hour romp, easily beatable in a day's time.  The game's length can be extended revisiting each completed and hunting down the hidden SAT cases or Scaramechs.  All of which are easily found via a visual billboard or listening for a specific sound but to be honest, all of these are generally in plan site and easily accessible..  You can even increase the game's difficulty for those that realize the normal settings were ridiculously easy.
 
One of my final complaints about Remember Me are it's controls.  At times the game controls fine in both platforming and combat but there are moments where they go wrong.  During moments of climbing or scaffolding around buildings and ledge jumping I have found myself dying from multiple misjumps because I would press the directions I thought was the right way to jump.  There's also moments in combat where I attempt to dodge an enemy only to have Nilin jump into a sea of enemies and get pounded on.  My final complaint is the camera system which in this day and age is a crime.  At times I have a hard time maneuvering it to show me the environment and at other times it impedes my ability to see where I am going.  These issues feel like things that should've been given more polish but for whatever reason just seem to be neglected.
 
Overall however, I found Remember Me to still be an enjoyable game despite its many flaws.  I would've loved it to have been longer. I would have loved it to have had more for me to explore. I would have loved to have had more of those Memory Remix segments.  I would've loved more content in general.  However it did do a lot of things right that I enjoyed immensely.  The combat is very involved and unique, preventing Remember Me from becoming a button masher.  The story while flawed is still strong enough because of our Heroine, Nilin.
 
My final thoughts on Remember Me is that its a definite rental because I think there is enough here for anyone to enjoy.  I really can't justify purchasing a game that feels unpolished in some areas and inadequate in others.  However, Remember Me does have enough going for it to keep a gamer involved for it's short journey.

+Gorgeous game with lots of style
+Nilin is one of the best and strongest female leads in a long time
+Combat is fun and unique
+Memory Remix segments were incredibly unique
+Story is good even when it's predictable
+Good musical score
-No true replay value upon completion
-Not enough of the world to explore
-Short gaming experience
-Only 4 Memory Remix scenarios
-Suspect controls
Final Grade: C+

1 comment:

chansara said...

You're the best to share us about this redesign. Trust you won't get tired on making posts as enlightening as this. motu patlu games