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24 Reviews

Remember Me: Interactive

Find out what you think about this memory-knobbling curiosity

Remember Me has split opinions, scoring anywhere from harsh 4s to enthusiastic 8s. It's a game that defies a single number summary, thanks to moments of irreconcilable brilliance and stupidity. It deserves every score there is. It deserves an interactive review.

Mirror's Edge is .

The reason I ask is that while the two games are very different, Remember Me shares many of the strengths and flaws of the gleaming city; its thwarted, but identifiable ambition. Being a fan of Mirror's Edge means you can stomach a bit of over-earnest dialogue and inexplicable wrestling bosses, when there's a rich and vividly realised world on offer.

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Remember Me doesn't have the same clinical finesse of DICE's icy skyscrapers - it's set in the knotted slums and ornate boutiques of neo-Paris. But while the world itself is all intricate brickwork and submerged squalor, the Sensen augmented reality adds that slice of clean modernity. Crisp fonts snap into view as you walk in front of a shop. Holographic pictures are left for you, showing where nearby collectibles are.

The story is a sci-fi social satire: technology has reached a point where memories are recordable, transferable, and adjustable. Criminals are imprisoned with their memories erased, returned to them with their other possessions when they leave. One company finds a simply and entirely plausible way to dominate the world's memories - it lets you upload and share them, while (of course) granting the hosting company certain irrevocable rights in perpetuity. These two themes - corporate abuse of the human instinct to share and show off, and the idea that we'll cheerfully live in slums if you overlay a crisp holographic sheen onto the squalor - aren't bludgeoned home, which makes them doubly effective.

There's a lot of scope for annoying and easy twists with a memory based set-up like this, but Remember Me is admirably restrained when it comes to shock reversals and reveals - while still playing cleverly with the concepts. The augmented reality system works especially well when it flares into a glitchy, world-consuming boss battle.

I am not a gamer: I am .

So, I've banged on about how the design is great, even if the person who coded the camera angles seems oddly convinced that you probably don't want to see the vistas on offer. But this is a game for the tourist on the bus, not the off-road explorer. When you're doing the Tomb Raider platforming elements, the Sensen overlay appears constantly, telling you where to go. It's like taking your dog for a walk, and never letting him off the lead. That's fine: linear can be good. But the yellow arrows feel a bit like the game's rubbing your face in the lack of freedom.

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There is the occasional side-area, with a collectible scrap of town history or stat-boosting device. But this is a world that is enjoyed on a conveyor belt.

As far as combat goes, I prefer .

The combo system of Remember Me is extremely light. There are four combos, built out of Xs and Ys, and identified by their opening two moves. Begin with XX, and you have to press X again to finish off the three-hit combo. YX commits you to the five hit combo, YXYXY. Button-mashing won't work - each punch has to be timed to coincide with the connection of the previous attack. Combos are broken when you get hit, or change your target - something that can be annoying if you end up hitting someone else by accident.

The unusable empty sockets of these pre-defined combos are built up with Pressens. Unlocked by story progress and purchased with XP, there are four kinds of Pressen that you can plug into the combo slots. Power Pressens cause bonus damage, and can be used to break a guard. Healing Pressens cure Nilin as you strike - something that's a luxury at first, but becomes essential when you discover guards with electrified suits that damage you as you hit them. Chain Pressens are a bit of a cop-out, repeating and boosting the effect of the previous Pressen. Finally, Cooldown Pressens reduce the cooldown timers on your special moves, the S-Pressens.

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The further down a combo the Pressen is, the more its power is boosted. This provides an element of strategy - in theory. But painting from such a limited palette of Pressens leaves you with a number of self-evident combos. You can get by on a damage combo, a healing/cooldown combo, and a healing/damage combo for the guards with the electrified suits that damage you as you attack. That's not even using all four of your slots.

S-Pressens, powerful effects that you'll need to trigger in larger fights, valiantly attempt to open it up. Activating Rage drops you out of the combo system, and lets you free-chain punches. Rust In Pieces lets you possess a mechanical enemy. Sensen DOS stuns most units, and makes invisible units appear. Thing is, they suffer from the same self-evident call-and-response of your Pressens. See a mech? Rust In Pieces.

All complaints lodged, it is satisfying to land the first four hits of the maximum 8-hit combo, evade an incoming attack, then resume your combo from another angle. And in Dontnod's defence, it spends the game's moderately short life throwing every combination of enemies at you, and there's enough non-combative moments to break it all up.

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So this is a combat system that tries something new, with only moderate success. At this point, let's just enjoy the fact that DontNod has invented a world where the phrase "use your Sensen DOS S-Pressen" is a real sentence. You've got to admire that.

If I said "this Little Red Riding Hood's got a basket full of kick-ass", would you .

It's hard to tell where Remember Me is coming from with the dialogue and plot. Nilin is almost completely likeable and humane. But her actions cause great suffering and are only lightly questioned. She's also extremely Croftian in her accent and voice, at one point even saying "Come on, Nilin, you can do this." That was practically Lara Croft's catchphrase in her latest adventure.

But there's an even split between grit and terrific torrents of cheese: an insane military man reading nursery rhymes as he fires at you from a gunship. A boss who seems to be a former wrestler, in a rooftop encounter that feels like a homage to the very worst moment of Mirror's Edge.

And then there's a moment that's destined to become an isolated classic: when something unpleasant happens to Nilin's friend "Bad Request" , she slaps her palms on the glass panel and screams, simply: "Baaaad!". Is this a comedy? If it is, it's a strange and earnest one, without jokes. Is it badly written? Yes, but with moments of inexplicable quality.

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Originality is perfection.

That was kind of a leading question, wasn't it? I made you want to click "more important than", to by offering an alternative that seems unreasonably demanding and anti-creative.

Why am I resorting to such underhand tactics to get you to add one to the score? Because Remember Me has moments of novel brilliance. The Memory Remix segments aren't particularly challenging, or even puzzles in the real sense. They're more a fun way of tinkering with things, and seeing what happens. They do work perfectly well as a narrative device, and a change in pace. The combat system, which might appear strategically moribund to anyone with long experience of gaming, develops constantly throughout the game, which helps prevent you from becoming bored.

It's possible to argue that Remember Me isn't original, but lifted from sources as diverse as God Hand and the entirety of the 80s. It's possible to argue that, but it does make you sound like a bit of an annoying curmudgeon.

Anyway, I'm being defensive, and my 7/10-level fondness for Remember Me is showing. But this review isn't about me, it's about you. How did you score?

The verdict

  • A well-built world
  • Moments of decent exposition
  • Novel combat
  • Some fantastic new ideas
  • Nilin is mainly a strong lead
  • A very linear world
  • Moments of impossibly cheesy dialogue
  • Shallow combat
  • Some poorly-executed ideas
  • Nilin nonchalantly commits atrocities
7
Format
Xbox 360
Developer
Dontnod Entertainment
Publisher
Capcom
Genre
Action, Beat 'em Up

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