Remember Me

Posted by Kromey at 9:01pm Dec 31 '13
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Short version: Remember Me is a fun game that tells an incredibly compelling story. It has its drawbacks, but overall it easily earns 4/5 from me -- do yourself a favor, buy this game!

And let me say up front that this review, while it will touch on some specifics of the game, will be spoiler-free. So, read away without fear of having the story spoiled for you!

First, let me get this bit out of the way: I beat it in under 10 hours; someone with a surer hand for the controls and a stronger aptitude for the combat (I can't tell you how many times I lost a fight and had to restart) can beat this in 8 hours or less without missing a thing. Some would call this short, but for a non-open world, non-RPG I don't have any issue with this amount of content.

Now that that's out of the way, Remember Me is, as I said, entertaining, and it tells a very compelling story. The game's combat is fluid, and the quasi-customizable combos give you some control over your style and how you play it out.

Combat controls are pretty simple -- you have a jump key that, when used in tandem with a direction, gives you a very nimble dodge. Coupled with this, left click punches, while right click kicks. Combos are simply fixed sequences of punches and/or kicks, and what effect you choose to associate with them -- whether it's extra damage, health regeneration, or ability cooldown -- is augmented by how far down the combo it comes.

In addition to this, you also have several unique abilities that you unlock as the game progresses, each one giving you incredibly powerful potential in combat. They each have long cooldown timers, however, and further rely on a resource the game calls "Focus", which you fill up by -- what else? -- hitting your enemies.

The game forces you to vary your tactics, by way of presenting you with enemies that are immune to all but certain types of attacks. Most bosses are only vulnerable to -- or only made vulnerable by -- certain abilities, and then you're forced to deal with wave after wave of mooks until the cooldown expires and you can go after the boss again. While there are a few times where this feels contrived and forced -- the sheer number of enemies flat out immune to your stun, for example, or the all-too-common "Elite Enforcer" that causes damage to you each time you hit him -- overall it feels like a good method of getting you to stretch your limits and spread your wings into tactics and strategies you might otherwise never have considered.

Now let me talk about the story. As I said, it's compelling. It's so well done, in fact, that at one point I simply sat and stared at my screen when the story lead me to one of the most deeply conflicted moral dilemmas I've ever seen in any game, bar none. Now don't misunderstand, this is not a game where you get to make moral decisions that ultimately have no impact beyond giving you the "good" ending or the "bad" ending; rather, this game sets out to tell one story, and it brings you along as the story is unfolded. You do, however, feel the moral agony of your character as she is forced to sacrifice principles for the greater good. And no game has ever had me crying so hard over the outcomes of my choices.

One of the advertised features of this game is altering your enemies' memory. While this is vastly unrealized potential (more on that later), the execution is brilliant. One moment you're struggling with a bounty hunter who has a knife to your throat, the next you're inside her head, replaying, altering, and re-altering her memory of past events. On the one hand it gives your enemies a depth of character they otherwise never would have had ("Meh, this bounty hunter's just after me for the money-- Oh. Oh! Shit. Now I almost want her to bring me in!"), and on the other it presents you with a stunningly powerful ability with deeply disturbing moral ramifications -- ramifications which, I might add, are not only addressed by the story, but are central to its resolution.

There are, unfortunately, only 4 times you alter ("remix", as the game calls it) people's memories. While there's little moral outrage in the second, the first and third not only bring forth stark realizations, I truly felt sick inside at what I had just done to these people; it's the fourth, however, that just had me break down crying when I saw the objective I had to accomplish inside his head. To say nothing of how I felt after.

Let me now go into the cons of this game:

For starters, the maps are ridiculously linear, to the point that when you're faced with a branching path you know right away that there's a "hidden" item to be picked up down one of them. Additionally, the game seems to pride itself on its almost-free-running-esque style platforming, but this is actually its weakest point, as again you're given a very linear path that is literally lit up for you by your HUD. The effect is that it serves as little more than time-filler, and an excuse for the otherwise merely annoying camera to oftentimes become infuriating.

About the camera: It's terrible. If all you want to do is rotate the camera around your character, then you're set. If you want to raise or lower the angle of it, however, your Y-axis controls are severely handicapped, to the point that it takes four times as much mouse movement for half the camera movement. While I normally move the camera all around in this type of game, I found myself regularly forcing it into the plane I wanted and then just rotating as necessary. It gets worse in several of the platforming sequences, when you get stuck with a fixed camera that, because of its angle, suddenly makes your controls behave in strange and bizarre ways -- the usual WASD controls suddenly have you crawling backwards when you strafe left, or leaping forwards when you press back, or all kinds of stupidly arbitrary -- and oftentimes inconsistent! -- changed behavior.

My biggest gripe with the game, however, was the combat, or rather what type of combat it turned out to be. When I first heard about this game, I was fascinated by the idea of altering and otherwise using my enemies' memories as the method of combat. This is not, however, what you do -- you're the surprisingly nimble "memory hunter" who excels in punches and kicks, and that's 98% of how you deal with enemies. Only 4 times in the entire game do you actually alter memories, and while the way it's done is brilliant the shortage of actual memory-based combat is quite disappointing.

Bottom line, however, is that this is a game well worth playing. Do yourself a huge favor and pick up a copy.

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