Sunday, February 1, 2015

Remember Me

I recall seeing a trailer for Remember Me before the game's release and thinking that it looked pretty interesting -- a more combat-oriented Mirror's Edge with a cool futuristic setting. Then the game came out and the reviews were not overly positive. Even so, I eventually bought it myself from a Steam sale.

Beautiful and detailed world

The world design is Remember Me's strongest suit without a doubt. Everything in the game world speaks of a strong vision behind it. The areas are very detailed and truly faithfully to the concept art (that can be unlocked via collectibles and then admired in the game's gallery).

For some reason, the developers thought it would be a good idea to hide the beautiful world behind a grain filter similar to Mass Effect. And unlike in ME, there is no option to turn the grain off. Unreal Engine 3 has advanced quite a bit since those days, and Remember Me by no means needs a filter to hide rough edges. Luckily there is a mod to remove the grain and the game looks quite a bit sharper and prettier thanks to it. (While you are it, you should also rename or delete the intro video files as they are not skippable and you otherwise have to rewatch them every time the game is launched.)

Storing and sharing of memories is a cool concept, as is augmented reality the implants in the game enable. At least I assume all the floating signs and visual effects are created by some implant – I did not read all of the game's lore texts. I think Remember Me could have tied more gameplay to the stuff, though. The four memory remix scenes probably took a lot of work to create, and while they are fairly neat, maybe some smaller scale stuff would have been nice too.

Exceptional music

One important part in creating a game's feel is the soundtrack. And Remember Me has a great one, composed by Olivier Deriviere. It is an orchestral score that is (partly) mixed into some type of electronic music, particularly in the combat themes. There seemed to be a dynamic element to it as well; successfully executing a combo adds layers to the playing track. The music really fits the game.

Dull, yet difficult, gameplay

It is as if the world was created first and then they tried to fit the actual game into it afterwards. Out came a completely linear tube run experience with occasional cul-de-sacs for collectibles. One could say the game is like a painting; pretty to look at but boring to interact with.

At least there is combat. Too bad the combat is not great either. You attack enemies with different punch/kick combos using two buttons. The attacks can have different effects and you get to build the combo compositions yourself. That sounds interesting but for some reasons ends up being pretty dull in practice. The five special moves you unlock throughout the game, S-Pressens, are truly awesome, however.

I have seen people compare the combat system to the one of the Batman games, and of course say they do it better. But I sure do doubt if I can like them if the combat is anything like Remember Me's. I would rather just hack enemies with sweeping hack and slash attacks rather than be locked into a single enemy at a time, trying to time button presses and watch out for that enemy attack indicator to hit the dodge key in time.

I found the game's combat to be very challenging. Only towards the end of the game I started to get the combos off reliably. And only up to the medium length combos – I think I did not even once succeed at fully executing the longest ones. The point of failure always ended up being the moment you have to dodge an attack from another enemy. You can continue the combo after it but I very rarely managed to do so.

There are a couple of tricky enemy types in the game. The elite enforces have damage reflection. The obvious answer was to use the healing pressens and eventually I learned to deal with the enforces. The other, more annoying of the two are the stranglers that can cloak, requiring you to hit a light source in the environment or use the area effect stun S-Pressen.

I got stuck in couple fights for a while. According to Steam, I finished the game in 16 hours, and I would dare to guess that at least two hours of that were spent on redoing same sections. The trickiest one was definitely the encounter with Johnny Greenteeth, which I had to retry multiple times. The worst thing was that he is apparently considered only a mid-boss as you later fight two of them at once!

Do not kill the second mourner if there are prowlers left and stunned by Sensen DOS. The game will fail to consider the fight over and you will have to do it again. (Can probably happen in the fight versus Greenteeth as well.) I found this the hard way. Redoing the double mourner fight sure was painful.

Best played with familiar peripherals

I recently bought a controller since so many games these days are lazy console ports with poor mouse and keyboard support. Remember Me could maybe be considered as one (menus have no cursor – the mouse simulates an analog stick), although the actual game works fine with kb/m. And it is in fact probably best played with kb/m if they are your preferred input method.

This was the first time I have even held the Xbox 360 controller in my hands. It definitely added an additional layer of challenge but I decided to stick with it. Although I had to momentarily switch to kb/m when I had heard "Oh, my, Nilin! What small, blunt teeth you have!" for the umpteenth time at a part where you need to escape a guy in an assault helicopter and the floor is breaking beneath you. (Nailed it on my first try after switching.)

All the boss fights are finished with QTEs. While simple, I failed at each of them at least once due to the controller being so strange to me. Luckily the sequences are always the same and I could do them by memory when retrying.

It might be worth a mention that initially when playing with the controller, the game would start hiccuping and freezing. But I think it was not related to the game at all, as all the issues disappeared after I updated the controller's drivers.

The game does not really have any replay value unless you want to grab missed collectibles and/or achievements. I did miss a whole bunch of those but as the combat is what it is, I think I will leave Remember Me as a once in a lifetime experience.


The game's lack of success evidently almost lead to Dontnod Entertainment's bankruptcy but they were saved by Square Enix. The result of that cooperation, Life Is Strange, just came out. It is described as an "episodic interactive drama graphic adventure" game. To me, that sounds something that fits the studio well, and what they probably should have done with Remember Me in the first place.

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