Remember Me begins with memory hunter Nilin in prison, her own memories stolen from her as she is set to have her memory wiped clean. Fortunately she is rescued by Edge, leader of the rebel movement who sets her on a path to reclaim her memories and try to make sense of what is really happening to the citizens of Neo-Paris.
The mechanics of Remember Me are akin to many other action adventure games, with basic platforming and some interesting combat. Both in theme and gameplay, it gives off a Beyond Good and Evil vibe. Nilin explores the linear streets of Neo-Paris with some impressive traversal skills that rival Ezio. The other half of the game involves engaging in fisticuffs with the local police force and the feral Leapers, people that have been tormented by brain implant technology called the Sensation Engine (Sensen).
The unique timing based combat of Remember Me sets it apart. Nilin begins with a very limited set of attacks, but more moves and combos are unlocked throughout the game. The Pressen system attributes certain effects to specific button combinations. Pressens are fighting moves that can augment Nilin's fighting styles. In order to use these moves, Nilin must earn and spend Procedural Mastering Power (PMP), which drops from fallen enemies. The longer combos used to dispatch enemies, the more PMP drops. Four types of pressens can be used: make Nilin’s attacks more powerful, restore health for the given attack, reduce cooldown of special abilities, and multiply the effects of the other pressens in the combo. The pressen system can be customized to suit playstyle or the needs of a certain encounter. Without pressens, Remember Me’s combat would fall below the genre standard as it is quite lackluster with limited options beyond basic punches and kicks.
Early battles give room to experiment with attacks and different combinations of pressens. Hitting the proper timing and activating pressens is satisfying and makes for some intricate rhythm-based combat. Practice up while you can because developer Dontnod isn’t afraid to throw increasing waves of enemies as the game progresses. The gradual introduction of new enemy types force a constant change to pressen combos, so be ready to tinker every so often. While the pressen system sets Remember Me apart, it is often hampered by misguided controls. Inputs not registering, and unpredictable movements will turn anyone off the combat and makes surviving the later levels quite difficult.
The platforming between combat sequences is a nice change of pace as Nilin covers an immense amount of territory through jumping, climbing, and swinging throughout the environment. It feels good to explore, but there isn’t really much to do other than sightsee and proceed to the next objective. Like the combat, the progression of the platforming leads itself down a dark path where small errors result in failure. The constant re-loading of checkpoints after death in combat and platforming becomes tiresome and often felt that it wasn’t my fault.
When Nilin isn’t ridding Neo-Paris of cops and sewer people or jumping from rooftop to rooftop, she’s engrossed in the memory remixing sequences. They are nothing more than simple puzzle sequences, where you move forward and backward like a video cassette. The goal is to find opportunities in the memory to change the sequence so that it alters the final outcome to Nilin’s liking. The presentation of these remixes is interesting, and helps to establish the characters in Remember Me. There are lessons to be learned and secrets to be found in these sequences, with the ultimate goal of uncovering the truth of a massive conspiracy stemming from the Memorize corporation. Even though the mechanics fall a little short, the story is intriguing and trying to piece together Nilin’s memories kept me going. The interesting world that Dontnod has built with intricate characters and beautiful environments give it life beyond the tiresome combat and platforming sections. Mechanics aside, Remember Me is a cool idea that should be explored by those looking for a platforming based beat em up with an emphasis on atmosphere, characters, and narrative.