I walked out of a Remember Me preview session utterly bemused by what I had just witness. Having played about half the game, fours hours on easy, I stumbled onto a busy Melbourne street with a head full of questions and a burning desire to seek out one of the elusive local game journos for some back ‘n’ fourth as to what the hell just happened.
I never do that.
I think I killed a man destined to live. And I definitely made another defy fate by accidentally murdering his absconding girlfriend. That’s the power of remixing memories; of changing the course of history by tampering with seemingly insignificant objects.
Set in Neo-Paris in 2084, Remember Me follows Nilin, a freedom fighter living in a world where memories are sold by a megalomaniac corporation called Memorize -- and they’re as easy to buy as walking up to a vending machine.
I found the change of pace refreshing, as it pushed me to focus on executing combos with every attack, rather than resort to button-mashing when the heat was turned up.
Nilin is special because she possess the highly sought after ability to remix memories. Not everyone can change the future by altering remnants of the past. As society gets hooked on consuming memories they never experienced, Nilin embarks on a dangerous mission to remix the past and undo Memorize’s corruption of the mind.
But it all goes horribly wrong when all but one of the freedom fighters, Edge, are captured during their ambitious escapades and sent to prison, where memories are erased upon incarceration. Nilin, being of strong mind, requires multiple treatments to remove rebellious aspirations and uses all of her cunning to escape in the nick of time -- but not before partial amnesia deteriorates her sense of self-being.
Confused by her surroundings and following the guide of a familiar yet distant voice, Nilin stumbles into the slums of a Bladerunner-esque Paris (that I’m told is an accurate recreation), opening the door for the player to join a story that’s as much about self-discovery as saving the world and totally screwing innocent people inadvertently standing in the way of justice.
As much as I’d love to continue to skirt around the edges of spoiling the story, I can’t without bursting into the inappropriately lop-sided ramblings of a conspiracy theorist, as I was genuinely at a loss as to what was happening half the time, and just as I began to understand, Nilin’s world was torn apart.
Advancing this perplexing tale is the linear puzzle solving of Uncharted, the fearlessness of Tomb Raider and a more rhythmic rendition of the combat credited to Batman: Arkham. Nilin’s parkour approach to exploration has her scaling walls and leaping between buildings before hitting a roadblock forcing her to solve a serious conundrum to clear the path ahead. I actually got stuck a couple of times, even when the answer was right under my nose.
Combat is initially a little disorientating, but easy enough to pick up. Its foundations are built upon the well established kick, punch and counter-attack, but those alone won’t keep Nilin alive.
This is the future, remember?
Remember Me’s point of difference is instilling full control to create your own three, five and seven hit combos using Pressens -- different types of attacks -- in a Combo Lab.The Pressens system splits X and Y attacks (on Xbox 360) into four categories: damage, health, cooldown and chain.
The three hit combo, for example, could be made up of damage-damage-health -- if you execute the whole combo without being hit, Nilin will dish out damage twice, and then regain health with her third strike. The further a Pressen is embedded in the combo chain, the more powerful it becomes. In this case, health would be the most rewarding because it’s placed at the back. You’re entrusted full control to respec combos throughout the game, as more Pressens are unlocked and unique situations call for an emphasis on different abilities.
These combos are teamed with five special moves called S-Pressons, which drain energy from the Focus bar filled by executing combos. Most of these unleash significant damage, and seem to be essential against bosses that share being impervious to standard damage combos -- cooldown becomes essential as a means to reduce the time lock between special attacks.
It’s a spectacular blend of simplicity, smart tactics and almost total control given to the player. You’re not shoehorned into how you need to play, and my experience should theoretically be quite different to yours because we each devise our own combos.
It’s well-nigh impossible to convey the flow of Remember Me’s combat system and I empathise with your probable mystified confusion having just read my feeble attempt to articulate a difficult system to explain, but an easy one to adore.
It's slow in comparison to Batman or DmC, perhaps even boring if speed is all that kept you playing those brawlers, but I found the change of pace refreshing, as it pushed me to focus on executing combos with every attack, rather than resort to button-mashing when the heat was turned up.
However, jumping into the Combo Lab whenever you unlock a new Pressen or need to re-jig your skillset does become tiring, and the menu system is awkwardly designed for a game in serious danger of being forgotten. The side-effect of designing your own combos is they can be hard to remember, and it feels almost sacrilegious to change them once you’ve convinced yourself of a good thing. Even without knowledge of the second half of Nilin’s adventure, I’m confident my combo tampering will decrease as the game progresses and it becomes easier to ignore unlocks that probably won’t make all that much difference.
Speaking of which: the second half of the game will make or break what could be an amazing unconventional story. Remember Me’s opening stanza establishes an engrossing tale of crime and corruption, but it’s up to the middle and end to totally blow my mind -- and I hope it does.
Remember Me will be released in Australia on June 6 for Xbox 360, PlayStation 3 and PC.