From Neo-Paris with Love

In a year full of sequels, reboots and tie-ins, it’s a bold move to release a brand new IP and an even bolder one if said IP is from a new studio. Yet that’s exactly what Capcom and DONTNOD have done with Remember Me, a game not quite like anything we’ve experienced before, yet polished enough to seem like it’s coming out of one of the major developers. As the title suggests, Remember Me deals in memory, taking place in a dystopian future where memories, something once taken for granted, are the root of crime, drugs, pleasure and punishment. It’s a mature take on a realistic future that features plenty of ass-kicking along the way.

“Well I remember, I remember don’t worry. How could I ever forget? It’s the first time, the last time, we ever met” is not a sentiment Nillin shares with Phil Collins. In fact, Nillin would be hard-pressed to remember that song’s epic solo after she was captured, imprisoned and had her memory completely wiped. Once a memory hunter, Nillin cannot remember anything until Edge, leader of resistance group The Errorists, helps spring her out. Nillin must now help Edge complete his mission and find the key to unlocking her lost memories. Taking place in Neo-Paris 2084, the world is a much different place. Population has exploded and civil wars have caused destruction and unrest amongst the citizens. The world is separated into two classes: beautiful modern cities and repulsive slums below them that are full of mutated creatures known as Reapers.

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While some futuristic sci-fi deal in bombs and others in drugs, Remember Me puts the focus squarely on memory. Technology known as SENSEN has been introduced to the world that allows memories to be digitized, bought, sold and traded. As such, memories have now become one of the world’s top commodities, with people trying to escape from the harsh reality of life through fragments of a better time. While the successful have no need to constantly delve into memories, some of the poor have become addicted to them, abusing them so much that they’ve warped their brains and transformed into the aforementioned Reaper creatures. Prisons have even utilized the technology to ensure safer convicts, wiping inmates memories upon committal to remove not only aggressiveness and instincts for revenge, but the idea that there is a life outside of its walls. Robots float around with (sketchy) restaurant menus and androids are common throughout environments that act as slaves and prostitutes.

Intriguing as the story may be, the most unique elements of Remember Me rest squarely with the gameplay. Instead of button mashing, a unique combat system is introduced known as the “Combo Lab,” allowing customizable combos to assist with battle. Instead of being able to place moves in any order, however, there are four pre-set combos that allow varying Pressens to be placed inside. There are four categories of Pressens, each introduced at various intervals throughout the game. Regen regenerate health, Power deals heavy damage and triggers finishing moves, Cooldown reduces S-Pressen cooldown times and Chain duplicates the effect of the previous Pressen. While combos are pre-set, strategy must be used to ensure their maximum effectiveness. You could simply have an even mixture in combos or assign each combo to focus on a certain effect, memorizing which to use in your current situation.

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About a quarter through the game, the Senwheel becomes available that begins to introduce S-Pressens, activated by the click of a button. S-Pressens are not linked to the Combo Lab, but are activated by successfully gaining “Focus” from combos. Five different S-Pressens will eventually become available; Fury deals a large amount of damage in a button-mashing flurry from enemy to enemy, D.O.S stuns all enemies and reveals invisible enemies, Camo makes Nillin invisible and lets her instantly overload (an insta-kill finishing move) enemies, Logic Bomb explodes enemies within range and R.I.P turns all robots into allies who instantly start attacking their former comrades. All of the S-Pressens are immensely helpful, so much so that some bosses require their use to be defeated. As such, it makes using the Cooldown Pressen in combos essential to remain competitive during the tougher portions of the game.

While nothing quite like the Combo Lab has ever been implemented in a game before, the creative centerpiece of Remember Me is certainly the Memory Remixes. These allow Nillin to be the mastermind of somebody’s memories, changing what they perceive to be reality. After watching a target’s memory play out as it happened, you can then rewind throughout the sequence looking for glitches. Glitches appear for just a split-second and can be seen on the map and felt via controller vibrations. Memory remixes tend to have about 5-10 glitches, with each one changing the outcome. Dropping a beer bottle on the ground but not moving an end table, for instance, will play out differently than if just one of those were done, leading to multiple branching paths with only one correct outcome. In the two memory remixes we experienced, one Bounty Hunter Olga Sedova and the other Frank Forlan, the desired outcome lead to tragedy, having Nillin question if the end justifies the means. With just four sequences throughout, the main problem this feature faces is its infrequency, as they’re a wholly enjoyable component of gameplay.

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It may not have a “III” or a “Director’s Cut” after its name, but Remember Me’s array of features prove that the video game idea well has yet to go dry. With user-created combos, an intriguing story and memory remixing, it’s sure to be an experience you won’t soon forget. While the game’s length and limited amount of features is a bit worrisome, we enjoyed our time in Neo-Paris and can’t wait to see just how far the rabbit hole goes come June.

To see everything in action, make sure to check out nearly an hour’s worth of exclusive video content right here.