by Christopher Coke
previewed on PC
Neon Lights of Squalor
Over this hardware generation, Capcom has taken flak for only publishing games with Eastern sensibilities. They have stayed within the familiar comfort of variation upon variation of Street Fighter, occasionally throwing out a game like Dragon’s Dogma, destined to become a cult classic but fail to hit critical or commercial acclaim. Remember Me is a unique entry in their repertoire and one of the last decade’s few developed outside of Japan. If not for the prominent logo preceding gameplay, one might be forgiven for missing the connection entirely. While published by the Eastern giant, Remember Me is being developed by Dontnod Entertainment in Paris, France. With its blend of Arkham-style combat and Assassin’s Creed-like parkour, and a narrative that is equal parts Minority Report and Inception, it might be the breath of fresh air Capcom needs.
The year is 2084. The setting is Paris, but the city of lights and romance we know today has been shattered. The cosmopolitan now revolves around Memorise, a corporation which exploded into industrializing success and broke the city in two: the gleaming, sky-breathing towers of the haves and the squalid, piecemeal shanty towns of the have-nots, scratchy areas where people lead meager lives beneath catwalks and steaming pipes, unable to see the stars for the neon glare of the world gone wrong. This new existence is borne from our very memories. These intrinsic pieces of self have become a form of currency thanks to Memorise; they can be bought, sold, traded, and manipulated. But manipulation is complicated and more than a little risky. Our very identities are shaped by our past. If someone were to change even a small detail, something as little as resetting an alarm on the day of a terrible accident could change whole courses, outlooks, and entire webs of lives.
The Memory Hunter
You awake as Nilin, an elite memory hunter, who returns to consciousness a hunted woman. In a former life, one she can no longer remember, Nilin was an agent for rebellion: a member of the Errorists, the rogue group fighting against Memorise’s abuses of power. But Memorise catches up with her. They wipe her memory and prepare to end the threat entirely, but she escapes through the sewers hiding in a floating coffin. Over the next several hours, she collects pieces of her memory and a newfound motivation to see Memorise in ashes.
One need look no further than the suffering underbelly of the city to garner the motivations of the Errorists, but it goes further. Living in memory is a tantalizing thought, but one which slowly degrades the brain and body of the user. Eventually they become instinctual husks of themselves, mutated in the flesh, and driven to insanity through Memorise’s careless disregard of human safety. Nilin fights many such creatures throughout the game. As a metaphor for addiction, it hits home.
Taking the High Road
By manipulating the memories of select targets, the Errorists want to take Memorise down and return to a better life. Reaching these targets involves navigating the city which blends artful parkour with careful platforming. Like Mirror’s Edge or Assassin’s Creed before it, players will free-run, leap, and climb to reach their destinations. It is unclear yet how much linearity will be present in the game, but this form of traversal gives players more options and a greater sense of freedom.