by Christopher Coke
reviewed on PC
No to Exploration, Yes to Collectibles, cont.
The sad truth of Remember Me is that it is an incredibly linear game made up of invisible walls and selective traversal. Nearly all that you encounter is strictly defined and what isn't only serves to remind you of its squandered opportunities. Here is a world which is absolutely rich. Vendors hawk their wares, boxes are piled to rooftops with ladders and ledges and open windows galore, yet you can interact with nothing outside of your path. NPCs are completely non-interactable outside of cutscenes. Stand around for too long and you will notice their animation patterns repeat. As you travel, numerous platforms ripe for the climbing pop up but they cannot be climbed. Extra rooms appear in stunted alleyways, immaculately set but serving no purpose. There is a sense that Dontnod intended to do more but did not, that these things are but half drawn lines left as dead ends. There is a path you're meant to travel and you had better travel it now.
Despite the limited environments, there are a number of collectibles embedded into each region. Most of these are used for powering up your character's health and focus but others add lore entries to your Wikipedia-like journal. I refrain from using the word hidden here because most of these are stumbled upon with little effort. Those that remain are highlighted through conveniently placed tip screens. These indicators pop up whenever you're in range and, rather than hint at an item's location, simply show you a picture of its exact location. Since these screens are usually within 100-feet of the collectible, the challenge and satisfaction of finding those items is reduced to “just one more” along a set path. Collectibles in Remember Me, unlike any other game I've played, only serve to highlight just how limited exploration really is.
A Leap and a Punch
With discovery being so minimal, combat and traversal need to be stellar. Combat, indeed, is quite satisfying and heavily inspired by Rocksteady's Arkham games. While Remember Me plays fine with a keyboard and mouse, the limited attack/dodge scheme works best on a controller. Nilin is capable of inflicting a number of attacks, called Pressens, in progressively more complex combos. The effect of each is determined by which Pressen the player chooses to slot at each step in the chain, all accomplished through an in-menu Combo Lab. A standard Pressen will inflict damage or provide healing to Nilin, but Special Pressens can also be unlocked which multiply damage, link abilities, or shorten cooldowns. Inflicting and taking damage also builds up focus which can be used on special abilities, such as stuns, acrobatic attack chains, and a spam rifle. There is no counter-attack, so survival depends on dodging the conveniently telegraphed attacks. On the normal difficulty setting, combat is laughably easy and death usually occurs outside of combat from insta-kill enemies on guard duty. Combat, like traversal, is something you do but aren't necessarily challenged by.
The game's platforming is a dead fish. Like combat, it looks flashy; however, it assumes so little of the player as to border on insulting. Every platform is marked with a bright yellow arrow. There is never a question on where to go or what to do; you do as you're told and never any different. Indeed, it is impossible to fail a jump unless you completely ignore where you are being directed. Or, alternatively, climb into a hazard. It is amazing just how much these markers rob the experience. Platforming -feels- good, not unlike Crystal Dynamics' Tomb Raider, but marking the infallible path removes both risk and reward from the experience and leaves it empty and bland.
Remember Me isn't a bad game, but it could have been so much more than what it actually is. As it stands, it feels like the first effort of a fledgling studio at the big time, and it is. Viewed from another angle, Remember Me is a good first entry in what could be a great franchise. The foundations are strong. Dontnod has created a fantastic world with a proven combat system and platforming that is both flashy and functional. To meet its potential, each of these systems needs refinement. With a little less linearity, some easing of the hand-holding, and more focus to what works in the story, a follow-up could be fantastic. For now, Remember Me is simply a 'Good' way to spend ten hours.
Fun combat. Atmospheric world. Great attention to detail.
Extremely linear. Shallow platforming. Some silly writing.