by Christopher Coke
reviewed on PC
Rich, Immersive World
If asked to choose the most stand-out quality of the game, it would without a doubt be Neo-Paris. Here Dontnod presents a vision for the future that is both atmospheric and beautiful. The Paris of 2084 is one where computers have infiltrated every aspect of life, from holographic signage to neon-lit citadels and servile robots. The game pauses on its landscapes, acknowledging their spectacle. This is also true of the slum-lands, homes to the poor and disenfranchised, those who cannot afford modern technology or have become addicted to the intoxicating effects of memory abuse.
Neo-Paris is a land where memories can be bought and sold, commoditized and exploited by the Memoreyes corporation. The Errorists stand against them, proclaiming themselves liberators and justice-seekers. The protagonist, Nilin, is a member of this group, an elite agent known as a memory hunter. The opening of the game finds Nilin taken captive, her own memory violently taken from her. The sequence is powerful. As Nilin stumbles through the halls of the Memoreyes facility, she encounters empty-eyed civilians lining up for their own erasure; sorrowful prisoners locked away in tiny cells and made to witness the atrocities outside. There are also employees who herd men and women like cattle, heedless of the harms they inflict. It feels like a factory. Later when she sees bodies being loaded into coffins and ejected into the sewer, it feels like a concentration camp.
Nilin's journey is one of identity. Her path through the game is largely rooted in self-discovery but hints at retribution and, ultimately, redemption. In the opening of chapter three, we see her questioning her own morality. Does the end justify the means, even if innocent people must pay the price? Are there even such things as innocents in a world of haves and have-nots? Moments like these are poignant but also a little odd. The game undermines itself by raising mature, ethical quandaries against writing that is, at times, silly (see: leaperization). At its best, Remember Me creates a series of hooks that kept me playing until the end, but they never went deep enough. When the game was over or powered down, it was easy to leave and very little of it hung to me like a powerful story should do.
Remember Me features a wonderful and unique feature known as Memory Remixes. In these sequences, Nilin must infiltrate the memories of her opponents and alter their memories by changing specific elements in time, such as removing a restraint, for example. The user's mind then fills in the blanks to reinvent the memory. Do it right and their motivations might be changed entirely. These remixes are the second-most defining feature of the game but have the unintended side-effect of making you feel a little dirty. This is striking in the first instance when Nilin turns an enemy into a friend by making her believe her sick husband was already dead. The scene, as played out in memory, shows the attacker as a loving wife before wrenching him from her with an anguished, heart-wrenching cry. Remember Me fails to acknowledge that it even presents this new-found side of the enemy before moving forward as if all were well. Still, removed from the lack of follow-up, Remixes are fun, stylish, and wholly interesting.
No to Exploration, Yes to Collectibles
Remember Me is a game with an acute attention to detail. Everywhere you look, there are “extras.” The walls are graffitied, billboards flip their panels, and neon signs flicker and hum on damp walls. Levels often feature small asides, little rooms and apartments that feel lived in, as if the owner has just stepped out for you to come in. Enemies and NPCs have conversations that you can listen in on, radios feature newscasters describing your movements, and televisions show programs. Neo-Paris begs to be explored more than any game in recent memory but a disappointing lack of freedom makes that impossible.
Fun combat. Atmospheric world. Great attention to detail.
Extremely linear. Shallow platforming. Some silly writing.