Today; is tomorrow’s memory.
Tomorrow is today’s dream.
We anticipate the future.
We celebrate the past.
And we do it all; today.
Speaking as gamers; we spend a lot of our time looking forward and looking back. We don’t just accept today for what it is; no. Instead we ask; is today the day we’ve been dreaming of? Will we remember today; tomorrow? Well, mostly, that’s up to the games. Games; like Remember Me.
The result of almost five years hard work, Remember Me is the debut game from French developer DONTNOD. It’s a sci-fi, third person, 3D beat-em-up; one we’ve been anticipating for a very long time. Why? Well, just look at it! From the original concept art to the finished game – Remember Me is stunning to behold. The Neo-Paris of 2084 that DONTNOD have created is beautiful; rich in both character and detail. It’s an epic blend of traditional and futuristic architecture, lit with neon and hidden beneath a dense fog of exhaust. All at once, it’s streets evoke memories of classic cinematic sci-fi, films like Blade Runner, Strange Days and most of all; The Fifth Element.
As with those films, Remember Me is about a society that is recognisably our own, only transformed by technology. In the world of 2084, our social networks have evolved into total body implants. Human memory is copied, shared, bought, stolen and deleted – and it’s all controlled by the corporation M3morize [Memorize]. While most have accepted a culture of authority and surveillance, there is a group that resists; called the Errorists.
Central to their plans is Nilin [Nil-in], a former Memory Hunter with no memory of her own. Lost and confused, she sets out to discover the truth and take down M3morize [Memorize], utilising an equal measure of mind gadgets and fists. Sounds cool, right? We could do without the amnesiac protagonist, but hey, if what she discovers is compelling, it should be good. Unfortunately, it’s not.
Remember Me looks good, it sounds good – but despite all of that, it’s… not good. Don’t get us wrong, it’s not bad – but in the same year as the likes of DmC and Metal Gear Rising – it feels distinctly out of step with modern beat-em-ups. Mandatory climbing sections are stagey and linear; combat feels robotic and binary and puzzles range from obvious to confounding - depending on your understanding of the mechanics at hand.
In short; the less you need to interact with its world the better, which, as is our understanding, is what games are actually about. One exception is a nice idea called Memory Remixing. Entering into the minds of others, Nilin is able to move through their memories like an interactive video tape, altering small details to change the flow of the events.
You’ll be tasked with achieving a certain outcome and will scrub back and forth until you get there. One bottle on the floor, one broken suitcase – it could all change how a scene plays out and the first time you do it, it’s really cool. Sadly, there are only a handful of Remixes in the game, and what examples there are barely explore what this mechanic could do to gaming narratives.
The blame for this lies squarely at the feet of Remember Me’s story. It’s not only “not as smart as it thinks it is”; it’s also home to some of the worst dialogue we’ve heard in forever. For example; This, admittedly, we did not expect. Pretentious? Lifeless? Waffle-ridden? Absolutely. It is French sci-fi; and we love that stuff! But Cringe-worthy? Face-Palm inducing? Stupid? Colour us a dark shade of surprised.
So; is today the day we’ve been dreaming of? Will we remember today; tomorrow? If the answers are up to Remember Me, then no; and not really. DONTNOD wastes the potential of a captivating world and some strong sci-fi ideas on a boring brawler with a rubbish script. Disappointing?
We only wish we could forget…