Preview: The Variety and Influences of Remember Me
If there’s one game I’ve been dying to get my hands on since last year, it’s certainly DONTNOD Entertainment’s Remember Me. Between the setting, story, and gameplay, it was cool to see a game taking place in a futuristic Paris, with a uniquely designed protagonist and an amnesiac story that actually tied very closely into the game’s design. Now, after having sat down with Capcom to demo the game, I’m glad to say that I’m even more impressed with the sheer detail that has been put into this world, which at times feels like a ragtag combination of different ideas, but usually comes across as a tasty Shepard’s pie that is greater than the sum of its parts.
While Remember Me‘s setting and gameplay have been compared to some cinematic franchises like Blade Runner and even Inception, Capcom said the biggest influence to the genesis of Remember Me is actually the genre-defining literary work 1984 (notice that the game takes place in 2084), and the rise of social networks like Facebook. And while the idea of implanting false thoughts rings close to the premise of Inception, Capcom and developer DONTNOD have made it clear that the game has been in development far longer than Inception has been out, with Remember Me beginning as a concept called Adrift back in 2008. For me, there’s also a hint of the memory-heavy Strange Days at play, which revolved around the idea of a selling and trading memories that consumers could experience fully, even death.
Mechanically, the game has been often compared to the Batman: Arkham series, although it reminded me more of the Uncharted series exploration and treasure hunting, and perhaps a more focused (and visually tamer) version of Bayonetta‘s combo-making (though I’ll get to this in a moment). Exploring Neo Paris is–like the Uncharted series–a largely linear experience, which has Nilin climbing, jumping, and running around to find her way across the various districts of Neo Paris. Also like Uncharted, Nilin will have times where unlocked memories will guide her to hidden secrets or–like Dark Souls–will guide her through traps and hazards.
The Combo Lab is an interesting Do-It-Yourself combo maker, which allows you to mix and match unlocked moves called Pressens to develop up to four combo sequences. Pressens are Nilin’s “super powers,” divided into four categories: Regen Pressens, Power Pressens, Cooldown Pressens, and Chain Pressens, with 24 available in the game. The later a Pressen appears in a combo, the more efficient or lethal it will be. The stronger your combos, the more PMP (Procedural Mastering Power) you earn, and the more moves you can unlock.
In my time on the demo, I was able to make two combos early in the game, a “power combo” designed largely to hurt enemies and take them down fast, and a “regen combo” which allowed me to get minor damage on my enemies, while healing Nilin of her injuries. Later, I mixed it up a bit, having a short combo where I could heal a little and get some damage in, and a long combo where I could keep healing and try to get some damage in later in the sequence. While I found the idea of the Combo Lab easy to understand, it took me a little time to adjust to it while playing, and I’m sure there’s a host of complexities whose surface I’ve only just barely skimmed.
During my time on the game, I encountered the Leapers and an early mini-boss, relying largely on Arkham-styled dodging and these combos to win. The combos aren’t hard to execute, and rely more on timing your presses than just button mashing them. There was also mention of S-Pressens, unique moves that Nilin can perform by building up a Focus meter, a handful of which perform different effects in hairy situations.
The one thing I would have liked to try with my time on Remember Me was the Memory Remix mechanic, which Capcom confirmed would be less of a gimmick and more of an important narrative component. You can’t Memory Remix just anyone in the game: there’s actually only a handful of times the mechanic will appear during the game, and will be used only to drive the story. While there is only one solution to the Remix, trying out as many combinations as possible is encouraged, to pick up on some secrets that may not have been revealed otherwise.
I didn’t have enough time to know if Remember Me will be as genre-defining as the influences that have helped to shape the game, but I am excited by the potential. It may not appeal to all fans, but the attention to detail and the little things DONTNOD have done with the game (including making each district have its own distinct color palette and tone) will certainly impress many.
We’ll know for sure soon, when Remember Me releases to the PS3, PC, and Xbox 360 this summer, on June 4th.