Dontnod Entertainment is far from one of my favourite studios. I find their Life is Strange series underwhelming, and Tell Me Why is not exactly my cup of tea either. However, this made me curious when I noticed that the developers had dabbled into other genres than the narrative one. Vampyr was one title made by them that I was originally interested in checking out, but after some research, I found out that the team had also created a little game under Capcom called Remember Me. To be fair, if it had not been for Capcom’s logo, I do not think I would have even recalled seeing its cover. After finding my wrapped copy of it hiding in my closet, I figured it was about time to see if there was anything memorable about this project.
Remember you never
After a commercial showcasing Sensen, a device that keeps every detail of decided memories in tact, we meet Nilin who has almost gotten all of her’s erased. She is inside a facility that looks like a form of an asylum or prison, but is quickly helped by a voice inside her memory device. This voice identifies himself as Edge, who drops tons of expositions on you. It turns out that you are a memory hunter who works for an underground resistance that wants to take down a mega corporation known as Memorize. This organisation is the one who made Sensen, and only you can stop them.
Already I hate this intro, as it is made clear with the amount of information thrown at you that the amnesia setup is only there to give you a twist towards the ending. It is never used as a way to introduce you to an interesting world, and the plot sadly does not get any better. You travel through different areas of Neo-Paris on a wild-goose chase just because you have to, until you take down the head of the corporation. There is really nothing included to make this journey intriguing, just characters pointing you toward the next destinations. Yet, despite that the plot is nothing grand, it tries to be so through tons of flavour texts and forced implementations of ideas about remaking and stealing memories that are never questioned or analysed upon.
The game presents clear good and bad morals, never leaving room for discussing its philosophies. For a story going deep into existential problems, it is baffling that it never tackles this properly. Even the protagonist ignores questioning these themes and instead only does so about parts of the plot that are obvious to anyone familiar with cliches. It is aggravating that the quotations at the beginning of every chapter are so shallowly put in just to make the story seem smarter than what it is. Stating something insightful from wonderful people like Simone de Beauvoir and not using it for creating worthwhile discussions, makes the entire plot and its thematics come off as incredibly pretentious.
It is easy enough to be dumbfounded by the resistance alone, who makes Nillin the hero of the day and gives her the task of taking down the big corporation, despite her being terrified and having no memory of who she is. However, this is the story in a nutshell: it has nothing to tell, yet tries to make anything it says important. I really wish the ideas of remixing and stealing memories could have been better utilised, as these concepts could lead to interesting scenarios. Instead, they are basically forms of brainwashing in order to get your way for good or bad purposes, with no time being devoted to explore the characters’ motivations, personalities or backstories.
Although, maybe the developers purposely avoided this due how basic the characters are. Every single one within this title can be summed up to their role that gives them a singular personality trait, such as the confused hero, the friendly bartender, the stiff leader, the Darwinist doctor, and the regretting father. This lack of any depth to the characters, especially for a game about memories, really drives in what a tedious adventure this is. In fact, the only one I liked was a giant hunchback who fights in an arena in front of Notre-Dame on live television, as this was the only creative moment in the entire game.
With endless amount of monologues, dialogues, and cutscenes that had nothing substantial to tell, there was hardly any moment I got invested in. Remember Me tries to be flashy with great camera works to give the player a look into its futuristic take on Paris, but nothing to back it up with in-game. There are extra reading materials to find, but this is a terrible way to add lore to a world that has no solid ground. Show and do not tell, is something this product does not understand and it is even apparent in the characters’ dialogues. These go on with either banal explanations that could be summed up in one sentence or terribly snarky comments that are as clever as “no you”.
The best parts of this entire playthrough, is whenever the story is put aside in order to let the player take in the areas around them fully in control. Looking at this title’s version of a red light district, seeing the different cultural areas, and even varied posters with neat and subtle ways to convey what kind of world this is, show that there are elements worth admiring here. However, these moments never last long enough, with your guide constantly telling you what you should be doing next or the game forcing you to walk slowly for no good reason. I ended up questioning the poor technologies of this sci-fi universe in these tiresome events, with why someone would face-time while driving and how toys for kids are still not waterproof, being some favourite examples of mine.
After getting multiple twists that had no impact on the overall plot or the characters, I was incredibly happy for this journey to end. This story is full of itself, despite having nothing to show. The characters lack personalities, the worldbuilding has no ground floors, the simple plot is overly explained, and the game tries to be poetic without having anything interesting to say or question. There is one thing about being a bad story, but when I am shoved exposition and ideas in my face with pretentious flavour texts that are worthless, I get legitimately angry.
Story Score: 1/10
What did I even do?
I think the developers wanted to first and foremost create a cinematic experience, because I am puzzled as to what they really wanted to do with this video game. Remember Me is essentially a linear beat’em up with elements of RPG and platforming included, but nothing feels finished. I believe this can be best seen in its combat, as this title tries to be innovative with it. You automatically target an enemy when they appear, can switch between who to lock on to with the right analog stick, and have one button for dodging and two for attacking, which is nothing new. What is, is that you can somewhat create your own setup of combos through your memories of them.
At least, that is what this game claims to offer, but it is not really true. You have essentially four combos that you can implement four different types of stats for each hit with; strength, health regeneration, skill cooldown, and multiplier. Strength boosts up your attack, health regeneration heals you, skill cooldown makes your super moves recharge faster, and multiplier makes any of the previously named stats upgraded. There is a neat idea here to make each hit have a function and be strengthened the longer the combo is. Unfortunately, this concept is limited, since you can only assign the unlocked button stats to the designated combos you have.
Furthermore, this is all a completely wasted idea as most enemies can be easily defeated by mashing one attack button. None are threatening, and might just need one extra hit with an unlocked gadget in order to continue pummelling them down. This turns every encounter into a rudimentary fight, despite this title trying to vary up their approaches. Giant robots might need an extra dodge and one foe who draws life from his goons will have to be defeated last, but those are so effortless setups that I was on autopilot throughout the entire playthrough. The bosses are just as bland, and even includes one tedious QTE segment each.
It was not until over halfway through the game where I fought enemies that hurt you with every hit that I considered using more of my healing abilities, but barely so. Yes, you do get super powers such as a stun attack or one that makes you stronger for a short time, but these abilities are either useless or forcefully required in order to abrupt one single enemy. Since these powers also require a charged unit called focus that you gain from hitting foes and vice versa, you will have to play a bit of a waiting game. Sure, there are stats for mitigating this, but it is never challenging due to the brainless enemies. It is all just tedious forms of inconveniences.
Even gaining upgrades is a shallow routine. While you are provided with more special powers and combos automatically throughout the campaign, you gain XP from defeating foes and finding collectables that are used for unlocking more button stats. Unfortunately, for a linear game where button mashing gets you far, this adds nothing when everything is so restricted and unpolished. This is to the point that I did not even need finishing moves for taking out an enemy in one hit. The second playthrough where I legit tried to tinker with the game’s combat, I broke it in half.
I can see an attempt at making this work with fiends either needing light to be attacked or holding shields, but when they just require an extra button push, it leaves a lot to be desired. There are not even enough enemies to tackle on for making crowd control important, which I am baffled by when the combat is as simple as it is. The only nice thing I can otherwise say about the fighting, is that the game will let you know if an attack comes at you off-screen, which is nice for not causing cheap hits.
However, these nine episodes are not just about beating down foes. There are platforming parts that are as linear as they come and moments where you walk slowly. Neither are testing you in anything but your patience, which can also be said about the chase sequences since you are always told where to climb next. All of these segments are too limited to make you feel involved, and it is to the point that they might as well be cutscenes. Going stealth through areas is not much better either, as you will have to avoid lights moving in repetitious patterns or follow visual memories like a tutorial guide.
Speaking of, the other concept revolving around memories is just as monotone. Besides getting to see past memories walk around and acting like in-game walkthroughs, you will get to remix memories on four occasions, with the last one reusing parts from an earlier memory. These segments will have you rewind memories and find oddities you can tinker with in order to create a different outcome for that memory. This definitely sounds like a cool idea, but it boils down to trial and error with clear prompts on what you can interact with. These are not awful, but can drag and become underwhelming due to how limited they are and not testing your logical thinking.
Despite how linear this title is, you are encouraged to explore for hidden goodies in order to upgrade your health and focus, as well as gain more XP. These trinkets are never hard to find thanks to the levels’ mundane designs, with even the game giving you visual clues on where they are in the form of pictures. This comes off as a poor way to make you more invested in the world around you, as Remember Me is forcefully holding your hand at this point. You obviously do not need that when the items are always located around a nearby corner from the pictures themselves.
This terrible form of guidance can actually be seen throughout the entire adventure, be it the game constantly giving you hints, the linear platforming, unintelligent enemies, and moments where you have to walk slowly for story reasons. However, it is even worse in this project due to the amount of cutscenes halting the player already. I would honestly have not been surprised if there was a Remember Me movie in the works, which I am curious if it would have worked better due to how completely shallow the interactivity here is.
I try my best to find positive aspects about any product, but every single one within this title has a couple of negatives to them. For example, you can continue your combo after a dodge, but it is always reset the moment you change enemy or an opponent dies. There is one puzzle you have to solve through a cute riddle, but this concept is reused twice afterwards with easier setups. You can gain powers from defeated bosses in the form of moving objects or shooting, but both function more like abstract keys. Even your firearm is nothing spectacular, as it just comes with auto aiming and weak shots.
What made me despise this whole playthrough, is that nothing evolves. You are only given more tools that function as context-sensitive moments or useless powers, with none of the genres Remember Me tackles becoming more challenging or interesting. Because of this, I was bored and underwhelmed by every action I performed. Similar to wearing dark sunglasses in the middle of the night, it is hard to see the glimmer of lights this project potentially holds.
Gameplay Score: 1/10
An attempt at being stylish
It is not easy to comment on this game’s visuals, but I will say it is one of its stronger aspects. This is a world brimming with life in every corner and minor attention to historical details, with you literally climbing up the society’s hierarchy. Starting from the sewers with people lost in their madness thanks to their Sensens, Nillin will further ascend to the dark slum where the inhabitants do what they can with their rundown houses, before entering a clean city with minimal worries. This is not necessarily an unique take on Paris, but it has a solid charm from mixing old architecture with sci-fi buildings, giving it a fascinating look.
Sadly, the later environments feel like the 50s’ vision of the future due to their bleak aesthetics that have no creative or logical structure. Even the idea of making this world have digital signs to showcase the varied units’ functions, feels too much like tutorials seen in traditional video games to really get you immersed into this universe. However, the biggest problem with the visuals is the lack of style. There are only moments where the game goes more surreal with its setting, and while they are a huge contrast to the rest of the game, they are at least memorable and entertaining. Again, the hunchback of Notre-Dame was a spark of the imagination this entire project needed!
These enchanting events are barely present, and it does not help that areas will start to look eerily similar with too few set pieces to make them stand out from each other. This especially goes for the bland facilities and the dull sewers. I do feel bad for being this harsh, as the technical aspects of the visuals are amazing. The lighting is gorgeous, textures are impressive, and there was clearly a lot of work going into this game. Unfortunately, with nothing giving the visuals a personal flavour, it is hard to really remember anything from this journey, even if it has plenty of moments where the camera tries to show how beautiful and grand its city is supposed to be.
I can say similarly about the characters’ designs, as I find the general NPCs’ look to be forgettable. With that said, their models are interesting as they look somewhat like stretched figurines, giving them a subtle tone that makes them distinct. The enemies are incredibly unimaginative though, be they drab soldiers, scrawny zombies or robots with nothing to them. Although, despite being nothing substantial, there are some nice choreographs to the fights that showcases how nimble the protagonist is.
Regrettably, this does not mean much when the sound effects are weak. Every punch is poor, shots are stale, and there is no satisfaction to any of the action. There are luckily exceptions, such as when a helicopter is trying to shoot you down, but there is little strength to any of the audio overall. At least, the actors are passable and they all offer good directions to their voices, just no memorable tones or personalities. To be fair, there is little in the dialogues that could have helped them work in any characteristics, besides those who clearly can go over the top. Sadly, this limitation hinders anyone from leaving any impact.
There is one part of this game that I can praise wholeheartedly, and that is the magnificent soundtrack by Olivier Deriviere. His compositions mix in electronic disoriented audio with instruments that are easy to identify France with, such as violins. This gives the music an effective and distant tone that always provide an unique atmosphere, with fantastic build ups that offer spectacular highs. Every melody fits the situations they are used for, yet are easy to enjoy on their own. A soundtrack definitely worth owning
Presentation Score: 6/10
The extras to find in order to provide Nillin with upgrades are never needed or even add to any fun exploration as stated above. I can say the same about the lore scattered around, but they are even worse due to their flavour texts that go on forever. Why these were added in, I have no idea. However, while I cannot say I care much for the 3D models, the artworks you can unlock are outstanding and make me realise that talented people really worked on this project. There are so many wonderful designs here and I highly recommend looking these up. Unfortunately, going for any of the trinkets or achievements are a complete waste of time.
Extra Score: 2/10
I know this sounds like a bad pun, but with the exception of the soundtrack, this is a project best left forgotten. The gameplay mixes in different genres that are all mechanically undercooked, the world is uninteresting, and the story is pretentious with tons of dialogues saying nothing worthwhile. Combine this with strange forms of replay value, and I see myself confused as to what happened during this game’s development. There are some neat ideas on the drawing board here, but execution is everything. Here, it is next to nothing.