An Ironically Forgettable Narrative
Remember Me opens with the protagonist Nilin being stripped of her memories. She is a prisoner of Memorize, a mega-corporation at the center of the game’s dystopian Neo-Paris, where all citizens are equipped with a brain implant that allows the storage and transfer of memories. This implant, referred to as Sensen, enables the society’s leaders to control, oversee, and dehumanize the overall population. The Errorists, a rebellion group that Nilin worked with before being captured, are dedicated to bringing Memorize down.
The beginning of the game is spent navigating Nilin out of confinement with the help of Edge, the mysterious leader of the Errorists known only via comm link. This is when we first become familiar with the combat style, a simple but interesting combination of melee moves and specialized techniques. As the game progresses, new techniques and melee combination possibilities are unlocked, allowing even familiar combat situations to remain dynamic.
The ever-evolving game interactions are where Remember Me shines. No boss battle is too similar to the one before, and even the environment demands to be approached with new techniques. What worked once won’t necessarily work the next time, but you can still be sure that you have the capabilities to solve any puzzle.
That is, of course, excluding the numerous bugs which remove the ability to react with the environment all together. There were at least a dozen times that I needed to reload a checkpoint (or even reboot the game) because of a glitch that made it impossible for me to progress.
But progress I did, into an increasingly unsatisfactory plot line. The action of the game is driven by Nilin’s desire to regain her memories and subsequently to put an end to the atrocities that she witnesses on her quest. Yet the more Nilin uncovers about her lost past, the more frustratingly ridiculous the overall plot becomes. Without spoiling too much of the plot (not that there is much good to spoil), I’ll say that the dystopian society that wreaks so much havoc throughout the game is based around a supposed tragedy. The “tragedy” itself functions as an unconvincing catalyst for an already ill-understood game world.
Much of the character relationships are forced. Nilin meets someone once for about 30 seconds, and we’re expected to be upset when they get offed. The game relies on titles such as “mother” or “best friend” to carry more emotional weight than the game events actually indicate. We’re told to feel rather than made to feel. This is what deals the biggest blow to the game’s ending. It’s clear that we, emphasizing with Nilin, are supposed to be feeling guilt and sadness in facing our final foe. But the foe is someone I never saw the opportunity to connect with as a player, and so I ended up just being annoyed.
Despite the poor plot and character development, Remember Me has a saving grace in one of its mechanics: memory remixing. This occurs when Nilin needs to change someone’s memory to get them to behave differently in the present. It doesn’t change the past, only someone’s perception of it. The player is presented with a memory and then can rewind and fast-forward through it to find elements of the environment to mess with. Maybe you move an item closer to someone or turn off a gun’s safety. What’s important is finding the right combination to change someone’s memory in the desired manner. Definitely, without a doubt, this is the most interesting part of the game. Unfortunately, memory remixing only occurs a few times, leaving it tragically underutilized.