Friday, May 16, 2014

Remember Me (video game) review

     I wanted to like Remember Me more than I did. It's not just a game with cyberpunk elements, it's one of the first genuine cyberpunk works in a very long time. It has elements of Total Recall, Johnny Mnemonic, The Matrix, and a number of other works I'm fond of. Unfortunately, the gameplay is bland, uninteresting, and only rarley fun. In short, this one of the rare games where the final result would have been better as a movie than a video game.

    The premise of Remember Me is that technology has gotten to the point memories can be stored, digitized, shared, and deleted at will. Unlike Total Recall, this doesn't result in everyone lining up to have memories of "Best Spring Break Ever" and the obvious porn applications. Instead, it's treated as something that results in the majority of Paris' poor transforming themselves into memory-junkies while the rich enjoy the profit from the procedure.

Nilin is a lovely protagonist. Beautiful without being in your face about it (except on the horrible-horrible cover).
   The main character, Nilin, is an "errorist." Which is, of course, a terrorist without the t but it sounds more computer-like this way. Nilin has had all of her memories erased and is in line to be converted into a soulless worker when she's rescued by one of her old comrades. This comrade, named Edge, recruits Nilin to work on various tasks which will help bring down the Memorize Corporation.

    The problems with Remember Me are manifold but boil down to a very simple flaw.

    The game is boring.

    The combat is lifeless and poorly developed, consisting of a "make your own combos" which is surprisingly poor for actually creating combos. It is also rather strange to see your 98lb female protagonist beating the crap out of extremely large armored men, one after the other. The individual finishing moves for all of them are interesting to watch but get old after the fifty or sixtieth time you've done them.

The imagination which went into the world-building was considerable.
    The use of memory technology in the game is also handled unimaginatively as well as ludicrously. As mentioned, there's no real use of memory-technology in the game except as a means of establishing there's junkies and the elite. The only time it's really used well is in four "re-mix" scenes where you get to alter someone's memory, Inception-style, to manipulate your enemies. Sadly, what should have been the basis of the game is only used those four times and the game thus feels like a missed opportunity.

    Nilin, herself, is a problem as she is a flat character who seems to have very few emotions other than a vague sense of panic and sadness. We never get a sense of who Nilin the person is and her dull, lifeless delivery of lines gets old very quickly. It doesn't help Nilin commits numerous terrorist acts throughout the game including (what appears to be) drowning thousands with nary anyone calling her on the act.

    At one point, Nilin finds out she caused a man to commit suicide and is horrified. I was curious about this since she's killed hundreds of people by now, not counting in acts of terrorism. This doesn't even get into the ethically questionable area of remixing memories without consent. An act which our heroes are never called out for. I like antiheroes as much as the next man but the game doesn't seem to realize Nilin and Edge are bad people.

    They're not even likable bad people. They're just sanctimonious terrorists (which are the worst kind)!

The city of Neo-Paris is gorgeous to look at. One of the few pluses.
    The supporting cast is a mixture of the inspired and the bizarre. I was fond of Kid X-mas, who behaves as a Boss should in that he was fun to fight as well as memorable. I also liked Scylla Cartier-Welles and Bad Request, two characters who give more human feeling than all of the other characters combined--which is strange since the former is described in-game as an ice-queen. Far from it, I think even her "bad persona" has more personality than almost the entire cast put together.

    I think what irritates me most about Remember Me is there's all the ingredients for a fascinating bit of science-fiction. What if memories could be stored on a hard-drive? What if people were able to get rid of the memories they didn't care for? What levels of violence are you willing to go to in order to achieve your goals? Also, should the rich be allowed to profit from technology which inflicts massive misery? Sadly, none of this gets touched on. The protagonists just decide memory-technology has to go and any method is justified in taking it out.

Some beautiful art design, though.
    So why didn't I rate this game lower? Well, it's very-very pretty. The world of Neo-Paris, despite its pretentious name (is it the original Paris or not?) is beautifully realized with its amazing architecture, horrifying slums, and glorious sense of reality. The art in this game is a 10/10, it's just too bad we don't get to explore any of this world.  Likewise, it's nice to see a protagonist of color (especially a woman) but even this is made troublesome by the contemptible cover.

    My advice? Don't buy the game. It's not a horrible experience or offensive but it's just so...mediocre.


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