Remember Me – PC
Publisher: Capcom
Developer: DONTNOD Entertainment
Release Date: Jun 4, 2013
Genre: Action, Adventure
Reviewed by Mark Smith

Review Score: 4.5 of 5

There is a certain level of expectation when a new studio releases their first game, and when that studio is comprised of veterans from Criterion, EA, and Ubisoft those expectations are even higher. After finally finding a publisher willing to release their female-centric action-adventure game, DONTNOD Studios in cooperation with Capcom have released Remember Me, one of the slickest, sci-fi, cyberpunk adventures since Blade Runner.

You play Nilin, part gymnast, able to scamper across a futuristic Neo-Paris with the agility of a cyber-assassin, and part memory hunter; a profession that allows you to not only read other peoples’ memories, but remix them to change the outcome; at least as perceived by the original owner. The uniqueness of concept is second only to the stunning presentation of this corrupt, corporate-driven future and the polished gameplay that seamlessly blends agile world exploration with some of the most unique combat mechanics of any fighting game this year.

The similarities to the movie Total Recall were not lost on me, especially after the first few minutes of endorsements for the Sensen product, a device that hovers over the back of your neck like a fried egg and converts your memories into data. The game further mirrors Arnold’s Martian adventure by having our main heroine stripped of her own memories even before we pick up the controls, and then forced to piece together her past with the help of Edge, the terrorist leader out to expose the corruption behind the company who makes the Sensen. You can be sure that before the end credits roll you will have to second-guess not only Edge’s motivations but your own as well.

Gameplay is refined, both in environmental navigation and especially in combat. While playable with a mouse and keyboard it is quite clear this game favors a gamepad, especially once you dive into the Combo Lab and start tweaking the combat system using the four kinds of Pressens. The whole concept of special powers assigned to special presses that can be placed into a multi-button combo may seem daunting at first, but the tutorial eases you into the system and the smooth ramp up of challenge in the various encounters helps acclimate you to the more advanced functions by the time the game starts tossing bosses and impossible odds at you. Pressens can do anything from restore health to enhance damage to add faster cool-down to your special abilities. You are free to mix and match these abilities to fit with your own play style for a highly personalized gameplay experience.

Just as the combat ramps up, so does the level construction and the skills required for navigating Neo-Paris. While your acrobatic moves seldom change or even improve, the variety of jumping, climbing, and swinging components start to increase in frequency and the timing requirements for “solving” some of these puzzles become as severe as the penalty for failing them. Thankfully, the game is generous with checkpoints and saves, so you never have to replay too much if you fall in combat or off the side of a building.

Some of the coolest gameplay moments in Remember Me come from the concept of manipulating memories. In some instances you might be following the ghost memory of another character who guides you on the proper path through the level, but the more crucial moments are in the memory puzzles segments where you can move forward and back through a memory segment, much like editing a video clip, and in certain key spots you can alter seemingly minor elements that can have drastic changes on the outcome, and with multiple nodes within each memory, there are dozens of ways each scene can play out.

Remember Me drips with futuristic style from the cyberpunk virtual menus to the jaw dropping visuals of Neo-Paris…at least after you climb out of the sewers. Running and climbing through this futuristic Parisian fantasy world while battling cops and evil corporate goons has never looked so fresh and original. The textures, lighting, and especially the fluid animation for Nilin as she seamless scampers across the skyline dropping down for brutal bouts of combat are some of the best I’ve seen this year, and you really do feel like a badass ninja when it’s all said and done. Draw distance and framerate are never an issue on a properly spec’d PC.

The visuals are enhanced even further with superior voice acting, realistic environmental ambience and sound effects, and a majestic score composed by Olivier Deriviere who tailors the music to not only fit the overall theme of the game, but also to musically mirror the action with subtle changes to instruments and tempo for complete player immersion.

Depending on your thoroughness, Remember Me can take anywhere from 8-10 hours to finish the story mode, and with no multiplayer and no real reason to replay anytime soon this might make Remember Me a title you may want to wait for a sale, but even at full price I found the game to be remarkably original, challenging, and engaging from start to finish. The story is captivating and held my interest, even when the combat did start to get slightly repetitive, but the reward for sticking it out was totally worth it. Considering this is a debut effort from a new studio, Remember Me is one of the best surprises of the summer and a game I won’t soon forget…unless someone tampers with my memories.