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 Remember Me's First Hours 

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MrRaverX
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PostSubject: Remember Me's First Hours   Wed Feb 06, 2013 7:09 pm

Remember Me was the surprise of last year’s Gamescom: a near-future
action-adventure that lets you get inside people’s heads and mess with
their memories, set in a science-fiction version of Paris. Developed in
Paris by new studio Dontnod under the guidance of Capcom, it’s been an
unknown quantity since its announcement: exactly what kind of game is
this, and how heavily does the memory-manipulation premise influence how
you actually play?


Remember Me feels a little like a third-person Mirror’s Edge, with
plenty of climbing and free-running around the incongruous architecture
of Neo-Paris. It’s a crammed-together jumble of angularly modern,
gleaming white structures and decaying slums crowded around the
masterpieces of classical architecture that define the Paris skyline.
Protagonist Nilin is lithe and acrobatic like Faith, as capable a
fighter as she is a climber.





The combat is as fluid as the traversal – which is a relief, as Remember Me’s
fighting looked like it might be weak. It’s a variation on the melee
style popularised by Rocksteady’s Batman games – attacks are on two
buttons, timing is crucial, and you build combos of three or more hits.
You can dodge mid-combo, vaulting Nilin over the heads of burly
enforcers in a twirling cartwheel before delivering the final blow to
the back of the neck.


Where it gets interesting is in the customisation, hidden away in a
menu: you can imbue the chained hits in your combo with extra
destructive power, regenerative power that recovers help, or cooldown
reduction power that lets you pull of special moves quicker. The further
on in the chain the Pressen is placed, the more power it has – so
ending a combo with a power Pressen will deliver a knockout punch,
whereas ending it with a Regen Pressen will recover more health. As you
level up you unlock more Pressens to imbue those combos with. It might
sound complicated, but it really isn’t; in the end, you’re still only
ever pressing two buttons.





Remember Me feels a little like a third-person Mirror’s Edge.


Remember Me’s combat still lacks a sense of impact, but there’s time
yet for Dontnod to fine-tune it, and it doesn’t need much. Street
Fighter’s Yoshinori Ono has reputedly been offering friendly advice
since Capcom picked up the title, and though this is very definitely
Dontnod’s own game, it can only have benefited from that guidance.


The premise, however, is still Remember Me’s
strongest idea. The idea of uploading and exchanging actual human
moments of intimacy really does sound like something Facebook might jump
on in a second if the technology existed. Memorise is the mega-corp
behind the phenomenon in Remember Me’s world, and as you might expect it is not a responsible curator of such power.



People who jigger around too much with their brain’s wiring start to
suffer memory degradation, which begins with forgetting where you live
or what you did yesterday and ends with you forgetting what it is to be
human. The worst casualties of this phenomenon become Leapers, mutated
humans, and either live out their days in madness in the city’s
underground slums or are terminated by Memorise. It’s these poor souls
that Nilin is fighting at the beginning of the game, as she escapes the
Bastille prison and the slums, making her way back to the ultra-modern
Neo-Paris surface.


Nilin is a memory hunter – part of a group called the Errorists, an
underground cell that works against Memorise. Before she escapes from
the Bastille in a coffin floating through the sewers, she’s had her
memory wiped by the organisation – a classic video game cliché, but in
the context it actually makes sense for a change. She's thoughtfully
portrayed, and though the in-game voice acting is a little embarrassing
right now (guards literally say things like "You''re finished, little
lady!"), the cut-scenes are much better acted. The opening few hours
show Nilin beginning to regain herself, and we are slowly exposed to the
power that she used to wield, including the ability to alter people’s
memories.


Memory remixes are really very cool. They play out as interactive
puzzles: you’re shown what happened, and then you can rewind back
through it and change little details – the position of a table, the
fasteners on a restraint, the placement of a bottle – that then change
the way the memory plays out. It’s the butterfly effect: a tiny change
can have a huge impact. The game’s first memory remix is set inside the
mind of Olga, a bounty hunter sent to eliminate Nilin, whose husband
David is suffering severe memory degradation and is being treated in a
Memorise facility.




As David and Olga are hooked up to memory devices, we see their
thoughts on the screens above their heads; David’s are base, flitting
images, bloody and decaying flesh, screaming faces, where Olga remembers
the time they had together; honeymoon scenes, snapshots of happiness.
The memory transfusions will potentially save David’s mind, but they’re
hideously expensive, which is why Olga accepts the contract on Nilin.


Each memory remix can play out several different ways, but there’s
only one “correct” answer. In this first memory remix you can reverse
the memory transfusion so that David’s corrupted mind flows into Olga’s,
rather than the other way around, which results in total identity
collapse and painful death for Olga – but that’s not enormously helpful,
Olga isn’t actually dead, so she’s going to notice pretty quickly that
the memory is false. The correct solution is more subtle, and changes
Olga’s motivations to put her on the side of the Errorists.



More than cool puzzles, the memory remixes emotionally-charged short stories.

More than cool puzzles, though, the memory remixes
emotionally-charged short stories, interactive cutscenes that send you
away from Nilin’s story and into another person’s mind for a few
minutes. Memory is an intrinsically emotional thing, as the power of
nostalgia attests, and it imbues Remember Me with unexpected evocative
power. What’s interesting, though, is what will happen when Nilin’s
remix victims inevitably realise that they’ve been had.


Remixes aren’t the only interesting idea that Remember Me has. The
intersection of memory and technology allows for interesting
experimental features in the gameplay. About an hour and a half into the
game you encounter Remembranes –glitchy, ghostly records of someone’s
actions, which you can see in the real world. In this case, a fellow
errorist has scouted the best possible route through a crowded area to
infiltrate the top-floor apartment of a famous architect with some
memories worth stealing. You can activate his memories, seeing the path
he took around sentinel drones and through complicated tangles of
buildings, and replicate what he does.




Really it’s Neo-Paris that’s the star of Remember Me at this stage –
we still don’t know much about Nilin, though she’s a promising character
whose personality gets stronger every hour you play. Neo-Paris is the
classic science fiction dichotomy, beautiful and squalid, futuristic and
decaying, recognisable and alien all at once. Around every corner you
might catch a glimpse of the Sacre Couer in the distance, or see a
formerly imposing monument like the Bastille with grimy slum buildings
wound around it like ivy.


Remember Me’s impressive amalgamation of ideas are all overlaid on
very solid, fluid action-adventure gameplay – those core elements of
combat and traversal are very much in place. It's these fundamentals
that can let even the most interesting of games down, so Remember Me's
confidence here is reassuring. Built on these foundations, its
intriguingly dystopian setting and thought-provoking themes are better
able to shine.


End Transmission ....
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