What happens when you mix the combat of Batman: Arkham Asylum with the platforming of Uncharted and wrap it in an Asimov-esque sci-fi setting? Sounds pretty good, right? Unfortunately, Remember Me doesn't quite live up to that lofty concoction.
The big sci-fi idea behind Remember Me is that memories can now be digitized, allowing them to be changed, extracted or added through the use of a person's Sensen, a brain implant invented by the Memorize corporation that allows memories to pass back and forth. This has resulted in the dystopian future of Neo-Paris where the upper-classes discard any bad or unpleasant memories on a whim and the lower classes are oppressed memory junkies, or worse, Leapers - people whose minds have been so warped as to not be human any more. You play as Nilin, a memory hunter. What probably comes as no surprise considering the game's premise; you've just had your memories wiped. Nilin will team up with Edge, the mysterious leader of the Errorists, yes, no T - who totally won't have a surprise reveal at some point - to recover her lost memories while taking down the Memorize corporation.
While it takes many of the predictable turns given the subject matter, the story on the whole for Remember Me is decent. The voice actors actually do a pretty good job and the story is compelling enough to make you want to see it through to the end. It even goes to some surprisingly dark places once you consider the ramifications of changing someone's memories. If anything, Remember Me's biggest narrative problem isn't that it shoots straight for the twists that amnesia and memory loss afford it, it's simply that the setting itself is more interesting than the story being presented. The world is filled with snippets of brilliant ideas, like a prison where inmate's memories are removed so they have no reason to want to escape. You may find yourself wanting to see more about how this society operates than what you get to experience through just Nilin's story. There are journal and setting notes serving as collectibles to be hunted down, but the best moments are the passing details of seeing someone purchase the memory of a first kiss. At only around 8 hours to completion, and that's hunting down a fair share of the collectibles, there's just not a lot of time to delve into the setting.
The game itself is broken into sections of combat, platforming and pseudo-adventure sequences. As mentioned, the combat draws heavily on the soft targeting and smooth flowing animations that were first made popular in games like Batman: Arkham Asylum. As you progress through the game, Nilin will recall more of her former combat prowess, unlocking new moves and combos. A Combo Lab letting you mix in damage, healing and cooldown regeneration attacks into custom combos seems like a great idea on the surface, but the system is much too easy to exploit. It's virtually impossible to die if you assign a simple three attack combo to all healing, meaning you can simply cheese your ways through most any fight waiting for your special moves to recharge.
It doesn't help that the fights get pretty monotonous after a while either. You fight the same leaper, police force and robot units throughout the entire game, with only minor differences requiring you to change up strategy a little. A few times during my playthrough a bug caused an enemy to no longer be damaged by melee attacks, and while you can still eventually kill them with ranged fire, it's still quite annoying. Similarly, most of the boss fights require using a specific special move in order to damage or stun the boss, which means you'll be slogging through tons of minions and dodging attacks waiting for those moves to cooldown. To the game's credit however, playing on the PC, I found the controls handle equally well in combat with mouse and keyboard as with a gamepad.
The platforming is similarly uninspired, but serviceable. The landscapes and architecture of Neo-Paris are stunningly well designed and at least visually enjoyable to be climbing on, but Nilin's Sensen literally puts a giant arrow on where to jump next, so you just feel like you're going through the motions. There's little room for exploration as the areas and environments are tightly cordoned off, there's always some gate or construction going on to keep you on the path, and any off-shoot is virtually guaranteed to hold a pick-up or collectible. You can also spot when a fight is going to happen right away because you'll suddenly pull yourself up or turn a corner onto a wide open space. There are a few puzzles tossed in to mix it up a little more, and even some riddles based on mnemonic that may throw you for a loop, though none of them are all that stumping. If you listen to them a few times the solutions will become pretty obvious.
Nilin is a uniquely gifted memory hunter in that not only can she simply remove someone's memory, but she's also able to remix the memories in their head, making them think certain events turned out differently. What if that defining moment of your life took a different turn? These remix sequences are set-up as interactive cutscenes that you can fast forward and rewind, looking for memory glitches that can be manipulated. The trick is to find the right sequences of changes that alter the scene to the desired outcome. Unfortunately it's another area where idea and function don't quite meet seamlessly. What could have been an interesting diversion from the normal gameplay ends up being a pixel hunt, and because it suffers from similar adventure game logic of what actions lead to what, often the easiest solution is to simply rewind to the beginning of the scene, flip all the glitches and then make adjustments as needed.
Bottom Line: Remember Me doesn't do anything outright terrible, but neither does it come together as something truly great either. An interesting big idea sci-fi setting can't hold a whole game together; it needs to be coupled with equally interesting gameplay.
Recommendation: At only 8 hours with little replay value it's hard to recommend Remember Me at full price.
This review is based on the PC version of the game.