The future is broken – at least in this (mostly) stunning debut title from developer DONTNOD Entertainment. The advent of memory-sharing technology has changed society, allowing people to experience each others’ thoughts as if they were their own. The Sensen gadget has had its downsides though, making memory addicts of some and degenerate mutants of others.
Of course, the lucrative thought trade is overseen by a shadowy and corrupt megacorporation, Memorize. Playing as Nilin, a former Memory Hunter and now member of the Errorist resistance movement, you’ll fight to regain your own deleted memories and bring down the villainous company.
Remember Me is largely about its narrative and design choices, both of which inform everything around them. Like all the best science fiction, it couches criticism of the contemporary world in detached futurism but the parallels are easy to see. The Errorists are meant to evoke Occupy, the Sensen our reliance on gadgets and diminishing personal interactions. Where it gets positively philosophical though is its approach to reality. In a world where memories are rewritten on a whim, can we trust anything we’re doing, seeing, striving for?
This sense of uncertainty lingers with the player throughout. Whether it’s rewriting key corporate targets’ memories or defeating other Memory Hunters who challenge you, you’ll constantly doubt whether you’re truly playing the hero. Such considerations prove engaging on a level far beyond the otherwise straightforward progression.
Gameplay works on two levels. The memory hacking – dubbed ‘Remixes’ – harkens back to classic adventure games, searching for the right items to move forward. Forward is often backward though, and shifting through recollections for the correct sequence of events to alter adds a temporal element to puzzle through. The combat and navigation are more traditionally action-focussed, blending parkour skills to traverse the beautiful-yet-bleak Paris of 2084 with an innovative combat customisation system. It’s a brilliant bit of game design, allowing you to tailor skills to your liking, balanced between offense, defence and rejuvenation.
However, Remember Me is often a victim of its own great ideas. Combat is a joy, but every encounter is scripted into the timeline. The gorgeous design of the city demands exploration, but you’re given little opportunity to do so. The linearity serves the story, but at the cost of the overall experience.
That the game ellicits such desire to do more is a good thing though, and few will dislike the time they spend in Nilin’s world. We just hope for a more versatile sequel in the future.