Platforms: Xbox 360 / PS3 / PC
Reviewed On: Xbox 360

So the story goes like this: once upon a time there was a woman and she could enter into people’s minds and alter their memories thus affecting their actions. Simple as that? Well not quite but if one was to sum up the game in one sentence then that wouldn’t be too shabby. The pivot of Remember Me is a female protagonist who enters minds though a port usually used by the populous of the game’s world to purchase memories from a monopolistic global corporation. Without giving away more of the plot, let us look at this intriguing title. The reason for calling the female heroine a protagonist, a title normally reserved for the main character of a cinematic, theatrical or literary narrative, is that the game comes closer to being an interactive movie than what would normally be considered a game. As a game purist, one might consider it easier to refer to Remember Me as a source of entertainment rather than a game because it definitely lacks the interactive part of the standard dictionary definition of a game. For this very reason it is difficult to judge this title. Looking at the audio visual and narrative aspects of this creation, it is difficult not to be impressed but on the other hand the game part leaves a lot to be desired. Resisting the urge to be pessimistic from the onset let us start by looking at the positives.

 photo remember-me-01_zps250ac789.jpgThis 'source of entertainment' is built on solid foundations of a beautifully crafted environment and a score which matches the visuals. Conforming to a familiar cyberpunk style the title combines the familiar characters and style from classics such as Blade Runner and transfers them to a futuristic post-industrial dystopian Paris. The plot features a warmly familiar struggle of a group of rebels against a megacorporation which wields terrifying influence over mainstream society. An unlikely protagonist faces insurmountable odds and quickly becomes a champion of the rebellion helping the viewer/gamer to fully immerse him/herself into the action. Continuing the futuristic dystopian theme, the earlier mentioned mind altering aspect is introduced; think Inception, Philip K Dick and the film inspired by his work, Total Recall. The plot is interesting and engaging, and encourages progression through the game while the interactive aspects of this production drag along kicking and screaming, refusing to match the greatness of the plot, narrative and soundtrack.

It is now time to look at player involvement; here the interactive mind altering mini-game takes front row and represents the only unique and truly enjoyable aspect of the game. The few iterations of this mini-game allow the player to change the actions of encountered characters by affecting their recollection of events which, when changed, have a direct impact on the present. From the gaming aspect this is by far the most entertaining and addictive component of Remember Me, unfortunately the player is treated to this rarely and the in-between bits are rather mundane.

 photo remember-me-03_zpsd1db4bf5.jpgWhile moving between fights the tension is maintained by dramatic camera angles and seemingly perilous jumps and acrobatics. However, in reality there is little danger of failing or not making a jump. The player is guided though each sequential move by an indicator taking away all elements of puzzle and challenge from navigating through the game. If you are unlucky enough to fall you will be respawned right next to the point at which you failed, taking away any incentive not to die, a fairly important aspect of any game. Take away this and you are left with a single-button-mash-fest: jump, jump, jump, fall, jump, jump; you made it! 'Ah, success but it feels so empty and unimportant!'

Games should not be like this, not by the oxford dictionary definition of “game” anyhow.

The other element of interaction is combat which reminds me of a bucket of oysters; the first few are interesting and enjoyable but eat them all and you’ll definitely be sick of them. A combination of repeatedly pressing one button on the joy pad followed by another to trigger special attacks is all that is required to win most fights with the intermittent press of the x button to dodge an attack. Fighting in-game bosses is similar to normal combat; entertaining at first but the novelty soon ends and tedium ensues. There is an element of character development through the combo builder where new moves are unlocked and can be incorporated into slightly new combinations. The problem here is that there is not enough of an incentive to do this. There is something missing here, something that could have been but is not, it’s difficult to say exactly what that is but the whole game lacks it.

 photo remember-me-02_zpsb699313b.jpgThe gaming environment is divided into two parts. Firstly there is the foreground which is frustratingly limited guiding the player through a narrow tunnel of streets, alleyways, rooftops and connecting sections which involve tediously unchallenging jumps and climbs. Secondly, the background, a thing of masterfully sculpted digital beauty screams out to be explored and yet no such prize awaits the player. The introductory cut-scenes to each new area are reminiscent of Assassin’s Creed where it seemed almost unbelievable that the grandiose environment shown could be interacted with and explored. In Remember Me it seems unbelievable that the environment CAN NOT be explored, and that the developers failed to capitalise on the wonderful digital artwork and design.

For some this will be a game that could have been great but is not; some will no doubt enjoy its peculiarities but most will no doubt become frustrated. It is worth spending a few hours to follow the story and appreciate the work which went into design, music and writing of the script. It is also worth spending that time to try and find ways in which Remember Me could be different. It is undoubtedly difficult to come up with a winning formula while retaining some sense of uniqueness but some lessons must be learnt from successful game franchises. Assassin’s Creed, Fallout 3, Farcry and Skyrim all teach us that a wonderful story, beautiful open environment and character customisation can all be combined into a winning formula. Then again perhaps this is where Remember Me succeeds; in defying the trend and becoming something other than what is expected? Despite its downfalls, Remember Me is immersive and interesting, luring entertainment-seekers with its own escapist formula of interactive story-telling. It is difficult to decide on a score. If this were a money sucking scheme to turn a film into a pathetically poor game then I would be much stricter but it is not. Judged on its positive aspects it would score highly but interactivity fails it, so the end result must be something in between. The only reasonable advice is: dive in and see what you think!