How valid is a game that puts style over substance? Remember Me, developed by Dontnod Entertainment inadvertently poses that very question. A futuristic science fiction setting in "Neo-Paris" serves as the backdrop for an engaging story with outstanding production values, but the actual gameplay does not hold up next to the exceptional first impressions delivered by the game.
Players control Nilin, an "Errorist," which means she is a psuedo hacker who can invade peoples' memories. As the game begins, Nilin is imprisoned, stripped of her powers and memories (ironically enough). Thus begins her quest to recover her memories, and uncover the truth behind the Errorist Movement. The story starts off strong, but crumbles under the weight of its own twists and convoluted ideas by the time you reach the end. If the writers had kept things simpler, the story would have held up better, perhaps providing one of the better stories of the year.
After a thrilling escape from imprisonment, the game drops you into Neo-Paris, a visual feast from start to finish. The world is divided into a few layers, ranging from the creepy slums to the bourgeois upper layer, and as the missions send Nilin from each location, you get a sense of the disparities in the world. Indeed, the art direction is the best part of Remember Me, and each section of the world is rendered with just as much attention as the last, creating a consistently breathtaking experience. There are a variety of small quirks that help to immerse you in this fictional version of Paris as well. When you are in populated areas, floating screens will display advertisements as you wander around. Nilin can interact with a number of objects to solve puzzles and traverse the landscapes. There are a number of these small moments scattered throughout the game that help sell this impressive world.
Once the initial sheen of the world wears off, though, you're left with a middling gameplay experience. There are some great ideas at work, especially involving the combat. You are able to construct your own combos using moves you can unlock called "Presens." Each Presen comes with the added benefit of dealing more damage, healing you, restoring your focus bar, or adding a boost to the next subsequent attack. As you progress through the game, you can unlock more Presens to chain together longer combos. The idea is impressive, but halfway through the game you'll find a long combo that you are set with, and you'll only be compelled to switch it up a handful of times. This makes each battle a repetitive affair, despite the free-flow combat reminiscent of the Arkham games, and some impressive special moves that help add variety, just not enough.
Parts of the gameplay that do work, however, are the Memory Remix segments. Four times in the game, Nilin will invade a subject's memory. It is then up to the player to interact with various objects in the memory to alter it, thus influencing the person's actions in real life. These segments are imaginative puzzles that help break up the monotony of the normal gameplay. Unfortunately, they are over far too quickly, there aren't enough in the game, and your choices are rather limited when it comes to succeeding in each segment.
Remember Me is a game full of five-star ideas, with a three star execution. The production values are through the roof, including one of the best soundtracks this side of Metal Gear Solid, but the minute-to-minute gameplay is hampered by repetitiveness. Despite its issues, Remember Me is a game worth playing, and it's a world that would be worth revisiting if a sequel were to be made that could address the issues of this valiant first effort.