The city has been largely rebuilt thanks to the effects of radical climate change and the havoc wrought by the European civil war. This has served to heighten the social inequality within the city, with poor districts having been mostly ignored and left as terrible, flooded slums. One of the factions seeking social justice are the Errorists, though the focus of their hate is with the Memorize Corporation and their Sensation Engine (or Sensen), which lets people share their memories over the web. The Errorists consider this a massive breach of privacy, as well as an insidious way to control society itself.
Errorist number one is Nilin. She is as a Memhunter, who is able to use Sensen to steal peoples' secrets straight out of their skulls. What sets Nilin apart though, is her special ability to remix existing memories. This is the game's signature concept, but it's built into the framework of a third-person action adventure, and one part of a game that includes platforming and full combat mechanics.
The graphical design is quite distinctive, full-blown cyberpunk, yet it does manage to avoid many of the cliches usually associated with the genre. A futuristic city like this practically begs the player to do some exploring, but unfortunately Remember Me is a heavily linear experience.
Sensen constantly tells the player where to jump and climb, but attempts to push past what's directed will be met with a feeble little hop. Nilin is a spry thing though, and she reminds strongly of Assassin's Creed with the smooth, graceful way she handles platforming. The player does need to be on the ball though, since it is annoyingly easy to miss some apparently simple jumps.
Nilin is also a very capable fighter when she has to be - and in Remember Me, she really has to be. Fights are usually contained into closed arenas which you're locked into until the enemies in it are knocked out. It's slightly unbalanced, delivering that one extra wave too many and edging the combat from fun towards grind.
At least the combat is entertaining in itself. As the game progresses, Nilin is given access to longer combo chains, which can be customised in the Combolab, using punches and kicks from four different categories, and interweaving health boosting attacks into the mix.. This is not as free a system as one might think though, because you can only define the effects of the strikes, with the strikes executed with a few button taps. Sure, it avoids the danger of one-button combos, but there could have at least been more combos available and more variety in the button presses needed.
But it's Nilin's capability to remix the memories of others that's the game's calling card. The Memhunter dives into one scene from the target's life, and guides it towards a traumatic resolution for her own gain. The scene, played out as a cutscene that you can freely pan around, can be rewound and fast forwarded while you look for little glitches that will let you change something in the scene. Change, replay, watch the outcome. Finding the right combination takes time, but the system is smart and enjoyable to tinker with. Yet again, more variety would have helped.
The player has to make the right yes/no-choice about half a dozen times per memory, so this isn't precisely creative freeform remixing. Only one preset ending will work, and there are very few remix scenes in the game. They are visually interesting though, and you are guaranteed to have some chilling moments with them.
The story's decent, surprisingly grittier than you'd expect as it combines weighty social issues with far more personal experiences and dilemmas.
The voice acting in Remember Me is not getting Oscar nominations, and Nilin's accent is so scattered that I could not even begin to place it. With the music, outside combat its nicely atmospheric, but during fighting it builds upon Nilin's combo attacks - which really works when the going is smooth, but can get annoying quickly when you're making a mess.
We really hope that Dontnod will continue making games in this exciting universe, but that they open up their concept from what it is now, and give their players more choice in almost all areas of the game. More exploration, more choices for remixing memories, and more combos for the combat. As it is, Remember Me is a fine gaming experience which has a lot of unused potential that will hopefully blossom sometime in the future - it's a game that seems well suited to getting the time and budget it deserves in a next-gen sequel.