By Steve Wright
Capcom's newest IP, Remember Me, has been on a slow burn since it was first announced. We've had smatterings of news from Capcom about the title -- a video here, a comment there -- but nothing substantial. Without beating around the bush, Remember Me runs the risk of being overlooked upon its release, which is an absolute shame. After several hours of hands-on time with the title, I’m convinced Remember Me is a game you won’t want to forget.
Remember Me revolves around Nilin, a freedom fighter who is waging a war against an evil corporation -- you know, cause Capcom LOVES those -- called Memorize. Memorize is hell-bent on using memories to increase the class divide that's already rampant in the futuristic Neo-Paris. From the moment you start the game, you're thrown into a delicious sci-fi world that slowly reveals itself to you as you hungrily demand more.
As good as the story is -- and we'll largely leave that for you to explore yourself -- Remember Me's combat systems are deceptively simple, yet as intricate and complex as you want to make them. Before you get into actual combat, you're presented with Remember Me's "Pressen" system.
Pressens are hard to explain, but when you get them, you REALLY get them. Nilin begins the game with the ability to perform a 3- and a 5-hit combo, but the button presses (see what Capcom did there?) for those are ultimately up to you. Nilin initially has access to just two Pressen types: damage and healing. Those Pressens are tied to your "X" or "Y" buttons (I had hands-on with the game's Xbox version), so you're able to insert a damage "X" or "Y" or a healing "X" or "Y" Pressen into a combo slot. A three hit combo, as an example, could be a damage "X", followed by a damage "Y" and then a health "X." When that full combo is carried out successfully, you'd severely damage an opponent in your first two strikes and then sacrifice opponent damage on the third hit in exchange for a rise in Nilin's own health.
You have a limited number of Pressens to work with -- two health and six damage, as an example -- but can you respec your combos at any time without penalty, allowing for instant changes to your in-game strategy. I started off with a three hit damage combo and a five hit combo that alternated between damage and healing, but quickly altered my tactics to include a bit of healing in both sequences. As you progress through the game, you gain additional Pressens that allow you to link combos together and cool down Nilin's special combat abilities, so possibilities essentially are endless.
Combat itself feels like a slower version of that of the Batman: Arkham franchise. Combos are rhythmic and fluid, enemies carry on-screen "!" warnings when they're about to attack, and the "A" button allows you to dodge. Combat basics are so like in Arkham that I found myself needlessly double-tapping the "A" button to dodge, a la Batman.
Combat speeds up as Nilin gains her Fury ability, allowing her to fly across the screen effortlessly striking enemies in a brutal dance; again, it’s even more difficult to not compare the combat to Arkham Asylum at this point. Nilin's Fury mode has a cool down time, but carefully placed Pressens can decrease that substantially. As you encounter boss battles in-game, those cool down Pressens make a world of difference.
Remember Me's core is all about memories -- storing and accessing them like they were files on a hard drive -- and Nilin finds herself with the unique ability to remix them as well. Nilin comments that her power allows her to play God, and she's definitely not wrong. When at the mercy of an attacker, Nilin enters the game's first of many remix sequences, allowing her to delve into the attacker's motivations for working for the enemy... and then completely reverses them. In ten short minutes for you -- and no time at all for your attacker -- your assailant becomes your ally.
When remixing, your subject's memories are a playground, allowing you to wreak havoc as you see fit. In the memory I played with, I had the ability to watch the memory through, and then fast-forward and rewind through the sequence to find glitches that I could manipulate. You can potentially reach your goal by tweaking different combinations of glitches, though not every combination will work. That's not a big deal, because if end up with a failing combination, you simply rewind and try a different set of glitches.
It's best to describe remixing as an adventure-type, trial-and-error mini-game, but without any of the negative connotations that the term "mini-game" usually brings. Remixing is unique, extremely enjoyable, and a great little mechanic in Remember Me.
Memories play into other parts of the game as well; Nilin encounters an ally that uses something called a Remembrane to pass their recollections to her. While Nilin instantly "remembers" the best way to infiltrate an enemy installation, the Remembrane also places VR-like objects and characters in the real world, giving a face to the memory. It's a neat trick.
Graphically, the game is impressive. Remember Me features considerably detailed environments with intricate pop-up on-screen HUD elements that reminded me of Ubisoft's upcoming Watch_Dogs. Again, that's where I get a bit concerned; after all, Remember Me is hitting store shelves BEFORE Watch_Dogs, so my thoughts should have been the other way around, shouldn't they?
Without question, Remember Me is a game you shouldn't forget, and my memories don't need remixing to be overwhelmingly positive. Look for Remember Me from 6 June on PC3, PC and Xbox 360.