What do you do with your only day to yourself for the next eight weeks? Read? Create? Play.
Capcom’s Remember Me has intrigued me since I last heard about it last year, and a copy seemed to arrive in my collection just in time, so today I’ll be playing the entirety of the game and constantly writing about my experience.
So, with the PS3 installing and kettle boiling, let’s dive on in!
9:24am – Game installed and attract sequence playing. Nice. One of the most attractive parts of this game to me is the setting – future Neo-Paris. Shiny.
9:28am – Commercial for Sensen, and memory sharer. Very Total Recall, actually.
9:30am – The memory rewriting angle is perfect for the start of a video game – no memory or context for main character, Nilin.
9:37am – It wants to be a sci-fi movie, in look and tone. I like that.
9:39am – Exposition bomb from my helper. Production values are really high, hard to believe it was made by a single small team, Dontnod.
9:44am – Got to fight some Gollum-esque humanoids, so it’s time for the combat tutorial. Combos – called Pressens here – are selectable and customisable. Already done some over-shoulder flips that are very like Sands Of Time. This bodes well, I love that game.
9:49am – Combat is reliant on timed presses that flow moves together, with an attack warning system seen in Batman’s Arkham games. Some climbing/platforming practice now.
9:53am – Just climbed out to be greeted with beautiful vistas of future Neo-Paris. The level of incidental detail is amazing.
10am – OK, so the combat is really interesting. There’s a combo timing counter at the bottom, but it’s actually more effective if you follow the game’s advice and press your next hit as the first one connects. This makes a really compelling flow to your actions. Having a bit of trouble switching between multiple enemies in a group situation, so I hope I get the hang of that. Batman did that so well, so that’s the yardstick.
10:14am – Moving up through the slums now after some melee combat with a power enemy. I like how you can’t really button-mash your way through, but rather have to remember combos and time your actions.
10:24am – The Neo-Paris slums are very dirty and very dangerous. Some really nice clambering around. That’s a good box quote – “Nice Clambering”. The designers of this game really like Sands Of Time, that’s for sure, and that makes me very happy.
10:27am – Heh, this game loves its dramatic vistas. Soundtrack and sound design are really exceptional so far.
10:29am – Did I mention the music is AMAZING?
10:40am – OK, so this is cool. Met my friend and changed into my regular awesome gear, only to be jumped by a bounty hunter who needs to collect the reward for catching me. To dissuade her, I’ve jumped into her memory to change her perception of a pst event and remove the motivation to catch me. Rotation of the left stick controls the memory like a VCR tape, and I can change elements using memory glitches. Very stylish and original.
10:55am – Wow. Wowowow. So, the whole process of altering a memory is a puzzle all about sequence and consequence. There’s a number of elements you can control, but they have to be done in the right order and at the right time unless the sequence has an undesired result. That’s really, really impressive design and shows a great amount of restraint in its construction.
11:03am – Episode 2 now, on the hunt for some codes hidden in an architect’s head. Now in a classier area, white walls and clearer sky. Good time for tea and toast!
11:13am – And we’re back.
11:19am – I honestly don’t care how obviously linear this is, it feels real. There’s so much detail and character. Not to mention I’ve just unlocked a Power Pressen that BLOWS SOMEONE’S MEMORY OUT THROUGH THEIR FACE. Yes.
11:25am – So the combat is slightly different to Batman in that it’s far more likely that you’ll be attacked mid-combo and it breaks it entirely. To avoid this, you’ve got a fancy flip-over-should dodge move that lets you continue the combo. Again, it seems like timing is a vital part of the combat.
11:31am – …And a temporary nuclear kick-ass mode (my name for it, anyway) just makes the combat even more sweet. Really getting the hang of the combat timing now. Also, one of my favourite things in gaming is when the music builds in layers as you land more moves. Guess what this does.
11:41am – Avoiding security devices using the memory stolen form an ally, following his moves. Clever stuff.
12pm – Stealthy platforming on my hunt for the architect.
12:36pm – Sorry, had a few technical issues but they’ve been resolved now. Onward!
12:40pm – OK, so this is quite clever. Periodically these images form out of thin air, a map to a supply drop stashed by a friend. You then have to match the environment with the pic to find it. A simple touch but one that makes you really examine the surrounding areas and, when they’re as pretty as this, it’s really a joy.
1:08pm – The voice acting is great and writing mostly strong.
1:109pm – Episode 3. Back to the slums, again in the pursuit of a vital memory. Tight streets and flickering neon, gorgeous and detailed.
1:17pm – I love it when a game has the confidence to just let you walk quietly through the environments instead of spamming you with fights every five steps. Breathing room is important.
1:20pm – Hey Steve, got a message for you!
1:27pm – You know a game’s combat upgrade system works when you return to foes who previously swamped you only to find that, this time, they go down hard. Again – observation, reaction and timing is key to the melee, and I really like it. Very empowering.
1:40pm – Part of your inbuilt Sensen interface are cool floating text projections, giving information on shop offers, directions, and that fire is hot. Useful to know.
1:44pm – Also, beating X-Mas (the first boss) give me this arm tool that lets me interact with electrical switches to access new areas. Hunting for a guy who’ll get me back inside the prison, all part of the plan by my friend who got me out, Edge. At the moment, he’s no more than a voice in my ear, but Nilin is already questioning his own true motivations.
1:49pm – The whole city is full of humanoid robots. They’re used for everything – cleaning, serving, even prostitution – but are often left around in pieces when no longer needed.
2:10pm – More creepy invisible Leapers dispatched, now a spacial puzzle involving climbing bars. Not the first time I’ve noticed the Tomb Raider inspiration. This works just as well, and adds a needed slower moment after the floodlight melee chaos.
2:18pm – I really enjoy spacial puzzles, but it’s always taken me so long to figure them out. I need my wife here to use her Picross/Dr Mario skills.
2:20pm – Apart from Portal. Portal nearly broke her, but I found that much easier than the puzzle I’ve just solved. I’m sure that says something about our respective brains.
2:28pm – Taking five. Bolognese calls.
2:34pm – Day-old bolognese is the best bolognese. ONCE MORE UNTO THE BREACH, DEAR FRIENDS
2:44pm – Oh, I’m sure it’s totally safe down this wet, dark tunnel. Nope, no danger here.
2.50pm – The sound has been consistently excellent, and that continues here in the old subway tunnels. Mixed in with the flowing and splashing of slurry are the echoing, distant voices shouting at nothing. It creates a very rich, tense atmosphere.
3pm – A pretty intense fight on a moving subway car with a ton on Leapers and their bos called for a lot of prioritising and action management. And now everything appears to be on fire.
3:04pm – “Get of out the Metro, there’s all kind of creatures down there”. No shit Edge, thanks for the heads up.
3:13pm – Uh-oh. Biiig robot. And he sounds angry.
3:17pm – Oh, he’s angry all right. But also really, really cool. Again, I need to use a combination of things to take him down, this time using the abilities of my arm device.
3:26pm – Episode 4. Back into the prison fortress of La Bastille to release my comrades and find my stolen memories. The leader here, Madame, is the only one who can let me do these things, so it’s her I have to find.
3:30pm – The maintenance section of La Bastille is another environmental shift; an industrial area with turbines, sweating walls and the constant scrape of moving metal.
3:42pm – Working my way up to the main prison complex, about to jump in a spare cell.
3:56pm – La Bastille is a prison where your memory is taken wholesale, to be returned when you leave. The inmates have lost it, obviously. Police Chief defeated, security memory stolen, Madame next in line. The combat continues to reward careful, timed observation and reaction.
4:09pm – Just taken down a room of heavily-armoured enforced, getting the timings right now and starting to feel very powerful indeed. Number and ferocity of special attacks has increased too. Getting closer to my target.
4:21pm – Found Madame having fun with my friend in an interrogation room. I think she may enjoy this job a little too much. Also met a new enemy – flying humanoid robot shooty things, very similar to something you’d find in Metal Gear Solid. I would say that, if you hadn’t mastered the timing windows for the attacks, you probably couldn’t get up to this point. It’s so dependant.
4:20pm – Well, Madame’s memory has been stolen and I’m going to use it to get into the memory servers, but like all good things, this must temporarily come to an end. The question of who exactly Edge is, and what his own motivations are, is becoming more and more important, so hopefully Nilin’s memory will answer a few questions too. I won’t get to finish her journey today, but I think it’s crystal clear that I’ve hugely enjoyed the experience so far. You can expect a full review later this week, once I finally finish it off.
Thanks for sticking with me – I’m off soon to record the special E3 podcast with Matt, and I’ll also air my views on Remember Me, so keep an eye out for that soon!
P.S. Just killed Madame. Boom.