Have You Played… Remember Me?

Have You Played? is an endless stream of game recommendations. One a day, every day of the year, perhaps for all time.

Everyone has come to love Life Is Strange, Dontnod’s adventure game about teenagers and supernatural powers, but the company’s first game was Remember Me [official site]. It had a similarly appealing art style and also featured a female protagonist, but instead of over-earnest conversations with your besties the main thrust of the game was third-person combat about chaining combos and beating up monsters.

Where Life Is Strange is about time manipulation, Remember Me is – as the name suggests – about manipulating memory. You’re a memory hunter fighting against an oppressive society, and the way you do that is by reaching into people’s minds and fiddling with what you find inside. You’ll scan through a remembered scene inside someone’s head and, by tweaking elements of the scenery, change the chain of events and thus how that person remembers them playing out. It’s an uncomfortable power from the start, too: the first time you use your skill, it’s to convince a woman that her husband is dead.

Even more uncomfortable is Remember Me’s combat system. When not hopping between ledges and rooftops to travel between missions – the game is set in a gorgeous Neo-Paris – you spend time creating your own combos in a confusing menu or trying to time button presses to beat up memory-addled zombie creatures. The game is published by Capcom, but its fighting system contains none of the precision of their better games. That – plus a sometimes awkward script and overbearing cutscenes – can make it a chore to play at times.

But while Remember Me is not a great game by any stretch, it’s still interesting – especially in light of what Dontnod did next.

58 Comments

  1. Freud says:

    I haven’t. I remember being quite intrigued before the release, but the lackluster reception it got and that it looked much more traditional than it first appeared made me pass on it.

  2. Gap Gen says:

    I started it and never finished, but I should. The place as much as anything is interesting, even if as far as I can tell from the first level that it’s joined up more or less at random (unless someone was moving the metro signs around).

  3. Rao Dao Zao says:

    Aaargh, it’s that screenshot where her elbow looks like a giant fingernail.

  4. Bluestormzion says:

    “I bet you if I was a white bitch you’d ‘memba me!” –
    Maybelline; The Boondocks.

    Never have I posted a more relevant quote.

  5. HLP The E says:

    Remember Me is a very interesting failure. It’s the kind of game people who want to make games should study to figure out why it doesn’t work.

    • Gap Gen says:

      I think it’s a bit of a shame the memory erasing isn’t more systemic, rather it seems kinda scripted. To be fair though, it’d be quite hard to do well systemically.

  6. Mana_Garmr says:

    I played it and quite enjoyed it. The overall story was interesting enough and I liked the setting. It led you by the hand a little too much for my tastes with the ever-present HUD icon that pointed you to the next jump or ledge. It’s entirely possible that caould be turned off though, I don’t think I ever checked, and the wasn’t much in the way of areas off the beaten path to wander in anyway.

    The memory rewriting scenes left me quite creeped out though, you’re right there. Every time you were required to use it had me thinking, “You want me to make them think what?!”

  7. Barchester says:

    I have. Got it via Playstation Plus somewhere last year and was pleasantly surprised. It’s a bit rough around the edges, yes, but the graphics are phenomenal at times, the premise is intruiguing enough and the combat flawed but inspired. It’s also short enough to not outlast its welcome.

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    SputnikSweetheart says:

    Yeah, it’s a rough gem. Some shoddy dialogue and combat and the game really underutilized the memory remixing. Also, I spent a lot of time in the game just stopping to admire gorgeous vistas of future Paris.

  9. Winged Nazgul says:

    Played and finished it but, ironically, I don’t remember much about it aside from the art style. I keep thinking I do remember certain boss fights but additional rumination always proves they were from DmC, the Devil May Cry reboot. I guess that means DmC was especially memorable for me.

  10. tkjgmz says:

    I’ve enjoyed it quite a bit, even the fiddly bits. Spoiler alert:

    What I didn’t like about it though is how the story begins with an interesting sci-fi dystopia, but ends up being basically a family tragedy. Seemed to me like the story got smaller as the game progressed and the world building was just a backdrop in the end.

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    Don Reba says:

    You spend time creating your own combos in a confusing menu or trying to time button presses to beat up memory-addled zombie creatures. The game is published by Capcom, but its fighting system contains none of the precision of their better games.

    The combo selection menu was indeed a bit confusing, but the fighting system itself was quite nice, speaking as a fan of fighting games. Also, the story was quite intelligent and unusual, as far as games go.

    The only thing I disliked with passion was the abundance of long unskippable cut scenes.

    • Premium User Badge

      Don Reba says:

      Also, this game is without question a piece of visual art.

  12. Zallgrin says:

    I came in Remember Me expecting to hate it, and while I did kinda hate it a the beginning, in the end I fell for it. It’s not a perfect game, but it caught my eye in the way few games could and I find myself looking back fondly at the times spent inside Neo-Paris.

  13. Darloth says:

    For the next 2 hours and ~10 minutes from this post, you can get an art book for Remember Me in the humble books bundle, in the lowest tier.

    Since the art was never less than interesting, especially what they did with augmented reality using robots screaming giant holographic mouths at you, i think this is worth mentioning.

  14. JaguarWong says:

    With the fixed camera angles, restricted movement, and ‘press b to interact’ gameplay it’s no surprise at all that these guys went on to make a point-and-click (ish).

    I’m playing Remember Me right now, outside the above I’m enjoying it as a simple brawler – it takes the Arkham model and gives you more control, but loses fluidity in the process.

  15. Ejia says:

    I could’ve sworn there was already a Have You Played about Remember Me. Apparently I remembered wrong.

  16. trn says:

    This sits in my Steam library, bought in some forgotten sale. Maybe one day. Probably not.

  17. Bradamantium says:

    I wanted to love this game, but in the end, I just found it interesting and not particularly good. The memory remixing had a lot of promise, but it took a back seat to the Arkham-lite combat. Which would’ve been miles better if the process of unlocking moves to slot into the combos was reworked so I didn’t have to rely on the same two button combinations for the entire game. It’s fantastically pretty though, and the world is pretty cool. I just wish there was a better way to engage with it than Punch Mutants.

  18. mechmanatee says:

    I really enjoyed the design of the game, and the general worldbuilding. But the plot failed to take advantage of the truly interesting parts of the setting: the memory editing.

    Remixing was the most interesting hook, but once I’d finished the game I realized the whole thing is deeply horrifying. Thoughout the game, aside from relatively minor erasure of recent memories, the *only* things Nilin does with it are editing memories so that people think their loved ones are dead, either due to disease, accident or by their hand. In one case, she edits a memory that’s foundational to her father’s entire life story.

    No only does she make people rember/believe terrible things, but does so in a way that would cause profound cognative dissonance. In the case of her father, if his memories are true, then his entire life makes no sense. Even in the other cases, the time span is not so great but the distubance is still large. Olga decides to help because she thinks David died. But he didn’t – he’s still sick, but he’s not dead. Did she never check? What if she finds out he’s alive?

    There’s a lot of scope for a real body-horror story here, where Nilin is the flawed hero who thinks she’s doing good, but is instead causing incalculable harm. Spec Ops: The Mind.

  19. karthink says:

    I have, and it wasnt very good. It was AAA in the worst possible way, and every design choice grated on me. The script tried to cash in on pathos it hadn’t earned, which is probably what irritated me the !most.

    And I kinda dug the combat, in fact. There was just too much of it.

    • silentdan says:

      I’m with you, although I didn’t really give it a chance. I played it for 15-20 minutes before uninstalling it and apologizing to my PC. It just totally rubbed me the wrong way. It was one of those games, like Watchdogs, that’s designed on paper to appeal to everyone, but represents no one’s singular vision, and feels hollow as a result. Although, at least with Watchdogs, I spent a few hours taking down all the outposts before uninstalling it.

      Does Remember Me have outposts? I’ll give it another go if it has outposts.

      • karthink says:

        It’s linear in a constricting way from start to finish, like (I’m guessing) the uncharted series. There’s even a dietetic waypoint marker showing you where to go through the whole game.

        • karthink says:

          So, err, no outposts. You follow a line from start to finish.

  20. piedpiper says:

    I never understood why people hate it’s combat system. It’s kinda simple and light but you have to understood how it works in the first place. The graphics and artstyle are great in first two levels but then it goes downhill pretty fast when you find yourself surrounded by boring corridors and rooms. Remixing was a great idea but used literally 2 times throughout the game. The plot is a mess which got me bored pretty fast. Main protagonist has a nice ass though.

    tl;dr: boring game, not worth your time.

  21. DanMan says:

    I’ve played it. Took me some time to get accustomed to the combat timing. But after that, I liked it. Sure, it’s a bit clunky, but it looks gorgeous. Overall, a nice brawler to get on a sale.

  22. heretic says:

    This is one of those games that you play just to admire the sights.

    The art direction was very strong I thought, I played it on easy didn’t care at all for the gameplay (story wasn’t much better), but the neo Paris vision they realised was just too great to be missed. I did get it in a sale though, would not have been happy with a full price purchase.

  23. tomimt says:

    It’s a game I really want to like, or rather it’s a game I really hope was more than it is. I like the atmosphere of it, that’s why I’ve almost played it through. I like how it looks, but I don’t like how it plays and how constricted it is. Everything about it screams a need to be open and sprawling and how frustrated it is when the leash it has is so tight.

    It’s a game you should get from a sale. It has nice ideas in it, but it’s also a game that could have been more than just nice ideas.

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    zapatapon says:

    I played it to the end, and rather liked it, but it did not make a very lasting impression.

    They could have gone much further with the idea of the sensen device potentially messing up Nin’s own perception of reality. There is a glimpse of that in the face-off against “Madame” who is implied is more skilled as Nin to mess with people’s minds and almost turns the table on her, but it does not last long. It’s a missed opportunity since they could have played on a slowly instilling a feeling of paranoia about what is real. Batman Arkham Asylum used this idea in the fight against the scarecrow, and it was more memorable.

  25. welverin says:

    I did, and I enjoyed it enough that it made me more interested in Life is Strange.

  26. liquidsoap89 says:

    I have, and I loved it. It looked amazing, which is good; but more importantly I simply enjoyed my time spent in that world. It was very well realized, and not a lot of games can do that well.

  27. Kleio says:

    Despite the poor combat I liked the game because of the excellent art direction, world-building, and plot. You’re confronted with the extremely substantial flaws of the protagonist and you’re shown the humanity of the villains in a way you rarely see in video games. Ultimately it’s about reconciliation and love in the face of atrocity instead of destruction.

    Unfortunately that’s not really reflected in the core game play where you beat up hordes of not-zombies with a sub-par combat system. Memory reconstruction is one of the stand out features that figured heavily in the game’s marketing, as well as a central plot point, yet you don’t do much of it. I would like to see Nilin doing a lot more mind hacking and a lot less hand to hand combat. That being said, if you could transplant the melee combat of the Arkham games into Remember Me I think it would have been a big hit. All the other flaws in the game would have been much more forgivable if the fighting sequences were loved instead of tolerable to poor.

    The game definitely put the developer on my radar and made me more interested in the excellent Life is Strange. Remember Me was the first game from DONTNOD and I think they could do an amazing job if they had a chance to make a sequel that addresses the flaws from the first game.

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      Harlander says:

      The mind hacking was novel and pretty fun. As I understand it writing it took quite a lot of effort and they didn’t have the time/money to make more of it, though…

  28. thedosbox says:

    Adored the graphics/visuals/aesthetics/eye candy (Hi John!), but I gave up on the game after getting fed up with the combat system.

  29. Etsu says:

    I played it, and I must be alone in this but I loved almost every single bit of it. I usually don’t like fighting games, and I never played any Batman game. (Not even the Point & Click adventure, no.) But this one just was amazing for me. The setting, the characters -particularly Nilin-, the art style, the story and narrative, the game mechanics -specially the memory remixes-, the puzzles, almost everything. (Except for the lacking platform mechanics, I didn’t enjoy those most of the time because of the lack of challenge). This game is just wonderful, at least for me, and it’s probably my third favorite regarding boss fights. (Metal Gear Solid and Soul Reaver are the other two.)

    Note: I played it in French and I never ran outside of combat. I just walked around enjoying the view.

    I wish that it could have been an adventure though, but at least Dontnod made my dream come true when they decided to make Life Is Strange, so no more complains there.

    • AriochRN says:

      I’m glad I wasn’t the only person to stroll through the game, I quite enjoyed it as virtual future tourism (with a bit of fisticuffs now and again)

  30. Jason Moyer says:

    You’re not alone in liking it, I actually have it rated pretty comfortably in my top 40 games of all time.

    There are obvious aspects which are amazing, such as the setting and the characters as well as the adventure-y memory remixing bits, but I also think the combat is fantastic if a.) you’re using the correct input device (i.e. an XBox360 pad) and b.) you play on at least the normal difficulty setting if not the hardest.

    If you want to make my “permanently installed” list, you can do a lot worse than combining cyberpunk, a female protagonist, and hand-to-hand combat.

  31. Unsheep says:

    The combat is more technical, and therefore more challenging, than in the Batman games, that’s what makes Remember Me “uncomfortable” to most people; in Batman you can just button-mash and win every time. In this game you can’t. On top of that the boss fights are like proper old-school boss fights, where you have to find the right method to beat the boss, i.e. you actually have to use your brain a little.

    Or perhaps ‘technical skill’ is only acceptable in FromSoft games and not in other games ? That’s the message I’m getting from articles like this.

    • horrorgasm says:

      You can’t be serious. You can blow through the game using the same beginning 3 button combo the entire time and the boss fights use almost identical mechanics as the Arkham series: “find” the clearly labeled weak point, hit it repeatedly, the end. This game was super basic even by 3rd person action game standards.

  32. Deviija says:

    I loved (and still love) this game. There was so much potential in this world, the mechanics, and the protagonist. I love Nilin. Absolutely there are issues with the game, from story chaos to exploration and parkour limitations to character portrayals, but overall for a first entry into a new IP and an effort at trying many ideas that made mechanics and gameplay and beautiful arty graphics interesting, it was a good product, imo. I’d love to see another game with more of an open world appeal, and taking Nilin around those futuristic sights and having future high-tech strange adventures.

  33. montorsi says:

    Played it and love it but I put it aside for one reason or another and when I went back to it I found that I’d forgotten the controls. So I must start over sometime. Still, BRILLIANT design in that game. I absolutely adore what they did with Paris (and have it as my Steam profile background, it’s lovely)

  34. cosmitz says:

    The worldbuilding was FANTASTIC, the audio was amazing both in quality and in the way it was used, and for those reasons, Remember Me will be memorable. A lot of that can be seen in Life is Strange and i was happy to still see it there. The bad parts.. Combat was cruddy and didn’t stack together well, though kinetic enough to feel good, like a reimagined Oni, and the memory manipulation was just pure puzzles, annoying on the PC due to the mouse being a lot less precise in those round shuttle-movements than joysticks on a controller. The story was.. weak, but i did love the characters, though i think that falls in the same worldbuilding i mentioned first.

    Either way, Remember Me stuck in my head when a lot of the games that year didn’t. I consider it a success.

  35. GeneJacket says:

    I have played Remember Me, several time through, actually.

    The “build-a-combo” combat system was interesting, but a bit undercooked. The story, characters and world-building are some of the best of the past generation, in my opinion, and more than make up for the lackluster fisticuffs. Neo-Paris is one of the most well thought-out and downright gorgeous game worlds I’ve ever visited, and loved the genuinely thought-provoking ideas at play in the game. I cannot recommend Remember Me highly enough to anyone who never got around to it.

  36. horrorgasm says:

    It probably would have been received better if they hadn’t hyped the shit out of the “complex” combo and memory remixing systems. Anyone who was following the game’s development before its release saw a lot of claims made that never got followed through on. They Molyneuxed it, basically.

  37. Iratedgamer says:

    I remember this game and hope for a sequel. I loved the environments, animations, and music. The combat is really the only thing that fell short, and even then, the combat wasn’t bad, it just could have been a little more fast paced.

  38. Listlurker says:

    Remember Me? Really good game with a couple of flaws holding it back fom full greatness, in my opinion.

    As others have said, the visual design of Remember Me was sublime. So nice to see a near-future SF setting which didn’t feel like Blade Runner done sideways, yet again. :-)

    Where it failed? For me, in the places where it fell into standard console action-game play (linear story; what often felt like obligatory boss fights). Dontnod created such an intriguing world, I kept wishing I could interact with the world and its characters more. If not in a “Classic Bioware” way, at least a bit of what you see in games like, I dunno, Grand Theft Auto V or Saint’s Row III?

    It felt like I was riding a tourist bus through a really cool location, but I wasn’t allowed to get off the bus and see anything up close.

    Other strengths, beyond the world itself, were as others have said — the build-your-own combos system, and the memory-remix minigame were very cool. I would’ve liked to see these developed, and less of the standard action game stuff everybody does.

    And, perhaps oddly, I liked the parkour bits: the jumping and climbing. It reminded me very much of the classic Tomb Raider games.

    Since Tomb Raider has been rebooted into “generic action franchise # 14,624”, I’ll take this sort of traversal gameplay where I can get it. :-)

    My opinions only, of course,