Image by Flickr User: RMA2kay4
It seems we all have our guilty pleasures don’t we? After the stellar start we’ve had from the Duck and Chip, I hope to continue to the trend! Read on for more Tales of the Slightly Embarrassing (but not really 🙂 )!
There’s something so fascinating about the idea of memories. They live in the past but actively shape our present lives. Everything that we are in the present: our personalities, our skills, our motivations, even small matters like the food we enjoy is all defined by our previous life experiences. We are, to some degree, the sum total of our memories up a given moment. So what if someone had the power to alter those memories? What if they could reach into your mind and twist them, bend them to their will, or even remove them completely? Would you still be yourself? How much would you change? What kind of person would your altered memories create? Remember Me not only asks all these questions, but puts you into the shoes of that memory-altering someone! Even though the gameplay itself leaves much to be desired, It’s an existential role that I absolutely love and makes Remember Me a guilty pleasure of mine.
I love this game, not because it’s really all that good (it’s not), but because I believe in it. All the ideas are good, it’s just that the execution just wasn’t what it needed to be. First the premise, Remember Me asks a question that no other video game does: “What are you other than the sum of your memories?” Everything Nillin, our heroine, does and encounters involves this question in some manner. She lives in a world where your memories are a commodity. They’re money to spend, skills to be acquired, and a sort debilitating disease to those who are incompatible with them. Memories aren’t just personal defining experiences in this world, they’re a vital aspect of every part of the lives of the people that live in it. They’re bought, sold, abused, stolen, and in the rarest of cases: altered. And it’s this last case that Nillin is most closely involved in.
The promise of all these great moral quandries to ponder really seems like to much to be true, and yeah it kind of is. They’re there, but the depth isn’t. Each one that’s asked left me wanting to explore it further before moving on, but it unfortunately that’s just never the case. I’m hard-pressed to count that as a strike against it though because what is there is just so juicy! For example, the first time we get to explore the “Memory Remixing” mechanic, we are asked to change a bounty hunter’s mind in order to keep them from capturing us. How is that accomplished? By finding her motivation for what she’s doing, and turning it against the people who put a price on Nillin’s head. We, as Nillin, reach into her head and convince her that Memorize (the company after Nillin) had accidentally killed her sick husband via medical malpractice, rather than the reality (her husband is fine and she needs the money to keep paying Memorize for the treatments). Talk about a head trip! There are so many questions this brings up, like: if it meant saving your life, would altering a memory of another be okay? What if it was an important memory? What if changing that memory meant someone else was going to die? So much to process, so much to consider; but we aren’t given the time. The change is made, the story moves on, and the life-altering action you just performed is never mentioned again.
Each one of the Remixes (and there’s only a few), introduces a new set of juicy existential and moral questions only to suddenly move on without taking the proper time to address them. It’s really the story of the whole game, the potential is there but they gloss over so fast that it’s almost missed entirely.
Then there’s the supporting gameplay, namely the combat and the light treasure hunting. In keeping with the setting, memory is woven into the combat system as well. It’s based around building custom combos using “pressens” which are effects triggered with each successful hit you land on an enemy. In just looking at it and building combos, it’s obvious that there could be so much more. Not that what’s there isn’t fun: after I got the hang of it I was chaining my different combos together and launching devastating special attacks with fluidity I didn’t think the game was capable of! When you get it right it’s a blast; I just wish I was provided the opportunity more often. Ultimately, the combat suffers from the some problems as the story and Remixing: it’s not taken far enough.
I love this game because I love what’s there, but it’s also a little maddening that it’s all so very obvious that they’d only just scratched the surface of what was possible! In the combat system, the effect sequence can be customized but not the button sequence, we have enemies that ‘disappear’ by making you unable to remember that they’re there but no other enemies that exploit memory in a similar way. There’s also a treasure hunting aspect to the game too, but it’s barely paid attention to; just some hidden packs that bump up stats and maybe give you a text log every so often. There’s no devious hiding spots or puzzles to solve either, it’s just a basic memorization treasure hunt in each visited area that never goes anywhere.
Even the enemies suffer from this problem: they’re fascinating on the surface but just not given the depth to make them something truly unique and special. The common class of enemies are called “Leapers” people who became addicted to the narcotic effects of foreign memorize and wound up getting degraded by them both physically and mentally. I still find the concept to be fascinating and want to know more about what foreign memories do to the mind in order to make this kind of change, but it’s never explored and just is. The sub-bosses and bosses (with one notable exception) are no different; they’re all initially fascinating, but aren’t given the necessary exploration.
At any rate, here I am complaining about it when I’m supposed to be talking about why I love it. Well like I said at the beginning, I love all the ideas and mechanics Remember Me puts forward. I am disappointed that it doesn’t explore them like it should, but it still asks the questions and still presents all these cool gameplay ideas. It’s odd, but I think I might like it more for all the possibilities it gives me to ponder more than the gameplay and story themselves. There’s just so much potential here that I can’t help but have fun thinking of what they could do all these admittedly fun mechanics and intriguing ideas! I suppose that’s why it’s more a kind of guilty pleasure, I’m in it more for the potential rather than what the game actually is.
Remember Me could have been great and I think it still can be. There could be so much more here, so much more to explore in both the combat and the Memory Remixing that I can’t help but smile while playing it. It’s not a great game, but believe me when I say that all the elements are there and all that’s needed is another chance. It’s so close to being something truly new and incredible that I can’t help but believe in it. To Dotnod, I say the following: “You really had something here, Don’t give up on it yet!”
What about you? Have you played any games that you know could have been something incredible if they’d just explored a little further?
There’s more where this came from! Be sure to check back all this week for the Guilty Pleasure’s picks from the rest of the UWG Community!