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Steam Pile: Remember Me

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Due to a trip to the USA, this review has been a bit delayed. It’s been a good while since I finished it, but nevertheless, it’s one of those games I definitely wanted to write a review for. I had wanted to play this game for years, but never got around to it. It’s been very under the radar, and I wish it had gotten more spotlight, if even just through Steam sales. It never seems to be one of the games on the list for flash sales or heavy discounts and that’s a real shame, considering how important Steam sales are for PC game visibility these days. I don’t know about you guys, but aside from Bioware releases like Dragon Age or Mass Effect I haven’t really bought a full price AAA game for years.

I bought Remember Me during a midweek sale, one of the few times it actually got a discount, and now I wish I had played this game a lot earlier. It pushed a lot of the right buttons for me. Story-wise, Remember Me is set in a dystopian near future in the late 21st century. Europe seems to have fallen apart, and a mega corp has risen using the Sensen technology. Everyone has them implanted, allowing people to import, export and modify memories. Like drug users, people are hooked on only reliving their favorite memories over and over again, while the corps can use Sensen to influence people. In comes Nilin, our protagonist. She’s a mixed blood female and the best memory hunter around, and for the latter she gets captured, about to have her memories wiped. With the help of a terrorist or, as they’re called here, ‘errorist’, named Edge, Nilin manages to escape from the facility, out into Neo-Paris, the cyber-punk remains of the great city that is now a crazy mix of slums, former glory and the rich hiding in their high-security buildings. As some of the memory wipe was already successful, Nilin sets out to regain her memories, aiding Edge and his group along the way.

The views of Neo-Paris are sometimes quite gorgeous.

The views of Neo-Paris are sometimes quite gorgeous.

The story and the atmosphere really grabbed me. Neo-Paris just oozes atmosphere, and the glimpses, the views you get of the city are breath-taking at times. The gameplay however has its weaknesses. It’s got two facets. You spend a lot of time running, jumping and climbing, but always on a leash. It’s close to Assassin’s Creed’s parkours, but without the freedom of the open world. An orange indicator from your Sensen always shows you the way. I hear the closest comparison would be the Uncharted games, but as I have no console (yet) I wouldn’t know. While you jump and climb your way through Neo-Paris, you sometimes run into foes. There are leapers, tragically addicted Sensen users who reminded me of husks in Mass Effect. Then there’s security staff and security robots. Running into them triggers combat, one of the most fun and yet also most frustrating aspects of the game.

Nilin usually kicks ass by using martial arts but in case of robot enemies, she has to use a zapper as well. Combat is similar to the Arkham Batman games. You dodge when the game indicates that you are being attacked, and otherwise try to build combos. The further you play, the more so-called pressens get unlocked. If you play with an X-Box controller like I did, the pressens use either the X or Y buttons on the controller for your attacks. Some pressens do damage, some heal you, reduce the cooldown of your S-Pressens (your big special abilities) or enhance others. You start with a short combo, but eventually end up with having rather complex combos. I set up one for damage, one for heals, one that mixed damage and cooldown reduction for boss fights, etc. Sometimes you may have to adjust them for specific boss fights.

A look at the combo lab where you unlock pressens and form combos.

A look at the combo lab where you unlock pressens and form combos.

Boss fights are usually what caused frustration for me. They’re usually at the end of story chapters and either really boring (here’s looking at you, Madame) or very challenging (damn you, fucking leaper twins at the end). They all rely on using specific special abilities to deal with them. That often means that you just have to hang in there and use your cooldown reducing combos until you are ready to attack the boss again.

Sometimes, Nilin gets to show why she is the best memory hunter in the memory remix sequences. For example, she has to change the memories of an assassin to stop her from killing Nilin. You watch a memory the victim treasures and then have to rewind it and change it to a different outcome. There are specific objects in each sequence that you can change and it is up to the player to figure out which changes will result in the correct outcome you want. It’s very interesting, and definitely cooler gameplay than some bossfights. There are however only few memory remixes in the game, which is a real shame.

A memory remix in action, with two possible actions how to change this particular memory

A memory remix in action, with two possible actions how to change this particular memory

My verdict: it’s an underrated gem. Despite middling reviews, it’s been one of the best games I have played this year. The story is thought-provoking, the combat is fun when it works, and the setting is so great that I would love to see more of it. Which is unlikely to ever happen, because it sounds like it bombed in sales. Such a shame! Anyone who’s looking for a strong female protagonist in a game that’s definitely more than eye-candy, go ahead, meet Nilin.

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