- Spoiler: show
22/05 - Remember Me
This was an interesting one to revisit. I like it more than I remembered, although I'm not sure if that's more than when I first played it. It's a very interesting game that tries some ambitious things, but it doesn't quite hit the landing on a lot of them. Over time I became more critical about it, but revisiting it, I think my more positive initial reaction was probably more fair.
Aesthetically it's still extremely impressive. The way it mixes the historic Paris architecture with the futuristic and augmented reality elements is great. It looks extremely stylish, but at the same time very authentic and lived in, with all the little attention to detail paid to showing the different levels of society that exist in this world and how they live. It's somewhat similar to how the recent Deus Ex games do it, but with a slightly different flavour here. Although there is a section about 2/3 of the way through where you are going through a lot of industrial areas that are a bit bland, but most of the game is very attractive. The soundtrack is excellent at mixing the same kind of thematic things together as well, mashing up modern glitchy synth with orchestral stuff. A very unique sound.
It's got a couple of pretty unique ideas when it comes to gameplay, but they're kind of hit-and-miss with how well they work. Most of the time it's a very linear Unchared-esque climby fighty adventure, but with combat more similar to the Arkham games rather than shooting. Although you do get some limited ranged options. The climbing is fine, but not that interesting. Very standard as this sort of feature goes, without much going on, feeling very automatic. At least the AR conceit means they can clearly point out ledges to jump on in a way that feels natural.
The combat though is where things get interesting. You have a number of attack strings that you can customise by swapping out what move you do for each hit. Moves themselves have one of four effect too, and the later you put a move in to a combo string, the more powerful the effect is. So you can focus on attacks that do more damage, heal you, reduce the cooldown on your special attacks, or amplify the effect of the previous move. It gives you a satisfying level of control over how you fight, and encourages you to be a bit more deliberate with your button presses. The enemy variety is pretty good too, showing a lot of variance in behaviour. Unfortunately some of them aren't that fun to fight. Some require you to use some specific special move, meaning you're spending time waiting for cooldowns that can break the flow. Robot enemies also force you to use your ranged attacks, which is nowhere near as interesting, and has an awful lock-on that is pretty uncooperative. Controls can be kind of unresponsive and clunky too. Mostly when it comes to character movement rather than attacks. It isn't a huge problem, but when it does show up, it can kill a combo string in a way that doesn't really feel fair. Being able to swap out different attacks in a string also means that the animations for them can feel a bit messy too. One move can't be designed to flow naturally in to the next, so the sense of momentum is somewhat lost. As well as every animation taking the same time can make it a bit awkward. In general the combat is pretty fun though. It has some interesting and unique ideas that get you to engage with it in a good way, and the actual impacts feel good enough. But a little bit of jank and a few poor enemies drag it down and make it feel like it isn't reaching its full potential.
The game also has sections where you go in to another character's mind and remix a major memory from their past, to change how they think and behave in the present. Another interesting idea with a lot of potential, but which doesn't really hit the mark. You watch through a sequence that is stylishly presented in an abstract cyberspace setting, where you are able to alter certain things as they come up, thus changing the consequences. The problem is that it feels kind of limited and rigid. What you can do, and the results it will have, are pretty arbitrary and restrictive. You only do it a few times throughout the game too, so it feels like the idea doesn't even come up that much. But I think it's understandable to a degree. Branching possibilities like that are notoriously difficult to do in a game, as the number of potential consequences to something like that would be near infinite. You just can't create that without infinite resources.
The story is a bit uneven too. Also has potential that it fails to realise. You play as a terrorist/bounty hunter in a world where memories have been commodified. Supposedly doing justice by taking down the megacorporation that runs this industry. It seems like it's intending to be morally grey and leave you asking questions about what actions are justified to fight oppression, and whether pain has value in life. It does leave you asking questions, but not those. Instead it feels like it doesn't really know what point it's trying to make, and hasn't really thought through its own logic, or have a good understanding of how terrorism works. It seems to have this weird inconsistency with how it deals with how a person reacts to having their memory altered. Sometimes it completely changes their life, with the new memory being instantly integrated in to everything that happened after in such a way that the person doesn't even realise anything has changed. But other times people supposedly seem like they're aware of it, as if buying a memory is the same thing as experiencing it at the moment you acquire it. And in the former case, that seems like a ruse that can't hold up. People around you would realise you were suddenly acting like a different person, or that the person themselves would be able to work out something was wrong by interacting with stuff around them. And when it comes to the terrorism stuff, the motivations for carrying out attacks and such is never really clear, nor is the intended result. It seems like whoever wrote this seemed to think terrorists are just anti-establishment types to cause wanton destruction for the sake of it. It comes across as somewhat confused. You're not asking whether you think the characters were justified in to going to such lengths, you're asking how those actions were supposed to make sense, even as you're on the side that is committing them. That said, there are a couple of interesting twists through the story. Nothing that's particularly shocking, or even unpredictable. But still, a few moments that made me think "that was neat".
Again I find it hard to not focus on criticisms, but I still do rather like this game. I still love the aesthetic and the mood it creates. That's a really big draw and I think it deserves much more credit than it usually gets. The gameplay is enjoyable enough on a base level, while also experimenting with some cool ideas that makes it stand out. It's just that they don't feel particularly polished, and like it doesn't quite stick the landing after a strong start. But still, this is a game in that sector that I have a soft spot for, for doing something different and presenting something novel, even if there are many other games out there that are much better crafted.