Are you bored of the deluge of uninspired sequels (and annual sports releases) that usually dogs the arse end of a console generation? I certainly am. Thankfully, 2013 looks set to buck the trend thanks to a few new IPs from third party publishers. One such title is Capcom?s Remember Me, a cyberpunk action game that?s looking as engaging as it is futuristic.
The game was revealed at Gamescom last year, and was described as a cross between Blade Runner
and Mirror?s Edge
. That?s probably a fair comparison in so far as it?s set in a dystopian future, involves climbing around and features a leading lady. But I saw enough in the first couple hours that made me feel that Dontnod?s effort is every bit its own beast.
First, the story. Set in Neo-Paris, a city largely dependent on (and likely controlled in one way or another by) the clinical and scientific organisation Memorize, you play as amnesiac Nilin as she tries to piece together her past. You first see her waking up in the grime-filled underworld of the city, the Leaper?s Lair, fighting for her life as a man named Edge gives you directions on where to go in order to recover your memories.
According to this Edge chap, Nilin is a member of the Errorist revolutionary group, which aims to rock the status quo and shake up the inequality that is evident in the half-wealthy, half-poverty stricken world they live in. Nilin?s adventures in the opening hours lead her to a barman named Tommy, a conflict with a bounter hunter named Olga, and a mission to St-Michel to steal the memories of a Memorize executive.
The third-person combat takes some getting used to, but feels pretty solid to play - even if I found the camera positioned a little too close to Nilin for a large part of the game. Fighting is slower-paced than most other action games out there, but it?s certainly more visceral as a result.
revels in the connection of your attacks, with brief slowdowns following successful execution of combos, and brutal sound effects that wouldn?t seem out of place in a Korean action flick. The dynamic battle music - which drops in and out (distortions and all) depending on your performance - wraps up the presentation side of things here quite nicely.
You?re given a basic combo move at the start of the game - a simple ?X-X-X? sequence - but as you beat down enemies and level up you can unlock more complex combos, as well as the means to use them. Unlocked combos can?t be used straight away, you see. You need to use ?Pressens? to assign the buttons indicated to use the combo in battle.
Within the first level, you will unlock a 5-hit combo (Y-X-Y-X-Y), but you won?t be able to fully completely build that combo in its entirety without unlocking enough Pressens. You can unlock different kinds of Pressens that provide different effects in combat - Power Pressens deal damage, Regen Pressens regenerate health, Chain Pressens duplicates the previous move and multiplies your hit combo, and Cooldown Pressens reduce the time it takes to use a special move.
Such special moves - called S-Pressens - will offer an extra boost in combat, and can be accessed by pulling the left trigger and selecting from an options wheel. One S-Pressen I unlocked, called Sensen Fury, reduced the timing required to execute combo moves by letting me mash the X and Y buttons for continuous damage for a brief period of time. These skills consume Focus, which can be collected by beating enemies down or by taking damage.
As well as smacking your opponents about a bit, you have to be aware of your foes outnumbering and overwhelming you.
In a similar vein to the Batman: Arkham
games, whenever an enemy is about to attack you get a visual indicator above their head - although you can?t parry or counter their assault, Nilin can dodge out of the way (and over multiple goons) and, if you?ve got good rhythm, continue her combo without breaking flow.
Travelling around Neo-Paris between fights offers some nice futuristic scenery and lovely environments, and there?s a fair amount of adventure-platforming to add spice to the proceedings too. If anything, these areas feel a little too linear - with Nilin?s Sensen HUD directly informing you of which parts of the environment can be interacted with - but there?s a nice mix of Uncharted-style clambering around to sink your teeth into.
During a mission in the second level, Nilin is able to take advantage of Remembranes. These are memories left behind by other characters, which replays a person recorded actions for you to follow. Think of them as ?ghosts? of NPC characters, providing hints on where to go and how to avoid security sensors and other things.
You can interact with a character?s activity by holding LB and tapping the B button - this syncs information to Nilin?s memory, such as passcodes that can unlock doors.
Perhaps the most interesting thing about Remember Me
is the feature in which it is at its most cinematic - the Memory Remix.
At one stage in the game, a bounty hunter called Olga Sedova catches Nilin off-guard and is about to kill her for a sizeable bounty - a bounty which she needs to collect in order to fund her husband?s long and expensive recovery from memorial defects.
Before she?s knifed in the throat, Nilin performs something of a Vulcan Mind Meld on Olga, diving into her memories and finding a scene that she can manipulate in order to turn the bounty hunter into an ally. This scene in particular shows Olga in a Memorize clinic, about to give her husband David a memory transfusion.
At first, the entire memory is played out, so you can understand what?s going on. Once the scene ends, you can rewind and fast-forward by rotating the left stick, keeping an eye out for ?glitches? in the memory which you can manipulate. Doing so dynamically alters the memory and results in a slightly different outcome - Nilin?s aim is to get the Memorize doctor to kill David instead of curing him.
Multiple objects can be interacted with here, many of them red herrings - moving the surgeon?s table or switching on a machine on the wall doesn?t do anything, while manipulating other objects at a time only affects the scene for a brief moment, before the anomaly is fixed. Success is achieved by interacting with a number of different objects at different points in the scene.
is looking, sounding and feeling every bit as engaging as it seemed during its Gamescom reveal
. With a few tweaks to the camera and navigation, it could very well be the first sleeper hit of 2013.