A couple of weeks ago I recorded a small video showing the earliest sections of Vampyr, an action RPG where you play as a newborn Vampire in England during the end days of World War I. I found it entertaining and even spoke of some of the references I found to the White Wolf tabletop RPG, Vampire: The Masquerade.
I’ve now finished Vampyr, after spending a few sleepless nights doing everything I could in the game. I missed things, screwed others up but I managed to nab the good ending, which I’m proud of for a first playthrough. But, is it any good? Yeah, but let’s get to the important details! Continue reading Review – Vampyr
Vampyr released yesterday, a new game by DONTNOD, a developer that continues to impress me with their ability to tackle different genres and play styles. To say Vampyr has been on people’s radar is one hell of an understatement, it certainly was on mine. So, is it good, or does it at least have a compelling opening? Time to find out! Continue reading VAMPYR – Prologue Commentary
Remember Me is a third person action adventure game developed by Dontnod Entertainment and published by Capcom. It stars Nilin, an amnesiac Memory Hunter in Neo Paris, a society addicted to memory modification.
Interesting gameplay concepts
Remix PC controls
When Remember Me (RM for short, and for the rest of this review) opens up, you’ll be as confused as the recently memory-wiped protagonist Nilin. From what the orderlies say to their evil looking boss on the intercom, you’re resisting the memory purge. On the way to the place where they’ll finish the process, you get a call by someone called Edge, who helps you escape, telling you on the way that you’re an Errorist, the Neo Paris rebellion against the Megacorporation Memorize that rules the city. Your escape takes you to Slum 404 (I giggled a bit when I put Errorist and 404 in the same sentence while playing) where the game actually begins, the earlier segment just being the typical forced-walking cinematic intro scene for which I have little patience.
Here is where RM introduces you to its main strength and weakness: combat. Unlike other games where the combos are pre-set or depend on the button combination, in RM it’s handled through the Combo Lab, where you combine individual attacks, called Pressens, into combos. At first you only have the 3-hit combo template, but at certain points in the game, your get longer combo templates. An individual Pressens can only be part of one combo at a time and there are different types. Power Pressens are just that, damage dealers; Regen heal you for a bit of your health; Cooldown Pressens reduce the cooldown time of your S-Pressens (super-powered moves, such as Fury, which enables free-flow combat); and finally Chain Pressens, which replicates the effect of a previously used Pressen and improves its effectiveness. The further into the combo you place a Pressen, the more effect it’ll have.
It sounds like a very good idea, right, to be able to combine and create your own combos? Well, that’s where things go sideways. First of all, all major combat unlockables, such as S-Pressens and the different Pressen types, are plot-tied, meaning you’ll unlock them as you progress through the game instead of having them available from the start, which limits how many options you have in combat. Furthermore, the fact that you can’t use one Pressen in multiple combos means that while you’re still unlocking them, building a longer combo comes at the price of maiming one of your shorter ones, taking some of the flexibility out of combat. Finally, while you unlock individual Pressens in a category with the PMP (Procedural Mastering Points) you gain from combat, the unlocks themselves are linear, so to unlock the last row of Power attacks you must unlock those before it, further limiting your combat choices.
The combat itself feels good at first. Nilin nimbly dodges out of the way and you start building your combos on enemies. But it quickly becomes repetitive, in part because of the points I previously mentioned, but also because more and more the fights become longer, with more enemies and you start to feel as if you’re not doing much to them. Games like Assassin’s Creed or the Arkham Batman help combat not feel stale by increasing your options in combat, with multiple ways to deal with every encounter, but in RM if you’re not as far into the game as you need to unlock all the moves, then you’re stuck in increasingly annoying battles with swarming enemies and limited options.
Boss fights are especially dull, because for the most part you can’t really damage bosses. Instead you have to use your cooldown moves to break their defense, get some hits in and then hit them with combos, using your Cooldown Pressens as much as you can so you can use the move again and deal a bit more damage, but the combos you build while doing that don’t deal damage to the boss, which makes the entire experience just a waiting game and a very dull one at that. Worse still is the fact that you can’t defeat the bosses outright with just damage and combos, but you instead have to go through the obligatory Quick-Time-Event to finish them off and if you fail the boss miraculously heals up.
In RM every level is divided into one of these 3: combat, forced-walking segment while the game introduces the new set-piece and platforming.
The platforming is barebones, just a linear path of ledges and poles to climb and jump at to get to the next combat area. There isn’t any freedom of exploration in this, no shortcuts or alternate or more rewarding pathways. It’s shallow platforming, no skill needed or challenge presented, so they could have just made them long interconnecting corridors and gotten the same result.
Furthering the exploration problem is that every location is closed-off, so instead of exploring and discovering Neo-Paris, you only go through what are essentially beautiful looking rooms. You can see the detailed background and sky-box, sure, but they’re nothing more than corridors. It’s a wasted opportunity to let players discover and become invested in the setting, something important in with the story they’re trying to tell.
Finally, there’s Memory Remixing. At certain points in the game you can tap into a character’s memories and alter them to suit your needs. For example, the first time you do it, you change a bounty hunter’s memories so she becomes your ally. The moral implications alone would have been a fantastic storytelling opportunity, but the gameplay is extremely fun as each memory is an intriguing and very rewarding puzzle. It’s the best part of the game but you don’t do it often enough and it’s a damn shame. The game would’ve been much better if you it had been part of the core gameplay. The mouse controls for it however are terrible. Instead of using the mouse-wheel to forward or rewind, you have to move the mouse in clockwise/counter-clockwise circles for it. It’s counter-intuitive and frankly uncomfortable.
The plot itself is extremely simple and somewhat predictable, though it did remind me a lot of Deus Ex, which might be a big spoiler if you’ve played that series. It’s a straightforward “take down the evil corporation” plot, with very few twists, but sufficiently well told. The game also desperately tries to convey the social message of how both rich and poor are addicted to the memory-altering Sensen technology, and because of it under Memorize’s control, but it’s not veiled in any way and you get the gist of it early on. Even so, the game annoyingly hammers the point at every junction. It gets tiresome very quickly.
Nilin’s characterization is one of the game’s strongest points. She’s not just a super-powered main character, but a human being. At the start of each chapter, she questions her own actions, she wonders why she’s doing what she’s doing, she’s concerned about the future, and you (brilliantly) get to know her as she gets to know herself all over again. The rest of the cast, however, is a mixed bag of stereotypical characters and two-dimensional cardboard cut-outs.
The game itself looks wonderfully, and Neo-Paris is especially beautiful and highly detailed, from the 404 Slums where more than a quarter of the game takes place to the upper districts of the city, where the rich and powerful live. The beauty of the environments and the characters, just makes you resent the limited exploration even more. The city tempts you with its sights, but they’re just inaccessible.
Voice acting is another strong point, and I was pleasantly surprised not to hear any fake French accents in any member of the cast. The soundtrack, however, is largely forgettable, just a simple drone of generic action music that gets drowned out as you play.
Remember Me is one of those games you see gameplay footage of, are really impressed by them and when you get your hands on them you realize it’s the game equivalent of a movie that put all its good scenes in the trailer. The rest is just uninteresting, and it’s sad considering how many good ideas there are in this game.
The Mental Attic Score: Not worth the money. You could get it really cheap just to try out the Memory Remix, but then you would grieve over the wasted potential, and unlike people in Neo Paris, you can’t forget this.