Packed into a hotel room on the East Side of Manhattan, Capcom brought a handful of upcoming releases to the city that never sleeps to show off ahead of next month’s E3. The late spring/early summer months sometimes have a bit of a drought when it comes to major video game releases, but not so this year, with major exclusives, high-profile new chapters in longstanding franchises, and even a healthy dose of new IP coming from various publishers.
Remember Me from Capcom is one of those promising new properties. After a brief overview of the game, I was allowed to sit down and jump right in, playing the first 45 minutes or so.
The first thing to talk about is the main character, Nilin. A young woman living in Neo-Paris in 2084 (in the future, everything is “Neo”!), Nilin is a “memory hunter,” a new version of bounty hunter that collects memories to sell and trade on the black market. That’s right, social networks no longer share photos and status updates, they share actual memories and personal experience. Nilin starts the game in a predicament, though, as her own memory has been erased, and she must break into people’s minds to figure out what happened to her.
Nilin is an awesome, ass-kicking, powerful woman. She’s fully clothed, and while she starts off with a cloudy past, she’s clearly in control from the very first time you throw her into a fight. All of this may sound like small details, but it is certainly interesting given the ongoing conversation about female characters – especially leads in an action setting – in all sorts of media from TV to film to games and comics.
“It has come up a lot, I think it surprised the team. The team didn’t set out with a need – they weren’t trying to make a stand,” a Capcom representative told us of the choice of a female lead. “They just wanted to make a good game. They had a clear story in mind that they wanted to tell with the theme of memory and this new vision of the future. If Nilin starts a dialogue, they’re happy about it. I think it’s been a nice thing that people have been talking about; it’s one of the two most common questions that comes up when people are asking about the game. There’s always time for a good character, is their perspective on it.”
Jumping into the actual gameplay, the most innovative feature is the Combo Lab. While combat is based on a somewhat basic two-button attack combo sequence, there is a new element of customization never before seen. Your combos are set, on the PlayStation 3 which we demoed on, via sequences of triangle and square presses. Inside those combos, however, you choose what exact moves are placed in the sequence, using limited quantity fighting moves called “Pressens.” Each Pressen fits into one of four categories: Regen, Power, Cooldown, and Chain, giving you different bonuses. Regen will do what it says, regain a bit of health. Power moves do more damage, Cooldowns take your special Pressens cooldown lower, and Chain let you multiply the effect of the previous pressen – so if you have a Regen then a Chain, you gain more health from the second button press.
The combos require solid timing – no button mashers need apply, but it makes the game considerably more methodical, almost like the fight sequences are a rhythm game where you’re installing the dance moves. As you explore and fight, you gain experience that opens up new Pressens and new combo chains – there are 24 Pressens that can be applied into the four combo sequences, each of which get longer as you continue to unlock more in the game.
What’s more, the Pressens can be changed on the fly, even in the middle of combat. Fighting a boss and need more power? Pause and add it into you combo chain. Fighting a large group and low on health? Load up on Regen Pressens. It’s an incredibly fun new method of customization to make an action adventure game feel like something brand new despite still fitting into the exploration-platforming-fight sequence of events.
The platforming and exploration controls don’t add anything revolutionary like the combos do, but are fun nonetheless. Using the implant that allows you to take/share memories, you’ll be somewhat guided through the expansive levels in Neo-Paris; however, you’re rewarded for straying from the path, allowing you to find new collectibles that lead to new power-ups. Environments and audio are both beautiful, offering an immersive world that’s just futuristic enough for you to believe the conceits of the story but recognizable enough that you can imagine exploring it yourself. We didn’t get too deep into the story or any of the promised political commentary therein, but look forward to exploring that aspect of the game upon full release.
Remember Me offers a lot of promise with a unique, powerful character, a completely new way of handling fights in an adventure game, and a compelling world that, despite not much exposition, manages to pull you in even in just the first 45 minutes. I left the demo genuinely wanting to know more about Nilin and her world, and definitely wanting to play around with the combo lab much more.
Remember Me hits PS3, Xbox 360, and PC on June 4, 2013