Right off the bat, there's one thing you need to know about Remember Me, DONTNOD Entertainment's debut game: If you love the kind of sci-fi that takes familiar places and renovates them with the futuristically unfamiliar, you need to play this game. You just do.
I'm absolutely in love with this game right now... Or between marathons of New Leaf, anyway. I'd pour it into a tub and soak in it if I could. But here's my little secret... I've been playing on Easy mode, and that might be why I love it so much.
I'll be honest in saying that when Remember Me initially came out last week I was entirely uninterested. I don't particularly enjoy the kind of rhythm-based combat and combos that the game uses, and what I'd seen of the game's Neo-Paris setting at that point didn't really inspire me (P.S. I was super wrong about that).
The only reason I felt compelled to try it was because the cast is notably very diverse (including Nilin, the biracial female lead) and I always relish the opportunity to see a game handle race and gender evenly. In a way that's a somewhat shallow reason to play a game, but it's something you don't see often enough (especially when it comes to both race and gender in tandem), and therefore something worth experiencing. It's also the developer's first game. They took big risks, and while I don't think the game is 100% a slam dunk they've done a lot of things that are well worth supporting.
Remember Me has been receiving somewhat mixed reviews. While the story and ideas presented are interesting and enjoyable and the world pretty damn gorgeous, the repetitive combat sections can be a significant thorn in the player's side. DONTNOD has tried to innovate with their combat system via the customizable combo lab, but sometimes the fights (beautifully choreographed as they can be) are an abrupt stop in the middle of a nicely flowing segment of the game.
Now, that might sound familiar to those who played (or even just read about) Bioshock Infinite. Dragging, annoying, obtrusive...
But the combat in Bioshock Infinite felt perfect to me. It didn't drag on too long, it didn't stop the flow of the game, it wasn't too repetitive... Because I was playing that on Easy mode too. I'm not bad at games, but playing in Easy mode lets those combat segments last just as long as it needs to, and not any longer.
There is some stigma attached to playing a game on Easy, and there has been for longer than I can remember. Difficulty settings still often imply maturity or skill level differences, casting Easy mode as newbie-mode or, in Remember Me's case, Script Kiddie mode. Some developers have backed away from that kind of language in the past few years, preferring to emphasize Easy as more of a Story-Telling mode, and I'd say that's been a step in the right direction.
It boils down to this: I am not playing either of these games for the combat. Maybe you are, but in that case there are probably better games you could be playing. Maybe you enjoy the challenge, and that's fine too. Either way, there's no reason to force yourself to do more of a thing you don't enjoy.
Personally, I'm playing these games for the story, the characters, the visuals, the world... And they are both fucking stunning in all of those areas. Remember Me's Neo-Paris gives me shivers, with just the right amount of the true Paris aesthetic choking under a heavy dystopian veil. The virtual interfaces and information glowing in the world feel far more tangible than in other games I've played that have tried similar effect. The camera movement and scripted moments sometimes make me wish that Remember Me was a movie so I could sit back and watch it again and again, but if it was a movie I wouldn't be able to poke and provoke the world myself, and that takes away half the fun... Especially when it comes to the sections of the game where you are altering ("remixing") others characters' memories on the fly.
The combat is really just the stuff that connects part A to part B and draws the game's length out to keep people feeling like they got their money's worth, because that's just how AAA games work. But why should I focus on the filler instead of the greater experience to be had? I don't care how long a game is so long as the experience of playing is worthwhile.
So please, play Remember Me. Maybe play it on Easy. Soak in that amazingly gorgeous nightmare future, remix the memories of others and retrieve Nilin's own... Spend your time on the parts of the game that truly matter, and don't force yourself to slog through the rest just for the sake of your gamer ego.
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Iris Ophelia (@bleatingheart, Janine Hawkins IRL) has been featured in the New York Times and has spoken about SL-based design at the Fashion Institute of Technology in Manhattan and with pop culture/fashion maven Johanna Blakley.