It’s Uncharted on the PC. To damn DONTNOD and Capcom’s Remember Me with an enviable sort of faint praise, it’s no more and possibly not much less than Naughty Dog’s opus – the adventures of a lady Drake through a vivid backdrop of exquisitely realised concept art, easily traversable by anybody with obscene upper body strength. And until Planet Earth inverts and the PS3’s finest goes multi-platform, that’s probably enough.
As I’m dropped into my demo, I’m delighted to discover that I do have obscene upper body strength. Also skin-tight jeans, and blonde streaks in my spiky, shoulder-length ‘do, like I’m about to break into a rendition of ‘No Scrubs’. I play as Nilin, a ‘memory hunter’ whose own recollections have been ironically erased by shady former employer Memorize. The only thing that Nilin and I have in common is that neither of us know why, and so we must take to the streets of Neo-Paris to find out.
I’m not usually one for nostalgia, but this Paris isn’t a patch on the old one. I’m in Slum 404, a place as fundamentally erroneous as its name. Like Total Recall’s Colony, it’s alive with the trappings of conspicuous poverty and desperate escapism. As I throw Nilin’s slight frame from walkways and dangle her from broken drain pipes, my eyes are drawn this way and that by the debris of a failed future. Here, a fish stand bears a frown-inducing advertising slogan, rendered Google Glass-like in my character’s mind’s eye: “No questions asked, none answered”. There, what looks to be an uncannily-human android has been discarded on a filthy balcony like so much Henry Hoover.
I’m tasked with clambering my way through canalways to some dive, rather insensitively named the Leaky Brain, to see a man about a memory. And immediately it becomes apparent that Remember Me’s climbing mechanic isn’t so much modelled on Uncharted’s as plaster-casted from Nathan Drake’s still-warm corpse. Its environments are contextual handhold-mazes of window-ledges, protruding bricks and convenient scaffolding.
It’s not particularly challenging stuff. There’s one path through these decorated climbing walls, and developers DONTNOD are determined to make sure you find it. Like Drake, Nilin will stretch out an arm in confirmation if you’re pushing the analogue stick – or presumably an arrow key, though I played with an Xbox controller – in the right direction. And if you miss those prompts, there are even bright yellow symbols, courtesy of the intrusive implant in our protagonist’s neck, to light the way to your goal.
Where Remember Me breaks from Naughty Dog form, and where it displays its commitment to its amnesiatic theme, is in its combat. Nilin is frequently jumped by Leapers, former humans whose commitment to memory implants has seen them mutate in Gollum-like fashion. She deals with them in the only way she knows how – combo-driven kickboxing.
The effects of a string of button-presses can apparently be customised in the ‘Combolab’, a menu which can be summoned at the push of a key. In the demo, I was given two basic moves to play with – a three-punch GBH affair that buffed my damage, and a double-roundhouse kick that offered a small increase to my health. In practice it was a chunkily-satisfying, Arkham city sort of close combat – though a particularly beefy boss left me reliant on spammed heal-kicks to survive.
There’s plenty of Remember Me I haven’t yet seen – not least the vaunted, adventure gamey Memory Remix scenes that so impressed at E3. But 15 minutes in its company left me recalling a handful of other games instead.