Are these thoughts mine... or yours?
Empathy. The capacity to recognize emotions that are being experienced by another. The cornerstone of humanity. Einfühlungsvermögen. One of the most positive words in the English language, as Lewis Black would say. But what would you do if you could do more than speculate what another person is feeling, actually experience their memories with all the senses? Perhaps you can even learn from those memories in a "I know kung fu" kind of way. Then what would happen if a corporation gets a handle of technology that might exploit this ability of perfect empathy? Would it bring about the destruction of humanity instead of its salvation. That's the concept underlying Capcom's new title Remember Me.
Nilin, voiced by Welsh actress Kezia Burrows, awakens in the sewers and subway tunnels of Neo-Paris in the year 2084. A scraggy gang of pale, beanstalk humanoids—abandoned lowlives known as Leapers—finds her in a black pod, one of many haplessly stacked in a pile. The Leapers cautiously creep away from her, surprised that she is not another Leaper born from the pods. As Nilin stumbles out and regains her footing, her consciousness returns but the knowledge of her own identity seems to have been taken from her.
But she soon realizes that she no time to remember, as the Leapers suddenly turn hostile, wanting nothing more than to throw their gangly hands at her well-toned flesh. With her forced into a corner, her survival instincts trigger the recovery of several memories and she finds herself to be a capable warrior with the ability to dodge easily and strike enemies with precise punches and kicks that belie her small frame. It doesn't take too long for the Leapers to reconsider their assault and flee instead to the shadows of the dilapidated tunnel.
Hand-to-hand combat is best described as a rhythmic exercise. Nilin can move, dodge, or strike with one of the player's preset combo chains. Button-mashing through a chain doesn't work; players need to be patient and input the next attack in a chain right about when the current attack is about to land. As her hits connect, the electronic tracks of the music stack upon each other, for an aural reward and response. That said, Nilin must be aware of her surroundings at all times, since enemies have no trouble interrupting her combos with swipes and flying strikes from the wall.
Similar to the combo system in God Hand, Remember Me grants Nilin the ability to tailor her own combos. In the limited span of time I had with the demo, she didn't have too many additional attacks called Pressens to choose from, but I was able to craft two separate chains with different effects, one with additional attack power and one with health regeneration ability. If players wish to play defensively, they can use the health regeneration combo while dodging effectively and not use the powerful chain combo until Nilin's health is full.
Eventually, as she gains PMP experience, Nilin will have multiple active combos that extend for perhaps eight attacks in a row, some with cooldown reduction and the ability to chain combos even further. She'll also have access to S-Pressens which can perform special abilities like Rust in Pieces, which hacks robot enemies for your cause, at the cost of some of her Focus gauge. If players ever find this combo-crafting too daunting, they can use the auto-fill option.
Interspersed between these combat sequences are bouts of linear exploration with wall-clinging, platform-climbing, and minor collectible-finding. Nilin has incredible grip strength and parkour prowess, as if she's secretly an Assassin. Sometimes this means moving cranes and activating catwalks to create a way for her to cross wide chasms or find a route to pick up collectibles, such as Mnesist NGOs and hidden stashes.
In fact, Nilin is a memory hunter who was a part of the Memorise corporation, but perhaps due to her power, her memories have been erased. As a memory hunter, she has the power to remix memories by entering and rearranging memories, and alter one particular moment that will significantly impact the subject's thoughts and beliefs. Certainly, she comes to suspect that someone has done the same to her, and to discover the culprit, she decides to deal with an underground group called the Errorists and follow the advice of her digital companion Edge. It soon becomes clear through a broken newscast that Nilin is Public Enemy #1 and has escaped from a place called Amnesia Cathedral. If that doesn't sound Orwellian, I don't know what does.
It's fantastic to see Capcom give Dontnod Entertainment the opportunity to develop a new intellectual property in a sea of sequels and calculated risks. Remember Me has been slated for May 2013 on X360, PS3, and PC.