Opinion: The Layers of Memory in Remember Me
Tangible or not, memories are everywhere around us. You have the ones developed in your own head from experiences, and you have tangible memories holding digital information in your electronic device. Right now you’re syncing up the memories from digital to cerebral through the use of your eyes. Memories and thoughts are being conveyed for you to remember and process and remember again at a later date. Memories are everywhere and Remember Me takes this theme to heart and other developers should pay attention.
Remember Me might be the most clever game I’ve played all year. Its cleverness isn’t a skin deep assortment of tricks to make me smile. It is much deeper than that. A friend of mine pointed out that the idea of memory proliferates through every nook and cranny of the game from not only story, but to gameplay, and design as well.
The story itself is built around the digitization of memory data. You have the ability to download and upload memories on a whim through the use of an embedded Sensen module. Had a bad date? Simply erase it. Want to borrow someone else’s memory of their first kiss? You can buy it from an ATM style machine. It takes the idea of our memories and makes them more fluid and illustrates how man and machine can exchange data in a frighteningly real way.
This is the crux of Remember Me. It asks you to meld your own memory with the data on the disc being fed to you through your TV screen.
Take, for instance, the combat system. The game forced you into a system of combos in order to make any progress. Mashing buttons simply isn’t an option. To defeat enemies efficiently, you have to use the combos set down that you customize yourself. It asks you to remember each one in its entirety. Then, you have to rhythmically press these buttons in the proper order to execute the combo. Through repetition, your fingers learn the combos until you barely have to think about them. The game is using your muscle memory.
The major source of upgrades throughout the game are essentially memory exercises. A small screen appears in the level showing you, in a somewhat obscured view, where the upgrade is hidden. You have to embed that in the visual cortex of your brain for reference. What color light was falling on the item? Was there a dumpster nearby? Did I see a drone in the background? You then have to search your way around the area using your visual memory to find exactly where the item is hidden.
Not only that, but the game is exercising both instances of biological memory. Human beings have two types of memory. Your short term memory has the span of a few seconds to a minute and it is capable of storing around 3-5 pieces of data at a time before relinquishing it to the aether, or, through repetition, committing it to the long term memory. Remember Me taps into both for you to use while playing. Searching for that nearby upgrade is utilizing a few bits of information for a minute while you search. You then quickly forget. The combat system forces mental and physical repetition so that each combo is ingrained into your long term memory. I couldn’t tell you where any of the upgrades are right now, but I can still recite every one of the combo sequences.
Remember Me takes full advantage of the tools of gaming to connect you to their story, world, and themes more readily than any other game around. While the execution may have been a bit flawed, it still stands as a testament to taking chances and embedding the theme throughout every aspect of the title. It is something that can’t be said for many games that simply rely on story, action, and dialogue. Asking the gamer to participate in its ideas readily will always make a game more memorable. Remember Me is a clever layer cake of memory that transfers digital data through the audio visual cortex straight into your own brain for recollection later.
In essence, Remember Me reminds you that the Sensen is real, and it’s sitting right by your TV.