Finished Remember Me, this time by completing it. The Two Greenteeths fight turns out to be way harder than the final boss fight, where I didn”t even die. But that’s OK; final boss fights are rarely satisfying.
I do think they have the usual game mismatch between gameplay and story. Not during the memory remixes, where they are perfectly matched. But the story is about memories and big corporations and family ties, and the gameplay is about punching people, plus highly railroaded climbing and clambering.
You may think this is inherent to the medium, but I don’t think so. The pattern of hitting bad guys works perfectly well as a symbol of getting rid of Bad Guy Inc.– thus Arkham City, Half-Life 2, Borderland 2, Left 4 Dead, Dead Space.
Or you have a mechanic that at least rhymes with the story:
Mirror’s Edge: story = fight oppressive regime; gameplay = evade controls by taking disallowed pathways
Portal: story = exit from being trapped by an insane AI; gameplay = play with exits
Beyond Good & Evil: story = nice place is tightly held by bad guys pretending to be saviors; gameplay = (in part) exposing the oppressors through news photography
Deus Ex: story = a debate on whether human augmentation is a good idea; gameplay = (mostly) messing with augments
Open-world RPGs mostly work, since adventures conventionally have a lot of fighting, so we expect to solve most of our problems that way. The pretext can wear thin at times, though… Joe NPC has this problem, and whaddya know, it involves delving down into one more Draugr-infested ruin. Or, a huge invasion force is threatening galactic civilization, and the only way to stop it is something involving three commandos.
Singularity, whose theme was messing with time, thought of combat options that involve time, such as suddenly aging/renewing objects, and slowing things down.
So basically Remember Me should have found some way to make memory the theme of its gameplay, too. Yahtzee suggested that we could remix enemies to make them think they hadn’t seen you; that’s on the right track.
The Remembranes are an attempt to use the idea, and they work to some extent, but they don’t touch the combat.
Maybe combat wasn’t the right metaphor at all. RM might have worked better as a stealth game: avoid some enemies; alter others so they work for you or don’t see you or forget they have a gun and go back to the armory to get one; get into the heads of receptionists or lab workers to find secrets and open doors. Maybe some puzzle sequences involving multiple people: e.g. to get two people out of your hair, you make them fall in love and escape to find a quiet room together. Or maybe instead of ‘remembering’ new skills, Nilin could steal new skills from people she meets… perhaps from enemies who can then no longer use them against her.
Kudos to RM, though, for actually being based on a sf idea: the possiblility of downloading, changing, and selling memories. The one thing I don’t understand is how Nilin can change memories that are going to contradict the rest of people’s experience.
This mostly comes up with the first and last ones. (Spoiler coming.) An assassin traps Nilin, but she remixes her to think that the memory people– her employers– killed her husband. This changes her motivation, and OK, I accept that until she checks her e-mail, she believes her new memories and helps Nilin instead. But she also helps Nilin several days later, and it seems unlikely that nothing would come up to tell her that her husband did not in fact die. Plus, it’s like Charm spells in Skyrim or augments in Deus Ex: doesn’t anyone realize that these things are a part of their world? Wouldn’t she at least wonder why she had her hands around Nilin’s throat until a moment ago, and think that maybe a notorious memory-fixer had done a number on her, even if she didn’t know the specifics?