June 4th is coming up soon so Capcom and Dontnod are showing off their version of near future with the dystopian, memory hacking game, "Remember Me" hear in New York. Unfortunately, I didn't have enough time to check out the full demo as I was still nostalgie-tripping over "DuckTales" but I did get a few hands on moments with some combat and explored a bit of the seedy underbelly of Neo Paris.
Agile, Fluid Combat
Real talk: "Batman: Arkham Asylum" changed brawlers for the better ( I know -- bold stance to take). I'm not saying Dontnod ripped the idea straight from the Dark Knight but the similarities are hard to miss. Nilin is a very agile brawler, easily transitioning punches and kicks effectively from enemy to enemy. The section I played focused on melee characters, so I'm not sure how it'll be fleshed out against enemies packing heat. Additionally, the baddies telegraph attacks with a bright red exclamation mark which should prompt you to hit the dodge button to effortlessly swoop out of the way. It's not completely revolutionary, but it's simple to grasp and genuinely fun; however, there are a few neat tricks that add a bit more thought into how you fight.
Nilin isn't just a super memory hacker, she can also hack her combat abilities in a way. A cool mechanic Dontnod added is the ability to remix combo loadouts with ComboLab. Basically, this means that as you gain experience, you'll receive new combo abilities. You have four primary loadouts that can be altered by removing and slotting in new moves. You can string new combos to fit your playstyle. For instance, if you're really confident you can create long combos to really take the fight to enemies. Novice players can focus on a few simple, effective moves.
Super Powered Abilities
The nitty, gritty is that Nilin is a strong, athletic fighter who can employ custom combo strings to overcome adversaries; but to become a true master of martial arts, you'll need to employ Pressens. These advanced combo powers that alter the way combos work. There are four types: Regen -- which heals you upon successfully comboing; Power -- boosts the attack power; Cooldown -- allows you to use special moves more frequently; and Chain -- duplicates the previous Pressen and doubles its power. I liked the Regen ability because it's a smart way of creating a heal system that's based on performance with needing to suck down potions or medkits. During a pretty heavy battle when I was handicapped due to a bungled QTE, I could quickly recover health by relentlessly pummeling bad guys with my custom Regen combo. Equally, power quickly dispatched tougher foes.
Music plays big part in combat as it provides direct audio feedback of your overall performance. Perfectly timing strikes and seamlessly transition combos with Nilin queues the audio to burst with digitized music for as long as you continue to do well. Start floundering, however, and the audio fuzzes in and out. It's really neat incentive to keep doing well beyond pure survival as the snazzy synth beats encapsulates that dystopian future aesthetic.
It wouldn't be a dystopian future without the popular tropes. The demo began as Nilin awoke from a casket like pod in the sewers. Neo Paris is a city that grew too fast, quickly building on top of the old creating an massive slum full of trash, abandoned buildings, and a forgotten population. While the surface city is a sprawling world of technology and progress. The two worlds will probably pay a bigger role in the larger narrative but graphically, the artists at Dontnod heavily reference sci-fi classics like "Blade Runner" with a touch of "Escape From New York." The slums had dense, dark, and confining spaces with touches of light as you could see the bright city above.
Higher And Higher
Finally, I'll touch briefly on climbing. There's definitely a bit of "Drake's Fortune" in the mix as Nilin can clamber up the sides of buildings, using ledges, pipes, and scaffolding to navigate the environment. It seemed very directed with limited exploration as you search for collectables. Of course this was near the very beginning of the game so take that for what it is.
So far it looks like Dontnod has something pretty cool with "Remember Me." For one, it's a new IP with a different take on the dangers of the evolving social space and the pressure of corporations controlling our lives. Nilin seems to be an engaging character in an exclusionary white, brown-haired male genre so I'm excited to see what's in store for our heroine. Throw in deep combo system that adds its own flare to the brawler and I think we might have a (hopefully) great game this summer.
"Remember Me" will be available on June 4th for PC, PS3, and Xbox 360.