'Remember Me' Is Where the 'Life Is Strange' Devs First Tested Time Travel
Dontnod Entertainment was remixing the recent past well before Max’s Arcadia Bay adventure.
Sure, it's a few years old, but there are story spoilers for Remember Me in the following text.
If you don't remember Remember Me, don't sweat it too much. The 2013 release is, for the most part, one of those games that falls into the wide category of decent-enough seven-out-of-tens from the previous console generation. It was, and remains, no classic of its kind, but retains a certain cult appeal.
It's visually stylish, set in the Neo-Paris of 2084. Some good voice acting and music, too. But its combat is never more than a shadow of Arkham's, and the story, about a global megacorp, Memorize, jacking into peoples' brains and the "errorists" who try to stop them, is instantly forgettable.
So why this spotlight on the game, today? With Life Is Strange back in headlines and hearts, courtesy both of its PS Plus availability and the confirmation of a prequel season, Before the Storm, starting in late August, it's worth looking at what the affecting adventure game's developers, Paris-based Dontnod Entertainment, did before they really made their name with 2015's episodic hit.
And that game, that single game, was Remember Me, published by Capcom. And yeah, much of it's not worth making time for. But, play it today and you'll see how the time-altering mechanic of Life Is Strange, such a vital aspect of its story, of Max's character, has its roots in the four memory remix scenes that pop up across the older game's campaign.
In these scenes, our protagonist Nilin leaps into other peoples' memories and alters them, to benefit her cause—and, in the example of the first of such sequences, avoid capture (or worse) by Olga Sedova, a bounty hunter. Inside Olga's head, Nilin changes her recollection of the fate of her sick husband, turning her anger against his doctor, and in turn Memorize. Later, Nilin influences an enemy to commit suicide, and (spoilers) dives into the memories of her own mother.
So what matters now, in the context of Remember Me as an artifact, is not its combat, its costumes, or its environments. It's these cool memory remix moments, and how a relatively generic action title found time to sporadically pause and transform into a wholly different experience, from a face-pounder to a fascinating puzzler. And how its makers took this rough diamond of a concept and polished it up for Life Is Strange.
There's a bright core of innovation here, and that's how the gaming medium so often evolves—by nurturing fantastic little ideas, sometimes inside wider-reaching projects, and then allowing them to blossom later down the line.