Remember Me: The triple threat

by: Nathaniel -
More On: Remember Me
We're a week away from Remember Me's release date.  If you're not already familiar with it, here is brief rundown: Set in 2084 Neo-Paris, the player will control Nilin.  She's an elite memory hunter for an organization known as Errorist.  You see, in 2084 Neo-Paris, a corporation called Memorize has figured out how to store, buy, and sell memories.  People buy the memories of others to experience things they've never experienced, but for some the process is addictive creating a class of drug addicts where the "drug" in question is other peoples' memories.  Memorize's true crime however, is using memories as a tool to control society, hence the push-back by Errorist rebels, including protagonist Nilin.

Gameplay features combo-based melee combat.  These combos can be customized by the player using the four families of moves, known as Pressens.  When you're not punching people, you'll be stealing their memories to learn things you wouldn't otherwise know.  The implication here is that instead of physically locating the code to unlock a door, for example, you can simply find the person who knows the code and rip it out of his or her brain.  Other gameplay features include remixing others' memories as a form of manipulation and special attacks known as S-Pressens.

However, what makes Remember Me most interesting is the "triple threat" I alluded to in the title: it has a female protagonist, it's a new IP, and it's set for release during this console generation's lame-duck period.  Remember Me ostensibly has three things working against it, three threats to its success, yet Capcom has seen fit to release it anyway.  

More and more, publishers are shying away from exclusively female leads in action games.  Yes, there are lots of female characters in videogames, some of which are even portrayed as something other than the objects of male gaze.  Elizabeth from BioShock: Infinite and Lara Croft from the Tomb Raider reboot are two prominent examples.  However, only one of those, Lara Croft, is the star and only playable character.  Jim Sterling summed the issue up better than I ever could in the March 25th episode of his web series Jimquisition.  What it boils down to is that publishers are rejecting female protagonists or downplaying them on the artwork of games where they do appear.  Capcom has clearly decided to buck this trend since Nilin is both an actual female and the only person on the game's official cover art.  

Also becoming a rarity in the gaming world are new IPs.  One look at most game collections or release schedules will show an ever-increasing number of sequels.  You can find countless articles examining the issue.  In fact, if you type "too many videogame" into Google "sequels" is at the top of the auto-complete list, so this shouldn't be a shocking revelation to anyone.  Publishers seem to think that the vast majority of gamers only want to play things they're already familiar with.  They may even be partly right.  After all, I like sequels to my favorite games, but I also love brand new games with original stories and characters just as much, and I doubt I'm the only one.
Even more rare than new IPs are new IPs released this late in a console's life cycle.  Of course, that factor is directly related to the general lack of new IPs, because, everything else being equal, fewer new IPs means there must be a corresponding rise in sequels unless the industry is okay with letting the amount of new games simply peter out, which is not what seems to be happening.  That fact is not necessarily indicative of a problem but it does speak to the complete package of risk that Remember Me exists in spite of.

The real point I'm trying to make is that Remember Me should be, well, remembered the next time someone disturbed by the trends I've mentioned heads to their local game store to pick up a new one.  That's because the only thing that should stand in the way of a game's release and purchase is poor quality, not the gender of the protagonist, the lack of a number after the title, or the year in which it comes out.  Now obviously, it's possible that Remember Me could be terrible and deserve to not be bought or played by anyone; however, I've been gaming long enough to know that I can usually trust my gut and my gut is telling me that Remember Me will be worth checking out.  The fact that it violates so many conventions that seem to govern what games get made should just be motivation for gamers like me to check it out if for no other reason than to encourage more convention-bucking titles.

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