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Remember Me's innovative ideas might help it overcome traditional trappings

Matt Leone has written about games for three decades, focusing on behind-the-scenes coverage of the industry, including books on Final Fantasy 7 and Street Fighter 2.

At first sit down, Remember Me's identity is hard to spot. Take it apart, and you'll find combat that feels like a clumsier version of Arkham Asylum's, climbing that feels like Uncharted's with less spectacle and a main character that looks like someone you'd see on a '90s PC game's box art.

But as the title implies, Remember Me puts a twist on standard action game concepts through a heavy focus on its futuristic world and the high tech toys that feed into it. Based on what I've seen and played so far, those toys seem best realized by the game's Combo Lab and the ability to jump into other characters' memories and change them.

The Combo Lab is basically just a menu screen, but it gives players a series of unlockable powers that they can assign to specific hits on a combo string — stopping short of giving them animation-breaking options where they can create their own combos like in God Hand. Instead, players beef up pre-set combos with powers (or "pressens") that add bonuses whenever those hits in the combo connect with an enemy.

Early in the game, for example, you have access to two pressens — one that gives you health points every time you connect a combo hit with it assigned, and another that breaks an enemy's block when you connect a hit with it. So as part of the game's tutorial, it teaches you to manage a combo by making the second hit break the enemy's block so the third hit can earn you more health.

Taking things further, the later in the combo string you place a pressen, the more powerful it becomes. It adds up to a fairly complicated system made for those who love to micromanage, though at the moment the combat itself seems a bit soft — each hit fails to look like it makes much of an impact, and most battles seem to devolve into hit, dodge, hit, dodge — so I'm curious to see if those will improve enough before release to make the Combo Lab worth the effort.

The game's other defining feature at the moment — jumping into characters' memories to change them — is what I imagine will make Remember Me stand out to most who play it. The idea is that when main character Nilin comes across certain characters, she can zap into their heads, go to a dreamworld state and play through interactive story scenes to change what those characters remember. Early on these seem straightforward — you can jump into a woman's head to make her like you instead of hate you — but the presentation works very well, and the potential for these scenes later in the game seems massive.

Unfortunately, I haven't played enough of the game and these scenes to talk about them in more than potential terms at the moment. So for now, I see potential in the Combo Lab and the memory story scenes, and rough edges on the traditional combat/navigation mechanics. With any luck, these will gel together better by the time the game hits stores in May.