Remember Me left a lasting impression on Capcom. The game publisher has decided to turn the sci-fi action game from French developer Dontnod into a new franchise. The game, which puts players in control of a sexy elite memory hunter named Nilin, will debut in May 2013 for the Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, and PC. Jean-Max Moris, creative director on the title at Dontnod, talks about what’s in store for gamers in this exclusive interview from Gamescom 2012.
Where did the idea for Remember Me come from?
When we started the company, we wanted to do a cyberpunk game and take some of the current trends we see in today’s society into the future. That was one of the driving forces behind the game. We looked at the revolution of instant content sharing on social networks. We extrapolated that into the future, with memories being able to be shared amongst everyone. That gave a lot of control to the people who handle the manufacturing of the devices that do this, as well as the people who handle the memory transfers. This should resonate with some themes that we can see in our society today.
How did you create Nilin?
Because it was a cyberpunk game about memories, it had to be more about human identity and emotion than physical augmentation and being a bad ass with weapons. The lead female character, Nilin, was pretty much a no-brainer. We thought because the game was different, and more about emotion, it had to feature a lead female character. Then we devised her as a glitch in that society. And the glitch is something you can see in all our visuals. She’s a memory hunter, which means she has the ability to steal and change your memories. That’s where other inspirations came from for the memory remix, which you might have seen the video. We added a little bit of a butterfly effect in there; how it changes a few details, and one of your memories could change the world.
In addition to The Butterfly Effect, there’s also another movie called Inception that has a similar theme to this game.
The Butterfly Effect is a movie where they explore from another angle that theme. We were in development two years before Inception came out, so technically they copied us. We definitely share some similarities, especially when pitching to publishers, Inception made our life so much easier. We could just step in and say, “It’s a bit like Inception, but with memories instead of dreams,” and then they were hooked. Then we would say, “But we have all these other things that they don’t have.” It’s been great, and it’s a great movie.
From a gameplay perspective, can you talk a little bit about how you guys approached creating a different take on the action adventure genre?
My ambition and vision was to really have a well-anchored action/adventure recipe at the core of the game. Really, it’s 50 percent action with combat and fights, and 50 percent adventure, with exploration, traversals, puzzles, and that kind of stuff. On top of that, we added some innovation. We have the memory remix, which is a super dynamic puzzle that is tightly interwoven with the narrative and the concept. We have also some innovations in the combat with a deep combat system for an action/adventure game, which is not something you see very often. It was really about having a multilayer experience that could appeal to all kinds of different people. I look forward to unveiling a lot more about that experience in the future, because we have a lot more to share.
Can you talk a little bit more in depth about the Nilin and what you feel separates her from past female protagonists we’ve seen in video games?
First of all, when you work in the games industry, there’s this urban legend that female characters cannot succeed…with just a few exceptions. It’s not a bad thing to have lead female characters, it’s just that there are good and bad characters. I don’t want to compare her to other female characters because I would like Nilin to stand on her own.
What we tried to do with Nilin is make her a really appealing combination of attractive looks, and even more, a resonating character trace that we try to really have at every stage of the experience, through every animation, dialog, piece of gameplay, objective, and reaction. Nilin is the lead memory hunter. She has the power to break into people’s minds and steal their memories.
Can you talk about the twist that this particular memory hunter has?
She’s had her own memory erased in the Bastille Prison at the beginning of the game, and she embarks on a quest to get it back. While that may sound like a little cliché in the world of video games, it actually totally fits with the theme of our game. Remember Me is as much about Nilin remembering who she is, as it is about us remembering who we are when we’ve uploaded our identities onto the Internet. The game also has all these layers of meaning. It’s also about her being this kind of, “Now you will remember me,” because she is an action/adventure character. There is this gritty, visceral feeling to how she behaves.