I recently played a video game in a foreign language.
Now, I realize that may make me sound like an incorrigible hipster, but I promise I’ll explain.
I just finished playing Remember Me, a game by a French developer that takes place in a post-apocalyptic, cyberpunk Neo-Paris. In a world where all human memory has become completely digital, you play as Nillin, a memory hunter who possesses the ability to “remix” the memories of individuals to effectively change their past. Doesn’t that sound like an awesome setup?
The gameplay itself was only fair-to-middling, consisting of combo-based combat (a la the recent Batman Arkham series) and climbing around beautifully designed levels (a la Enslaved: Odyssey to the West, another underrated gem of a game). The exploration was a bit too linear for my tastes, and I often felt like I was fighting the combat system as much as my antagonists. But for me the real draw was the setting.
Like I said with the mouthful above, the setting can be best described as a “post-apocalyptic, cyberpunk Neo-Paris.” Old Haussmannian apartment buildings cower under soaring chrome-and-glass arcologies that reach into the clouds. Believe it or not, this is a post-apocalypse filled with color: green and stone in the older parts, white and neon for the new. Some of the outdoor bits even take place during the daytime, which seems unheard of for cyberpunk.
I wish I could have explored this vision of Paris more. But while I enjoyed seeing famous landmarks and familiar designs, it felt odd to be experiencing them in English. When I was in college, I spent a year studying abroad in the city, and a lot of my memories from the time are tied up with the French language. Luckily, the game had an option to change the dialog language used during play.
But I hesitated. After all, it’s been nearly eight years since I used my French regularly. And while I’d like to think I managed to become fluent, how would my skills have fared with years of neglect? It’s true that if you don’t “use it” you “lose it;” how much had I lost?
Well, I can now say that I was able to enjoy the game plenty while in French. I did keep English subtitles on just in case, but ended up hardly using them at all. I think I even enjoyed the French voice acting better than the English (what I heard of it, that is).
So yeah. If you’re looking for a good (if not quite great) gaming experience in a unique setting, I can heartily recommend Remember Me. I had fun with it, and it scratched an interesting nostalgia itch for me at the same time.