Adventure games have been undergoing some interesting evolutions lately. I appreciate games like Her Story, which incorporate text-based interactions in a modern setting. Don’t Forget Me takes that concept into a different but similar direction. Both games are about investigation, but Don’t Forget Me adds exploration and decision-making to the mix and wrapped it in a near-future sci-fi setting that doesn’t look too different from what we know.
Don’t Forget Me is one part adventure—much like a point and click game—and one point text-based investigation game. In it, you take control of Fran—an amnesiac who befriends Bernard, a memory specialist. Bernard’s specialty is specifically the illegal practice of copying memories. In the future of Don’t Forget Me, the world has suffered from a catastrophic war. The only solution to peace was to implant citizens with a chip—one that allows people to have perfect recollection. Of course, these chips are also used by the government for potentially nefarious purposes. It isn’t long before Fran and Bernard find themselves caught up in an operation to put a stop to the government’s nefarious plans.
If the plot sounds a little convoluted, that’s because it is. Don’t Forget Me takes place in an interesting cyber punk world—but it’s not one we’re eased into. In fact, we’re shown barely anything of Don’t Forget Me’s world, save for a few glimpses that you get when you experience a patient’s memory. That’s because, as Fran, you assist Bernard in these memory operations. To do so, you usually engage the clients in an introductory conversation, ease their worries, and sit them down into the chair. And that’s where the majority of the gameplay comes in.
Probing memories works a lot like the keyword prompts in Her Story, but with a more linear progression. Each client has a branching set of memories that can be activated with specific keywords. While the words you already have chosen are listed, there is no way to access a log of previous dialogue. Some of these keyword prompts require specific names that, if you miss, you have to replay entire sections of dialogue to get. Without them, you can’t progress down the dialogue tree. There are hidden memory “bubbles” to uncover—and they give you interesting and sometimes secret insight into the world and characters’ motivations. These only allow for a certain number of keyword guesses—too many failures, and you’re kicked out of the sequence.
Sometimes when you journey into someone’s memory you have to complete some sort of investigation. When this occurs, you are physically present in the person’s memory and these sequences play much like a point and click adventure game. You walk around, and investigate certain points of interest. These sections are confined to only a room at a time, and don’t take up much of the gameplay. In fact, much of the gameplay revolves around long sections of dialogue.
Don’t Forget Me does a whole lot of telling, and very little showing. It’s too bad, because I really appreciate its art direction. Most of the story is told through dialogue. There is an occasional choice to make while answering—sometimes you’ll have a choice of what happens to a client after you uncover some memory. These choices are presented as hard moral choices, but they have little impact to the overall story, except for slightly different dialogue at the end. Don’t Forget Me tries to tell a story that’s a little too big for its own good.
I’d love to recommend Don’t Forget Me, but goes too big. Its story is too large for the presentation. There is way too much exposition through dialogue—lots of telling and not too much showing. Don’t Forget Me would have benefitted from being smaller scale. It tells a few interesting personal stories, but it loses me with its overall arc. You don’t have to save the world in every video game you play. It does have some interesting mechanics, but the text-based memory trees more often felt frustrating than fun, and the exploration sequences too few, and too short.
Don’t Forget Me is available now on Steam.
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