Earlier this year, we were lucky enough to receive a behind the scenes presentation from DONTNOD Entertainment, where co-lead designer Philippe Moreau helped demonstrate the brawling and melee mechanics in Remember Me, its Capcom published third-person action-adventure. It was clear that Nilin, the acrobatic female protagonist, was in safe hands, because Moreau designed the combat system from scratch. The demo was commentated by Jean-Maxime Moris (creative director), who discussed DONTNOD’s fighting system and how gamers will organise Pressens in the title's ‘Combo Lab’.

Day glow

The aforementioned sub-screen allows you to construct your own attack combinations. “The Combo Lab represents Nilin’s fighting memory," Moris explained. "As you fight your way through the game she will progress, unlock, and remember her forgotten fighting moves, which we call Pressens.” There are four different types of Pressen available – Regen, Power, Cooldown, and Chain – which provide the basis for over 50,000 different combos.

To begin with, DONTNOD focused on the Regen Pressen. During gameplay the screen deliberately fizzled to identify that Nilin was dangerously low on health, but this was rectified by preparing a vitality regeneration sequence in the game’s Combo Lab menu. Here, Regen Pressens were added to an attack sequence, and assigned specific button presses. When this combo was performed, Nilin's health started to replenish. However, Moris warned that there is a downside to focusing strictly on Regen Pressens. “The problem with Regen Pressens is that they deal very low damage and it's going to take ages to take these guys down,” he said.

Shake it like a Polaroid picture

In order to be more effective in combat, you'll need to use Power Pressens. These deal out massive amounts of damage, and provide the opportunity to unleash a brutal finishing move known as a ‘Memory Overload’. This attack links into the title's overarching narrative, as the fiction states that memories can be digitised and sold on the blackmarket. Nilin is described as a ‘Memory Hunter’, so she can overload her opponents' memories, and then physically yank them out of their head. Other options include the Cooldown Pressen and the Chain Pressen. The latter allows you to duplicate the effectiveness of the Pressen before it, while the former reduces the cool down timer between special attacks, or S-Pressens as they are known in the game.

S-Pressens are required to overcome more challenging enemies. Later in the demo, we witnessed Nilin come into contact with a slew of shielded foes and a Seraphim robot, which showered her with incessant rocket fire. Neither of these adversaries could be defeated with regular combos. Moris explained that tactical use of one of the game’s five S-Pressens must be applied to overcome the stronger combatants. These can be selected during combat, courtesy of an attack wheel at the bottom of the screen.

Escaping from the circus

One of the special attacks included the Logic Bomb, an explosive which DONTNOD demonstrated by attaching it to an enemy's waist. The subsequent blast knocked all of the other targets to floor, providing the protagonist with an opening to attack. Another ability included Rust in Pieces, which defeated the aforementioned Seraphim robot. Indeed, this proved particularly effective in battle, as the special move confused the cyborg into thinking it was an ally, allowing Nilin to leverage the former foe's artillery. Other available S-Pressens include the Spammer, Sensen Fury, and Sensen D.O.S, but they were not explicitly demonstrated during our presentation.

Despite the evident complexity of the system, Moris assured that you can auto-fill combos for easier access if you prefer. Furthermore, the timing system is very forgiving, and the developer has designed the game to give you sufficient time to learn combo inputs. However, as with all great brawlers, the biggest rewards will be presented to those who master the system.

Pursuit force

While the demonstration focused primarily on Remember Me's combat, DONTNOD also took a moment to discuss the structure of the game. It's an intentionally linear, story-driven adventure, incorporating equal parts action and adventure, including innovative super puzzles, which are called ‘Memory Remixes’.

Moris was also extremely complimentary of Capcom’s role as the game's publisher. He described the company as enthusiastic and respectful of the new IP. Interestingly, he also touched upon the game's former PlayStation 3 exclusivity. “We started working on what was then called Adrift four years ago, and we secured a deal with Sony back in 2010," he recalled. "In 2011 they backed away for their own internal reasons. They had to kill a certain number of projects, and unfortunately we were one of them.”

As for the name – that came from Capcom. “Adrift was a codename," he explained. "It came from the very first drinks we had in Parisian bars, talking about having our own company. We wanted to tell a story of the environment, technology, society, and families going adrift. Ultimately we focused on the technology, and on memories going adrift.” However, Moris noted that he is very happy with the new title, as he believes that it invites players into the world.

We'll find out just how welcoming Remember Me is when it launches on PlayStation 3 next year.