Last month, I had the chance to check out a few upcoming games at PAX East. Since the lines for everything were quite long, I prioritized two that featured playable female characters: Supergiant Games’ recently announced Transistor, and Dontnod’s Remember Me. Both games are futuristic sci-fi adventures starring women, but beyond that, they have little in common.
Transistor (Supergiant Games)
“Red was a star,” the demo begins, a few short sentences over a painting of a red-haired woman singing into a microphone. She’s teleported into the streets somewhere, wearing a glamorous yellow gown that trails on the ground. Soon, a voice begins speaking to her; it’s coming from a futuristic blue sword impaled in a body. Red’s outfit changes to something more practical when she picks up the sword.
“That’s not me. Not any more,” the voice says of the body. The narrator in this game speaks in the dry tones of a noir detective. When I tried to picture what he might look like, the protagonist from Hotel Dusk came to mind. Rather than telling a story that happened in the past, the narrator is speaking directly to Red, in the present. When he’s teaching you how to fight, he’s teaching her as well.
Red has two attacks available to her at the start: one that deals damage directly in front of her, and one that fires projectiles in a straight line. Both have a bit of a windup, making the giant sword feel appropriately cumbersome, but this is mitigated by the pause mechanic that is introduced not long into the game. Pulling the right trigger allows the player to pause the action and set up a chain of movements and attacks, adding an element of strategy to the combat. For example, I was able to set up an attack on one of the larger enemies, and then line up a projectile attack that would strike multiple enemies in one strike, something that would be difficult to pull off without pausing, since the enemies–white and red robots called the Process–move around so quickly. Pressing the right trigger again sets off the chain, which Red executes while the world moves in slow motion. Later on, this mechanic is put to use outside of combat in a situation that requires Red to hit two switches almost simultaneously.
I’m intrigued to learn more about Red, the Process, and the world they inhabit. Combined with beautiful art and music and a combat system with a lot of potential, Transistor is definitely a game to keep an eye on. Supergiant says the game will be out “probably” in early 2014, with platforms to be announced. You can watch a video of the demo here.
Remember Me (Dontnod Entertainment)
I only first heard about Remember Me recently, and I was immediately intrigued. It is a third-person sci-fi action game starring a woman, with gameplay involving manipulating peoples’ memories. It’s the first major game to star a woman of color in a very long time. The game was prominently featured at Capcom’s booth at PAX East, and I was very excited to try it out. I’m sorry to say that I was disappointed with what I played, but I’m still hopeful for what the final game will be like.
The demo consisted of the first fifteen minutes or so of the game, which sets op the setting–Paris 70 years in the future–and the protagonist Nilin, a “memory hunter” who has lost her own memory. Now she is being hunted, and she doesn’t know why. The tutorial consisted of platforming and combat segments. The platforming feels distressingly similar to Uncharted, but climbing pipes and ledges in order to navigate a dystopic future city rather than remote mountaintop temples. It all felt too much like something I had played before.
The memory remixing and the more advanced aspects of the combat system were not present at all in the demo, so what I played felt like a standard action game that didn’t really bring anything new to the table. However, the demo may not be reflective of the entire game; it all hinges on how the memory gameplay is used, and how the story is executed. So far, though, Nilin is an intriguing protagonist, and I’m glad Dontnod both designed her in the first place, and stuck to their guns later on when faced with pushback from publishers.
Remember Me is out on June 4th for consoles and PC.