Remember Me is an interesting, memory hopping cyperpunk adventure crafted by Dontnod, who you’ll probably know better for Life is Strange. The truly startling thing is that Remember Me is Dontnod’s debut title, and it’s definitely one to remember. The game sees you playing as Nilin, a memory hunter working for an underground resistance called the Errorists. Like many cyberpunk works, a megacorporation called Memorize has taken an unhealthy control over the world, and laid claim to people’s memories in a way as well.
Remember Me uses many typical cyberpunk themes, but it’s more a game about emotion and relationships, and how budding technology like social media can impact those. Across the adventure, Nilin has to recover her own lost memories, and even has the ability to reconstruct and view others. Remember Me does have a few problems, particularly in the gameplay and pacing departments. However, there’s an incredibly ambitious story to see here, with a strong female lead that grows and changes throughout the experience. In terms of world building, characterization, soundtrack, and presentation, Remember Me stands tall with the best cyberpunk games, even if the gameplay doesn’t match up.
Shadowrun is one of the well-known classic cyberpunk games, releasing in 1993 for the SNES. The title was adapted from the tabletop role-playing game of the same name, working the series’ themes into a virtual experience. Although Shadowrun does have a cyberpunk setting, it’s more science-fantasy than most series, weaving in elements like shamans and magic. The game is loosely based on the first Shadowrun novel, taking place in Seattle in the year 2050. You play as Jake Armitage, who at the beginning of the game is being gunned down in the street. Before he can react, a strange shadowy figure rushes in front of him and casts a spell. Most of the rest of the game is spent following Jake investigating the events around the assassination ordered on him, how he survived, and who the mysterious figure was.
Shadowrun is fondly remembered by most as one of the best old-school strategy games. Like many other isometric style RPGs you navigate Jake around the screen and select various options. Combat can get incredibly hectic, however, as assassins will pop out from random locations at any time. Shadowrun was easily one of the best games on SNES, and it was one of the earliest examples of a mature, dystopian cyberpunk story in gaming. The game has a gripping narrative filled with film noir style, themes of self reflection, and the dangers of technological advancement.
Before he became the superstar creator of Metal Gear Solid, Hideo Kojima crafted an unforgettable cyberpunk experience called Snatcher. The title had a tremendous impact on gaming, changing the future of the adventure genre and introducing one of the greatest narratives we’d ever seen from gaming at that time. For the time, Snatcher’s top notch presentation and focus on mature themes was unprecedented, with gorgeous animated cutscenes and impressive voice acting. The title revolves around the creation of artificial lifeforms, known as Snatcher, that kill their victims and then assume their place in society. The appearance of these creatures follows in the wake of a biological weapon created in Chernoton, Russia, known as Lucifer-Alpha, that ended in the death of 80 percent of the Eurasian population.
You play as Gillian Seed, a young amnesiac man that works for an Anti-Snatcher task force. Gillian’s goal is to hunt down Snatcher suspects, and discover the mysterious link he holds with them at the same time. Truth be told, Snatcher is most closely compared to what we know as a visual novel today, but its gripping story will absolutely keep you on the edge of your seat. At the time it’s neo-noir style detective story was unlike anything we’d ever seen in gaming, especially when you work in the vibrant cyberpunk setting and themes. Even after everything he’s done, Snatcher remains one of Hideo Kojima’s very best games, and an absolute must-play for any fan of the cyberpunk genre.
2064: READ ONLY MEMORIES
2064: Read Only Memories is a heavily narrative focused game, and one with quite a memorable cast of characters to boot. This one lays heavily on the cyberpunk themes, and even draws inspiration from 80s adventure titles like Snatcher. 2064 takes place during the Christmas season of the same year in Neo-San Francisco, where a company called Parallax has created a line of programs that integrate into people’s smartphones known as ROMs (Relationship and Organizational Managers). You play as a young journalist trying to track down a missing Parallax engineer, along with the help of Turing, a self modifying robot and the world’s very first sapient machine.
Gameplay is fairly straightforward in 2064, employing the general adventure game standards of investigating areas, building an inventory, and talking to the world’s many characters. What really makes the title stick, however, is how emotionally resonant its story and characters can be. There’s true cultural and racial diversity in the 2064’s cast, something not often seen in games. More than that, however, the title uses this diversity to explore identity and class politics, with a futuristic cyberpunk backdrop as the basis. This is one story you won’t soon forget.