Warning: This article will contain spoilers for Remember Me, including the end of the story. DO NOT READ if you are playing or planning to play the game.
Our memories and experiences are what shape us into the people we are, both the good and bad ones. Everything we do is stored in our subconscious, leaving an imprint even if we can’t recall every detail of an event. Loss of memory is something people fear. Some must struggle with diseases like Alzheimer’s every day. Others watch as someone close succumbs to it, forgetting things and eventually losing those experiences that made them. It’s a horror that no one wants to face.
So when Remember Me presents a society where memories can be shared, stored and deleted like files it feels so alien. We all have memories we’d rather not have but when it becomes as simple as using a SenSen, the memory hardware in the game, to simply get rid of them and move on then you potentially have a society that shouldn’t function.
Shared experiences make relationships but what if someone decided to get rid of a memory that others keep. That leads to conversations you may just not comprehend because you no longer have the memory. Now expand that to an entire society, with memories constantly becoming mixed up. Delete enough of those memories and a friend becomes a stranger.
Then there is Nilin’s ability to remix memories, which could be argued is much worse than simply deleting a memory. Nilin has a power that, in dangerous hands poses a massive threat, and for a time she is those dangerous hands. Instead of purely deleting memories, Nilin can bend a memory, play with it until the subject she is manipulating remembers an event differently to how it happened, allowing Nilin to take advantage of those people.
One of those people is Olga Sedova, a bounty hunter, who takes on the contract to recapture Nilin so that she can serve her time in jail. During the encounter, Nilin manages to make Olga misremember her husband’s treatment and instead makes Olga think her husband was killed by the doctor. No matter what way you look at that is an incredibly reprehensible thing to do.
It’s one thing to beat someone in a fight but to then convince them that someone they love is dead? And at no point during the events of Remember Me does Nilin really set out to correct this, banking on the presumption she’ll be successful in her mission. It isn’t the first time Nilin had convinced someone that their lover was dead. The whole reason she was in prison was because her remixing of someone’s memory directly led them to committing suicide.
The Nilin we encounter as players comes to terms with this, though she still uses her remixing powers, but did the old Nilin feel the same qualms about what she was doing, or was she happy with the role life had given her. If the latter then we don’t play as an outright hero, but a villain who regrets her old path after becoming a victim of memory loss. If she hadn’t been caught would Nilin have had her epiphany concerning the situation at all?
Nilin is an Errorist and fought against the future, the SenSen and Memorize, the company behind the device, but in this battle she didn’t flinch at using that very technology for her own gain. She works with Edge, the mysterious founder of the Errorist movement, and follows his instructions to not just mess with people’s minds, but to also cause significant damage that leads to fatalities of regular people.
One of those major events is an attack that leads to the flooding of a populated district, which leads to people losing everything and falling victim to the Leapers, who are people whose SenSens have warped their minds and turned them into vicious killers. People are killed as the Leapers enter the district, and it is safe to assume many were lost to the floods themselves, drowning because of a war they weren’t involved in.
The objective of this war was to bring the SenSen system down, and eventually Nilin succeeds but not before learning some things about herself, and Edge. The war began when Nilin was just a child, as it turns out she is the daughter of the couple behind Memorize and SenSen. Her exposure to the technology early on led to an AI being born in the system called H3O, and over the years H3O was exposed to every bad memory people stored in the system after removing them from their minds. This exposure led H3O to creating Edge as an extension to destroy the system, and to help him die.
Every major attack is due to an AI who can longer take the collective suffering of people who choose to forget so he wants to force the people to take their memories back, and free him from misery. It’s an understandable position but the consquences of H3O’s death lead to other questions and issues. Once H3O dies every memory stored in the system is released, to be re-implanted in the minds of the owners. We saw the affect on Nilin when she had some of her memory restored, causing her pain physically and emotionally.
Imagine that same scenario multiplied by millions. Everyone receives a massive hit of the memories they didn’t want to remember, which could easily lead to mental breakdowns. How many relationships are suddenly ruined because of bad experiences with others bubbling up again. Nilin wants to help build a better world, but this huge memorial release is likely to take the world down a much darker path than if a gradual release of memories occurred. Everyone remembers all the worst things of their lives, during a time when they are suffering from major attacks already.
Maybe this time forgetting was the best thing to do.