Have you ever played a game that you loved, so much so that it was on its way to become one of your favorites, only to have it crashing down? Have you ever seen an ending so disappointing, so frustrating that you wanted to disown it, making you despair and rage? No, I’m not talking about Mass Effect 3, but something much closer to me, with a similar horrible ending. Welcome to Rockmandash Reviews+, and today on my Infinity & Zero Escape Marathon we have Remember 11: The Age of Infinity, the game that was so close to perfection in my books, but threw it all away.
If you know anything about the Infinity series or the Zero Escape Series, you would know that the games in the Infinity series are essentially prototypes to the Zero Escape series, where Uchikoshi polished the execution and utilized the concepts to it’s fullest potential. One of the biggest elements of that series was the tension, how it trapped you into the narrative, engaging you deeply with what it wanted to do. While Ever 17 had elements of said tension, it wasn’t really the focus of the game, which aimed more at the atmosphere... leaving Remember 11 to be the game that captures the tension in a phenomenal way that Zero Escape eventually used. The amount of tension in comparison to Ever 17 is so astronomically different that it’s hard to believe they’re made by the same people, but man is it impressive. It’s like comparing apples and oranges: Remember 11 has a gripping narrative filled with a surreal feeling of tension that stole me by storm, entrapping me in the world, while Ever 17 had some of it, but wound up carrying the story based on the premise.
Speaking of premises, this game has quite an amazing one, as it’s pretty unique (to me at least) and is executed brilliantly. Remember 11 starts off by following Fuyukawa Kokoro, a third-year sociology major, who boards a plane to meet a research subject in the Specified Psychiatric Hospital for Isolation and Aegis, or SPHIA. For reasons unknown, said plane crashes on Mount Akasara in the middle of a snowstorm. Of the 31 passengers aboard the plain, only 4 passengers manage to survive the crash, and those are Kusuda Yuni, Yomogi Seiji, Mayuzumi Lin and Fuyakawa Kokoro. They decide to take shelter in an empty cabin until the storm passes.
The story every now and then switches the perspective to Yukidoh Satoru, after he falls from the SPHIA clock tower. He awakens with some memory loss and the realization that someone is out to kill him. Due to a snowstorm, he’s unable to leave the SPHIA facility, and his only chance at living is to find that person among the three other residents (with one of them being known for having a different personality that is a serial killer) of SPHIA that is out for him. (or perhaps a hidden culprit?)
Shortly after, Kokoro and Satoru realize that they are somehow exchanging bodies, and need to trust each other to live. Will they both survive the deadly situations, and solve the mystery of why all of this is happening, or how it’s even happening at all? It’s questions like this that Remember 11 executes so well, as it creates a beautiful mystery based around the situation the characters are in, and an amazing atmosphere that I fell in love with, which is always at the edge of life, yet in an unnatural calm. The atmosphere is just done so well, and it’s just something that Uchikoshi excels at, being matched by very few out there. I truly felt like I was trapped with them, and my life was on the brink of existence… seriously impressive. It created an amazing narrative that just flowed with the story in the best way possible, and I adored it. This great atmosphere is ever-present throughout the game, and even enhanced because the main characters need to fight between the outside world and what’s going on inside their mind: What’s happening during the gaps, and what is happening with the world? It’s all very interesting and very enjoyable.
the writing is pretty much really solid in almost every way, and it’s quite hard to find faults. The sci-fi aspects and ideals that this game runs with, like the mind swapping, how one would react when they are claimed to be dead, what an identity is (Dissociative Identity Disorder is extremely interesting and this game handled it extremely well), and the core essence of survival were all aspects that I appreciated quite a bit. The way it handles sanity and mental psyche in general was really just solid and entertaining, and really I loved how thought provoking the game was. The characters and interactions are interesting and engaging as well,and a majority of them even are really likable too! (Except Lin Mayazumi. She deserved to die. Damn lawyers...) The pacing is extremely solid and much more thrilling, especially in comparison to Ever 17. Remember 11 is a brilliant ride that was executed extremely well with phenomenal writing, but there’s one BIG issue with the writing of Remember 11 that wrecked it all….
THE WORST GODDAMN ENDING I’VE EVER SEEN IN MY LIFE.
I loved Remember 11. As I was playing through it, I was hyping it up to be my favorite game ever, and it really was… until that ending. It ends off at a cliffhanger (literally), leaves just sooo many things unanswered and feels like there is a 3rd of the game missing. There is no third route, there is no answer. All the interesting plot aspects were dropped, leading to red hearings all over the place, and it leads the player into a state of absolute confusion. All the interesting things are dropped, Red herrings all over the place. You’re left in a clueless state, and annoyed by the WHAT THE FUCK JUST HAPPENED? WHY? WHY WOULD YOU END IT THAT WAY??? WHYYY??????
That ending is by far my least favorite ending I have experienced, leading this perfect experience with a compelling and strong narrative to collapse, falling apart without even explaining itself, making you have to find out what the hell happened yourself. It points out flaws in the story, brings back questions that were never answered and kinda just pisses on the efforts that went into the game. It hints at more, but there is no more. It’s absolutely the most frustrating ending you will ever experience. Events happen because they happen, and you’ll never know. The only way you’ll get even a hint of the events is if you go through the “TIPS” system in play, going out of your way to find the information, or search through it on a wiki. “TIPS” is a system that displays information on certain text, and it’s implemented on other VNs for information not related to the story, but this ending requires information gained via “TIPS”… and this ABSOLUTELY FAILS. When you need to disconnect yourself from the world to learn what is happening, the game has failed as a narrative. TIPS is a failure to me and I will never view it as anything else. I don’t care if what in there is good or even great, because I care about a narrative. I care about how they told the story, not just the story and this gets me every time. It had such a brilliant narrative, but ending it in a way that makes no sense from a narrative standpoint? I’ll just never understand.
This just burns, especially because EVERYTHING ELSE WAS DONE SO WELL… The absolutely amazing, emotional ride that leads up to it, the build up and anticipation for a good and concluding ending, only for the waves to come crashing in, destroying everything…. KID rushed this game out because of budget constraints, and even though what we got was quality, the game really suffers because of it. It’s not done, and the people who had involvement in the game know that. The plot self-destructed, and it makes you ask the wrong questions: Is she a even a serial killer, something the tension was contingent on? What happened in these characters pasts? Did they survive or die, and what is leading to these live/death situations as they switch? what is the gap between the time they switch? How does this even work?
You are stuck in an infinity loop forever, there is no solution. You will not understand what happened. You will not like what happened. You are trapped in an infinity loop, and unlike the others, there is no way out... the most frustrating aspect of the whole entire series.
Writing - 8/10
Rarely do VNs look as nice as Remember 11 does after such a long period of time, and rarely do games in general age as well as this one does. This game is 10 years old, and it looks even better than titles that come out today... and they didn’t even have a big budget! What they managed to do with the visuals is absolutely outstanding, managing to perfectly craft a world with characters that feel in place and feel like actual characters while also nailing the atmosphere and the backgrounds perfectly. The character designs just look great in general, showing a wide range of emotions while having an aesthetic feel (that is something you don’t really see) while being very enjoyable and interesting to see in action (Yes, this VN has animations!). The visuals take the tone for what it wants to do and combine it with a fantastic soundtrack to make this an interesting and amazing experience, one that just flows extremely well. The UI is quite nice as well, something I don’t really get to say for any game, and I really appreciate the visuals throughout. I really like the style of this, and it’s just so polished. The animations and effects in the game were really nice touches as well, and I really have just praise for it.
Let me put into context on why I’m so impressed: This was a PS2 game, coming out in 2004. That’s the same age as Fate/stay night, but it looks quite a bit better, still looking great today. Yes, there’s been better out since this game like Steins;Gate, Eden* and Rewrite, but those also had like half a decade or more advantage. Remember 11’s visuals have aged extremely well, and they look solid no matter what standards you judge them by.
Visuals - 9/10
I’m a fan of Remember 11’s soundtrack, with it being very it’s just as listenable as Ever 17’s ever was, but the way they go about it is quite different, with Remember 11 being much, much more direct than Ever 17 aimed to be.
It’s no Umineko with every track being golden but it’s still very pleasing to the ears with a decent amount of standalone tracks and the soundtrack in general being just pretty good. It doesn’t have a main environmental theme like Ever 17 does with its water, so it takes a totally different approach to its atmosphere: Instead of creating a world with music where everything blending in together, Remember 11 uses the music to create an atmosphere that is focused on tension, on emotion via a more situational, more emotional track. it’s an atmosphere of mystery and confusion or unknown, focused on engaging you with the narrative and what it wants to do. I also really appreciate the focus on the psyche and mind with the music, or focus on moving how you feel and I actually think this approach works well. Also, I have no qualms with the voice actors, as everyone did a great job. Really, the sound in Remember 11 is quite nice, and I really liked it.
Sound - 8.5/10
There’s nothing more painful than something building up your hopes and dreams, making you fall in love with it, then stabbing you in the back when it’s done with you. Going through this process typically is much much more painful than something bad, and it makes you question yourself. It makes you wonder, what went wrong, what happened? It’s things like this that sticks in your mind, and it’s these thoughts that will always surface whenever I think about Remember 11. It was the closest to perfection I’ve ever seen. I was engaged in the characters, in the world. I was sucked into the narrative, and I loved it. The atmosphere was rich and beautiful, and everything was to my liking, just a bit more than my current favorite game, 999, but like everything else it was too good to be true. What was quickly escalating to be one of my favorite games collapsed under the pressure, due to a lack of funding. It’s a damn shame. IT’S A DAMN SHAME.
When you are so close to perfection, only for everything to collapse like this, it makes for a confusing state of affairs. Do I love it, or do I hate it? I don’t know....
Enjoyment - 8/10
Remember 11 is the best game with the worst ending. It was phenomenal, hitting all the right marks, but it all came down, collapsing right there. I loved it so much, but I just can’t accept that ending, from a story perspective, and especially not from a narrative perspective. It’s just rubbish and it keeps me from loving what could have been one of my favorite games. The hunt for the perfect visual novel will have to go on. I’d give it a Rockman Remarkable if it was finished, but it’s not. So Rockmandash Recommends will have to do.
Overall - 8.5/10, Polarization +1, -1
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Once again, thanks to Protonstorm for helping with this review. These would be way worse if you weren’t such a grammar nazi.