SPOILER ALERT. Always Remember Me
So, having just finished Nicole, it was with some trepidation that I approached Always Remember Me. With the same developer/publisher, artist, and mechanics as Nicole, I was prepared to be let down. Was I? Read more below~ I’ll do my best not to compare the two.
Amy is desperate! Her boyfriend Aaron doesn’t remember her anymore after a car accident! Will you be able to make him remember again? Or perhaps it’s time to move on. Maybe Amy will fall in love with someone else? It’s up to you to decide. Play this life simulation game with dating sim elements and shape Amy’s destiny.
As Amarantha, aka Amy, you have the option of dating one of four different, cute boys, all the while balancing work and play. The game ends when you reach a successful romance with one of the boys or you finish your summer job, whichever comes first.
The plot was pretty okay. Going in blind, I must admit I didn’t see the post-accident amnesia coming. I had that epiphany moment of “Ohhh, the title!” Depending on which way you go, there is either tragedy as your romance with Aaron ends and hopefully a new one blossoms, or you get your happy ending when he remembers you. Sadly, his actual moment of remembrance is glossed over, which I found to be a disappointing anticlimax.
The characters of Always Remember Me are pretty charming, and their execution is alright, though I wish some of the relationships were a bit deeper.
Amarantha, as an ordinary heroine is easy to relate to, at least for me. She has a weird name that she dislikes, she likes anime, blogging, reading, and works hard to pay for her own schooling because her parents are dead. It’s like looking in a mirror, for the most part. While being a regular girl with traits that almost anyone can relate to on some level, she is still likeable instead of being too obviously a faceless character for the player to roleplay as. The story doesn’t go much into the trauma she experienced from the accident other than her being physically injured. However, she does cry several times throughout the story. I’ve read other reviews that disliked this point, but I feel it’s pretty spot on. She went through a traumatic event and lost a loved one, in a manner of speaking. I think I’d cry too.
The date-able young men are all based on certain character archetypes from the four temperament ensemble. Aaron is leukine, with no strong personality features.Eddy is a melancholic, hardworking, and intelligent doctor. Hugh is a choleric, charming artist. Lawrence is Amy’s phlegmatic, shy coworker.
Aaron’s path makes the most sense, as Amy would naturally want to win him back, memories or no. I really wish I could have seen him be more developed, but his lack of personality is presumably due to the amnesia.
Pursuing Eddy also makes a bit more sense compared to the other paths. If Amy gets discouraged by Aaron’s father and his ex-girlfriend, it makes sense that she might turn to the kind but somewhat awkward doctor caring for Aaron. What doesn’t make sense is her suddenly getting a nursing degree for one of the Eddy endings.
Hugh’s path seems short and feels like it was tacked on as an afterthought. While pursuing him, I got the alone ending at first because I kept forgetting to visit him since he’s not in an obvious location. I didn’t exactly get the “clothing designer” vibe from him until the very last scene, so I missed out on seeing him until I wandered into the mall at random. He seems pretty kind and funny as a person, but it also felt like they didn’t know how to play him off as sort of a “handsome lech” character that they aimed for in his first appearance.
Lawrence is a sweet, shy stalker. My playthroughs didn’t trigger all of the scenes of him stalking Amy around town and online, but she does stop getting vaguely unsettling fan mail once he moves away in the alone ending. He’s so kind and quiet though, that his inappropriate behavior is totally forgiven, probably because it was underplayed in the writing.
Amy lives with her aunt Gwenda and her cat Nina. The two don’t play to heavy a role in the story, but pop their heads in from time to time. Aaron’s dad, Osher also appears occasionally, usually to bully Amy with his irrational hatred of her. The largest side character role goes to Abigail, Aaron’s ex-girlfriend who Osher sends to win Aaron back from Amy’s clutches. The alliterative names don’t get too jumbled together during gameplay, so props for that.
Writing from a Technical Standpoint:
The writing was fairly enjoyable, I even re-read certain sections during my replays. One thing that did disappoint me was that the game skips from stat building to some romantic ending in the future with little closure between the two. It made me feel like I missed out on key moments, like Aaron recovering his memories or Lawrence presumably asking Amy out. This made for a huge anticlimax for each ending.
Moral(s) of the Story:
It depends on how you play the game, but the main route of trying to reconnect with Aaron gives the message of not giving up and persisting during hard times. Or, you know, move on with your life after mourning losses. Whichever path you happen to take. Also, getting stalked by a coworker is A-okay as long as he’s quiet and shy and a total cutie. Nothing to be worried about at all, let’s date him!
The game is mostly made up of attractive white people, most of whom are young. But there are some older characters, and a small child appear to change things up from time to time.
The sprite art is soft and expressive like a watercolor. Despite some anatomical issues, I actually don’t have many qualms with the sprite art. However, I don’t like that some of the expressions force the characters’ faces to move around completely–it’s rather unnatural and stuck out when I did my speed runs.
The CGs appear to have been done by the sprite artist. It shares the soft expressiveness. It also shares the anatomy issues, but that is pretty ignorable. I enjoyed unlocking the different CGs.
The background art is pretty nice. It has pretty good perspective and a pleasant coloring job. It’s a little different than the sprite art, but not enough to clash. There are quite a few backgrounds, so feast your eyes.
For the most part, the GUI/Hud is sound in its design. I enjoyed the little ice cream cones that adorned different parts of the screen. I’m not quite sure where the gem motif came from, but it looks acceptable despite the fact that gems and ice cream don’t seem to fit together. I understand completely the reason why ice cream cones were used. Amy works in an ice cream shop, enjoys eating the sweet treats, and even dreams about the world being made of ice cream. The girl likes her ice cream. However, my one main issue with the GUI is that the map system is very cartoony and clashes with the rest of the game’s painted look.
I was pleasantly surprised when I realized I could hear Amy talking whenever she completed various tasks. The lines vary enough that they don’t get too old immediately. She seems fond of the word “awesome.”
The rest of the sound effects seem reasonable enough in their execution but don’t play a huge role. I definitely knew whenever I was making money thanks to a cash register sound, but other sounds seemed to fade into the background.
The music is by Sebastien Skaf. I must admit, the tunes were very catchy, especially the opening song, which has been stuck in my head since I played the game. I enjoyed the piano tunes, but none of them really stood out to me. The instrumental of the intro theme
Despite not making any particular efforts towards accessibility, the game is fairly accessible. Players can change their settings in the options menu, which is useful. Also, the game supports partial gamepad functionality for anyone who enjoys playing with a controller more.
Platform(s) and Technical Capabilities:
This game is for PC/Mac/Linux and isn’t at all heavy on processor usage. Visual novels, dating sims, and life sims tend to work well on computers, and this game is no exception. It worked well as far as technical capabilities of the game go on my PC.
The “Simulated Life” feature in Always Remember Me felt very natural compared to Nicole. It’s still relatively boring, but in comparison to the other game, it comes off as being a bit more realistic to the flow of the game and character.
As far as features go, the dating sim is the top priority, both in gameplay and theming. Life simulation comes next, though it gets to be a bit of a drag at times.
Relation to the Story:
When it comes to getting Aaron his memories back, the gameplay works pretty well. For instance, if you go to the mall, you can find a plushie that might jog his memory. Other little scenes unlock, except for the scene where he actually remembers, as I said before.
After an initial bad-end play through, I skipped most but not all of the dialogue in favor of mechanically raising stats like I was building muscle memory (which I think I ended up doing) to reach the different endings. What is handy is that you can start over after the alone ending with partial stats from the last run. That helped a lot in my speed runs when I made miscalculations.
Many of the daily pieces of text are repeated, well…daily. So I skipped a lot of that and read the story bits. I even re-read some of them, so it must not have been all that bad!
Good art, decent story, and okay gameplay make for a cohesive dating sim experience. All of the elements fit very well together to form an amusing, if not slightly repetitive way to pass the time.
I got my copy of Always Remember Me in a bundle, but it normally costs 17.99 or 18.99 for the Deluxe edition, which includes the game’s OST in .mp3 format, wallpapers of the characters, and high resolution chibis from the gameplay. For the game’s style, I’d say that it’s a bit pricey, so if you want to play the game, definitely get it in a bundle or on sale.
The time of the gameplay felt just right compared to Nicole. It didn’t drag on too much but nor was it terribly short. It was sweet and to the point. I also didn’t have to spend unnecessary time doing tasks until the ending triggered, it just triggered once I got the affection stat up high enough, so that was nice.
If you have the urge to unlock everything, the game is fairly replayable in order to get different endings. There are small variations here and there, but once you’ve seen two of the endings, you’ve probably seen the the majority of the different paths.
The game isn’t hard on the eyes graphically, so repeating the same stuff isn’t so bad. It just becomes really apparent when the faces of the characters slide around unnaturally to fit different expressions.
Gameplay is where the replay value is delivered a blow, but it still fits in well enough with the story of the game that it’s not a total drag like it is in Nicole.
As a whole, Always Remember Me is an amusing little experience. It’s good for taking a break from other games or work. There’s even a fun Omake at the end!
Review: Always Remember Me
On a scale from one to ten, I give Always Remember Me a 6.25--it’s it’s good, a step above being just “okay”. That’s like a 62% on a test--in the US, that generally means you’ve passed by the skin of your teeth. I tried to be generous but a couple of factors worked against the game, mostly the grinding gameplay and some problems with the story. Still, I recommend playing it, as it’s a fun game for when you need a break from other games with more stressful gameplay.
- Story (5.83/10)
- Presentation (6.83/10)
- Gameplay (6.33/10)
- Replay Value (6/10)