Review: 2064: Read Only Memories (PlayStation 4)
- Release Date (NA): January 17, 2017
- Release Date (EU): January 17, 2017
- Publisher: Midboss
- Developer: Midboss
- Genres: Point-and-click adventure
- ESRB Rating: Mature
- PEGI Rating: Sixteen years and older
- Also For: Computer
Single playerLocal MultiplayerOnline MultiplayerCo-operative
The point-and-click adventure type of video games is an age-old formula that’s seen many different takes throughout the decades. 2064: Read Only Memories is another entry into the sprawling genre, and even takes inspiration from classics like Snatcher and Gabriel Knight: Sins of the Father. Of course, with so many fantastic games already established, such as the aforementioned titles, it’s difficult for newer releases to stand out, especially ones that are created by smaller studios. Thankfully, developer Midboss has managed to make a game that sets itself apart from the rest in the form of 2064: Read Only Memories.
On the hunt for a good story
Read Only Memories starts out with a short introduction into its world. The year is 2064, and technology has evolved dramatically. Humans can now obtain enhancements thanks to the advent of new tech, be it giving them animalistic traits or allowing for cybernetic upgrades to improve their senses. But things aren’t so simple as they outwardly appear. As the story progresses, you’ll see the game delve into the social issues and problems that come with its futuristic, cyberpunk setting, and it’s these issues that occur within the game which really help give a sense of relatability to the game’s world and its characters.
ROM’s premise starts out as a fairly typical noir-styled adventure, with a twist. Your old friend, Hayden, has been kidnapped. You’re an investigative journalist, and you’ve been tasked to figure out why and where they’ve been taken. Your client? Hayden’s pet project: the first ever sentient AI being, named Turing, who is able think and feel just like a human, despite being a robot. With Turing as your partner, you’ll search Neo-San Francisco to discover the true reasoning behind Hayden’s kidnapping, and the deeper conspiracies and mysteries intertwined.
The world of Neo-SF is quite interesting, and Midboss has taken care to create a very diverse cast of characters, not commonly seen in video games. Of course, the merit isn’t just including diverse characters themselves. The colorful cast is interesting and likeable, with detailed backstories and unique driving motivations. The game doesn’t make the inclusion of LGBT characters a big deal, and it’s never in-your-face about it and is handled rather tactfully. The issue here, however is that the characters get most of their development in a large dump all at once at the end of each chapter. Not only does this feel a bit rushed, but these personalities are explained right after a major reveal in the story. This leads to the game’s pacing being awkward, giving too much important information to the player without any breaks. The cast is intriguing, but the game would have greatly benefitted from better pacing in regards to its character writing.
Not only is the gameplay inspired by the likes of classic adventure games, but the graphics themselves are as well. The sprites are all nicely animated, and the game is very vibrant, with its palette focusing on a lot of purples, blues, and pinks. A lot of effort has been put into ROM’s art, as there are a number of smaller details within each location, These details are not only pleasing to look at, but they also imbue a sense of liveliness, making the world more dynamic and a bit more cohesive overall . The retro-futuristic style works well in ROM’s favor.
The soundtrack, composed by artist 2 Mello, is full of lovely chiptunes that compliment the game’s graphical style nicely. The 41 tracks range from simple, calm beats, to energetic pieces that fit in well as you search for clues or how to solve puzzles. These pieces are memorable and the entirety of the soundtrack has an old-school late 90s vibe to it.
While 2064: Read Only Memories already released on PC in 2015, the PlayStation 4 version contains a lot of extra content and bugfixes. This version adds voice acting from talents like Melissa Hutchinson (Known for Clementine in The Walking Dead) and internet personalities like Nathan Sharp, Zoe Quinn, and Jim Sterling. The performances are mostly average, with Turing’s voice actress definitely standing out above the rest. The addition of voice acting is a welcome one, and having it lends a lot more personality to the cast. Other new features include updated puzzles, more dialogue, post game content, and new character animations. For those who already own the PC version, worry not, these things will be added as a free update.
If you’ve ever played an adventure game in the likes of Ace Attorney, Grim Fandango, or the Telltale games, you’ll quickly have a grasp on how Read Only Memories’s gameplay works. Players can interact with clickable objects within the area and talk with characters in order to progress the plot. There are a few puzzles to solve throughout your journey, but for the most part, they’re straightforward and easy to figure out. You can present items that you’ve acquired to people and objects in order to cause events to happen. Though the problems that you’re faced with are simple, there’s also a little sense of joy to be found when you finally get to use something you’ve picked up along the way on a puzzle, such as the moment that you realize just why you’ve been carrying around spoiled milk for half of the game.
However, these bits of gameplay are sparsely scattered about the campaign. What the game lacks in conundrums, though, it makes up for that with its dialogue. There are a lot of things to investigate and many people to talk to, and this is one of the game’s strong suits. Clicking errant objects like trees, windows, and anything in between can result in hilarity or amusing deadpan sarcasm. One of the best parts of ROM is just pointing the cursor on every available object and seeing what kind of quirky response you get. It’s a subtle aspect of the game, and players might gloss over it, but these bits of text are definitely worth seeking out and reading through.
2064: Read Only Memories is a fun game for fans of retro throwbacks, cyberpunk, point-and click-adventures, and visual novels. If you’re looking for a relatively short game with a lot of heart, this is a great choice.
+ Interesting story
+ Good characters
- Bad pacing
- Can get a bit overly wordy at times
Between the pretty graphics, the intriguing plot and world, and the voice acting adding a lot to the characters' personalities, Read Only Memories' presentation is solid. The soundtrack fits the game perfectly, and the many lines of text that you'll be reading are pleasant and easy to look at.
The gameplay is average for what's expected of this genre. The puzzles, while amusing at times, are occasionally lacking in substance or difficulty.
It should take one about 8 hours to complete the story. There are three endings in total and a handful of post game content that should capture players' attention for a few more hours after the fact. The multitude of dialogue options also lend to the game's replayability.
out of 10
(not an average)
Read Only Memories could have been a just another adventure game lost to the genre's massive list of stellar games. But Midboss managed to push the social boundaries of what's normally seen in video games, combining it with a familiar gameplay style, creating a memorable and interesting experience.