MidBoss is a developer that I have a lot of respect for. They set out to tackle issues not really explored before in the gaming industry with 2064: Read Only Memories, but they are also doing that in the real world as well. GaymerX, the first ever LGBTQ-focused gaming convention, is another one of their many contributions to society with the tagline, “Everyone Games”. I was tempted to jump in with the PC release of Read Only Memories, but held out for the PlayStation 4 version to see how it would run on consoles. That being said, does it make the jump accordingly to consoles, and how is the game? Read on for our full review of 2064: Read Only Memories.
Title: 2064: Read Only Memories
Available On: PlayStation 4, PC
Reviewed On: PlayStation 4
Release Date: January 17, 2017
Copy provided by the Publisher for the sake of this review
Read Only Memories takes place in a technologically advanced Neo-San Francisco in the year 2064. You play as an aspiring journalist that is trying to make ends meet. Your life is about to get turned upside down though, when a Relationship and Organizational Manager (ROM, for short) named Turing breaks into your apartment one night while you’re sleeping. After having it explained to you how easy it was for them to gain access to your living space and why exactly they came to you with this certain problem, the true plot of the game is laid out before you. Turing’s creator, Hayden, has gone missing, and it’s up to the two of you to piece together what happened and find him. Along the way, you’ll uncover some twists and turns that I was not expecting, and ultimately it made the game extremely hard to put down.
The first thing most players will notice is the pixel art style and the throwback soundtrack that is composed entirely of rocking chiptunes by hip-hop artist 2 Mello. With the setting being Neo-San Francisco, there is a certain color palette that is used throughout the entire game, which is very reminiscent of the 80’s style of color. It is also set a few days before Christmas, so traditional holiday decorations can be found all throughout the various locations you’ll visit in your search for answers on who kidnapped Hayden and for what reason.
2064: Read Only Memories borrows from the cyberpunk genre as well, as its influences can be found all over. In this world, many advancements have taken place which have allowed scientists to alter humans and animals alike. Because of this, it’s commonplace to see people walking around with scientific modifications and artificial intelligence attached to their being. Genetic alterations have also become somewhat normal, with humans being able to have been transformed into cat-like creatures in order to stop or cure specific diseases.
With any type of messing with the human species, there will always be groups that are opposed to it and want to warn people of the dangers that this could potentially cause. It’s a very real take on how our society is in 2017, and to see it play out in full throughout the game was a kick in the gut that immediately brought me back to reality and how things actually are nowadays. That is one thing MidBoss did extremely well with 2064: Read Only Memories. The real world scenarios that exist within the game feel extremely personal and all too real. I wanted to help as many people as I could whilst playing through the game and get the desired outcomes for everyone involved, but just like in the actual world, that isn’t always able to be done.
Gameplay wise, the game is more or less a point-and-click adventure game. It is heavily inspired by the visual novel genre, and I’d argue for the game to be included in that genre. But actual gameplay is all handled by moving a cursor around the screen and clicking on various objects in order to interact with them. In each scene, there are quite a few objects and people that can be selected, and once you do so, you have the option to either look at and inspect, touch, talk to, or show an item to. Each of these four options will produce a number of different reactions and results based on who or what you are interacting with at the present time.
MidBoss did a great job providing different lines of dialogue for the various things that players are able to do when interacting with objects. Some things that I experimented with and tried, I was surprised that the developers had thought of the same combination, and had dialogue and text ready and waiting for things like that to be discovered in the game. You can also benefit from repeating the same action more than once, as there might be a different line of dialogue if you talk to someone two or three times as opposed to just once. The game encourages you to explore and experiment with many different options.
This is also evident by the branching paths that the story offers, up to and including the several different endings that players can get that are determined by certain choices made throughout the game, how you interact with and treat some of the characters you come across, and what happens during one of the final scenes of the story. There’s absolutely reason enough to return to 2064: Read Only Memories more than once in order to see everything the game has to offer. While preparing for this review, I was able to get through the game twice, doing different things and making the main character act completely different, which definitely changed the tone of the story and produced a different outcome for everyone involved.
One of the greatest strengths the game has going for it is the excellent voice cast that is on board to voice the many different characters and personalities that you’ll come across throughout the story. Names such as Melissa Hutchinson, Austin Creed/Xavier Woods, Jim Sterling, Erin Yvette, Erin Fitzgerald, Sarah Elmaleh, Zoe Quinn, Dan Ryckert, and Dave Fennoy all lend their voices to a cast that is extremely versatile and strong. It was fun picking voices out of the crowd when going through the story, and realizing just how many big names and talented people worked on this game to make it what it is.
2064: Read Only Memories succeeds in what it set out to do. MidBoss wanted to showcase a game in which a diverse cast of character, many of which are of the LGBTQ community, are heavily featured. But the beauty of it is that MidBoss does not blatantly make this obvious and shove it down the player’s throat. Had I not known some of these things going into the game, I may have simply overlooked them unless I was really paying attention to certain lines of dialogue and certain interactions between characters. This is definitely a strong step toward more games bringing in similar thoughts and feelings on this subject, and I applaud the developers for everything they did with this release.
From a pure gameplay perspective, 2064: Read Only Memories will absolutely be a favorite of anyone that enjoys point-and-click adventure games and especially visual novels. While it may not be a traditional visual novel at heart, starring anime-like characters and featuring a deep romantic storyline, it does offer a unique friendship building mechanic between the player character and a lovable ROM named Turing that I had a hard time not falling in love with throughout my time spent with the game. The biggest takeaway I had with this game though, is that it can be enjoyed by everyone, much like the tagline for their GaymerX conference they put on every year. I absolutely hope MidBoss is able to expand off of what they created with Read Only Memories, because I certainly am interested to see what they do as a studio next.