2064: Read Only Memories INTEGRAL Review
(Nintendo Switch) by Dylan Blight
When Turing, the world’s first sapient machine, teams up with a struggling journalist, the unlikely duo find themselves drawn into the shadows behind the dazzling lights of Neo-San Francisco. The secrets they uncover could shake the very foundations of society, and some powerful people would stop at nothing to keep them quiet.
2064: Read Only Memories from developer Midboss is a cyberpunk narrative-adventure that originally released on computer platforms in 2015; was updated and ported to consoles in 2017, and now the pixel-art, point and click adventure makes its way to the Nintendo Switch with the ‘INTEGRAL’ tagline and some bonus features.
The world of Read Only Memories — set in the Christmas Season of Neo-San Francisco — hasn’t advanced to Blade Runner levels of flying cars and cyborgs roaming the streets; humans however have made advancements in medical fields and life-saving technology that helps with diseases and accidents, with the side-effects having you grow, for example, fox ears. Others, however, choose to modify their body this way because they want too. ROM’s are advancements in robotic technology, but they aren’t sapient, they are programmed as their title designates: Relationship and Organizational Managers. That is until you awake to find a little blue robot called Turing in your apartment. This ROM is special, it is the first ever sapient machine, and it wants your help to track down its creator, Hayden Webber, who has been kidnapped.
Your relationship with Turning is one you can embrace, or fight against. The player’s motive to help Turning is one of a journalist seeking out a juicy story, however as the story progresses you and Turing may become friends, or you can treat Turing horrible the entire journey and be along just for the hopefully juicy story.
The future is bright for the LGBTQI community as envisioned in Read Only Memories. From the game’s inclusive pronouns for your character to featuring a mix of LGBTQI characters, Read Only Memories has one of the most inclusive and well-written stories I have played. Turing is often referred to as a ‘he’ for the majority of the games eventually questions the gender term it wants to be applied to itself. Scenes like this along with having a supporting character referred to as ‘they/them’ all game is fantastic to see in a game, especially a cyberpunk game, a genre that has always carried political undertones and had a vocal fanbase in the LGBTQI community. Although recent films and even the upcoming Cyberpunk 2077 from CD Projekt Red have done questionable jobs at representing this element of the genre, Read Only Memories does it better than any cyberpunk game I’ve played.
What isn’t accepted in the Read Only Memories future is the technological advancements. A group called ‘The Human Revolution’ pickets and riots against where mankind is taking its scientific advancements, especially those choosing to undergo surgery to have animal changes. In a game so accepting of LGBTQI issues we face today, it’s interesting to face a world where you have options to make terribly puny conversation choices. At one point I could have asked someone with animal ears if I could pet them. You could, if you chose to, become a huge bigoted asshole while playing Read Only Memories.
2066: Read Only Memories is basically a book. It took me about 9 hours to finish and for the most part, the gameplay simply resolves around reading/listening to characters. It’s very text heavy, but playing it on the Switch I ended up playing in blocks of thirty to sixty minutes before bed, replacing the normal routine of reading a book.
With all of that said, you won’t be doing much reading unless you’re super impatient. The entire game is fully voice acted and features some fantastic performances. Turing, who you’ll spend the majority of the time listening to, is voiced by the ever-wonderful Melissa Hutchison who makes you never want to skip-dialogue, she’s simply that good as Turning. Other cast members include several gaming big names like Dave Fennoy, Erin Yvette and Adam Harrington. WWE Wrestler Xavier Woods also gives a memorable performance. Jim Sterling is the only voice actor I had trouble with and it’s not just because I’m used to hearing him rant about video games on his Youtube channel. It sounded like he recorded his audio in his own set-up, as it was lower quality to the rest and stuck out like a sore thumb.
You won’t have to perform many puzzles in Read Only Memories, and those that you do are very simple. They help with the pacing, and interrupt the constant flow of conversation, but can become annoying to solve simply for the controls on the Switch. Moving across the screen to interact with objects feels clunky and even when you click on an object in the background at times I couldn’t see all the symbols that would pop up for interaction because of the mix of colours on the screen. It would have been easier to use the touch-screen to interact with the objects on-screen, a much more appreciated feature for this Switch port to have over some things it has included. The main menu also controls atrociously. Bringing up the save menu prompts you to enter a title for the save and the keyboard you use — again with no touchscreen support — is one of the worst keyboards I’ve used in recent memory. No, it’s not game breaking, but still tedious.