We’ve been over dozens of sci-fi, cyberpunk, transhumanism games in the past few years, but there was one in particular that went a bit under the radar, at least for me. It was only earlier this year when I found out about 2064: Read Only Memories, a point-and-click adventure starring a freelance journalist and an intelligent robot who witnessed the kidnapping of his creator, Hayden Webber, and long time friend of ours.
From that moment, the story takes you to a series of places throughout the city: the nightclub Stardust, home of some of the most important characters in the game, a VIP section and a cool, playable arcade machine is only one of them. Both from the main character’s past and being found through the investigation, the people you meet always has something interesting to say about technological advancements, the constant threat to hybrids (citizens who have gone through surgery to change their physical appearance) or the Human Revolution (the opposing group who wants to defend humanity in an era of ever-growing technology).
Hybrids, hackers, Parallax. 2064: Read Only Memories’ take on mankind in a not so distant future is ambitious, but well developed at all times despite the fact that it doesn’t take long for the story to start its engines. Our missing friend is an important engineer at Parallax, a company that created a series of Relationship and Organizational Managers (ROM for short) in the hopes of replacing smartphones and pretty much every other house device you can think of.
While the story might sound overwhelming at first, the charming set of fully voiced characters were the best companion throughout my journey in 2064’s Neo-San Francisco. In a classic point-and-click adventure fashion, you travel between scenarios in which the environment can be interacted with simple actions: look, touch, talk and use, opening our inventory and showcasing a selection of eligible items.
The studio’s take on this, however, is far more interesting that I could have anticipated: following a sense of humour in its heart, the game always provides a funny or ironic dialogue line in every possible interaction that isn’t related to an objective. Being told that my action was useless every time I was searching for clues about which object had a purpose on my current goal during point-and-click games was always frustrating, but 2064: Read Only Memories encouraged me to talk to every single plant I could find.
This personality is also present in conversations. While there are some different moments in the story involving puzzles and special tasks to do, the main focus is in the dialogue and our relationship with Turing, who’s with us from day one. And in being so straightforward, we really have to thank voice acting and compelling dialogue lines that make for most of the experience every time you meet someone new or go back to the club to check on an acquaintance status.
2064’s charm is closely related to the talent bringing each character to life with their voices: Melissa Hutchison, Dave Fennoy, Erin Yvette, Adam Harrington, Terry McGovern, Erin Fitzgerald, Todd Bridges, Xavier Woods, and others are involved in the game.
Also, there’s a strong focus on delivering an inclusive experience for queer audiences, and the whole portrayal of Neo-San Francisco showcases a society in which is almost naturalized. Following an early example, when Turing is registering you on their database, they ask a series of questions for information, including a custom name, and both diet and pronouns from an extensive list for each.
Two of my favourite characters (along with TOMCAT and Turing, mind) are a young couple you met escaping from a crime that happens early on in the story. Chad, a punk kid who goes by the name Starfucker and Oliver are one of the most charming folks I’ve met in recent memory, quickly making me care about them and wanting to know more about their backstories.
In fact, the exclusive content from Switch’s port of the game includes a bonus chapter starring these two characters during a key moment of the story. I advise you to finish the game first, but don’t miss it at any costs. This comes along with a concept art gallery, a digital music player with the whole soundtrack and more goodies that are worth checking out.
There isn’t a parameter to follow regarding choices. Some failed sequences and dialogue options led to abrupt outcomes during conversations and story events, but aside from that, you’re free to try with different lines until you select the correct one to keep the chat going forward. There is a moment almost at the half of the game in which Turing gives you a quick summary of the decisions you made, along with information regarding your relationship with them until that very moment. Sadly, this happens only once, and I left with a bittersweet feeling expecting to see a second, more thorough summary at the end of the game.
2064: Read Only Memories Integral introduced me into a world I didn’t want to escape from, and the believable, charming and relatable characters are presented with a heart that does not always make itself present adventures like these. Perhaps the only issue I’ve encountered is that there aren’t many unique moments (although the last sequences made my heart rush) in terms of mechanics. Again, it’s a really straightforward story, but one that does wonders with its resources.
Lastly, the game is by far the most brilliant example of a proper use of HD Rumble on Switch, adapting to each character through conversations and some key moments in the story that makes the exhaustive reading process more immersive.
A copy of 2064: Read Only Memories was provided by Stride PR on behalf of the studio. Make sure to visit the official site for more information. Disclaimer: this review was made with this year’s information about MidBoss in mind.