Review: 2064: Read Only Memories
The year is 2064, cybernetic enhancements are commonplace, ROMs (Relationship and Organizational Manger) are all the rage, debates about the morality of genetic augmentations emerge from the Human Revolution, and, unbeknownst to the rest of the world, the first sapient machine has been brought to life. 2064: Read Only Memories is a cyberpunk adventure that follows your investigation surrounding the disappearance of an old friend and brilliant inventor. Though, perhaps more importantly, it’s a game with a ton of heart; one that presents a truly inclusive cast of memorable characters that you’ll come to learn about throughout the adventure.
2064: Read Only Memories is a visual novel in which certain dialogue options can potentially change how parts of the story progress. There are very light adventure game elements, but the vast majority of the game is very much based on watching scenes play out dependent on how your character responds to others. Your character is a struggling journalist and for the most part is a bit of a blank slate, the game gives just enough information for context, but the main character is here for the player to fill in for themselves. A relatively uneventful evening is then flipped on its head when a curious little robot breaks into your home and requests your help in a very important missing persons case. This robot is named Turing, they’re the first sapient machine and their creator, Hayden Webber, has been kidnapped. Why does Turing choose you for help? Aside from some experience in investigative journalism, it turns out that Hayden Webber is an old friend and there at least seems to be some meaningful connection there, though the game doesn’t fully explore that specific detail.
Turing and your character wind up conducting an investigation throughout most of Neo-San Francisco as they meet and befriend a diverse cast of characters. The main story is fine for what it is, but 2064: ROM is something that I’ll remember more for its characters than anything else. For starters, the cast provides representation for people of all genders, sexual orientations, cybernetic modifications, and the game even takes the time to consider your own preferred pronouns for the main character. There’s legitimate diversity here that serves to enrich the world itself and nothing about it feels forced in any way. The result is a cast of characters that you get to know on their own terms and I think they’re stronger for it. ROM’s cast isn’t just defined by their gender or orientation either, they all have their own skills, personalities, and interests. TOMCAT is an expert hacker, Lexi serves as a NSFPD Detective, and Jess is a Hybrid Rights Attorney. In talking to these characters, you’ll learn a lot about them, their backgrounds, and what drives them to do the things that they do. The writing alone does a good enough job of giving depth to these characters, but it’s the voice work that ultimately brings them to life.
The voice cast features a broad list of familiar names, Melissa Hutchison (Clementine from The Walking Dead) for instance, provides the voice for Turing, while Jim Sterling shows up to provide a voice to the leader of the Human Revolution, Brian Mulberry. The voice acting in this game is really well done, however, I did find Jim Sterling’s role to be a quite jarring. He does a good job, but it proved really hard to disassociate his voice from the kind of character that he portrayed. (This can be the case for Dan Ryckert’s role as well.) That said, neither of their characters are present in the story for long and thus never had too negative of an impact on the game as a whole.
Of course, it’s Turing that carries this game from start to finish. Watching Turing develop over the course of ROM’s narrative is fascinating, their loyalty to Hayden is inspiring, and their love for painting is oddly refreshing. Turing is incredibly intelligent, as you’d expect from an AI, but it’s the way that Turing approaches and interacts with the outside world that I found to be so endearing. It’s incredibly hard not to fall in love with Turing (especially considering the facial animations), which makes the matter of tracking down Hayden all more important. Regardless of where that story goes, Turing is a character that is absolutely going to stick with me for a long time.
It’s not just the characters either, it’s worth reading through articles on your computer and posters throughout the city. There’s a lot of world-building here that doesn’t ever get brought up if you just mainline through the game’s story. I for one loved reading about the current state of the NFL in 2064 as well as discovering what the latest hit anime was. There’s a lot of extra details that are worth seeking out and help to make Neo-San Francisco come alive.
As mentioned before, 2064: ROM does feature a handful of puzzles and mini-games that are spread out throughout the main story. Most puzzles are pretty simple and the few mini-games you’ll find are actually kind of interesting. Ultimately, they provide a nice change of pace every so often without ever causing frustration.
2064: Read Only Memories presents an interesting, if not predictable, narrative that is propelled by its strong cast of characters and excellent world-building. It’s refreshing to see a developer put so much care into creating a cast as diverse and interesting as this.
A copy of this game was provided by the publisher for review purposes. For more info on our review policy click here.
What I Like:
- Strong and diverse cast of characters
- Voice acting
What I Dislike:
- It can be hard to separate some characters from their voice actor, making their presence in the game a little jarring.