2064: Read Only Memories is a visually and articulately distinct experience, that much can be seen from afar. The game takes place in the year 2064 and throws you into the role of a struggling journalist that’s desperately trying to make ends meet. The story wastes no time in getting to the nitty-gritty. It becomes immediately apparent that your friend has gone missing, a friend that just so happened to develop a true AI known as Turing. Turing enlists the player to help track down its creator, and from here on out you’ll be meeting a diverse cast of characters across vast locations in an attempt to get to the bottom of this newfound mystery.
What makes the story especially interesting is that in 2064 the line between human and modified human is blurred. This is a theme that is not only dominant throughout the eight hour campaign, but massively relevant too. Surely it cannot be a coincidence that so soon after creating Turing, your friend gets kidnapped? Read Only Memories does a great job at silently placing question after question on your lap. I found myself constantly pulling at new story threads in an attempt to piece everything together. Although I wont spoil the plot for you, I very much doubt that any fan of the genre or theme will be left disappointed, because there’s much more to this than simply seeking out a missing person.
On the other side of the coin I cant quite say that I enjoyed constantly being belittled by Turing. This AI will not only insult you periodically throughout the entire game, but will continuously point out that you’re merely a flawed and inferior human. I couldn’t quite work out whether this choice in dialogue was supposed to be endearing, entertaining, or funny, but if anything it just bugged the hell out of me before long. It doesn’t end there either, as there’s a handful of characters that will look down on you with the same irritating condescending tone. I have no issue whatsoever with playing as a seemingly irrelevant character, but amidst such an intriguing story, I didn’t enjoy my place in its world half as much as I enjoyed the world itself.
The game conveys a very strong message when it comes to diversity. Not too dissimilar to how life is in 2018, Read Only Memories also has its divides as far as the population is concerned. Whereas today we have cultural, religious, and political lines that separates humanity into several boxes, Read Only Memories is all about genetically enhanced segregation in the world, and how we fit in place. The story setup and the world building is outstanding, which I must admit, isn’t something I was expecting to be so drawn to. You’ll meet characters that you love, and you’ll meet characters that you want to punch in their self-satisfied mugs. Though it’s through how you interact with these characters that largely determines how the game will play out, so it pays off not to be too judgmental.
The depth in 2064: Read Only Memories when it comes to engagement is through the roof. You can interact with almost anything, and from there you can further choose how to interact with it – be it seeing, touching, talking, and so on. Not only does this design choice remove that trial-and-error format that players can utilize to circumvent the difficulty of games like this, but it opens up some pretty funny dialogue branches. Throw in the fact that you can explore the large open city of Neo-San Francisco, with more sections opening to you as you progress, and it’s hard not to appreciate the ambition that drives this experience. There’s a few puzzles here and there, but these merely serve as a means to grab your attention to a specific area rather than gating or slowing down the gameplay, which is nice.
That being said if you were hoping for a game that has you doing more than selecting text boxes and dialogue commands, you’re out of luck. Much of your time in this game will consist of moving from one area to the next whilst searching for clues and pursuing leads. It’s interesting in its own right, but you would do well to understand that this is less of a point-and-click puzzle game and more of an interactive story. On that front it’s much closer to Thimbleweed Park than (let’s say) something you would expect from Telltale. It’s also worth mentioning that most of the focus in this game is on Turing rather than the player character. It’s as though the developers threw in the protagonist for the sake of allowing for a third person perspective of Turing, which works remarkably well might I add.
Turing is a vital companion and acts as a guide throughout this vast and overwhelming city. You will pull heaps of information from Turing when playing the game, information that helps you to understand your surroundings. 2064: Read Only Memories has a heavy emphasis on choice, which as aforementioned, can impact on how some characters will treat you. Unfortunately the outcome isn’t always as clear as I had hoped it would be. This lead to a lot of moments in which I wish I could have turned back time and selected a different option. It’s almost as though the consequence of your actions are set in stone and that’s that, live with it and move on. It would have been nice to have been told that a decision will lead to this so that I could apply more forward thinking and consideration. Either way, this is a small gripe in an otherwise remarkable game.
If there was one thing I could change about this game, it’s the silent protagonist. I couldn’t help but constantly feel as though the inclusion of the player character was pointless. This leads me back to my point of the character being injected just for the sake of allowing a tag-along for Turing. The character bears little significance in either the story or how the story plays out. The same can be said about making choices or chatting with one of the countless NPCs within. You just seem to flow with the motion. For a game that’s so rich in story and design, it would have been great to relay what I thought about it through the character. I wanted my own voice to interpret what I thought was right and wrong in the world, but that’s just not present. Once again that’s a small gripe when you’re looking at the bigger picture. Which is to say that 2064: Read Only Memories dishes up a hugely intriguing story that sits within a gorgeously detailed world, bolstered further by an outstanding soundtrack.
2064: Read Only Memories offers up an excellent story that’s set within an intriguing world. The game is held back by some poor design choices and overly simplistic puzzle logic, but for those that seek nothing more than a decent plot, this has you covered.
This game was tested and reviewed on Xbox One. All of the opinions and insights here are subject to that version.