10/29/2018 0 Comments
2064: Read Only Memories Review
A strong narrative is the backbone of any good point and click adventure, and 2064 Read Only Memories seemed to be known for that. I had heard plenty of good about it before taking the plunge and trying out the most complete version, sub titled Integral, on Switch. Switch has been my home for experiences like this, as I never really got into the genre prior, but now I find myself regularly experimenting on the hybrid console as it is a great fit for so many playstyles. 2064 is one of the best experiences I have had with the point-and-click genre, leaning heavily on its well written narrative and becoming somewhat of an interactive, narrative driven drama during its eight to ten hour adventure. I fell in love Neo-San Francisco, the vibrant, technologically advanced rendition of the West coast metropolis. Not only that, but I loved all its inhabitants who were well written, designed, and voiced. This well put together work of art is no small feat, so let’s piece together what makes 2064 ROM come to life.
If you could not guess by now, the year is 2064. You are a struggling journalist, one who likes to review free stuff they get sent. You are also charmingly handsome and have a great bunch of writers at your side and run Player2Reviews, the world’s not leading go to occasionally games website! Oh wait, that’s real life, but you are a journalist in ROM 2064, which for other reviewers of the game probably felt melancholy in a way like it did for me. As your life furthers towards rock bottom in your barely functional apartment, you might be wondering “where did I go wrong”. That question is quickly pushed to the back of your mind when you awake to find a very unique ROM (Relationship and Organizational Manager) watching you sleep. Its name is Turing and he/she (Turing does not mind what you call it, so for ease sake I will go with “he”) is not your typical ROM. Turing is talking with pure, natural thought and emotion, and this is not the norm. Turns out, he is the first sentient ROM, packed to the brim with information derived from the mesh (the current form of the internet if I am not mistaken), and his thoughts and processes are all his own. The reason for his visit? His creator, and your friend, Hayden, has gone missing. This kicks of your cyberpunk adventure, one that takes you through the depths of corporate calamities, engaging friendships, and brooding danger. It’s all very serious, yet somehow easygoing all at once.
This interaction between yourself and Turing unexpectedly turns you into an investigative journalist of sorts, searching for the truth about what happened to Hayden and more importantly, why. See, Hayden was a programmer for the biggest tech corporation known as Parallax. This would be fine and dandy if this was anything other than a Cyberpunk story. Being that it is though, naturally you have to be concerned when a corporation this big is involved. This opens your world to the sights, sounds, and people of Neo-SF. Gameplay, for the most part, is pretty standard for the genre. Collecting items to use to advance a scenario is pretty common, but more often than not it is interactive dialogue that really progresses the game and the character development. Outside of that is where the game throws some fun curveballs your way with different, interactive segments. Whether it is a puzzle to force a taxi your way using the safety light system, or a puzzle like game-of-wits boss fight, the game steps outside of the boundaries to keep things feeling fresh from time to time. Moments like these are awesome, but again, the well written narrative is the blood life of 2064.
The writing in 2064 is top notch, and with a well voiced and equally well written cast, the game is one the most vibrant examples of what a character can mean for a game. Turing is the standout here, with one of the most unique personalities I have seen in a character in recent years. Something about Turing’s voice is so damn fitting too. He is always polite and proper, yet somehow with all the knowledge available to him, can come off as naïve in the most unexpected ways, showing his youth as a sentient being. This typically comes by way of knowing how to manage his emotions which make him want to be irrational, while his genetic makeup begs for him to sort of do things by the books. It is just the way he is wired. But if anyone is going to do something not by the books, it is your newfound friend TOMCAT, the southern belle of a hacker that wants to know what happened to Hayden too. She becomes Turing’s first real friend, and helps the duo bend the rules outside the law. Speaking of Law, the two also have someone on the right side of the fence, an inside man…ahem….woman, to help them get the latest scoops on the legal developments behind Hayden’s disappearance. Lexi is a detective for the Neo-SF PD, and she also happens to be your sister’s ex-girlfriend. Thankfully you two are still on good terms, and she knows that when Parallax is involved, not everyone on the force can be trusted to do the right thing for justice’s sake. So she occasionally works around the law to get you and Turing in a better position to delve further into the mystery.
There are lots of other characters that all do their part to keep players engaged, and they do it very well. The voice acting goes a long way for this too, making everyone feel so unique to the story. It is something that, had it been absent, would have certainly changed the outcome of the game entirely. But it is also the art style, and the emotion conveyed through it in unison with the voice acting that really seals the deal. While the main non-human character, Turing still has the most emotional facial responses which is great.
The art style in general is awesome. The future-retro flair works well for its cyberpunk theme, but also resonates simpler times in gaming. While retro, everything is very clean, vibrant, and inviting. There are all sorts of little details to catch on in the environments, especially when interacting with them. As with many point-and-clicks, clicking on things in your field of view, allowing you to make some not-so-typical interactions. This is where the attention to detail goes the extra mile, making you feel rather silly for your actions but not by way of just some generic responses, but text related specifically to what you are trying to engage with. Whether it is talking to a window or trying to give someone spoiled milk, 2064 always has a response for whatever antics are up your sleeve.
One of my favorite features of the game is its amazing soundtrack. There is something so simple yet intricate about so many of the tracks. I was only about two hours into the game when I pulled the trigger on buying the vinyl OST to add to my collection. It was easily worth it.
There are some bonus features included in this complete package. Switch specific ones like HD Rumble of course make the cut, making cut scenes come more to life with engaging vibrations. There is also a side story, PUNKS, that shows the happenings of the unmissable duo from the base game, Chad and Starfucker. This gets you a little slice of extra content to settle your needs. So does the Endless Christmas prologue, which lets you explore Neo-SF post game and make new interactions depending on the outcomes of your adventure. To wrap it all up, there is an art book, access to the soundtrack, trailers, and more to give you all the 2064 you can stomach!
Though it took me longer to beat than it should have, I kept pushing it off only because I did not want to rush the experience. I wanted to embrace the world fully, and hear every last bit of dialogue and see what every nook and cranny had to offer. And that is what I did, and it was worth every minute. There was the occasional lull in gameplay, but it is rare you find a title that does not have that at some point. Outside of that, I really have no complaints. 2064 ROM Integral is a great fit on Switch, and one hell of a narrative adventure. If those are your cup of tea, I highly recommend downloading and getting it booted up. It’s a friendship, and story about growth, politics, mystery, and more, that you are sure not to forget anytime soon.
Final Score: 8.5/10
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