2064: Read Only Memories (PlayStation 4) Review

By Albert Lichi 31.08.2017 1

Review for 2064: Read Only Memories on PlayStation 4

The 2010s will be remembered as a decade where entertainment was the victim of diversity quotas and self-congratulating virtue signalling. Indie games in particular became a hotbed of developers with heavy handed guilt trip-ridden stories with a "message" to a point where it has almost become a parody of itself. This kind of pandering seemingly culminated into Read Only Memories, which was originally released in 2015. Ported onto the PlayStation 4 as 2064: Read Only Memories with a few extra features, console owners can now experience MidBoss's finger waving and sophomoric character dialogue.

2064: Read Only Memories is a perfect example of a mixed bag of good and bad. On one hand, this is a cyberpunk adventure game that homages Hideo Kojima's Snatcher and even shares the same level of obsessive minutia to world building compounded with some charming yet simplistic pixel art and rad music. On the other hand, this is also a game that is intensely clumsy and ham-fisted with its subject matter to the point it becomes downright alienating. It often feels like the developer/writer is making all kinds of assumptions about whoever is playing at times. It is a shame because this is a game that seems like it had potential, but at the same time it sabotages itself with really cringe-inducing writing.

It's the year 2064 in Neo-San Fransisco and it has pretty much become a millennial hipster paradise, while also being a dystopia for anyone else. It is also now a hub for pretty much every single-sex weirdo imaginable, yet somehow they are also a marginalized minority. This is the really sloppy writing that permeates the 2064: Read Only Memories experience all the way through; it wants to have its cake and eat it, too. There is not a single heterosexual-named character in this story, which, being that this is a futuristic San Fransisco, is believable.

Screenshot for 2064: Read Only Memories on PlayStation 4

What is not believable is that during all conversations, every homosexual (pretty much all of them) will always try to bring up the fact that they are gay. MidBoss shows no restraint or subtlety with depicting characters of this nature, and at first it was just laughable, but it soon became grating and kind of insulting. It is like the writers think whoever is playing is too stupid enough to understand nuance. Not that any of it matters because the fact that a bulk of the characters in this story are homosexual has pretty much no bearing on the plot, which is a murder mystery about a missing person. Even some character couples that realistically would never be together are arbitrarily paired up because of the lack of chemistry and just seems really forced. It is actually really baffling how much Read Only Memories focuses on some of these story beats that do not inform anything of substance at all.

After a famed roboticist disappears, the unnamed protagonist meets Turing, a very rare android who has gained sentience. Together they set out on a quest to discover what happened to Turing's creator, all while getting caught up in uncovering a conspiracy. There is some legitimate quality storytelling here amidst all the obnoxious and preachiness that covers some classic sci-fi themes about artificial intelligence and the uncontrolled pursuit of technology and progress.

Screenshot for 2064: Read Only Memories on PlayStation 4

Of course, almost all of it gets undermined by MidBoss's insistent pandering. Even when Read Only Memories makes an attempt at having a sense of humour, it always falls really flat and relies most on making a reference to even better sci-fi movies, video games or literature. Making a reference to something is not a joke; it's just lazy because the author lacks originality and relies on the viewer's nostalgia to make an emotional connection. Once in a while, a nod here and there is fine, but with this game, it goes overboard and it comes really close to losing any identity of its own.

The pixel art and designs, thankfully, are pretty fresh and vivid, making up for the shortcomings of the really corny narration. 2064: Read Only Memories manages to pick up some slack with its visual presentation, but who would have thought that this weirdo sci-fi adventure would have some really smooth and righteous music, too? If one really positive that this title can be remembered for, it would be its amazing soundtrack. Expect lots of synth-wave that covers a wide gamut of emotional beats, which has some obvious inspirations from the likes of Vengelis and retro video games.

Screenshot for 2064: Read Only Memories on PlayStation 4

One of the new additions to this console port is the voice acting, which is more often a miss than a hit, with some perplexing casting choices. It must be mentioned that the actress who does the voice of Turing, the robot partner, does a fantastic job and manages to be the only likeable character in a large cast of oddballs. By far the absolute worst acting is the character of Brian Mulberry, the pro-human activist. Jim Sterling, a non-actor, of all people, was cast as this character, and the man cannot deliver a line of dialogue to save his life. It is very peculiar that 2064: Read Only Memories has cast quite a few video game journalists instead of performers, since their lack of experience is felt when contrast to the actual voice actors in the game. They are either miscast, enunciate very poorly, or just deliver their lines very flatly without any character at all.

All the cool cyberpunk aesthetics and jazzy synth can't save Read Only Memories from being an agonizingly preachy bore-fest with an unlikable cast. There are nuggets of quality writing in here that get lost within all the obnoxious pandering, but it just is not worth the effort. It is a real shame, too, because had things turned out differently, this could have almost been a worthy successor to Snatcher, the game this tries so hard to ape from. The highly detailed world building and attention to detail is there, but the grating characters and sanctimonious writing will alienate people from enjoying the finer aspects of Read Only Memories. There is even an effort to have multiple endings and various ways to solve puzzles, so it is not like MidBoss can't make a quality adventure game. They just shouldn't have politicised their game's narrative.

Screenshot for 2064: Read Only Memories on PlayStation 4

Cubed3 Rating

4/10
Rated 4 out of 10

Subpar

MidBoss got the bare essentials down for 2064: Read Only Memories. The gameplay is functional and solid, even for an indie adventure game. However, it takes quite a bit of skill to write a scenario that can highly irritate with such extremely holier than thou attitudes. This is a game that has the remarkable ability to push people away with just how self-righteous it can be, but for people who can soldier through that, they might find some affection for this game. 2064: Read Only Memories claims to be cyberpunk, but, really, there is nothing punk about being moralistic.

Developer

MidBoss

Publisher

MidBoss

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  4/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  0 (0 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date Out now   Australian release date Out now   

Comments

lol (guest) 04.10.2017#1

the reviewer gonna flip his lid when somebody tells him gay bars exist

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