2064: Read Only Memories Review (Switch)

2064: Read Only Memories is a bit out of my wheelhouse. For a long while, I’ve found Point-and-Click titles to be a bit slow, or even worse, uninspired. 2064 does a great job of utilizing engaging environments and the ever-growing popularity of cyberpunk aesthetics to break free of the Point-and-Click tropes to create an experience all its own.

2064: Read Only Memories was built through support on Kickstarter where it raised $64,378 from November 12 to December 12, 2013. A huge point of pride for the game was its queer-inclusivity. Setting the game in the future, MidBoss aimed to posit a future where LGBTQ characters face less discrimination, allowing queer characters to be presented on equal terms with straight counterparts. The player can specify which personal pronouns the game refers to them as – he, her, they, xe, ze, or a custom player-entry pronoun set. By being proactive in its storytelling and representation, 2064 stands for something, but does its gameplay have a leg to stand on?

Gameplay and Story

2064 utilizes puzzles as well as traditional Point-and-Click features to walk through its story. The narrative is centered around the kidnapping of an engineer who has constructed the first machine to not only achieve a level of sapience but also can adjust and alter its moods to appear more lifelike. In short, this “machine” is an articulate, advanced AI that could be used for good or evil. Your choices in the game lead you to a set of different arcs that carry the story to your ending. It’s a nice touch that the simplicity of the gameplay can juxtapose a complex narrative.

The gameplay itself is simple, so if reading and clicking isn’t your thing, leave this game be. If you can handle the mass amount of text, the story is endearing and thoughtful. Not much occurs in terms of narrative complexity; for a futuristic world of mass technological advancement, the story is full of slow-moving parts and choices that don’t feel as if they’re fully yours. In every one of the four endings, I felt as if things were happening out of my control, no matter what I chose. The narrative often rides off the rails of logical progression, and if it was for dramatic or unorthodox purposes, that’s one thing. Honestly, I think it was just a large misfire.

Visuals and Sound

Visually, 2064 is great at building these moments of depth in the otherwise retro, simplistic bit design. There are scenes in the game that look gorgeous, and that has a lot to do with the noire cyberpunk feel that pulsates throughout the game. There isn’t much to say about the visuals in terms of style; things are stereotypically 16-bit, but they’re done honestly rather than as if they’re simply recreating old gaming memories.

The sound in the game is a triumph. The music plays a great role in building moods and moments, and the voice acting is top notch. Most notably, the voice behind Turing is one I really enjoyed. All voice acting in the game contributes to an emotional experience worth your time if you’re one who enjoys feeling things during gameplay. You won’t get thrown for a loop, but you will feel for the characters involved. That, to me, isn’t a given and comes with real talent.

Verdict

Know what this game is before you get into it. If Point-and-Clicks are not your style, but you enjoy cyberpunk settings or emotional storytelling, give this a try. However, be warned: this game is not going to be one that we remember for its gameplay or story. Its treatment of LGBTQ culture and characters is important and vital to the video game industry. For that, 2064 deserves praise. Its gameplay and experience is just a little bonus.

A Nintendo Switch review copy of 2064: Read Only Memories was provided by Midboss LLC. for the purpose of this review.

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2064: Read Only Memories

7.2

Score

7.2/10

Pros

  • LGBTQ issues treated exceptionally well
  • Emotional storytelling
  • 16-bit graphics feel fitting for cyberpunk seting

Cons

  • Linear, even in "player's choice" scenarios
  • 4 different endings, 4 underwhelming finishes
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Taylor Bauer

Taylor is from Aurora, IL and received both his B.S. and M.S. in Communication from Illinois State University, where he taught radio production and media management for two years. Taylor studies critical media theory, loves all things Nintendo and Xbox, and is an avid listener of NPR. He is also a self-proclaimed music nerd, and loves all genres.

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