Neo San Francisco is a city in a year that is as far from us today as the year 1970. As you may guess by the title that year is 2064 and it is a time where there have been a lot of changes from the current day. The civil rights movement is no longer about the rights of gay, bi, lesbian or transgender people, all of who now live in a society that has accepted them for who they are. Instead the new rights movement are for those who have undergone genetic surgery, giving them the physical traits of animals. Some of these are done for cosmetic reasons while other times the operations are carried out to save lives. People who have these animal traits, like fur or tails, have become a new persecuted class. Police forces are now private entities instead of being funded by government, and civilisation is on the cusp of a new dawn.
2064: Read Only Memories is actually an updated re-release of Read Only Memories, with this version featuring more character portraits, more scenes, new puzzles and voice acting. The story though remains essentially the same. While the setting is very different to our current times the general plot is almost as traditional as can be, a murder mystery. You are a struggling journalist who wakes up to someone standing in your apartment looking for help. This is the player’s first introduction to the little robot Turing, who is also the first true form of artificial intelligence. They have come to you to seek help in finding out who killed their creator, Hayden, and to get justice.
What follows is an experience that is very dialogue heavy, I’d say at least 90% of 2064 is, where your responses to other characters shapes the way the plot unfolds. If you’re expecting a lot of puzzles then 2064 doesn’t really meet that expectation, as the focus is more on the relationships that are built. There are some minor puzzles dotted throughout, with a lot more coming closer to the end, but 2064: Read Only Memories is much more focused on reading and listening.
The writing of the story and characters is quite compelling, and there are quite a few twists and turns that occur through the journey that come as genuine shocking revelations. At the same time though there are points where some revelations are quite predictable. The puzzles themselves follow the standard adventure game formula where you pick up items and use them with things in the scenes, though none of them are that hard to work out. The most you may struggle with 2064: Read Only Memories is through a couple of its mini games, though if you do fail the story will adapt to it.
2064: Read Only Memories does have a very retro feel to it, looking like something that would appear on a console in the early to mid 1990s. In the middle of the screen is a slot that shows you the current location, the items you can interact with, and the characters that are present. Below this slot is where you’ll see the dialogue and its the choices you can make. It’s a very basic setup. While the majority of the dialogue is spoken there are moments where lines haven’t been recorded, which could be down to a number of reasons. It can be jarring going from hearing voices to hearing random noises that denote speech.
The voice acting is 2064: Read Only Memories’ big change to the original Read Only Memories, bringing on the likes of Melissa Hutchison, Jim Sterling, Austin Creed (aka WWE’s Xavier Woods). The voice work is top notch giving a lot of life to the sprites on screen, and I can’t really think of an instance where it wasn’t delivered well. The situations the characters find themselves in become believable no matter how far-fetched, like a butler who happens to be an actual polar bear, due to the way the tone and emotions are conveyed.
If you do purchase 2064: Read Only Memories do not play without installing update 1.01, as without it the game cannot be finished. If you did choose to play without the update you wouldn’t notice anything out of the ordinary until the final chapter where an error message pops up moments before crashing at a main juncture of the story. The first time it happened I thought my console was to blame, but the fault repeated at the same point each time I tried to pass it. Also be aware that you need to manually save the game in the menu or lose progress, as I found after not doing so and coming back to see that an hour’s worth of play had been lost.
2064: Read Only Memories is a title that will appeal to a niche corner of the gaming public, with its focus on a murder mystery wrapped in discussion of social issues. It’s also feels like quite a passive experience compared to other games that are in the same genre. There’s interactivity with objects and solving puzzles, but being dialogue heavy may put some off. The story of 2064: Read Only Memories is decent however as is the voicework, and there is replayability through making different choices. 2064: Read Only Memories may be much more appealing to those who are fans of visual novels, and if you are then you’ve got a good plot to get involved in here.
Version tested: PS4