2064: Read Only Memories is a Cyberpunk adventure game from San Francisco developer MidBoss, that was originally founded by members of the GaymerX team, who primarily focus on LGBT issues in the gaming industry. As a result, 2064 tackles a lot of these issues, but moves the setting to a futuristic America where the population includes hybrid humans with animal qualities made possible by genetic modification. ROMs (Relationship Organizational Managers) are also owned by most of society, and are robots who carry out the menial tasks within society.
2064 starts with you waking to find one of these ROMs, called Turing, in your apartment. His owner, your old friend, Hayden Webber, has gone missing, and Turing has identified you as the person most likely to be able to assist in finding out what has happened. During your investigation you will encounter a wide range of characters, and will uncover the seedy underbelly of the city.
There were a lot of things I liked about 2064, particularly the writing and story that deals with the hybrid humans, in particular Jess, a lawyer who fights for the rights of hybrids. You will also encounter the leader of the Human Revolution who campaigns against hybrids, and protests outside of the genetic hospitals who carry out the work. There are real similarities here to current day issues of racism, homophobia, etc, and the subject matter is handled very sensitively.
In fact, all the characters in the game are written incredibly well. The stand-out, and the emotional core of 2064 is Turing, who you soon find out is not just an ordinary ROM. Hayden had designed Turing to be the first sentient artificial being, and is as inquisitive and emotional as a child would be facing the horrors of the world for the first time. Voiced by Melissa Hutchison (Clementine from Telltale’s Walking Dead series), the sadness, anger and frustration really shines through. There is a great line of dialogue at one point where you discuss Turing’s perceived gender, which again really hits home with current day issues.
However, as good as the story is, the game it finds itself packaged into is not great. At its core, 2064 is a point and click adventure, without any meaty puzzles to solve. There are objects to be picked up and used, but these are extremely rare, and there is no real challenge in working out where and how they have to be used. The game is extremely linear, with the in-game map always telling you where you need to go with a big fat exclamation mark. Attempting to travel to a different location sometimes leads to Turing commenting on how that decision is not right.
There are also a couple of puzzle sections, which require virtually zero brain power in order to complete. A walk through a underground tunnel system is simple to navigate as there are maps on the wall. And the final puzzle sequence is a cat and mouse encounter in a maze, where it seems like the outcome will be same whatever you do, unless I am mistaken. Overall, 90% of 2064 is clicking the A button to move the dialogue along. There are dialogue decisions to make from time to time and the outcome of your response does affect the relationships between your characters, but picking the right response is again not much of a challenge. Being nice to people means they will be your friend and help you at the finale, being horrible, or rude will mean they won’t help. The completionists/achievement hunters amongst us will be disappointed to learn that to get 100% will mean multiple playthroughs.
And let’s not dwell too much on the control system. Point and click adventure games struggle when on console, and 2064 is no exception. The controls are truly awful. Clicking an object will bring up four possible actions, all represented by white icons which get lost within the background. There is no quick way to select, meaning you have to move the cursor via the left stick to select them. It is very irritating and led to me not bothering to interact with the game world in any detail.
2064 is a great story, with well-written characters, but wrapped up in a terrible game. It would have been more suited to be left as a visual novel for people to enjoy that way, as lasting memories of it in it’s game format will not be positive.
Thanks to Xbox and MidBoss for supporting TiX