On January 17th a unique and special game was released on the PlayStation 4. It’s one you might have missed since it doesn’t feature bullets, blades, or popular comic book characters. This is a game made by creative people who feel unrepresented in most forms of media, something which I know a lot of comic book creators can relate to. Made on the philosophy that “no one is gonna do it for you” 2064: Read Only Memories is one of the most captivating stories told in any medium, period.
Set in the cyberpunk future of Neo San Francisco 2064; genetic modification allowed society to cure many diseases and has created “hybrid” humans with animal qualities. The player takes on the role of a journalist trying to locate their missing friend Hayden Webber, an artificial intelligence researcher, with the aid of Hayden’s Relationship Organizational Manager (ROM) Turing, the world’s first sapient machine. You’re hurled into a mystery that quickly overwhelms you. As you explore Neo-San Francisco for answers you’ll encounter a pallet of colorful characters that either help or hinder you depending on your choices. 2064 ROM is a world best be summed up in one word, possibility.
Potentiality is what’s most interesting about this game which came out first on PC in 2015 and, with some new additions, is just now seeing life on the PS4. Previously, characters could only express themselves through animation and sound effects. Bringing in voice acting added a new layer of expression and immersion. These pivotal characters you encounter don’t just have any old voices, they have some of the most recognizable names in gaming and beyond. Mellissa Hutchinson who voiced Clementine in Telltale’s Walking Dead, WWE Superstar Xavier Woods, and THE authority on gaming critique Jim Sterling; that’s just to name a few of the talent you’ll now hear in this game. While the dialog sequences can run long, Read Only Memories compensates with strong characters: this is a game about people. A foundation that makes its puzzles and mystery solving all the more interesting.
Developer, Midboss has had months since the initial PS4 announcement to add new layers to the game. While I never managed to complete 2064: ROM when it initially released on PC, playing through the PS4 version felt new in a way. It’s not just another port of a PC game. Something binary in nature came to feel organic and that’s due in large part to voice acting giving the game…well…voice. If we haven’t learned the lesson yet, performance matters and can put a different spin on story. In a landscape where the biggest publishers in video games are content with reselling old games on new systems as a substitute for creativity; this team brought an evergreen game to a new platform and made it more relevant than ever.
To some, 2064: ROM is simple a point-and-click game. The reality is it’s more akin to an interactive novel. A tale which gives you reason to mull on the information it gives you. Allows you to put it down and jump right back in when you want. 2064 is a premier example of how to brilliantly give players the feeling of a story that is unique to them. Your enthusiastic and inquisitive bot, Turing, is a blank canvas for players to paint their depiction of what it means to be human.
Which is what happens when a game is made by developers who have brought events to the gaming world such as GaymerX series of LGBTQ gaming cons. 2064: ROM uses its characters to ruminate on gender, identity, and sexuality. Trans, a-sexual, people of all shades have a safe representation of the melting pot we all live in and it’s bloody brilliant.
2064: ROM is special on so many levels. Perhaps just as equal to its organic portrayal of diversity is the fact that this is one of the most noteworthy games you’ll play and it didn’t need a soldier on the cover or over-the-top violence achieve it. Midboss is an important necessity in the same way as Nintendo the developer is; a force that balances the view of video games simply equaling bullets and bros. If you’ve ever wanted to prove to your non-gaming friends that the industry has a soul, 2064: Read Only Memories is that proof.
2064: READ ONLY MEMORIES
Platform: PlayStation Network, PC, Mac