From the classic film Blade Runner to the critically acclaimed Deus Ex game series, cyberpunk science fiction has always been a staple in the entertainment industry. Their trademark combination of high technological advancement with a flawed society creates a perfect canvas for rich storytelling.
2064 Read Only Memories, a new Xbox One point-and-click narrative game, continues this genre's legacy strongly. Its story, combined with the title's awesome visual aesthetic and its fantastic soundtrack, provides an unforgettable experience that will stay in your mind long after the credits roll.
Story and setting: 46 years in the future
The year is 2064, and humanity has made extensive progress into the fields of gene therapy and artificial intelligence. Many have utilized new technology in order to modify their DNA and become "hybrids", or mutated humans, while others (known as Human Revolution group) oppose this and believe that we are losing what makes us human.
In order to assist both humans and hybrids in day-to-day life, the government created Relationship Organizational Managers (or ROMs). ROMs are built to simulate human emotions and mannerisms, but are not truly sentient. Though ROMs do their best to hold society together, the conflict between the hybrids and Human Revolution movement begin to reach a boiling point.
You take control of an unnamed struggling journalist in the city of Neo San Francisco. In the middle of the night, a unique ROM called Turing enters your apartment and asks for your assistance in finding an old friend named Hayden who has gone missing. Hayden works for the company Parallax, which designs and builds ROMs; as Turing points out, the someone like that being captured is potentially dangerous.
Over the course of your adventure with Turing, you will learn that it actually possesses the ability to think freely and openly, like a human would. This begs the question: Is a free-thinking AI okay, or dangerous? As the story progresses, the game will challenge you with tough choices that require you to take a stance on things such as this or whether or not you think the hybrids have the right to do what they do.
It's a very deep narrative, and thankfully, 2064 takes its time and tells its story well through great pacing and heavy attention to detail. This all comes together to create an incredibly interesting experience.
Gameplay: Point-and-click mechanics
2064 is mostly played through like a visual novel. You can select various items in rooms in order to learn more about them and the world around you, but the experience is "on rails". This isn't bad, though, because the structured pacing allows for the writing to shine bright.
Where the game starts to lose some muster is in the design of the puzzles. Though they are interesting and offer plenty of valuable world building, the puzzles are all rather simplistic and easy to solve.
Presentation: Perfectly pleasing
While many cyberpunk universes adopt a grounded, melancholy approach, 2064 shatters the status quo expectation and is instead a vibrant and colorful world. The old-school pixel graphics really fit this design, and it's just all around a joy to look at.
Of course, the visuals don't get all of the praise. 2064 wouldn't be the same without its upbeat and catchy score, which acts as a perfect backdrop to the lighthearted Neo San Francisco. In addition, the setting gets very serious at times, and 2064 possesses the perfect tracks for those moments, too.
2064 for Xbox One conclusion
Though its puzzles are mediocre, 2064 more than makes up for it with its phenomenally rich storytelling, beautiful aesthetic, and appealing musical score.
- Fantastic cyberpunk setting.
- Well written story.
- Great presentation.
- Mediocre puzzles
2064 Read Only Memories is available now on Xbox One for $19.99.
This review was conducted on an Xbox One, using a copy provided by the publisher.