7 Year Special: Read Only Memories for the PC Review

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If you asked retro gamers about great, but hard-to-find cult classics, one game that would come up is Snatcher. This was a Blade Runner-cyber-punk-style adventure game made by Hideo Kojima himself for the SEGA CD, a failed expansion module to the popular SEGA Genesis. For years, many people have begged and yearned for a sequel or some kind of successor to the game since we didn’t legally get Policenauts, Kojima’s other well-known adventure game. Luckily, the indie community has pulled through with a cyber-punk-adventure game known as R.O.M or Read Only Memories. This is a game developed by a team called MidBoss LLC, a studio that is also well known for the documentary film, Gaming in Color, which focuses on the LGBT gaming culture. So, can this cyber-punk-adventure game be more than a pedestal to talk about LGBT topics?  Can it be a good adventure game even without these themes? Well, read on to find out.

The game takes place in this futuristic world where people can upgrade themselves through modifications or robotic upgrades to perfect themselves. You play as a struggling writer, which I can relate to, and one night after publishing an article, you end up meeting this little robotic individual named Turing. Turing comes to you for help, because his creator (who is also your friend) has gone missing. It is up to you to find Turing’s creator, and you end up with more than you expect. The story is great. I mean, we have seen cyber-punk-style worlds before, but the characters are truly where this game shines. I enjoyed every character that was friendly with you. You live in a world where if you feel inferior, you can change yourself, but then be outcasts in certain groups because you are different. I also enjoyed the company of my little robot buddy, Turing. Sure, he is kind of a cliché, being a robot with emotions, but he never does pull the “I want to be human” cliché, so he is leagues better than most robot characters in video games.

Have you played Snatcher? What about the original Shadowgate? Maybe even Uninvited? Well, if you haven’t, Read Only Memories is a first-person adventure game that is set up very much like those games I listed. You will always be in a static image with a few moving elements, and can talk, look, and use items on people and, well, other inanimate objects to help solve puzzles and progress the story. Depending on how you talk to everyone and solve the puzzles, since no puzzle has only one solution, you will get different endings.

Graphically, I enjoy the sprite-based design of everything. Bright colors, a slick, but fun anime-esque cyber-punk look, and well animated facial expressions. Everyone has their own animations, and I never saw one reused. The techno music is beautiful. It’s composed by Matthew Hopkins, who worked on the gaming documentary, Gaming in Color. It fits the mood perfectly. It’s sad when something depressing happens, chipper when outside, energetic when it’s in a café or club, calm when back at your place, ominous in dangerous locations, and you get the idea. While I am not always in the mood for techno music, I would definitely get the soundtrack for this game. You can buy on its Steam page or Midboss’s website!

I do have a few complaints. I wish there wasn’t so much negative space. You basically play the entire game on a rectangular screen as big as a large candy bar. I wouldn’t mind this if I could change the screen size, but I couldn’t. While I was enthralled by the story and its characters, I do wish there was full-on voice work throughout the entire game. Some of the endings have it, and the opening narration has full voice work, but those are it. I felt like the story could have been better if there wasn’t such a huge amount of text to read through. Sure, there are mini-games to break up the plot, but most of your time will be reading. I mean, I grew up in an era where early voice work was terrible, and have played many RPGs with no voiceovers, but I feel like they could have gotten some actors to play the main roles, as well as some of the characters you run into.

Read Only Memories is a fantastic adventure game. When I got my review copy of the game, I didn’t really know what to expect. I knew about the game, but was going to wait and see what happens. Honestly, this was the right game for me to play. I have recently felt burnt out on writing video game reviews, but this game brought back that creative fire to talk about them again! I want to thank Midboss for this game that helped me get that spirit of writing back. It’s currently out on Steam and Ouya. It’s going to come to other consoles in the future, so if you prefer home console gaming, then you should get it then. Over my eight years of reviewing games, I am always surprised by games, good and bad, and what experiences they give me. I hope gaming still remains big in my life, and I can’t wait to play more in the future.

This game gets an 8 out of 10