By Isaac Espinosa
When a society divided by technology becomes more and more dangerous, how do you decide who to trust or steer away from?
2064 Read Only Memories Integral is an indie graphic adventure game developed by MidBoss and available on Nintendo Switch. (2064 Read Only Memories – minus the Integral – is on Steam, PlayStation 4, Microsoft Windows, Android, Xbox One, PlayStation Vita, Linux, OS X, and Amazon Fire TV.)
The game uses a system of choices to immerse the player in a world that feels very real. You witness themes of independence and discrimination that arise from people who resist technology and change. It all takes place in Neo-San Francisco, at a time when technology is more advanced and has become much more accessible to the public. So much so, in fact, that most people have begun to make hybrids of themselves with technological enhancements, such as new robotic arms, animal-like features or even entire organs that may have stopped functioning properly and need to be replaced by machinery to keep people alive. They do this either to be stylish or to help themselves survive fatal diseases. This has created a division between humans. While some accept the new hybrid life-style, others want to return to a time when technology was not so important in the lives of humans.
Your story begins with Turing, a small R.O.M. (short for Relationship and Organizational Manager) who happens to run into your character, which you can give any name you want. Turing was created by Hayden, a technological researcher employed by the company Parallax, who mysteriously went missing not long before you and Turing meet. Turing has come to your character for aid and enlists you to help him find his missing creator.
2064 ROM Integral has a retro look. The world and its characters are created in a 16-bit style, making the game resemble older titles such as “Super Mario World.” The main characters, such as Police Officer Lexi Rivers and your human hacking helper TOMCAT, are fully voice-acted, as are some of the supporting characters. This gives the world of 2064 a lot of charm and personality, since the voice acting reveals how characters feel in various situations and gives them depth and genuineness. The game’s techno soundtrack helps to create the image of a society oriented around robotics, and it adds to the game’s charm, despite how outdated the music seems to be.
Although 2064 ROM Integral has an interesting story and a lot of deep lore, the story does drag at times. It makes you perform what seem like meaningless tasks and often throws boring filler at you, encouraging you to skip through the dialogue and move on to the next objective – or honestly, anywhere else. But not all of the tasks are as useless as they seem. Some of them, such as stopping a runaway taxi, or stopping a protest in front of the Hybrid Clinic, will end up revealing some hidden lore that the game doesn’t explicitly tell you about.
All in all, 2064 ROM Integral is an interesting indie game that uses its story to create a level of tension and danger not found in many other games. However, I do not recommend it for gamer’s who get bored easily. If you are able to withstand the game’s dull moments, it will be satisfying for you to see how it ends. Patience is key here, as it is with many things in life – and narrative-oriented games.
Isaac Espinosa is a New York Videogame Critics Circle intern. He’s the founder of our brand new satellite group, the Lehman College Videogame Critics Circle.