I’ve not really spent a lot of time playing games that are heavily text-based or conversationally centred, at least not since the by-gone era of Sierra games, where exploration and clicking on random static objects were considered the same thing. So I was a little surprised when I dove into 2064: Read Only Memories (2064: ROM) and found an indie game that was very reminiscent of a genre that I hadn’t touched in almost 20 years.
It wasn’t long before the nostalgia goggles and rose-tinted views faded though… and I was disappointed by the experience that I was having. 2064: ROM presents itself as an engrossing story of mystery and creativity, but I found the ideas derivative and simple. The core concepts that surround the central story are not revolutionary or interesting, and it feels like an odd spin-off of other ideas and concepts presented elsewhere in works like iRobot and Ghost in the Shell.
However, 2064:ROM is a video game, surely it can find an interesting and new way to explore these concepts with player agency and involvement?
No, unfortunately not.
While there are multiple paths that you can take, they all lead towards the same goal, and throughout the whole game it felt like I was always being funnelled towards a specific point, regardless of what else might be drawing my interest.
The characters, while interesting and fleshed-out, never engaged or surprised me in a way that was genuinely intriguing, so even though some of the characters are lovable and believable, it didn’t feel like I was really investing into the relationships between them.
Additionally, the Nintendo Switch just isn’t a console designed for this type of gameplay. Scrolling through items, selections, and dialogue options become ridiculously monotonous on a gamepad, as opposed to pointing and clicking on said options with a mouse. It didn’t take long for me to become frustrated with how long every decision took to make, simply because all the menus were so tedious, and I often accidentally skipped over key lines of dialogue due to the clunky controls.
Overall, 2064: ROM felt like a relatively bland and uninteresting exploration of tired ideas. While the characters were interesting, it ultimately wasn’t enough to cover the flaws presented by the gameplay and simplistic storyline.