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Review – 2064: Read Only Memories INTEGRAL

2064: Read Only Memories INTEGRAL is a game that was originally released in 2015. And, since then, has had a variety of free updates to expand and improve its content. INTEGRAL is the latest one of these updates ported to the Nintendo Switch.

Previously, I had played 2064 (developed by MidBoss) on its release. I remember being endeared to it at the time. Unfortunately, didn’t get to play as much of it as I’d like. At the time, there were too many games and I had too little time. This has made the variety of changes to the game pretty impressive.

But first, let’s start with the basics.

The premise

The year is 2064. The place is Neo-San Francisco, in case you didn’t immediately get the cyber-punk vibe. And you play as a poor writer struggling to get by in a tiny apartment that’s falling apart. Apparently, 2064 is a lot like right now! Although there are some key differences.

The first of these is that racism, sexism, any kind of antagonism toward minorities is pretty much non-existent. Which is noticeable in that this game is one of the most queer-friendly titles on the market, to its credit. As a result, all kinds of gender and sexual identities are seen throughout the game. Plus, players are even given the option to choose their own pronouns from a list. It’s not a huge detail but for many, this is an option they don’t normally get.

The next big detail to keep in mind is that humans, regardless of the time period, will always be kind of garbage and have to target some kind of minority. In this game, that minority is humans who have spliced their DNA in various kinds of ways. For example, allowing for simple things like eye colour change through to more advanced things like animal-based parts such as ears or tails of various animals. Naturally, there are humans who think this is a bad thing. Not to mention, there are all kinds of moral questions raised around what it means to be human.

Finally, technology is hugely different with personal computers known as Relationship and Organizational Managers (ROMs). They are incredibly life-like AI’s that have replaced computers and mobile phones. There’s also a lot of cool technology that allows users to interface directly with the internet and headphones that let you listen to literally anything, even your house plant.

Where the story starts

At the head of all this technology is the megacorp Parallax. Your friend, Hayden, an employee of this company has gone mysteriously missing. Your only clue is his latest and greatest creation, the ROM known as Turing. Where other ROMs have a sort of ‘false’ AI that’s entirely programmed, Turing is a ‘true’ AI that can think and feel for themselves. And, even reprogram themselves based on information gained.

So, the two of you set off to uncover the mystery of what happened to Hayden. All while learning more about Turing and the amazing technology they contain.

Images supplied by MidBoss

The gameplay

The first immediate comparison a lot of people would take upon seeing it is to its inspirations, Bubblegum Crisis or Snatcher, as well as the aesthetic and style of a lot of 90s point and click adventure games. Though, the aesthetic comparison is really where it ends. There’s no frustrating clicking on every last pixel or trying to combine a dead fish with a plunger to solve a puzzle where you find out the item you need was only available for 5 minutes like, three hours ago. 90s adventure games weren’t great.

Anyway.

The game is more like a visual novel in terms of presentation with various static screens where objects can be examined and interacted with and the game progresses in a fairly linear fashion as a result. Though there are a few minigames and puzzles to break things up here and there, the game is still text-heavy and reliant on its story as its biggest seller.

The player can also make various choices in dialogue which will determine how characters react to them and even which ending they might get.

The writing itself is absolutely delightful. It makes it a pleasure to spend time in each environment examining and interacting with everything and talking to every character. I tried to pour expired milk on a lot of things and was greeted with a unique response every single time. Which just encouraged me to keep trying to pour spoiled milk on things which absolutely nobody was happy about. But I was delighted.

Image supplied by MidBoss

The new features

If you’ve played the game before and you’re humming and hawing over whether or not to get this as well, the game has a lot to offer outside of the shiny new voice acting which was added in previous editions.

The game offers a weighty ‘extras’ menu which provides your standard things like concept art and the ability to listen to the excellent futuristic soundtrack. There’s also the ability to watch all the previous trailers for the game, which is a cute touch. And the rumble of the Switch controllers adds a surprising amount of depth to the game, which is weird for me because I normally turn rumble settings off, finding them to be more annoying than anything.

But the biggest addition is an entirely new playable side story called PUNKS, as well as an extended epilogue to the main game. So there’s definitely something for veteran players who have enjoyed the game previously.

Turing is my best friend. Image: https://www.nintendo.co.uk/Games/Nintendo-Switch-download-software/2064-Read-Only-Memories-INTEGRAL-1408927.html

In conclusion

This game is delightful. That’s the best way to sum it up. It’s not incredibly meaty in terms of gameplay and is probably better suited to people that like visual novels. If you’re looking for a classic 90s point and click puzzle-based game you’ll be disappointed.

But if you’re looking for a good queer story or just a good story in general, this is definitely a good game to sink your teeth into. Especially on Switch, where you can treat it like a good book before bed. It’s a real cozy sort of game that plays with cyber-punk tropes and keeps a generally positive outlook on a lot of story elements that are usually portrayed for drama elements, which is super refreshing.

Also, Turing is cute and I would like one.

 

 

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