It’s been a while since I’ve done a review, and I recently played a video game that I thought was definitely deserving of it.
Originally released as Read Only Memories on computer platforms like Steam in October 2015, 2064: Read Only Memories was adapted for the PlayStation 4 in January of 2017. It was made available for free for PlayStation Plus in October 2018, which is how I got my hands on it. I didn’t take a crack at it until New Year’s Eve and I’m glad that’s how I rung in 2019.
2064 is a cyberpunk adventure game with a retro art style. It all begins on December 21, 2064 in the fictional city of Neo-San Francisco when a ROM (Relationship and Organizational Manager) named Turing breaks into your apartment to ask for your help rescuing their creator who had been taken in the night. Turing confides that they think they might have been the cause for the abduction as they are the first fully sapient machine.
The first time I nearly cried in this game came surprisingly early. To set-up your character, you have to input your name and pronouns so that Turing (and the game) can refer to you correctly. I had input a name I have been considering taking on as my own name, and was dreading what choice I’d have to make when it came to my pronouns. But instead of choosing male or female like I’ve been used to in video games, I was met with a long list of pronouns, including they/them/their, xe/xem/xer, and other neo-pronouns.
I knew the game was supposed to be queer-friendly, but this was the first time that I had seen in the gaming world where that also included trans and nonbinary people. And this game did exactly that. There were trans and nonbinary characters, like TOMCAT a hacker who goes by they/them pronouns, or Sympathy who reads as a non-passing trans woman.
The game is very story-driven and emotionally driven too. And it draws on very real issues. The world is populated by hybrids, people who have undergone gene therapy that leaves them looking like furry characters, and people with cybernetic implants and prosthetics. But not everyone understands or accepts them. There is the The Human Revolution, a radical group strictly opposed to changes in human genes, and thus hybrids.
What was most striking to me was the parallels to ableism that disabled people face today. While hybrids look like furry fanatics, it’s revealed that many of them needed the gene therapy in order to survive various illnesses, but they are dehumanized to such an extent that their stories are completely erased by The Human Revolution.
The game also comes with an actually diverse set of characters. The introduction of hybrids and cybernetics had me worried that visibly disabled characters would have been written out of existence, but that wasn’t the case. There’s characters like Vincent Mensah, who is a Black wheelchair user. There are also characters like Mahjid who is a Pakistani immigrant who owns the local (gay) bar.
The only negatives I really had about 2064 is more about the gameplay. It’s a short game that can be completed in just a few hours, which isn’t something that usually bothers me. What did was the ease with which most of the puzzles could be solved. If you’re more interested in gameplay than story or character, then you’ll probably be disappointed. But if you’re like me and love games like Broken Age, or the TellTale series where you are just moving through the story, then you’ll love 2064.
However, there are six unlockable endings, which means that if you’re a completionist, you won’t be frustrated by playing through the same tough puzzles six different times.
While researching the origins of the game, I did also come across some upsetting information. Earlier this year, the developer Midboss was in the middle of allegations of exploiting workers and sexual harassment by then CEO Matt Conn. Since then, Conn has been removed as CEO and other organizations he started like the GaymerX Conference also cut all ties with him. This may affect whether or not you want to support the game, even after the departure of Conn.