Read Only Memories, the cyberpunk video game with an LGBT twist – Review by Pup Matthias.
by Pup Matthias
Read Only Memories: A New Cyberpunk Adventure
Develop by MidBoss, Rated M for Mature
Available for Windows, Mac, Linux, and Ouya $9.99
Do you like Cyberpunk? Do you like stories where technology is rampant in all aspects of modern life? How about being a detective like from Blade Runner trying to solve the murder of your old friend only to discover a bigger conspiracy tied to a large corporations like 1984? Do you like cute, adorable robots? Then Read Only Memories is for you, my friend.
Read Only Memories is an old school adventure game released in October of 2015, but it offers a look at a future that not only celebrates the tropes of the sub-genre, but reflects what our own future might very well be.
You play, well, yourself. It’s Christmas time in Neo-San Francisco in the year 2064 A.D. Technology has advanced so much that the human body can be repaired and enhanced with cybernetic augmentation or genetic modification. Hybrids are looking less human and more like a furry convention. The Oculus Rift turns out to be a success as they are the common portable devices for people to use for the web. And most of all, Relationship Organizational Managers, or ROMs, have become the new IPhone, Roomba; pretty much all-common tech today, but it has cute little eyes. Aw.
However, all is not well. With technology moving at such a rampant pace, people get scared (because have you seen what happens in Terminator?) It leads to the Human Revolution, seeking to slow the progress of today, in fear that without checks and balances we might lose what makes us human.
It’s a tense time to be alive. So where are you in all of this?
You are a freelance journalist, looking to make your mark on the world. But you don’t have the tech like most others have. Not even a ROM. Partially because you’re a hipster who loves to write on paper, but mainly because you’re flat-ass broke. Instead of hunting down the big stories, you’re forced to do simple reviews of common tech to feed the masses so you can feed yourself in your one room apartment.
After finishing your latest piece about a pair of headsets, you head to bed only to wake up the next day to find a ROM in your room. But this isn’t any ordinary ROM. This ROM is named Turing, and it can think for itself. That’s right, A.I. – and it needs your help. You see, your friend created Turing. He works for Parallax (basically this world’s Apple), but he was developing Turing in his spare time… until suddenly, a strange man took him hostage. Turing escaped, but with nowhere to go, he came to you because of your relationship with his creator.
Turing asks you to help find his maker, discover the people behind his kidnapping, and find out why. Of course, this somehow has to tie back to what Turing is. As you put your journalist skills to work, you will meet (like any good mystery) a cast of colorful characters, red herrings, twist and turns, murder, and a bigger threat then you can possible imagine. Welcome to Read Only Memories.
The game itself is good, but it depends on what you are looking for. If you’re looking for a 360 degree interactive world – Read Only Memories isn’t a click everything, grab everything, try everything adventure game. It’s more of a storytelling experience in tune to a visual novel. Most of the game is you and Turing going from destination to destination, finding people, talking to them, and then going to the next stop. There are moments where you will have to interact with object puzzles, but they are far and few in-between. The real puzzles are the dialogue trees.
While talking with characters, you will be given dialogue options. Depending on what you choose, it can get you an important piece of information, build a good relationship with someone, or make them utterly hate your guts. Those choices can lead you to success or failure with six different endings. The game itself is pretty laid back. It has funny moments, sweet moments, dark moments, but there’s nothing to really scare you.
Or so you think. Let’s avoid spoiling curve balls, but my God, I was not prepared and swear I almost had a panic attack when… No, no, no, go up, go up, go up, no, no, no, DAMNIT!
The big factor of the game isn’t just the story or amazing soundtrack which makes a lot of its personality. It’s how it builds its world with use of diversity, mainly with LGBT characters, and more importantly, how it doesn’t make it a big deal. There are no gimmicks like – ‘Look at me. Look at me. I’m Gay. I’m totally Gay. I’m the Gayest Gay that has ever Gayed’. The game treats the topic like what a lot of LGBT people want. To be open as they are, but not having their orientation define everything they are. It’s just a dimension of well rounded personalities.
I can relate to that because I’m gay, and moments when you talk to someone who in passing is revealed gay, not ashamed of it, and not having that be the focus of the character is a bloody Godsend. It doesn’t just stop at LGBT, though it’s the most prominent. The game loves to show off its many diverse dimensions from race, creed, gender, ordination, to nomenclature. When Turing is asking for your name, you have the choice of being referred to a he/she/or they, no matter what your name is. The game literally gives you the chance to play as yourself or as you want to see yourself.
And it’s believable. While some of the tech is pure sci-fi, the idea of a group of people from various backgrounds getting along is a future that can be possible. It may sound a bit unbelievable with today’s political climate, and the game shows not everything is as clean and peachy as you might think it is. But it’s an idea that a lot of people, like myself, believe in. Seeing it here is amazing.
There are hybrid Furry characters. The only down side is they don’t do much. There’s a hybrid side character with a quest focused on them, but being completely selfish, I would have loved to see more animal people. Hey, what can I say? I’m a furry.
Read Only Memories is a good game. A play through can take up to 5-7 hours, and it has multiple save slots so you can play around with different choices and see what outcomes come out of it without having to play the entire game over. The mystery is good and hits on all the classic tropes people love about Cyberpunk with a retro look. Not heavy on the furry side, but if you’re looking for a good indie game that shows a fiction that could be reality, you can’t go wrong here.
From the publisher MidBoss:
“Read Only Memories definitely has content that is interesting for the furry community. The struggles and the politics of hybrid rights are very relatatable, and members of society have the freedom to choose more animalistic features – and this choice is often very discriminated against. The character of Jess is an example of a hybrid with animalistic features, and the character of Pat is a large and expressive polar bear – super adorable!”
MidBoss is the studio formed by the creators of GaymerX. (Read about GaymerX and their welcome to Furries.) Their cyberpunk point and click adventure game Read Only Memories is on PC, MAC and Linux.
In Neo-San Francisco, a city of low-life and high tech, classy cocktails, neon lights and colorful characters, you will be embroiled in the depths of the city’s deepest scandal guided by an earnest and well-meaning ROM android.
Read Only Memories is the first major LGBT adventure game of this scope and budget, featuring BAFTA-nominated voice actors Adam Harrington (The Wolf Among Us, League of Legends) and Dave Fennoy (Batman: Arkham Knight, The Walking Dead, DOTA 2) and an exclusive chiptune soundtrack by 2 Mello.