Read Only Memories

Yeah, so the only reason I would ever play this is because it was included as part of the bundle of narrative games and I’m still a completionist at heart. That’s a good enough reason for me to avoid buying those huge bundles. This one is a traditional adventure game with an original setting and production values that are meant to evoke the 8-bit era. I don’t much care for the nostalgic value of this style but I guess it does help keep their costs down.

I wasn’t expecting much out of this one but it surprised me with how substantial it is and the quality of its writing. The setting is a future San Francisco in which non-sapient robots are common but sapient ones don’t yet exist. You play a destitute journalist who finds one such sapient robot in your apartment one night. It’s apparently the first of its kind and it has come begging for help because its creator, a scientist friend of yours, has been kidnapped. This sets the stage for the two of you to act as partners in an investigation that involves powerful corporations, computer hacking, AI rights and naturally murder.

It plays pretty much like any modern mouse-driven adventure game, complete with the little jokes when you click for descriptions of objects or try to apply items to other objects in ways that don’t make sense. There is plenty of dialogue and conversation options do alter what happens in the story. The puzzles for the most part are straightforward, no torturous logic here, but there are at least a couple of more involved visual puzzles that pose a bit of a challenge. Generally speaking it’s a lot more like a visual novel in that the main draw is the story itself and I think that’s just fine.

The game tries a bit too hard to forge an emotional bond between the robot and the player and doesn’t get succeed. Naming it Turing is just another example of how on the nose the writing gets sometimes. Still I like how it neatly hits all of the good cyberpunk tropes and how the characters mostly behave in mostly believable ways. It’s not going to win any literary awards but it’s actually rather decent by videogame standards. I would prefer it had better production values but overall the game is fine for what it is and I really liked the music. A surprisingly decent adventure game all around that is short enough not to wear out its welcome.

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