I have a message from another time
2064: Read Only Memories (2015): 2 out of 10: A retro point and click adventure. An everyman who is friends with a wealthy genius wakes up one morning to find the friends “ROM” (who looks like Marvin the Paranoid Android from 2005’s The Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy but unfortunately it has the personality of a chipper four-year-old.) has visited him worried because its master has disappeared.
The Good: 2064 reminded me of Alan Rickman’s wonderful voice work in an otherwise star studded but disappointing The Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy remake.
2064: Read Only Memories seemingly does not have an autosave and manual saves are janky so when I went to continue my game after three hours and realised the PlayStation 5 had not one save file showing (Nor was able to just start from where I left off. A task the PlayStation 5 seems nonplussed by in any other game I have played on it.) I was secretly relieved.
The Bad: The music hurts my ears, the graphics hurts my eyes, and it is a point and click adventure.
I am not in theory against point and click adventures. For example, I really enjoyed 1998’s The X-Files Game. Now The X-Files game was an interactive movie point-and-click adventure video game starring David Duchovny, Gillian Anderson, Mitch Pileggi as Skinner, The Lone Gunman. Hell, it even has my favorite William B. Davis as the Cigarette Smoking Man. It is an FMV, filmed in Seattle. Your actions can drive your character insane where he starts seeing things like the perfect Call of Cthulhu RPG adaptation. All this with a story by Chris Carter and Frank Spotnitz.
Much as some people can see past the frustration of the point and click element in the Monkey Island games because of the sharp writing and humor. I was able to deal with the sometimes very frustrating point and click puzzles to see the next scene of Mulder and Scully chatting on a nondescript dock in Seattle.
The few hours I spent with 2064’s characters wanted me to stick a fork in my head.
The Ugly: When I was a young lad, I played Zork II. At the time, it was a fascinating game. But I assure you the designers of Zork II if they were making a game today, would not be doing an interactive text adventure (Or as Wikipedia calls it, an Interactive fiction computer game). Why? Because we have moved on to bigger and better things.
Video Killed the Radio Star and decent three-dimensional graphics killed the point and click adventure. Adventure games did not disappear. They just evolved to a more entertaining and user friendly state.
Nostalgia has dragged the point and click adventure back. Nostalgia is a powerful force. I think fondly back to the B-17 Bomber game on my Intellivision, complete with the miraculous Intellivoice voice synthesis module. (you could hear an actual voice say bombs away as you turned all those evil German civilians to rubble.). I have glorious memories of playing Pitfall and the Bard’s Tale games on my Commodore 64. Even my memories of the FMV X-Files game above is clouded by twenty-five years since I stared at my screen in frustration trying to figure out whatever I was supposed to do next.
So a new adventure with ugly graphics and a time wasting and frustrating interaction method. Well, it could work. First, make a better story. This is interactive fiction. Making the protagonist so relatable he might as well be in a waifu game is not a good start.
I can hear our creators now. But our audience is a bunch of losers that are bad with money and have no direction in life. Okay, fair enough, but there is a reason most romance novels have gorgeous virgin looking to marry a Duke rather than overweight divorcees with two kids living in a doublewide.
And I will confess in the three hours I played, I did not give the story enough time to be interesting. Partially because gameplay comprises clicking on everything four times to see how different interactions play out. So what story there was moved at the speed of molasses.
I will give the story a DNF but with the graphics there is no excuse. There is nothing delightful about ugly sprites. It does not tickle my nostalgia; it takes me out of the game. You do realise that the LucasArts games had very good graphics for thier times. They were not purposely creating ugly games. 2064 is purposely an ugly game.
And whatever chiptune hell the soundtrack is can die in a fire.
In Conclusion: You know I realise this is the second Point and click adventure I have played this month. I recently played (and reviewed) AI: The Somnium Files. Which while I didn’t finish, I did enjoy my time with. Compare those graphics and musical score to what is on tap here. AI: The Somnium Files is an on rails point and click adventure with limited player choice and really frustrating puzzle sections. Yet I kept going. (Till I didn’t). I recommend AI: The Somnium Files if you like point and click adventure games. I would avoid 2064: Read Only Memories. There is a reason we have evolved from this kind of effort.