|They love to sneak in and take centerstage.|
Some of the more interesting topics of science-fiction, in my opinion:
-The evolution of society decades, even centuries after what we know today;
-The line between artificial intelligence and sentience;
-Changes to mankind, biologically and mentally;
-The advancement of medical technology;
-How different, and yet how similar, humans are regardless of the era.
Greed, hatred, prejudice, fear of the other, any negative sentiment, name it; it has existed since the dawn of time and will continue to exist no matter how advanced we get. Today’s game sheds a light on a world, 47 years after our current time, where things are both radically different and not all that different.
|"How many different drinks do you have?"|
"I'LL TRY THEM ALL!"
Yes, you can do that.
If you start frothing at the mouth hearing that name, you better ignore this review. In fact, ignore my entire blog. (She's not even in it for 10 minutes!)
With this out of the way, allow me to say how this review will be done: Part 1 will be the actual review, with a short description of the plot (to keep most of it a secret, so that those of you interested in the game can discover it without me spoiling it all). Part 2 will be a discussion of the game’s themes, with actual spoilers, thus you can skip if it you want. Let’s get this started, shall we?
First, the game asks what you want to be referred as (He, She, They). It’s like asking your gender, but adding the nonbinary option. It sets the tone, doesn’t it?
|Just a quick thought: Of course it's "Read-Only Memories".|
You don't want to see what happens when you edit
memories. Before you know it, you're a runaway on Mars.
|Did I mention that this game has puns? Tons of puns?|
Thousands of puns?
May I mention that the pixel art that makes up the whole game is wonderful? The locations, the items, the character portraits when they talk! Everything is pixelated, and everything looks great. Especially every emotion that can be conveyed by said portraits.
|Might as well. I feel like presenting a rotten item to|
everyone I come in contact with tomorrow.
|You have access to all the information of the world.|
Look it up, dammit.
|So I,m the one with the best chances of helping you?|
Just great, I'm stuck with a robot buddy.
Note that I say “them”; well, Turing is a robot, and they know it. They don’t associate to either gender, and thus would like to not be referred to as a he or a she. I mean, it does make sense, being a machine, the default would be the “character gender” assigned to them by their creator, but Hayden seems to have given Turing no gender. Here’s the funny thing about all this; despite being a robot who uses zeroes and ones, Turng identifies as nonbinary. Think about it.
|Ah yes, TOMCAT, on the right, they're very helpful.|
Definitely moreso than Jess, the catgirl on the left.
|One of them could really use a haircut, the other seems ready|
to filibuster about an important topic.
I'll let you judge which is which.
There’s also something about cyborgs and how it’s become a fairly common practice to get limbs and parts replaced by machines, but it’s seen as more normal. Oh, the more extreme Human Revolution folks also despise cyborgs, because I guess even in the future, some people needs to hate on multiple groups… but while it’s there, the game doesn’t put as much emphasis on this as it does for Hybrids.
|Majid and Gus, owners of Stardust, and a gay couple,|
a thing casually mentioned. And not a single homophobe
in sight - that's truly awesome.
Of course, that’s not the only characters in this story; we also meet countless ROMs, all of which occupy the roles they were given. We also meet, not necessarily in that order:
|Because it's a good running gag.|
-Chad Francis Mulberry and Oliver Meadows, two graffiti artists who often do harder criminal stuff, and who get pulled into the investigation unwillingly;
-Jess Meas, a Hybrid catgirl who’s also a lawyer fighting for the rights of her fellow Hybrids. She’s had a tough life, so you damn better not piss her off with cat puns (but the game still allows you to if you want);
|Thanks for telling us more about Hayden, but...|
seriously, can we trust you?
-And of course, there’s Yannick Fairlight, an older man who used to work for Parallax before they booted him out, and his assistant Leon Deckard-I mean Dekker, what’s wrong with me misspelling names these days. I’m not sure how much we can trust any of them. Sure, they help a lot, but are there other motives behind their surprisingly helpful behavior?
Of course, I would love to reveal more, but I’d rather let you see the rest of the story unravel by yourself. This game will take you many hours to complete. There’s a LOT of content, even more if you happen to stop by and check the text for every command for every object in every environment visited. Or if you show the carton of spoiled milk to every person you meet. The game doesn’t autosave, so do keep in mind to save whenever you can. There is one problem with this, though; when you start discussing with a character, especially if it’s a major character, you won’t be able to save until the discussion is over. And this can be fairly long. When you’re speaking to an important secondary character, you’ll have multiple dialogue options popping up, and you will have to read them all. Some dialogue options open up more dialogue options, though some of those are additional info that you might not need, so you’ll sometimes be able to skip some of these extra details. You,ll still be talking for more than 30 minutes with some folks you meet.
Hayden’s disappearance is the first event that leads our reporter character and Turing, the adorable ROM, on an adventure where they’ll discover a lot of things that will put them in grave danger. Yeah, things get dark partway into this story. I think I can also reveal that this story has many different endings, all of which depend on the success of the final puzzle and on whether or not you’ve been a decent person to Turing during the whole adventure. (I strongly suggest you stay nice to Turing. It leads to the better ending.)
Quite frankly, even setting aside the social elements of the story, I think this is a fantastic point-and-click adventure. The comedy is omnipresent, and doesn’t entirely leave even after things take a dark turn (the climax does stay tense throughout, but that’s to be expected). Also, so many puns. It’s crazy. The story contains a lot of endearing characters, and we learn the backstory for most of them. From TOMCAT to Jess, passing by Leon Dekker and even the Mulberry family, there will be no secrets left!
I know I say this for just about everything I review, but once again, the art and the music – just awesome. The very detailed pixel art brings something more to this game, and the music, also a chiptune soundtrack, just helps a lot the retro aesthetics. I can’t even start to imagine the amount of work it must have been to draw every single animation for environments and dialogues with pixel art. Very impressive work.
Also of note is the voice acting, which is really fantastic. Melissa Hutchison as Turing, in particular, offers an excellent performance, moving between emotional bits of discussion and more informative sections, since Turing may be a robot with emotions, they’re still a robot and will gladly share their knowledge anytime they can. Of course, the other actors all offer something to their roles. It’s particularly great to see just how far they took the voice acting – even some of the more innocuous or surprising interactions, in particular those that you wouldn’t think would need a voice-acted response. (Also, Jim Sterling, so yay.)
The story is complex, and has many twists and turns – and keeps your interest as things go dark. Along the way, there are many puzzles to solve, whether you need to find out how to enter an apartment by yourself, or how to bring back a runaway car towards you in order to interrogate the people inside… and of course, the final puzzles, which I guarantee you’ll remember. Another awesome part is that, even if you do fail some of these puzzles, you can always find a second way to get anything done. The game is made so that you can move forward, despite failures. As an example, the second-to-last chapter (not counting the epilogue) is all about reuniting the allies made on the way in order to create a distraction while the protagonist and Turing sneak into a secret place. Some puzzles can be failed, other puzzles have multiple solutions (and you can find one item that can be used to solve many puzzles, too), and there are lines of dialogue for every possibility. Truly, a TON of work went into this. It’s pretty annoying that you can’t save in the middle of a discussion with a major character, unfortunately.
|That's the latest into the game that I went to pick images|
for this part. I don't intend to spoil much - until Part 2,
Now, I dedicated Part 1 of this review to the actual review. I’ll do things differently this time; Part 2 will contain a discussion on the themes of the game. There will be a spoiler alert warning on that one, so read with caution.