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Read Only Memories: NEURODIVER Review

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A few years ago, I had a rather mixed experience with the point-and-click adventure, 2064: Read Only Memories. For all the positives surrounding the storytelling, it was held back by the mini-games and cursor issues. With that in mind, there’s now a sequel from developers MidBoss in the form of Read Only Memories: NEURODIVER.

Can you expect to find much improvement for the next adventure, or does Read Only Memories: NEURODIVER suffer a similar fate to its predecessor?

Read Only Memories NEURODIVER Review 1
Ready to dive in to NEURODIVER?

Set six years after the original, Read Only Memories: NEURODIVER returns to Neo-San Francisco in the year 2070 and follows the life of Luna Cruz a.k.a ES88. She’s an esper, a person who possesses psychic abilities, working for a special division at MINERVA. When a rogue psychic, Golden Butterfly, starts hiding inside the minds of others, ES88 is given the task to stop them. And so the hunt begins…

First of all, it really doesn’t matter if you’re familiar with 2064: Read Only Memories because, despite being in the same world, the narrative here focuses on a totally new cast of characters. And secondly, NEURODIVER is really intriguing from the outset. It draws you in with the fascinating ES88 taking centre stage as she’s getting thrown into the most difficult job to date. Not only will you witness great character building for her throughout, but can also enjoy a superb voiceover to boot. The actor, Daisy Guevara, does excellently to convey the innocence and naivety of the immensely talented ES88, creating an instantly likeable protagonist in the process.

To be fair, the writers have done brilliantly with the majority of the supporting characters as well, with a really interesting bunch introduced throughout. Whether it’s the level-headed android GATE, the wacky lab tech Harold, or the rag-tag group of mercenaries known as The Old Birds, the personalities consistently shine thanks to cool character designs and a high standard of voice acting. Having a few of the old favourites return adds an extra level of greatness too, especially when one of them is ridiculously adorable.

There’s seldom a dull moment across the five chapters either, interacting with different people often and visiting various locations due to the nature of the task at hand. Using a Neurodiver, a genetically engineered esper, ES88 must delve into people’s memories to try and track the golden miscreant down. Such entries into the minds of others see you hanging out in a Busan bar, staying on a luxurious train that’s also a hotel, and visiting a zoo. Even though everything is presented in pixel art, the quality is very good and ensures every setting feels unique with plenty of aspects to admire.

Read Only Memories NEURODIVER Review 2
An interesting character roster

The only real downsides in regards to the story is how short it is, coming in at around four hours, and the ending(s). No spoilers, but I found it to be a slightly anticlimactic culmination after an intense build towards it. Still, the rest of the narrative makes it well worth taking it all in.

As far as gameplay is concerned, Read Only Memories: NEURODIVER is stripped back to the bare essentials of what you’d expect from a point-and-click adventure. There are no more confusing and detrimental mini-games, which is an absolute blessing. Instead you just have to worry about acquiring a handful of things for the inventory as these are necessary to fix the problems that Golden Butterfly has caused. Gathering information occurs by clicking on objects within the environments and then you’ll be able to overcome the puzzles ahead.

Basically, the puzzles are fragmented memories and you have to use clues you’ve gathered in your inventory to repair them. For example, one fragment in Busan features a child and the two related clues solving the issue involve a jegi, which is a key component in a popular Korean children’s game. Some are a tad trickier to figure out, however the solutions make sense and relate well to the fragments themselves.

On the technical front, Read Only Memories: NEURODIVER did freeze up a couple of times for no apparent reason. While that’s not ideal, the auto-save function will ensure you haven’t lost too much progress. Otherwise it’s smooth-sailing.

Read Only Memories NEURODIVER Review 3
An intriguing sci-fi adventure

Ultimately, Read Only Memories: NEURODIVER delivers an intriguing sci-fi adventure that’s relentless from the get-go. MidBoss have crafted an interesting world full of fascinating characters and ensures their personalities are showcased via great voice acting. The gameplay is simple enough that it allows you to enjoy the storytelling, but it does mean the overall length is a little on the short side. And that’s something to take into account as I don’t feel as though there’s much replayability.

There’s no doubt Read Only Memories: NEURODIVER is worth grabbing because it can enthral you with its narrative, but just don’t anticipate too much on the puzzling side of things.

SUMMARY

Pros:
  • An enthralling sci-fi adventure
  • Excellent cast of characters
  • High quality voiceovers
  • Great pixel art locations
Cons:
  • Too short
  • A couple of technical issues
Info:
  • Massive thanks for the free copy of the game, Chorus Worldwide
  • Formats - Xbox Series X|S (review), PS5, PC, Switch
  • Release date and price - 16 May 2024 | £TBC
James Birks
James Birks
Been gaming casually since the SNES as a youngster but found my true passion for games on the Playstation 1 (the forbidden word ooo). My addiction grew to its pinnacle with the purchase of an Xbox 360 & Xbox Live Service. A recovering GS hunter that will still play literally any game.
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<b>Pros:</b> <ul> <li>An enthralling sci-fi adventure</li> <li>Excellent cast of characters</li> <li>High quality voiceovers</li> <li>Great pixel art locations</li> </ul> <b>Cons:</b> <ul> <li>Too short</li> <li>A couple of technical issues</li> </ul> <b>Info:</b> <ul> <li>Massive thanks for the free copy of the game, Chorus Worldwide</li> <li>Formats - Xbox Series X|S (review), PS5, PC, Switch <li>Release date and price - 16 May 2024 | £TBC</li> </ul>Read Only Memories: NEURODIVER Review
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