Author Topic: Read Only Memories: NEURODIVER (Switch) Review  (Read 467 times)

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Offline riskman64

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Read Only Memories: NEURODIVER (Switch) Review
« on: May 15, 2024, 06:00:00 AM »

A short sequel that fails to live up to the original.

http://www.nintendoworldreport.com/review/67179/read-only-memories-neurodiver-switch-review

Read Only Memories: NEURODIVER is a follow-up to 2064: Read Only Memories, which originally came out in 2015. Both titles are point-and-click style adventure games, but whereas 2064 featured a bit more in the actual pointing and clicking department, NEURODIVER plays much more like a visual novel. Another significant departure is in terms of the length, with the original game running about 10-15 hours long compared to the 3-5 hours of the sequel. The cyberpunk setting and aesthetic work well, and it’s fun to see characters from the first game show up in NEURODIVER, but ultimately the follow-up left me feeling like I’d be served an appetizer for dinner.

Read Only Memories: NEURODIVER follows protagonist ES-88, who’s also called Luna, as she works to assist various people with recovering their memories. As an employee of the company MINERVA, Luna also interacts with a variety of her co-workers before heading out for each mission. She is often accompanied by her partner and confidant Gate, with the pair often on the edge of being more than just friends. The new and returning cast members are well written and fun to hang out with, but the brevity of each chapter makes it hard to feel satiated by the lack of more in-depth interactions. Aside from Luna and Gate, the conversations you have with other characters feel slight, and I constantly found myself wanting to revisit areas I’d been to or push conversations further; the linearity and constrained nature of NEURODIVER ultimately work against it. Other games in this style, like Coffee Talk, succeed because you have multiple opportunities to build relationships and catch up with budding friends and colleagues.

The plot involves a character known as Golden Butterfly who is infiltrating people’s memories and fragmenting them; it’s up to Luna to use the bioengineered Neurodiver creature to transport herself into their memories and repair the damage. Each of the six or so chapters begins with Luna waking up in her apartment at MINERVA, collecting the Neurodiver, checking in with reception, and then meeting with one of the employees at the company before getting her next assignment. The narrative itself plays second fiddle to the interactions between the game’s cast members, and part of this is due to the main antagonist just not having quite enough stage time to make much of an impact.

As mentioned earlier, the gameplay takes on much more of a visual novel style in ROM: NEURODIVER compared to 2064, and that removal of player agency leads to a less compelling experience overall. 2064: Read Only Memories INTEGRAL was one of my favorite early Switch ports because of characters like Turing and much more traditional point-and-click adventure game mechanics. NEURODIVER condenses these down into memory clues that you pick up and insert into distorted fragments to repair each client’s memory, which moves the plot forward but offers little in the way of puzzle or mystery solving. The aforementioned fragments each require a handful of clues to be slotted in for the repair to be successful, and it didn’t seem like there was any rhyme or reason to why one set of clues was needed over another. Placing them in any kind of order isn’t required, either, and so you just need to pick them up or acquire them from conversations and then drag and drop them–trial and error style–until the distortion clears up.

The greatest achievement of Read Only Memories: NEURODIVER is that it helps to conjure up nostalgia for its much more effective predecessor. The sequel really feels much more like a robust piece of DLC than a full-fledged release. Fans of the original who go into it expecting a similar amount of content and playtime will be sorely disappointed. While the retro-looking aesthetic and FM synthesis-filled soundtrack are noticeable high points, there isn’t much else that makes the journey worthwhile. If you’ve already played 2064: Read Only Memories, you may get a bit of a kick out of NEURODIVER, but you’d probably be better served replaying the original, which overshadows its follow-up in almost every way. As likable as most of its cast is, they simply don’t get enough time to shine, leaving the adventure of Luna and co. feeling flat and incomplete.