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Read Only Memories: NEURODIVER Hands-On Preview

Read Only Memories: NEURODIVER Featured Artwork

Read Only Memories: NEURODIVER is the long-awaited sequel to 2015’s indie adventure 2064: Read Only Memories. 2064 introduced players to a more introspective cyberpunk story with all manner of character types represented (because representation matters). NEURODIVER takes us back into that vibrant world with a brand new story and characters, though some old friends do return. The game’s Steam page says that those new to Read Only Memories can easily dive in, while series fans can enjoy nods and references to the previous game. As someone who, sadly, did not play 2064, I easily got into this three-chapter (about three hours) preview of NEURODIVER and look forward to the full game. 

NEURODIVER takes place several years after 2064 and follows a new protagonist named ES88 (her professional handle; her real name is Luna). ES88, an esper (someone with extra sensory perception) at the Minerva Corporation, is the only person qualified to utilize and care for the Neurodiver, a lab-developed psionic creature who deep dives into people’s psyches to fix their clouded or fragmented memories. Diving into peoples’ memories is quite risky, though. One wrong move could spell doom for everyone involved, hence why diving is often a last resort.

ES88 enjoys her role but wishes for more excitement to show off her and the Neurodiver’s potential. Wish granted, because a powerful rogue esper called Golden Butterfly is out there invading and corrupting peoples’ memories at an alarming rate. Golden Butterfly’s motives are largely unknown, and ES88 is the only one equipped to solve this mystery. ES88’s adventure will take her all over Neo-San Francisco and highlights why NEURODIVER appeals to old and new fans alike. Since ES88 would meet any returning characters for the first time, they can become friends to new fans while longtime fans get to see what their old friends have been up to.

Never be afraid of the unknown in Read Only Memories: Neurodiver
ES88’s adventure takes her all over Neo-San Francisco, including some questionable areas.

ES88 is no warrior or mage, so she must rely on her wits and problem-solving skills via point-and-click gameplay. Observing the surroundings, clicking environmental hot spots, reading details on everything, and gathering/combining clues and key items to fix peoples’ memory glitches drive the adventure forward. The puzzles I encountered in these early stages weren’t mindbenders, but did require me to thoroughly search the surroundings for important clues and key items. There are also moments when visual novel-style dialogue choices pop up to advance the story. So far, these choices don’t seem to affect outcomes but add flavor to the script. NEURODIVER plays best using a mouse but handles decently with a gamepad.

The visual novel style presentation features vivid pixel graphics and striking art that juxtapose modern and retro styles. Colorful environments harbor many cool details, including subtle animations that enhance the settings’ visual flair. The diverse characters’ unique appearances are on full display thanks to large and expressive animated portraits that add personality to the dialogue. Speaking of personality, conversations also feature quality voice acting, giving the characters life. Complementing all of this is Ken “coda” Snyder‘s lovely chiptune soundtrack, whose engaging compositions effectively convey the moods of places and situations.

The Neurodiver in Read Only Memories: NEURODIVER.
This creature is the titular Neurodiver. Strange? Cute? You decide.

The three or so hours I experienced in this Read Only Memories: NEURODIVER preview build were good. I like the game’s vibrant world and am invested in its characters and their stories. The game setup is so brilliant that both Read Only Memories neophytes and series fans can enjoy what NEURODIVER offers. I look forward to May 16th, when Read Only Memories: NEURODIVER releases on Steam, Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 5, and Xbox.

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Neal Chandran

Neal Chandran

Neal is the PR manager at RPGFan but also finds time to write occasional game or music reviews and do other assorted tasks for the site. When he isn't networking with industry folks on behalf of RPGFan or booking/scheduling appointments for press events, Neal is an educator, musician, cyclist, gym rat, and bookworm who has also dabbled in voiceover work and motivational speaking.

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