Read Only Memories: NEURODIVER has so much heart | Hands-on Preview

by on April 19, 2024

As a console playing youngster in the nineties, I missed out on those classic PC point and click adventure games that were so influential to many. These early narrative games were a hugely important part of gaming history, and later in life I made sure to go back to Monkey Island and Hit the Road with Sam and Max. We don’t get a whole lot of traditional point and click games nowadays, but the indies provide a handful every year for those yearning for something inspired by the classics. Read Only Memories: NEURODIVER is one such game, and based on the first three hours it doesn’t seem like it will disappoint.

Read Only Memories: NEURODIVER is the sequel to 2064: Read Only Memories, which released back in 2015, set in the familiar futuristic city of Neo San Francisco. You play as ES88, a young psychic who works for a cutting edge company called Minerva. With psychic attacks on the rise, espers like ES88 are the key to keeping people and their memories safe from those seeking to cause chaos.

Read Only Memories: NEURODIVER

In the early hours though stopping bad psychics isn’t on ES88’s mind, only helping others. You see her powers aren’t only useful for messing with memories, they can also help repair them. ES88’s motive for working for Minerva is to help those dealing with memory issues, from those struggling with dementia to people who have experienced injuries to their brain. It’s a really interesting concept for a cyberpunk adventure, and wouldn’t be possible without the Neurodiver.

The Neurodiver is a sort of bizarre mutant fish that helps ES88 investigate people’s memories, who our hero takes everywhere they go in a big tank. By using its weird fish hand to grab onto someone, the Neurodiver allows you to revisit memories that the host is struggling to recall, and piece together the truth using different items to reveal what actually happened.

This lends itself perfectly to the point and click style of Read Only Memories: NEURODIVER, as in each memory you’re expected to investigate everything going on in the scene and use items you find to sort out any fragments blocking out the truth. An early example of this involved recovering the password of someone working at Minerva, which has been forgotten due to some shady psychic meddling.

Read Only Memories: NEURODIVER

By picking up a poster of this memory wiped worker’s favourite anime and their beloved robot spider we were able to uncover the lost password and save the day, and I can only assume later in the game there will be much trickier mental mysteries to uncover.

Outside of peeking into people’s memories, you and ES88 will get up to all the usual point and click antics. Each screen presents all manner of interactable objects to check out, and ES88 is more than happy to share her thoughts on her figurine collection or the view from her balcony. There are plenty of characters to interact with too, all with their own unique charm.

The cast of Read Only Memories: NEURODIVER might be the most exciting aspect of the entire game. Every single person you interact with is so damn likable, with fantastic voice acting throughout. ES88 herself is probably my favourite character so far, with an upbeat personality and just the right amount of goofy nerdiness to be an amazing protagonist.

The old school style of NEURODIVER is so appealing too, with beautiful anime style pixel art and a soundtrack inspired by the FM chips of late 80s and early 90s computers. I can’t pretend my specific sound chip knowledge is deep enough to really know if they managed to nail this style, but I can confirm that the audio is lovely.

Read Only Memories: NEURODIVER

Going into Read Only Memories: NEURODIVER I was a little worried that I’d be out of the loop jumping straight into a sequel without playing the first game. Thankfully that’s really not the case, and outside of a few returning characters that returning fans will enjoy interacting with this is an all new story with the same futuristic setting.

Going into Read Only Memories: NEURODIVER I wasn’t expecting to be quite so smitten with this old school point and click adventure game. There’s just so much heart in this cyberpunk story, and the memory repairing theme is really intriguing. I can’t wait to experience all that NEURODIVER has to offer next month.

Read Only Memories: NEURODIVER is “coming soon” on Steam, but you can download the demo now.