What defines a human? This question seems to be a common theme nowadays. It is also the main drive behind Read Only Memories – a point-and-click adventure with a stylish retro design and a focus more on story-telling than on puzzle-solving.
The story is set in Neo-San Francisco just before christmas in 2064. The city is filled with people with various levels of cybernetic augmentation and genetic modification, as well as ROMs (Relationship Organisational Managers) which are performing the more mundane tasks in society. You are a struggling to make living as a journalist and have to take on boring review tasks, in this case for a smart headphone. After writing the review, and a good night’s rest, you find a tiny ROM in your room. He/she/it calls him/her/itself Turing, claims to be the first sapient machine in the world, and is in need of your help. This is the beginning of the adventure. The world is about to change, and you may influence in which direction.
Read Only Memories should be considered an interactive story more than a game, and as such it is great. The retro aesthetics feels natural since it is well known that the future looked better a couple of decades ago. The pixels feel a bit too large on a big screen, making the text difficult to read, but this is only a minor technical remark. I enjoy the story and the characters in it, but for me the best part is actually the world that is seen behind it all. That is where most of the depth in this game lie, and I think it could work quite well as a setting for some old-fashioned analog role-playing.