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Read Only Memories: NEURODIVER Review (PlayStation 5, Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Xbox Series X|S & PC)

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Read Only Memories NEURODIVER

After much anticipation, Read Only Memories: NEURODIVER is finally here, keeping the community hooked. The game is a sequel to the critically acclaimed 2064 Read Only Memories, beloved for its compelling narrative, memorable characters, and distinct cyberpunk aesthetic. 

The game is set in the vibrant and futuristic world of Neo-San Francisco. Now, NEURODIVER continues to explore the themes of technology, identity, and human connection through a visual novel. As players return to this richly crafted universe, they are introduced to a new protagonist, ES88. 

With high expectations from fans of the original, NEURODIVER aims to build on its predecessor's success. The game introduces innovative gameplay mechanics and a fresh storyline. Eager to know more? Let’s dive right into it and find out Read Only Memories: NEURODIVERs successes and shortcomings.

A Treat for the Eye

The visuals

One of the most striking features of NEURODIVER is its vibrant and detailed pixel art. Drawing inspiration from classic retro games, the visual style is both nostalgic and modern. Similarly, it creates a unique look that stands out in the current gaming landscape. 

In the game, each screen is carefully crafted with an abundance of detail, making the world of Neo-San Francisco a pleasure to explore visually. The environments are rich and colorful, inviting players to take their time and appreciate the devs for their amazing job.

The character designs are equally impressive. The game does an excellent job of making each character visually distinct and memorable, which is crucial in a narrative-driven game. Essentially, this attention to visual detail extends to the user interface and overall presentation. They are sleek and well-crafted, further enhancing the player’s immersion in the cyberpunk setting.

Charming Characters

Characters in the game

One of the standout elements of Read Only Memories: NEURODIVER is its rich character development and engaging interactions. The protagonist, ES88, is a lively and charismatic character who immediately captures the player's attention with her boundless energy. Plus, her liking for magical girl catchphrases and her genuine desire to help others make her a relatable hero. 

In addition, ES88's personality is well-developed, and her journey throughout the game allows players to see different facets of her character, making her growth and development feel organic and satisfying.

On the other hand, the dynamic between ES88 and Gate is exceptionally well-crafted. Gate, with her more reserved and straightforward attitude, enhances ES88's charisma. Their interactions are filled with heartfelt moments, creating a strong emotional base for the narrative. The contrast between their personalities enhances the overall storytelling, making their partnership one of the most memorable aspects of the game.

Supporting characters in NEURODIVER are also well-designed. Familiar faces from 2064: Read Only Memories, such as Lexi and Tomcat, make appearances, providing a sense of continuity and nostalgia for returning players. These characters are integrated seamlessly into the new storyline, enriching the game's world and offering fans a chance to reconnect with beloved characters.

However, some new characters introduced in NEURODIVER are not given enough screen time to develop fully. While they have intriguing backstories, the game's pacing sometimes leaves their potential underexplored. Despite this, the characters in NEURODIVER remain one of its strongest points, making the narrative journey enjoyable and engaging.

Not Your Typical Visual Novel

Read Only Memories NEURODIVER

Read Only Memories: NEURODIVER introduces several intriguing gameplay mechanics that differentiate it from typical visual novels. The most notable is the use of the Neurodiver, a tool that allows ES88 to explore the memories of other characters. This mechanic is central to the game’s narrative and puzzle-solving elements, providing a unique twist on traditional adventure gameplay.

When diving into memories, players are tasked with identifying and clearing corruptions by gathering environmental clues. This involves solving puzzles that require selecting the correct objects from ES88’s inventory to access and restore fragmented memories. While the concept is innovative and fits well within the cyberpunk theme, the execution leaves room for improvement. 

Furthermore, the puzzles are often straightforward, with solutions that can feel unsatisfying. The limited number of items available in each scenario makes it relatively easy to guess the correct solution through trial and error. Therefore, it reduces the challenge and engagement that more complex puzzles might provide.

Moreover, some items necessary for progression can be difficult to spot within the detailed environments, leading to occasional frustration. This issue could have been mitigated with additional hints to guide players toward these critical objects. Despite these shortcomings, the memory-diving mechanic adds a sense of interaction that distinguishes NEURODIVER from other visual novels. 

Puzzling Exploration 

Exploring the zoo

Compared to its predecessor, 2064: Read Only Memories, which offered a more open-ended exploration experience, NEURODRIVER adopts a linear structure. This change keeps the narrative tightly focused, ensuring that players are always where they need to be to advance the story.

While this design choice helps maintain a steady narrative flow, it sacrifices some of the freedom and exploration elements that fans of the original game might miss. The linear progression can sometimes feel restrictive, as players are confined to specific areas until they solve the necessary puzzles to move forward.

The simplicity of the puzzles in NEURODIVER is a double-edged sword. On one hand, it makes the game accessible and keeps the narrative moving without significant obstacles. On the other hand, it can lead to a lack of satisfaction for players who enjoy more mentally challenging gameplay. 

Additionally, the puzzles do not evolve much in complexity as the game progresses, which can make them feel repetitive and predictable. Additionally, some key items needed to solve puzzles are difficult to spot in the environment, causing occasional frustration.

Despite these drawbacks, NEURODIVER excels at integrating its interactive elements with the story. The game’s visual and audio design also contribute significantly to immersion. The vibrant pixel art and retro-inspired aesthetics create a visually captivating world.

Voices of Fantasy

Read Only Memories: Neurodiver - Universe Video | PS5 & PS4 Games

The audio design and voice acting in NEURODIVER are among the game's aspects, significantly enhancing the overall experience. The careful attention to sound design and the quality of voice performances are fantastic. Notably, they create an emotionally resonant atmosphere that complements the game's vibrant visuals and engaging narrative.

The soundtrack of NEURODIVER is a delightful homage to classic cyberpunk and retro-futuristic themes. Composed of synthetic beats, the music perfectly captures the essence of Neo-San Francisco’s cyberpunk environment. Interestingly, each track is carefully crafted to match the mood of the scenes. The music not only sets the tone but also enhances the narrative's emotional impact, drawing players deeper into the story.

Furthermore, the sound design extends beyond the music to include various environmental sounds that bring the game’s settings to life. From the hum of neon signs to the ambient noise of bustling city streets, the sound details help create a believable and immersive world. 

The Best

Read Only Memories NEURODIVER

Now, let's talk about the voice acting. If you have played the game, you will agree that the voice acting in Read Only Memories: NEURODIVER is top-notch, with a cast of talented actors bringing diverse characters to life. ES88, voiced by Erin Yvette, is particularly noteworthy. Yvette injects ES88 with vibrant energy, making her character instantly likable. Similarly, her performance captures the full range of ES88’s emotions, from her upbeat, confident moments to her more vulnerable ones. 

Amber Lee Connors delivers an equally impressive performance as Gate. Connors' portrayal of Gate’s reserve perfectly counters ES88’s vibe. Undoubtedly, the chemistry between Yvette and Connors is superb, enhancing the dynamic between their characters and making their interactions a highlight of the game.

Supporting characters are also well-voiced, with each actor bringing their own unique flair to their roles. Returning characters from 2064: Read Only Memories, such as Lexi and Tomcat, benefit from consistent and strong voice work that maintains continuity.  Certainly, the voice actors manage to capture the essence of these characters, making their reappearances feel familiar and fresh.

Verdict

Read Only Memories NEURODIVER

Read Only Memories: NEURODIVER successfully builds on the foundation laid by its predecessor, 2064: Read Only Memories. It offers players a return to the captivating world of Neo-San Francisco. The game excels in several areas, particularly character development, audio design, and visual presentation. 

Thumbs up to the MidBoss team for creating a rich and immersive experience that fans of the original will appreciate. The introduction of ES88 as a new protagonist and the memory-diving mechanic provide a fresh narrative. Plus, gameplay elements differentiate NEURODIVER from other visual novels and adventure games.

However, the game is not without its flaws. While ensuring a focused narrative, the linear structure can feel boring. Additionally, the puzzles, though ideally interesting, often lack the complexity needed to be truly engaging. Because of that, they sometimes result in a less satisfying gameplay experience. 

Despite these issues, the game keeps players invested through its strong storytelling and well-crafted character interactions. The audio and voice acting deserve special mention, as they significantly enhance the game's atmosphere. 

Moreover, the soundtrack is a perfect blend of retro and modern influences, capturing the essence of the cyberpunk setting. At the same time, the voice performances bring the characters to life with authenticity and emotion. Ultimately, if you are into adventure Indie games, you will truly enjoy playing Read Only Memories: NEURODIVER.

Read Only Memories: NEURODIVER Review (PlayStation 5, Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Xbox Series X|S & PC)

Welcome to San Francisco

Read Only Memories: NEURODRIVER is a worthy sequel that offers an engaging and visually stunning journey through a beloved cyberpunk universe. While it may not hit every mark perfectly, its strengths and overall presentation make it a memorable experience. Ultimately, it perfectly brings out the appeal of the world of Neo-San Francisco and its inhabitants, leaving players eager for more stories.

Cynthia Wambui is a gamer who has a knack for writing video gaming content. Blending words to express one of my biggest interests keeps me in the loop on trendy gaming topics. Aside from gaming and writing, Cynthia is a tech nerd and coding enthusiast.