Read Only Memories: Type-M
By: MidBoss, LLC.
MidBoss’ Read Only Memories has been around on several other platforms for a few years now, and I had heard good things about it, so I was excited to see it was coming to iOS. Lucky for us, that day is here and the game is available at a very generous free-to-try with a one-time in-app purchase to unlock the rest of the game.
I’ve only played through the prologue and part of the first chapter, but I really like what I’ve seen so far. Read Only Memories: Type M (or ROM for short) is a futuristic cyberpunk visual novel with some point-and-click adventure scenes scattered throughout. It’s more streamlined than your typical P&C, and is perhaps more in line with a choose-your-own-adventure due to the amount of text and dialogue.
The game takes place in Neo-San Francisco in the year 2064, a time where genetic modification is commonplace and people have taken on body parts of different animals since it’s so easy to do so. Not everyone does, though, and you’ll be playing as a struggling journalist who still looks like a typical human, as she hasn’t had any genetic modification done.
This world is also packed with advanced robot helpers and a virtual reality system that reminds me of Technobabylon. When it starts off, you learn that a mysterious robot has been seen causing trouble, and then that robot ends up in your room asking for help to find his creator! It turns out he’s a more advanced robot, perhaps even full-blown artificial intelligence. And of course you agree to help him and begin your first foray into a career as a private detective.
ROM doesn’t shy away from touchy subjects like queer relationships, identity politics, or body modification. Instead, it embraces the conversation and hopes you’ll come from the game more sympathetic to people unlike yourself (assuming you’re not someone with cat ears). Like I said, I’m still early on, but I like where it’s going and plan to stick with it. The writing is so far holding my attention and doesn’t feel like it’s dragging.
That said, the game does suffer from some technical clumsiness that makes it feel a bit outdated or unpolished. I could overlook the fact that it has no auto saving, even though it’s not the best setup for a game you play on a device where you’re constantly switching apps. If you don’t manually save frequently, you could lose progress if the app pushes itself out of your device’s memory while it’s minimized. On top of that, there’s no iCloud sync, so you have to choose between reading on a nice big iPad at home or playing anywhere but being stuck with a smaller screen even at home. It’s not ideal for a game like this that apparently lasts over eight hours.
On top of that, the controls are a little weird in the point-and-click sections. You tap on something and have the typical Look At, Use/Pick Up, Talk, or Use Inventory Item options. You can also drag your finger around the screen to see hot spots, which is something I haven’t seen done before on iOS. I also hit a small bug where everything froze except for the ability to go to the menu, save or load a game. Luckily, after saving and reloading, it was working again.
Also, it’s a little disappointing that this version doesn’t have all the voice acting of the console version. I think that would only help bring the characters to life and make it more likely for me to stay interested, so I’m not thrilled about them being left out. I’m not sure what the reasoning is or if it will ever get added, but that’s something I think is worth mentioning in case you might want to play it on another platform.
Overall, any issues so far are small ones. The only one that might lead to me playing less and perhaps not finishing it is the lack of iCloud saves, since I started on my iPad and that means I can only play at home. But you should definitely try the free section for yourself and see if you want to pay to unlock the rest of the game. You can also watch my gameplay videos below to help you decide. And I’ll try to update this or post a full review once I’ve played more.
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