Read Only Memories: Type-M Review: Dystopian Heart

How does the mobile version of MidBoss's cyberpunk adventure fare now that it's been downsized? Our review. 


Read Only Memories is a unique twist on the point-and-click adventure game, taking cues from the cyberpunk aesthetic and style of the classic Hideo Kojima-helmed Snatcher. Since its initial release on PC, it's been ported to most systems, including the PlayStation Vita, but until now it hadn't been given a mobile port. Now, mobile players have a chance to strike out on their own to explore Neo San Francisco while on the go. Read Only Memories: Type-M is an excellent, downsized version of the game that works well as a mobile title. If you've heard a lot about Read Only Memories and want a chance to finally sit down and play it, this is your best shot, since you can take it with you.

Turing Tests

This neon-tinged, sprite-laden adventure is a futuristic tale that saddles you, a freelance writer, with an advanced AI named Turing who's trying to get to the bottom of what's happened to their creator, Hayden. They're an extremely intelligent bot, who even knows which pronouns it prefers: they/them/their. After a violent scuffle, Hayden has been taken away from his home, leaving poor little Turing to fend for themselves. You're asked to help figure out what's behind Hayden's disappearance to make things right. That transpires by way of Turing making an appearance at your apartment and essentially telling you that you were the best person for the job. 

Puzzled, you go along with the little robot to try and figure out what's happened to your old acquaintance. You've got your work cut out for you as you travel around Neo San Francisco chatting with people to glean more information about Hayden and his disappearance, solve puzzles, and deal with Turing's weird little idiosyncrasies. There are a lot of them, as this scruffy little AI has a bad case of thinking they know everything, which can be frustrating in situations where logic isn't the only answer to the problem. 

Gameplay consists mainly of speaking with other NPCs and exploring your surroundings as you go. Movement around the world consists mainly of clicking the next highlighted area on the map and traveling there. You don't need to worry about getting lost, since all movement in that regard is done for you. All you need to concern yourself with is speaking to the right character at the right time, finding out the information you need to know to solve a puzzle, and investigating your surroundings.

Random Access Adventuring

Like the classic adventure games of yesterday, you can look at, speak to, use, and otherwise inspect items strewn throughout each area. Sometimes you may need to pick up items and add them to your inventory for later usage, such as a badge you take from your police acquaintance to help you return to the scene of a crime and so on. It's fairly standard fare, with clever enough puzzles, but there's nothing innovative here to speak of. What makes the game feel so satisfying is its dedication to weaving a tale that's at once relatable while being wholly futuristic. 

I’ve never been a big fan of Turing, especially when they were voiced in the other versions of the game. Rather than behaving like an ally, they’re constantly negging you and behaving like they’re too good for you, though you’re the one whose help they sought out to begin with. Turing is the only character who really grated on my nerves, though, as there’s a wide variety of personalities to interact with otherwise. There aren't fully-voiced scenes in the game, 

The overarching narrative and character are only a small part of the equation, at least for me. What makes Read Only Memories: Type-M worth playing is its spot-on representation of the classic '90s aesthetic. Its color palette is especially endearing, as are the pixelated illustrations, which ended up being my favorite part of the entire thing.

Hack Into Fun

Read Only Memories: Type-M translates fantastically to mobile devices, and it's an excellent example of how to create a cyberpunk-influenced adventure game that encompasses the full spectrum of the genre. It has its own road bumps, none of which are related to its mobile status, but overall it's a point-and-click adventure that you won't want to miss, as long as you can tolerate Turing. 

This review is based on an iOS code provided by the publisher. Read Only Memories: Type-M is available on iOS and Android with the first chapter as a free-to-play download with a $5.99 unlock for the rest of the game. The game is rated M.

Senior Editor

Fueled by horror, rainbow-sugar-pixel-rushes, and video games, Brittany is a Senior Editor at Shacknews who thrives on surrealism and ultraviolence. Follow her on Twitter @MolotovCupcake and check out her portfolio for more. Like a fabulous shooter once said, get psyched!

  • Translates well to mobile devices.
  • Colorful narrative rife with personality.
  • Enjoyable cyberpunk aesthetic with old-school influences.
  • Engaging interactions between most NPCs and the player.
  • Can be slow to get started.
  • Uneven story pacing.
  • Wow, Turing is annoying.
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