Back when it was released in 2015, MidBoss hit gold with its old-school cyberpunk adventure, 2064: Read Only Memories. The game boasted a solid story, likable characters, and beautiful pixel art that had fans gushing. Over seven years later, a sequel, titled Read Only Memories: Neurodiver, is finally almost here.
To shed a little more light on Read Only Memories: Neurodiver, I sat down with MidBoss’s Creative Director, John “JJ” James, and CEO, Cade Peterson. Thanks for taking the time to discuss the upcoming sequel.
Twinfinite: What is going to make the biggest difference between 2064: Read Only Memories & Read Only Memories: Neurodiver?
JJ: For the most part it plays the same. It’s still a point-and-click adventure that has a lot of stylings of Japanese adventure games from the late 80s and 90s.
The only thing that is really different outside of the visual update is that there is a really huge variety of minigames. Last time we had a map and maze puzzles; This time around, we decided to focus on one specific gameplay element: collecting relevant items in a memory and putting them into a fragment to repair it.
That is basically going to be the main gameplay of interacting with the characters and exploring the environments like the first game.
Twinfinite: Will there be any characters that you think will stand out as Turing did in 2064: Read Only Memories?
JJ: We’ve already had a pretty warm response for ES88, the main character in this one. When people get to see more of ES88 and a character named Gate interacting throughout the game, we think they’re really going to like them about as much as Turing.
Of course, Turing is going to be back, but they are not going to be upfront and center as they were in the first game where they were kind of the mouth of the protagonist.
Cade Peterson: I think people are really going to fall in love with ES88 and Gate, especially with ES88.
Twinfinite: Since you ‘re playing as a psychic detective, this is going to have that same mysterious vibe with a lot of twists and turns in Read Only Memories: Neurodiver?
JJ: There will be some twists and turns, but we’re not really going for any dramatic twists with Read Only Memories: Neurodiver. I kind of wanted something that felt like playing an anime or manga in a way.
Each chapter is like a short episode of that. There is still a mysterious vibe to it. You are a psychic detective. You’re tracking down another rogue psychic who is hiding in people’s examples. So there is still a mystery to uncover as to how and why they are hiding in people’s examples and what exactly they are doing to these people and why they are attached to them.
Twinfinite: All you had to say was anime and manga, and you immediately had my attention. Are there any anime or manga that you used as inspirations or that you could compare Read Only Memories: To Neurodiver?
JJ: There are a lot of things in development very early on that I would show our writers to catch them up to speed for a specific vibe that we are going for this game. Of course, you can’t pass up Stooshi Kon’s Paprika, as we are dealing with people’s heads.
Other things like Seijun Suzuki’s branded to Kill, which is a live-action movie, and Ai City are also really good inspirations. Ai City especially, as it is a very fun ride visually and musically, and its story does not take itself too seriously. It just feels like a fun ride, and that’s what I want with this – a fun ride for people to go through and think about after they’ve played it.
Twinfinite: What is one thing you would say to anyone who is interested in trying this game for the first time? What would be the draw for someone who is diving into the series for the first time?
JJ: I guess it’s a little hard to say. It’s kinda filling in a niche. I guess if anyone was interested in older games and at some point, when you were on Tumblr or Twitter, and you were posting accounts for old games for the PC88 or MSX, if they enjoyed them, this is a game that is heavily inspired by those. And that kind of aesthetic and feel.
If you want to explore that, and not just dip their toes into old hardware or get into emulation or a bunch of games that have been translated, then try out this game.
Otherwise, if you’re not into that stuff and you like anime or retro-pixel art, then this is right up your alley.
Twinfinite: Obviously, the pixel art does look old school, but it is very colorful and unique and is reminiscent of the style of the last game. How much time was put into the detail and effort of the backgrounds and everything to make it all pop?
JJ: So one of the major things we were waffling over in the beginning when it came down to the visuals was the color palette. We started off with a very limited color palette and then expanded it further to match older systems.
So the color palette we are working with is loosely based around the PC engine, more or less. Our engineer also had a fun idea when it came to limiting color channels for the game.
There is only a limited amount of colors that can be displayed at once on the screen. Whenever it comes to fade-outs or fade-ins or those things, it can only work with what we have in our built-in color palettes.
So there’s a lot of natural color shifts that you see on older systems happening in our game. I was thrilled with that when I first saw it.
Everything is also pixel-perfect as far as movement goes. Outside of that, when it comes to character portraits, it’s just building off the experience that comes with animating most of the first game that – experimenting with more expressions and snappier animations.
Twinfinite: Is there anything else you like to say to fans?
JJ: I hope you like it! And if you haven’t yet, please Wishlist us SteamGeneral Chat Chat Lounge We are going to be on other platforms as well. Everything is on the table for now – except for mobile, for now.