A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this game.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Read Only Memories is a downloadable adventure game that's intended to be socially progressive, meaning it explores themes of xenophobia and technology through the lens of humanity. Essentially, this game features characters of many genders, signifiers, and preferences. That's the backdrop against a broader story being told about a kidnapping and experiments of making robots more human-like. It's a standard point-and-click game, and though there's mild violence, the extent of it relates to getting bonked on the head.
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What's it about?
In READ ONLY MEMORIES, you play as a journalist who awakes one morning to find Turing, a robot, in your apartment. Turing tells you your friend Hayden has been kidnapped, perhaps because of the experiments he was carrying out on Turing to make the robot more human-like. As you team up with Turing, you learn an anti-hybrid group called the Human Revolution may have been the culprit. But figuring that out and proving it, as in any detective story, is not so simple. The story is meant to explore how judgmental humans can be toward -- or against -- one another, based on any number of arbitrary reasons.
Is it any good?
This is a great game to play slowly and savor, as it's a throwback to older adventure games such as Deja Vu or Uninvited. As in those games, you progress from one screen to another as an observer/player: You can click on different objects and people, gather items, and figure out what needs to be done to further your own agenda while also helping others along the way. Plus, as in any similar game, you have a wide variety of locations you can go to at any given time. It doesn't hold your hand, but Read Only Memories is very good at letting you know where you should be heading next and why, though it doesn't tell you how to accomplish what you need. This cuts out a lot of the frustrating guesswork from other games this one pays homage to.
Read Only Memories also is progressive for including a lot of characters of varying racial, sexual, and even robotic backgrounds. As this is a text-heavy game, what makes this so worth spending time on is getting to know the characters and then, just as importantly, deciding for yourself whom you believe, why, and how you choose to react. After an hour with this game, the world feels fully realized, the characters and colors are bright (a rarity among many video games), and the writing is funny and smart. All this means it's a strong game -- strong enough to stand on its own merits. The diversity and inclusion are a great bit of frosting and rarely the focus.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about whether anyone has made you feel scared or uncomfortable simply by virtue of being different. If so, why did that person make you uncomfortable? Were you ashamed of being afraid?
If a friend of yours was kidnapped and you were told to not notify the police, what would you do?
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