Preview: Read Only Memories: Neurodiver (PC/Mac)

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10 mins read
A screenshot of a memory fragment that looks like a giant baby in Read Only Memories: Neurodiver.

I would describe Read Only Memories: Neurodiver as a cyberpunk psychic mystery visual novel with point-and-click adventure elements. Or is it the other way around? Either way, use the word psychic in any capacity describing a game and I’ll instantly be interested. (Or the word cryptid, kind of funny because Read Only Memories: Neurodiver actually references Mothmen 1966 by the same publisher.) It follows an esper (psychic) named Luna, codename Esper8801 or ES88 for short, as she tries to unravel the identity and reasoning of Golden Butterfly. I was lucky enough to play a preview build. Like, seriously lucky. Because I’ve been drawn fully into the world of future Neo-San Francisco.

Luna is generally referred to as ES88 in-game, so I’m just going to stick with that. She’s bubbly, she’s expressive, she’s purple, she’s psychic… I’m in love already. ES88 can to link with a human life form, “the host,” via the titular Neurodiver. This allows for the esper to enhance their ability to read the host’s memory. The Neurodiver is an artificially created organic life form that has psychic abilities similar to human espers. They are also very cute… and easily flattered! Described as cutting-edge experimental biotech, ES88 is the only person working with one. Which makes it all that much more interesting.

The purpose of the Neurodiver is somehow both organic and almost electronic. It allows for the defragmentation of a host’s memories should fragmentation exist due to neurological disease, physical trauma, or psychological trauma. It could possibly be used for reversing psychic trauma, too. Simply put: ES88 uses the Neurodiver to help locate and fix a people’s lost memories. Completely irrelevant, but the Neurodiver also makes a really satisfying “blorp” sound.'s Discord banner. You click on it to be taken to the Website's Discord server

Read Only Memories: Neurodiver begins with ES88 as she is trying to study for an exam. She’s used the Neurodiver in tests with other espers before, but she now needs to memorize the entire manual by tomorrow. Get to know the Neurodiver by having to click the manual over and over under the guise of studying. I was worried this was the only “tutorial,” but there is actually one built into the game.

Reality is shaped by memories, and ES88 begins by diving into what Crow remembers of a night from a decade ago when him and his buddies were trying to complete a not-so-legal information sale. The friends say Crow took the money (instead of splitting it), but Crow remembers sharing. The Neurodiver is taken out of its capsule and makes contact with the host’s skin, and ES88 takes control of the host in the memory to interact with the environment. Talk to others and examine everything to build up a portfolio of clues needed to restore truthful memories. These expeditions are point-and-click in nature, pretty standard. You will end up with multiple items and multiple fragments as you progress through the game, giving it a nice difficulty curve.

In Crow’s case, he speaks to his friends at a bar. When he goes to get a round of drinks, the bartender is… a giant baby. Wait, what? I didn’t see that coming, which I find hilarious and it makes me want to see some more weird stuff. Turns out, when a fragment occurs the brain tries to fill in the gaps with something else. Something emotionally striking but random. This is where the Neurodiver comes into play. Use Repair Mode to drag inventory items onto the memory fragment and complete the repair. In this case, the drinks flyer goes to the giant baby who then defragments into a normal bartender. Friends get drinks. It’s time for the sale.

A second fragment includes a child. (There’s a theme here for good reason.) Defragmentation turns the bizarre image to a creepy stranger seated at a table. He is most definitely related to the Golden Butterfly case. I like the way that everything seems to tie together, and I feel strongly that we wouldn’t be playing this first case unless it had relevance to the narrative as a whole. The stranger is a hybridized esper (mutated to have powers), and he takes the information from Crow (or does he?) then messes with his memory so that Crow just up and walks out of the bar without payment. His friends assume he stole the cash and ran.

Two years pass in the blink of an eye, then the narrative really gets going. After one quick task of recovering a password, there are reports of a rogue esper known as Golden Butterfly. They are known to hide in people’s memories and create powerful fragments. Who are they? Why are they doing this? What can ES88 do to stop them? And how do they relate to the golden-eyed stranger during the first mission?

Set in Neo-San Francisco during the somewhat near future, Read Only Memories: Neurodiver features picture perfect pixel art with a wonderful colour palette. The chiptune soundtrack gives the game a real vibe. I think it plays well with the graphics and colours: it all lends to that late ’80s and early ’90s nostalgia. There are some great graphical touches, like having to watch the inside of an elevator for an appropriate amount of time while using it.

There are not a ton of accessibility options past sound, where you can toggle master, music, ambience, SFX, and voice sound channels. There is a hint button, which makes it a bit more accessible, but all it does is remind you what to do. It’s more like a mission log. I’d like to see the ability to trigger everything that can be clicked on to glow.

A screenshot of a conversation in Read Only Memories: Neurodiver.

Read Only Memories: Neurodiver is one of those gems that work on both PC and Mac, so I was pleasantly surprised I could play from bed. (Yay chronic illness pile-up!) The game functions exactly the same way on PC/Mac. For what it’s worth, I spent most of my time playing on a 2024 Macbook Air 15″ M3 with absolutely no computer-related issues.

I am very curious about how the game will function on consoles. Is it like on PC/Mac where it a controller’s joystick moves the cursor, or is it optimized to allow the controller to cycle between elements? There are a couple small pre-release build issues, so I don’t know if how it works on my Mac is the same way it is intended. I assume that it does. Another pre-release issue is that autosave doesn’t work (though you can save manually). I’m 99.9% certain it won’t be an issue at launch, though. And the cursor moves kind of slow – mine is set for what I like but the game slowed it down noticeably.

Developed by MidBoss and published by Chorus Worldwide, Read Only Memories: Neurodiver will be released for PC via Steam/Epic, PlayStation 5, Nintendo Switch, and Xbox Series on May 16. There are two physical editions from Serenity Forge in the works (standard and collector’s) available to pre-order for PlayStation 5 and Nintendo Switch versions of the game. You can read a bit more about the physical editions here.

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Lindsay picked up an NES controller for the first time at the age of 6 and instantly fell in love. She began reviewing GBA games 20 years ago and quickly branched out from her Nintendo comfort zone. She has has developed a great love of life sims and FMV titles. For her, accessibility is one of the most important parts of any game (but she also really appreciates good UI).

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