‘Read Only Memories: Neurodiver’ preview: a cyberpunk visual novel bursting with charm

Explore the delightfully mundane side of telepathy

Have you ever wondered what it would be like to read someone’s mind? In the world of visual novel Read Only Memories: Neurodiver, it’s a little more boring than you’d think – in a good way.

Indeed, the preview that was shared for Neurodiver follows protagonist ES88 as she heads into her workplace campus for the morning, where her day job – using her skills as a Neurodiver – awaits. On slow days, ES88 admits to a friend, she’s prone to poking around her co-workers’ collective noggins, sifting through memories of raccoons and forest walks.

On busier days – like the one she finds herself in for this preview – it’s a tad more exciting, though perhaps not by much. An important password has gone missing, and Minerva – the organisation that employs ES88 – can’t access any of its top-secret information without it.

Read Only Memories: Neurodiver. Credit: MidBoss.
Read Only Memories: Neurodiver. Credit: MidBoss.

And so, ES88 finds herself working as a life-sized ‘Forgot your password?’ pop-up, diving into the memories of hapless office worker Harold to see where his password’s gone.

Once you’re in, it’s up to you to poke around Harold’s brain and try to work out what the password could be. Visually, you’re still at Harold’s desk, but there are a few differences – a houseplant that’s alive in the real-world slumps pitifully bare in its jar. A gloopy, half-formed monster is screaming out of his PC, and is seemingly the culprit to his sudden brain fog.

From there, a point-and-click adventure style sequence has ES88 searching for clues that will help unlock the right memory and retrieve Harold’s password. The main objective of the memory is to find the right combination of clues – important memories that fuelled Harold’s password creation – to return his password intact. It’s part intuition – you have to get a sense of what genuinely matters to Harold with each item you investigate – and part puzzle, as certain obstacles in the memory require using other clues to get rid of them. In one entertaining case, ES88 refuses to touch Harold’s secret pet – a twitchy mechanical spider – and uses a skeletal hand from Harold’s Halloween decoration to retrieve a vital clue.

Read Only Memories: Neurodiver. Credit: MidBoss.
Read Only Memories: Neurodiver. Credit: MidBoss.

As the preview ends, ES88 is told to prepare for a meeting with Minerva’s CEO – presumably for a mission involving more important uses for telepathy, such as the frantic murder-mystery advertised by one of Neurodiver‘s trailers. It’s an exciting moment for the preview to close on, but what makes Neurodiver so incredibly promising is that it makes the mundane – workplace chats, password recovery – so delightful.

Every brief chat and minute interaction feels distinctly lovely, and developer MidBoss has packed every pixel with charm – cutesy portraits and animated facial expressions bring each character to life, and the studio’s writers have done a fantastic job at making dialogue feel natural, funny, and engaging. If Neurodiver can make ES88 and her world feel so alive in an office, there’s no telling how much it can deliver outside of Minerva’s walls.

Read Only Memories: Neurodiver launches later this year for PC, Nintendo Switch, Xbox Series X|S, Xbox One, PS5, and PS4. We previewed the game on PC. 

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