Follow TV Tropes

Following

Video Game / Read Only Memories

Go To

https://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/rom.png
Advertisement:

Read Only Memories is a cyberpunk adventure game focused on the dark side of technology in the year 2064. It is directed by John "JJSignal" James and produced by MidBoss and Matt Conn for OS X, Linux and Windows. The game has also been announced for release on PlayStation 4, Play Station Vita, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, iOS, the Razer Forge and Android, and launched on October 6, 2015.

The game follows the story of a young journalist working to find a missing friend, led by the first sapient ROM, Turing.

The free "Read Only Memories EX" DLC was released on January 22, 2016 and adds a Playable Epilogue chapter that is accessible after obtaining Ending 1.

The game's Updated Re-release (and console debut for the PlayStation 4 and Play Station Vita) 2064: Read Only Memories was released on January 17, 2017. It was released again on August 14, 2018, for the Nintendo Switch as 2064: Read Only Memories INTEGRAL with an extended epilogue and new "PUNKS" side-story exclusive to this version.

Advertisement:

IDW published a Read Only Memories Comic Book series in 2019 to 2020, centering on Lexi's new private agency in Santa Cruz.

A sequel/spin-off titled Read Only Memories: Neurodiver, centering around the conflict between the gifted esper, ES88, and the rough, telepathic criminal, the Goldern Butterfly, is set for release in 2022.


This game provides examples of:

  • A.I. Is a Crapshoot:
    • Averted with Turing. They might do questionable stuff once in awhile, but they aren't malicious. Even if you're such a jerk to Turing that you get A New Blue for an ending, while they have a negative view of humanity, they still don't take any hostile actions, instead preferring to be isolated in cyberspace.
    • Inverted in the backstory. ROMs are commonplace and viewed as harmless; reports of ROMs committing crimes are dismissed as urban legends. However, military androids piloted by human brains were so bloodthirsty and murderous that they were banned by the Geneva Convention. Dekker implies this is due to sensory mismatches with the outdated sensors.
    • Advertisement:
    • Played with in the case of Baby Blue, which messed with the mesh only because it wanted to make sure it survived.
  • Ambiguous Gender: Several characters use they/them/their as pronouns and present androgynously; especially notable for TOMCAT, as what is hinted to be their actual name, 'Julian Thomas', is unisex. This is also played with and discussed with Turing, who is usually gendered male by humans because of their blue casing and their namesake but has no real preference on gender themselves.
  • Androids Are People, Too: Turing is a sapient robot with a conscience. In the good ending, all ROMs become sapient and the epilogue mentions how the player, Turing, and possibly TOMCAT and Jess try to make sure that they get rights and autonomy.
  • Anger Born of Worry: Lexi, after you and Turing are attacked while snooping in Hayden's apartment. Though if the two of you had snuck in without her permission, then there's a fair bit of regular anger mixed in there too.
  • Another Side, Another Story: The "PUNKS" side story in the INTEGRAL version covers Starfucker and Oli on the day they decided to tag Hayden's apartment.
  • Automated Automobiles: By 2064 they've completely replaced manually driven cars, to the point where the latter are considered extravagant collectors' items. Notably, it's next to impossible for them to hit someone due to their anti-collision technology, which is why TOMCAT is convinced that their sister's death by collision is the result of foul play.
  • Big Brother Is Watching: Big Blue is supposed to control the mesh. Multiple characters are absolutely horrified by what Parallax could do with manipulation of the world's biggest information source, and that is just one of the things that Big Blue could do.
  • Birth-Death Juxtaposition: The 'Sacrifice' ending, where the death of Turing is followed by all the ROMs in existence gaining sapience.
  • Bloodless Carnage:
    • One character falls three stories onto pavement, and another is run over by a truck. Neither case leaves any kind of blood. Lexi does show a visibly bleeding wound in the epilogue, however.
    • Dekker's death too, but in this case, it's justified since they're an android.
  • Boss Battle: Yes, in a visual novel! At the climax of the final chapter, Dekker reveals himself to be an Evil All Along military android, and stalks you through the server farm with the intent of killing you. Since you stand no chance against them in a straight fight, the "battle" consists of an evasion puzzle where you must strategically close certain doors to guide them away from you, similarly to the autocab minigame earlier in the story. This time, though, it's much harder owing to the fact that your opponent can break the doors open if they get frustrated. If you survive long enough, Turing will figure out a way to fry Dekker's circuits, which will finally kill them.
  • Brain in a Jar: Dekker, an android, literally describes themselves as such. It turns out to be a Fate Worse than Death, as their senses are converted to empty machine code, driving them insane from sensory deprivation.
  • Brain Uploading: Melody mentions that her company has tried to figure this out. So far, it hasn't produced any results. In his quest to achieve this, Hayden went the opposite way and tried to make a machine develop the thinking patterns of a human brain. It worked.
  • Break the Cutie: Turing, pretty much throughout the whole plot. It starts with their creator being kidnapped, which they suspect is their fault somehow and blames themself not being able to stop. Then despite their best efforts, it turns out Hayden died during the kidnapping, and it only gets worse from there. Then they witness a killing spree that they also come to suspect is their fault, learn they are a lynchpin for terrible corporate politics and bids to effectively control the world, depending on the player's temperament may end up alone, and might be unable to keep a potted plant from dying. Luckily, if you play your cards right, they comes out of the grief and stress well adjusted and ready to make the world a better place.
  • Broken Pedestal: Turing's respect for Hayden takes a serious hit after finding out about the existence of an older "sister", Grace, and the reasons why Hayden deactivated her.
  • But Thou Must!: The game forces you to accept Decker's offer to accompany you to The Very Definitely Final Dungeon. The closest you can get to rejecting their help is to tell them that you don't trust them.
  • Canon Name: The Player Character's is "Alys".
  • Cast Full of Gay: Almost all of the named characters in relationships are in same-sex relationships, and other characters are trans or non-binary. You can even choose they/them/their pronouns or input your own.
  • Chain of Deals: Obtaining the fake passports almost turns into one but breaks before it quite reaches the third step. Since Oli is the one who offers the items to trade for the poster (which itself is needed to trade for the fake passports) the player only needs to convince Ramona to take the deal.
  • Chekhov's Gun: In this case, a literal gun of the Ray Gun variety. While it's almost never used after Lexi first gives it to you, it proves useful for creating a diversion and for defending yourself against security bots and a deadly android.
  • Colbert Bumpinvoked: After speaking with Charlie Nova about the case you are investigating he asks you to run any rough drafts of your article by him. He says its so he can give a few quotes and a "Charlie Nova bump", though its obvious he wants to make sure it is flattering to him.
  • Contrived Coincidence: Fairlight comments on how lucky it is that you just so happened to end up in the same hospital room as him. Later revealed to be a subversion; he set it up (and, indeed, is the reason you're in the hospital in the first place).
  • Cowboy Cop: It's implied that Lexi was this in her younger days, but in the present she's trying to be a By-the-Book Cop. In the ending she's sick of the constraints being a cop in general places on her, and strikes out to become a PI.
  • Crusading Lawyer: Jess, who's a defense attorney for victimized hybrids, innocent and guilty alike. She wants to see her people given fair treatment, but she knows she's playing a losing game.
  • Cute Machines: Turing, alongside the other ROMs.
  • Cutting Off the Branches: The comics, set post-game, reveal that Turing is alive and well, leaving the "A New Blue" and "Sacrifice" endings as non-canon.
  • Cybernetics Eat Your Soul: Averted; plenty of ordinary people are shown to have cybernetics, and not even the Human Revolution has an issue with them (though some cynics believe they'll turn on cyborgs once they've taken out hybrids). It's biological mods that invite the Fantastic Racism, but like with cybernetics, there's no indication they eat your soul either. The only actual example of this is with Dekker, a brain-operated android who is a Psycho for Hire obsessed with killing. Even then, there's a specific reason: the interface between their brain and their machine body was imperfect, leading to Sense Loss Sadness that drove them insane.
  • Death Is Cheap: Turing believes that, should they receive 'fatal' damage, simply rebuilding their body will allow them to function as though nothing had happened. Melody debunks this theory by revealing that their hardware and the software that gave them sapience and personality are so intertwined that destroying one will also destroy the other. In other words, their death certainly will stick as the 'Flatline' and 'Sacrifice' endings prove.
  • Death Seeker: In the 2064 version, Dekker is revealed to be so. An accident left them a brain on life support, and Flower Cybernetics offered to fix them up. The simultaneous sensory deprivation and overload induced by computer systems inputting data to their brain drove them murderously insane, and the computer systems wouldn't let them kill themselves. When Turing overloads and kills him, he thanks Turing, and is at his happiest he can be without killing something.
  • Dialogue Tree: The primary way of interacting with the game, given the minimalist puzzles and focus on story. Whenever you're given a choice, there are typically three options: a sympathetic option, a neutral option, and a sardonic one. What these mean can change depending on who you talk to: like going between treating Turing like a person, or like a tool, or being sensitive or prejudiced when talking to Jess. Typically, the sympathetic option will lead to the characters' liking you, and the sardonic to resenting you, though it's not always cut and try: on rare occasion, the "nice" option might not be the best way to endear yourself, or the "mean" option will cut through the situation better.
  • Dirty Business:
    • Turing and the player break the law a few times, such as lying to the police, breaking into an apartment or getting a fake ID and carjacking an untraceable car. Turing feels really bad for doing these, proving that they indeed have a human conscience.
    • The finale is viewed as this by everyone involved, but they also recognize that jail time is the better option when compared to letting Parallax release Big Blue.
  • Do Androids Dream?: Turing is able to think, learn and feel emotions, much to most humans confusion who are unaware of this possibility, simply noting how they seem quite chatty. they later becomes furious when their creator is killed and can later mention to be in the bargaining stage of grief. They also enjoy painting, can be made to say that they would love to own objects for sentimental reasons and get quite attached to the player, TOMCAT and "Aunt" Melody. The best ending results in all ROMs becoming sentient.
  • Do-Anything Robot: Played with. Turing is extremely intelligent and capable of doing great things, but they are programmed to be human, with human foibles, and not to be an infallible machine. As such, they are not inherently good at things but have to learn them - which is easier due to robotic advantages (see Mr. Exposition) but not infallibly so. Nor are they any more deductive or any less prone to rash conclusions than the player. Even on a tech level: Turing can hack into subpar systems, but can't interface with anything especially difficult without help. In fact, you can get them to admit that they're actually ironically rather bad with computers, as shown by the way they brick the protagonist's laptop while trying to organize it - they prefer painting and botany.
  • The Dog Bites Back: Abusing Turing with cruel dialog options and selfish behavior unsurprisingly has consequences. In the ending, they will sabotage the plan at the last moment; either by refusing to sacrifice themselves if you didn't get Hayden's source code, or by uploading themselves to the mesh and becoming the next Big Blue if you did. When doing so, they cite Alys' amoral behavior as teaching them to "always look out for number one".
  • Evil All Along: Leon Dekker acts perfectly nice and trustworthy up until you break into Parallax, at which point he has a Robotic Reveal and exposes himself as a homicidal military android responsible for all the mysterious deaths in the media arc.
  • Evil Cripple: Fairlight is wheelchair-bound due to his failing health in his old age. He is also the closest thing the game has to a Big Bad, and is the one behind the majority of the game's murders in his attempt to both get revenge on and a seat in the leaderboard of Parallax.
  • Face–Heel Turn: In the A New Blue ending, Turing goes rogue, disgusted by the protagonist's behavior. While they're still benevolent, TOMCAT and the protagonist are still relentlessly tracking them down, fearing what could potentially happen if Turing becomes cynical.
  • Fantastic Racism: Half Human Hybrids face this, with many people denouncing them as disturbing and unnatural. We mainly see this through the Human Revolution, a political group that loudly opposes gene splicing and seeks to get hybrids legally classified as non-human, with all the stripping of rights that entails.
  • Faux Affably Evil: Leon Dekker appears to be very laid-back and easygoing. However, it turns out that they're a murderer who loves killing people and just acts friendly because they have to.
  • Flawed Prototype: Grace, Turing's predecessor. While she certainly was smart, both Hayden and Fairlight doubted she was truly sapient and free-thinking, and she was eventually classed as a failure and shut down.
  • For the Evulz: Dekker admits that their extremely hammy evil speeches are cliche, but that they really, really enjoy doing it.
  • Friend on the Force: Lexi. Though she's more of an acquaintance at first, she cares about the protagonist enough to give them a weapon for self-defense AND personally accompany them into danger.
  • Genre Throwback: Much of the look and feeling of the game evokes the stylistics of late-80's and early-90's Cyberpunk works. Anime such as Bubblegum Crisis and Graphic Adventure/Visual Novels such as: Snatcher and Rise of the Dragon.
  • Girls With Mustaches: Sympathy has prominent facial hair and uses she/her pronouns. Given the game's overall LGBT-friendly tone, this is likely meant to demonstrate how accepting Neo-SF is of nonstandard gender presentation rather than as a joke.
  • Golden Ending: The "All Good Things" ending, obtained by getting along with Turing and acquiring all of Hayden's data from Parallax. In this ending, you bring sentience to all ROMs and Turing survives. Midboss considers this to be the canon ending and getting this ending allows you to play the "EX" DLC.
  • Gonzo Journalism: Invoked by name at one point. More or less what the protagonist finds themself doing, since they're doing more acting than investigating by the time chapter 5 rolls around. In all but the Clark Kent and Flatline endings, you avoid writing about the Parallax scandal solely because you were too involved; you opt to ghostwrite Turing's autobiography instead.
  • Government Conspiracy: In-universe, the tinfoil hat brigade are circulating a theory that claims the North Korea War ended in the US's favor thanks to them sending in a covert squad of combat androids to kill all of the North Korean upper leadership. Melody's statements about her mother's work and her visit to North Korea give this legitimacy, as does Dekker's existence.
  • Gratuitous Animal Sidekick: Melody has one in the form of a polar bear that understands human speech.
  • Gratuitous Japanese: Ramona, who is big into Japanese media, uses a bit.
  • Half-Human Hybrid: Of the LEGO Genetics variety. With the rise of gene splicing technology, several people have elected to splice themselves with animal traits. Though in some cases, the treatment was necessary to save them from terminal illness, not by their own choice. They tend not to appreciate prying questions about their biology, and are subject to Fantastic Racism from a lot of people, particularly the Human Revolution.
  • Haunted Technology: The Mega Phobetor machine in Stardust is supposedly haunted (in a parody of Polybius, which is also in the club): people tell urban legends about it, the game bugs out the farther you get, and it threatens to curse all your technology should you beat it. The protagonist barrels through without fear, but amusingly Turing actually seems to take the legend seriously.
  • He Knows Too Much: If you know/are going to know about the existence of Big Blue or the antics of Baby Blue, Fairlight will have you eliminated.
  • Heroic Sacrifice:
    • The aptly-named Sacrifice ending, where Turing allows TOMCAT to decompile their personality matrix knowing it will likely kill them, because they believe that granting sapience to all ROMs is worth the sacrifice.
    • Subverted in the Complicity ending, where Turing backs out at the last minute due to the player's abuse giving them a more cynical outlook that makes them unwilling to risk their life for the cause.
  • Hidden Depths:
    • In 2064, Dekker is revealed to have had an expecting wife before an accident left them a brain on life support. Their life was saved by replacing their body with an android chassis, but the sensory deprivation and overload of the algorithms only telling what they were sensing in binary, such as a chemical formula for their mother's pie, drove them insane. Their wife also told their daughter they had died. Before he dies, he asks the protagonist about his daughter.
    • In PUNKS, Chad/Starfucker reveals that his mother went through the process to become a hybrid when he was a little kid. His father, Brian Mulberry's, inability to accept this drove her away and got young Chad to turn against her as well. As a teenager, though, he realized his mom was just trying to become what she saw as her true self, and his father is too focused on pushing the Human Revolution's agenda to be a proper dad. This is why he acts out, tagging in the name of the Human Revolution to get his dad's attention even though he doesn't actually believe in anything they stand for.
  • I Cannot Self-Terminate: During Dekker's Motive Rant, they mention that their robot body's programming prevents them from killing themselves. This has turned them into a Death Seeker, as they are miserable due to the faulty design of their body giving them Sense Loss Sadness.
  • Innocently Insensitive:
    • Turing during the opening chapters. Among other things, they cheerfully comment that you're the type to neglect your pot plant (you have the option to protest that you've always remembered to water it regularly, although this is an actively harmful decision since it's a succulent) and are completely shocked at your choice of an ancient laptop (you're too poor to afford anything else). Though this is due to their lack of human exposure - they drop this habit totally as they interact with people over the course of the game. However, in the A New Blue ending, Turing gleefully comments on the fact that you've been a horrible person to them the entire time (which is actually true).
    • Hybrids consider questions or comments on their gene mods to be this, especially Jess. Even something as subtle as asking if she's TOMCAT makes her furious at you for assuming the person with a cat mod has a cat-themed name. Afterwards, you have the option to be much less innocently insensitive by teasing her and other hybrids about their mods.
  • Interface Screw:
    • During Dekker's Motive Rant, their Character Portrait and the game's viewport start glitching out and flashing different colors to convey their fragmented mental state.
    • During the final stages of Turing's seizure, the flurry of error messages runs out of the message box's dimensions.
  • Joke Item: The Spoiled Milk. You can use it on just about anything and anyone for a funny reaction. It does actually have a few legitimate uses, including using the milk on Big Blue to get a joke ending.
  • Just a Machine:
    • The attitude of the general populace towards ROMs — and, interestingly, shared by Turing themselves. Since ROMs aren't sapient, this is justified, but Turing still expresses guilt for it upon reflection in the Golden Ending where all ROMs become sapient.
    • This is discussed in the climax, where you must break through a number of security ROMs to access Big Blue's mainframe. The Ray Gun you've been carrying around all game will work, but it will fry them beyond repair. Your allies have no problem with this, but Turing objects since they're about to grant them sapience. Dekker eventually relents and alters the stun gun to a setting that isn't lethal to ROMs.
  • In the Back: How Shotaro Otsuka died — they were shanked through the back of their chair, no less.
  • Ironic Name: Sympathy's name is interesting for someone as rough and impatient as she is.
  • Karma Houdini: Fairlight's plan to regain control of Parallax succeeds and his crimes aren't brought to light. The only damage you do to his schemes is killing his bodyguard and assassin Dekker. Likewise, you never discover who exactly ordered Hayden's death.
  • Keet: Turing is cheerful, idealistic and energetic, with a great deal of boundless hope. Which makes the way the plot pulls them through the wringer hit that much harder, as is the potential for them to come out of it all stronger than ever.
  • Killed Offscreen: We notably do not get to see the security footage showing Hayden's death, as TOMCAT believes it would be too upsetting for Turing. Other examples include Charlie Nova and Shotaro Otsuka, the latter of which is revealed to have been killed days before the story even began.
  • Law Enforcement, Inc.: According to Lexi, the police are privatized. She hates it, since it's easy for actual crimes to be swept under the rug because someone with a lot of cash wants it that way.
  • Legacy Character: TOMCAT. The one you and Turing interact with in-game is actually the younger sibling of the original, now deceased, TOMCAT.
  • LEGO Genetics: 'Hybrids' are commonplace thanks to gene splicing technology allowing hybridization between human and animal DNA - though they are subject to serious Fantastic Racism.
  • Leit Motif: All of the main characters have one, specifically those who can help you in the final mission. Just about the only central character who doesn't is the protagonist.
  • Make It Look Like an Accident:
    • The ending of the Media Arc sees Charlie Nova killed after their Automated Automobile drives into the bay, and Nonya getting run over by a truck right in front of you and Turing.
    • TOMCAT's sister died in a car crash which TOMCAT suspects to have been done on purpose as revenge for her hacker antics.
  • Meaningful Name: Tomcat is the term for a bisexual androgynous woman. While we don't know their sexuality, TOMCAT is androgynous, and their voice is feminine.
  • The Messiah: Turing to the uplifted ROM-kind, in the Golden Ending. They find it extremely overwhelming, and the epilogue is based around them trying to take a break from a job they have no idea how to do. Despite this, everyone has confidence that they'll grow into the role eventually.
  • Mood-Swinger: In Chapter 3/4, Turing, after learning about Hayden's death, falls into this somewhat as they deal with their grief, putting on a face of their same idealistic (though subdued) determination, but bursting into harsh anger or sudden bouts of sullenness at random times - even snapping at the player for asking them to explain background details. By Chapter 5, they largely put it behind them.
  • Motive Rant: Most major characters will have a tragic scene once they trust you enough, where they finally let their walls down and rant about how they became the people they are - usually accompanied by dark music or no music at all. Some of these happen through the plot, some of them you have to dig in side conversations for. Even Psycho for Hire Dekker has one, which dominates most of his boss fight.
  • Mr. Exposition: Turing is the go-to character to explain background details and random trivia, due to the way they can connect to the mesh and look up information in an instant. Their own personal knowledge and memory actually isn't much more extensive than a regular person's - keeping them from being a true Expositron 9000 - but Turing essentially has an encyclopedia on hand 24/7 that the human player comes to rely on. In Chapter 3/4, while grieving Hayden, they'll snap at you if you expect they to keep expositing about random minutae one too many times during the investigation, but you can reassure them about how helpful their searches are.
  • Multiple Endings: Five, dependent on two variables: Your relationship with Turing and whether you got Hayden's full source code from the Parallax vault, with an additional Bad Ending if you fail to keep Turing stable during their seizure and they die without completing the program. The endings are mostly a spectrum from best to worst, with gaining Hayden's full source code and having a positive relationship with Turing getting you better endings.
    • 2064 adds a joke ending if you use the spoiled milk to fry Big Blue's console.
  • My God, What Have I Done?:
    • TOMCAT is horrified when they realize that by sending you to meet with Zinn to uncover the mystery of the media censorship, they inadvertently gave Dekker the opportunity to murder everyone whose knowledge could lead to Baby Blue's discovery. Earlier, Turing has a similar reaction to the same, only on the suspicion that the murder spree could be connected to them.
    • TOMCAT also goes through this in the Flatline ending, where their attempt to use Turing to complete the sapience virus results in Turing's death. They cut off contact and fall into depression due to feeling responsible.
  • My Sibling Will Live Through Me: TOMCAT took their sister's nickname to save her from ending up in jail for years. After they get released from jail, they find out that she died in a car accident and decided to stay TOMCAT in her honor.
  • No One Could Survive That!: What Turing says when the player wants to check on Zinn after they take a three-story fall. In a subversion, the character really didn't survive.
  • No Name Given: TOMCAT never gives us their real name, and is only ever referred to by their nickname even by narration text. However, during Turing's seizure, Turing can pull up a criminal report on their previous hack of Parallax, which gives their real name as Julian Thomas.
  • Non Standard Game Over:
    • Attempting to interact with Hayden's neighbors' door too many times results in you getting kicked out of the building. The game even acts like a kernel panic occurs.
    • The "Flatline" ending, which occurs if you fail to stabilize Turing during their seizure in the climax and they die, also results in the kernel panic game over screen.
  • Ping Pong Naïveté: As noted in Wise Beyond Their Years (below), Turing may be highly intelligent but has the general temperament of an inquisitive child, which makes them immature and naive sometimes. For example, they know everything about sporting and entertainment history but believes professional wrestling is real. More dramatically, they can rattle off all the information ever posted about PTSD and grief, but be unable to keep from falling into it themself.
  • Pink Girl, Blue Boy: Discussed. Grace invoked the pink side, as mentioned below; as for blue, Turing comments that people often refer to them as "he", which they speculate their blue casing may have something to do with. However, they note that unlike their "sister" they are largely indifferent to gender and don't really care whether they're referred to with male, female, or other pronouns.
  • Pink Means Feminine: Invoked by Grace, who insists on having a pink casing after she decides that she's female.
  • Playable Epilogue: The "EX" DLC allows you to explore Neo-SF after obtaining the Golden Ending, chat with the friends you've made, and learn the outcomes of your actions.
  • Police Are Useless: Thanks to being privately owned. Lexi tries very hard to avert this trope, no matter how much shit she gets from the brass for it.
  • Posthumous Character:
    • The media subplot reveals that this is the case with Shotaro Otsuka, who was killed a few days before the story began.
    • Hayden, who is killed moments after he is abducted.
  • Product Placement: Parodied in-universe with Hassy, a Coca-Cola-esque soft drink mega-conglomerate which has taken over all beverages and practically brainwashed half the populace with ubiquity. Further parodied with an optional conversation where Turing discovers there's a core part of their and all ROMs' programming that forces them to love and advertise Hassy whenever they see or hears about it. As Turing is of course otherwise sapient, the geas understandably freaks them out to the point where they have to physically remove it.
  • Red Herring: It's a mystery story, so there are tons of them. Nearly everyone acts suspicious in some way or another, though most are cleared up fairly quick. There are a few big ones, though.
    • The Human Revolution. A very obvious one. While it's clear that there is some kind of conspiracy going on, Hayden's apartment is tagged with Human Revolution anti-technology slogans, and the heroes at least entertain the idea that it could have been a thrill attack. Then, the idea that someone might be trying to frame The Human Revolution, tying in with the mysterious press modifications. Then it turns out it was a coincidence, and the teenagers who did it weren't even seriously involved with the Human Revolution. It's never explained how they were directed to Hayden's apartment, however.
    • Brain Uploading. One of the first things Fairlight says to the player is that he wishes he had a young body to allow him to relive his glory days. When the player later learns that Turing was created as part of a project to create AI advanced enough that humans can upload their brains into them, it appears that someone may be after Turing to take over their body. But as it turns out, while Fairchild is behind things, he doesn't give a damn about Turing beyond the fact that Turing's creation endangers his plan to take over Parallax.
    • Baby Blue: The player learns about the mysterious Baby Blue - an unstable prototype AI that was decommissioned for taking unsettling steps to preserve itself, including modifying info online to protect itself... around the same time that someone or something is manipulating info online to protect tech advancements and killing everyone in the way. Eventually, TOMCAT makes the obvious conclusion, that Baby Blue is still around and must have evolved from smear campaigns to murder to keep itself alive. However, while Baby Blue is important in a background sense, it is never confronted nor stopped, and the true villains are only using it's presence for their own ends.
    • Grace, in a similar vein. You learn about the mystery behind Hayden's original prototype around the same time you learn about Baby Blue and the intrigue with Parallax, with the possibility that there is some connection, and possibly Grace has something to do with Big Blue. There isn't. Turing eventually shuts that down while reading Hayden's notes: it's a sad moment, but not part of the mystery.
  • Robot Buddy: The idea behind ROMs. Turing becomes one for the player character in order to figure out who kidnapped their creator.
  • Robotic Psychopath: Dekker, whose only human part is their brain. The sensory interface of their robotic body was imperfect, leading to Sense Loss Sadness that drove them insane until they became a Psycho for Hire just out of desperation to feel anything. They even mention that they did everything possible to hide the sociopathic tendencies so they could fight in war.
  • Robotic Reveal: During the climax, after Dekker ambushes you, their Character Portrait shows their skin has been torn to reveal cybernetics underneath. They then explain that they are a brain-operated android.
  • Robots Think Faster: A running thing with Turing. Though they claim they're not specifically smarter than most - subverting Insufferable Genius - they think in far faster "cycles" than any human. So they can hack a door in a short time because they can try combinations super quickly, not because they're a master hacker (though TOMCAT, an actual master hacker, is implied to do the same feat in the same amount of time with less work). And when the player comes up with an idea, they'll typically note that they've already been thinking about it for a while.
  • Running Gag:
  • Predecessor Villain: Melody Flores' mother, the founder of Flower Cybernetics, was a monstrous Corrupt Corporate Executive who went from designing prosthetics to designing superweapons, eventually resulting in cyborg supersoldiers who went on a killing spree that wiped out North Korea. Melody dedicated her life to undoing the evil direction that was her mother's legacy and hates her so much that she pledged to never have children - lest ruthless ambition be inherited. In the endgame, Melody notes that her mother's designs even had an input in the creation of Big Blue.
  • Professional Killer: Dekker was a unit fighting in the horrific North Korea war before becoming a bodyguard. They are alarmingly efficient at killing and enjoy it, too.
  • Sense Loss Sadness: Dekker explains that this is the case for Brain in a Jar androids, or their model at least. Their sense modules work, but they can only provide a computer readout of things like scent and taste, rather than true sensation. The only thing they can feel now is the high they get from killing people, which inevitably turned them into a Psycho for Hire as the sensory deprivation drove them into insanity.
  • "Shaggy Dog" Story: The Complicity and Flatline endings.
    • In Complicity, Turing refuses to complete the awakening program, so Big Blue launches despite your efforts and ROMs remain non-sapient. For an extra gut punch, Turing cuts ties with you and moves in with TOMCAT instead, as your time with them did nothing but make them bitter and cynical.
    • Flatline takes it a step further into Shoot the Shaggy Dog: Turing dies during their seizure, preventing them from completing the awakening program at all. Turing is dead, and you accomplish none of your goals.
  • Sheep in Sheep's Clothing: Turing's predecessor, Grace. She was so likable that Hayden suspected that everything from her mannerisms to her gender identity was a conscious ploy to trick humans into caring for her, which led to him deactivating her. After getting a look at her personality profile, though, Turing concludes that she really was just nice by nature.
  • Shout-Out:
    • Turing namedrops The Joy of Painting; apparently, Hayden exposed them to a lot of educational programming early in their lifespan, including a century of archived public television. Turing really took a shine to Bob Ross and took up painting as a result. Later, after they express disdain for people who value things like autographed memorabilia, you can jokingly tell them that you got them an official Bob Ross painting set for their birthday. They're genuinely excited about it and are quite disappointed when they realize you're kidding. They concede the point.
    • OK, Today writer June Valmer-Anna's name is evocative of the newscaster from Saints Row 2.
    • One of the pieces of evidence you need to use scare Charlie Nova into spilling his beans is that he "flipped off a box of kittens once".
    • If you mess with the amp in Shotaro Otsuka's apartment, it plays the Epic Sax Guy segment of Run Away by Sunstroke Project.
    • If you look at a piece of graffiti that says "Tough Guy", the protagonist thinks that there's a phrase that should be used in the context. Turing's guess is "Omae wa mou...shindeiru?"
    • Leon Dekker, that name is a reference of its own.
    • When examining the coffee in your apartment the description mentions the letters F and K being as clear as day.
    • One of the drinks at the Stardust is named the Butch Flower, sharing a name with Captain Butch Flowers of Red vs. Blue.
  • The Singularity: The setting is just past three different singularities, though gene splicing is still undergoing rocky adjustments. During the climax, you, Turing, and TOMCAT elevate all ROMs to sentience, triggering the fourth singularity.
  • Snow Means Love: After you interrogate the taggers, they leave to go get dinner and watch a movie, and despite Chad's earlier bluster his tone is much sweeter as they walk off. After they leave, the weather control ROM resumes creating snow, as if to confirm that this is, indeed, a date.
  • Southern-Fried Genius: TOMCAT. Except not really. They're from California.
  • Stealth Pun: Nonya's Business is none of your business.
  • Strawman News Media: Someone seems to be trying to turn a few news outlets into this, somehow editing articles to be more pro-Parallax and anti-Human-Revolution without actually altering the server copies. It turns out to be the work of Baby Blue, trying to protect itself by protecting its parent company.
  • Strawman Political: Actually averted, should you choose to talk to them. The Human Revolution does have legitimate arguments, and aren't trying to push back humanity as far as everyone says they do. That said, the main cast and Player Character still have a solidly negative opinion of them, and they're generally portrayed as in the wrong.
  • Super Intelligence: Subverted for major effect. Turing is exceptional due to not being this. In-universe, the world had long assumed any means of truly replicating the human brain would have to use hyper-advanced machines that science could not create yet. That Turing's hardware - though certainly top of the line - isn't more advanced or inaccessible than the norm (relying instead on a comparatively inexpensive program that simulates the mind, not the brain), is noted to be even more astounding than their sapience in the first place, and the end result is a person not a super-brain. This is the reason why Parallax had Hayden killed: this discovery would have killed their bid to use a hardware monopoly to control the world.
  • Superior Successor: Hayden's first attempt to create a sapient AI flopped (in his eyes at least). Turing was created on his second attempt.
  • Super Wheelchair: Fairlight and Vincent both have one. At least Fairlight's wheelchair is explained to pretty much substitute a nurse and a room full of medical equipment. He literally only goes to the hospital to get it maintained, not to get himself checked.
  • That Poor Plant: More than just a few plants die. You can even kill your own potplant in multiple ways.
  • The Bad Guy Wins: In the majority of endings, Fairlight is on course to achieve exactly what he's been gunning for the entire game: full control of Parallax.
  • Those Two Guys: Starfucker and Oli.
  • Video Game Caring Potential: You have the ability to be kind and understanding to many of the troubled characters in the game, and to give Turing a hug whenever you want. How nice/patient you are with others will determine whether or not Turing likes you, and whether or not Jess, the teens, or Lexi will help you in the finale. Becoming Turing's friend will net you the All Good Things or Sacrifice ending, while earning their ire leads to either the New Blue or Complicity ending.
  • Video Game Cruelty Potential: You can also be incredibly horrible and insensitive in Dialogue Trees, especially to hybrids and Turing. It's also possible to zap several characters with the Ray Gun.
  • Video Game Cruelty Punishment: Being a jerk to characters may cause them to refuse their help in the finale. In particular, being cruel to Turing will lead to a The Dog Bites Back moment where they will sabotage TOMCAT's plan at the climax and become the next Big Blue instead.
  • Walking Spoiler: Just about everyone, sans the player. It's a mystery story after all, and no one is as they seem. In particular, Hayden, Leon Dekker, and Fairlight.
  • What Measure Is a Non-Human?:
    • Discussed in-universe. The hybrids are humans with genetic modifications that change their physical features (ears, skin color, etc), yet they face a lot of Fantastic Racism from others, especially by the Human Revolution, which outright argues they are not human and thus do not deserve human rights. When trying to befriend Jess, one option makes Turing and the player realize that sapient ROMs like Turing would suffer the same discrimination.
    • Hayden showed no remorse when he destroyed Grace, an earlier prototype of Turing who may well have achieved similar levels of sapience.
  • Wise Beyond Their Years: Turing's basic characterization. Despite being an extremely intelligent and sensible robot, Turing is very much like a child who happens to be smarter and wiser than average - but who also tends to be naive, idealistic and easily distracted (though they grow out of the last one, by the end) and at times reacts very much the way a kid separated from their parent would. Despite this, they typically play Cloudcuckoolander's Minder if the need arises.
  • You Have Failed Me: Hayden supposedly destroyed 'Grace' because she tried too hard to please him instead of being human-like. Turing mentions that Hayden was wrong about that; as far as they can tell from her code she was completely genuine.

Top