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Whispers of a Machine

Posted by GG Goblin On July - 9 - 2019

A Sci-Fi Nordic Noir point and click adventure.

Most point and click adventures have a certain level of humour to them, as any fan of the genre would know. However, there are the occasional point and click games that come through with something of a more adult feeling, and I am not talking about those “dodgy” games either. I mean that they are more serious, with a more grown up mood. Whispers of a Machine, which is an excellent title by the way, is one of these grown up games that takes the player into a future where AI is not allowed to investigate what begins as a single murder.

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The player will take control of special agent Vera Englund in Whispers of a Machine, who has been sent to a small town to investigate the bloody murder of one of its workers. It all starts fairly innocuously with Vera travelling on the train, and then arriving in what can only be described as a town sitting on top of a platform. This in itself is one of many mysteries that the game presents outside of the core investigation. The developers have built a really interesting futuristic world here, a world that seems to be set after it was decided that Artificial Intelligence was too dangerous and should be outlawed, leading to a strange situation that may still come to be in the real world. Anyway, some questions will be answered, others will be left for the player to fill in themselves, and the whole question of AIs place in society can be pondered over forever.

But that would not get a murder solved, would it? So, back to the game and it would appear that some poor carpenter has been stabbed multiple times in the locker room. Most of Whispers of a Machine will be familiar to point and click genre fans gameplay-wise, in that the player will need to explore the area, interacting with objects and talking to people, to find the clues they need to solve the puzzles. Players can even press the space bar to highlight everything that they can interact with, meaning no pixel hunting here. Found items can be selected in the inventory to examine or dragged to be used with other objects or people. It is all fairly standard stuff.

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However, there are a few places where the game differs from other point and click titles. Special agent Vera is a very special agent after all, and as such has certain augmentations that simply make her job that bit easier. For example, at the beginning of the game Vera has access to a scanner that can look much more closely for clues such as DNA or fingerprints. Vera also has a couple of other abilities at the start of the game, but her powers don’t stop there. As the player progresses through the game, more abilities will be unlocked. However, what those abilities are will depend entirely on the player.

Whispers of a Machine is an unforgiving game where the players actions have consequences, and there is no way to undo those consequences outside of starting the game again. From something as simple as talking to a police officer, to most every other action, the player will start to develop in three different areas. Progression in one will lead to a drop in the other two. The areas are Empathic, Assertive and Analytical, and it is the progression in these areas that will determine which new powers Vera will get as the player works through the game. Could it be some form of camouflage or invisibility that the player will be able to use to sneak around? That is the real joy of the game. It keeps the player honest as there is no real way to push for certain abilities, so they may as well just make their choices however they would normally. It’s a great system.

The world in which the player will carry out their investigation is of a decent size without being so large as to get lost. This world is not massively populated though, generally only playing host to other characters that will play some part in the investigation themselves, giving the place a slightly desolate feel, which is something carried through to this futuristic world on the whole, and is even emphasized by the games soundtrack. It’s a grim future in a grown up game, so I guess it should be expected. The presentation is of a classic point and click style, which bizarrely works very well for this grim future.

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Whispers of a Machine is a point and click game that focuses more on the story telling than the actual puzzles, which are on the easy side. For some point and click fans, I guess this will be a problem. However, the excellent writing, art style and subtle character progression more than make up for any puzzle simplicity. Anyone looking for a futuristic murder mystery point and click would be best starting with Whispers of a Machine. Play it before the machines take over!




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