Whispers of a Machine is a rather engaging point-and-click game, with sprinkles of puzzle solving and plenty of witty dialogue to draw you firmly into the world built up by the story. You play as Vera Englund, a detective sent from Headquarters to a town called Nordsund to investigate a murder. However, all is not as it seems, and as bodies pile up and Vera digs deeper, more secrets are uncovered that could finally alter the lives of everyone present. With nothing more than her wits and an enhancing nano technology called Blue with its assorted powers to aid her, Vera has to navigate a post-apocalyptic world where AI has been outlawed.
This game plays out like almost every point and click adventure out there. It screams serious Escape from Monkey Island vibes, which was a game I enjoyed immensely back when I was a kid. The creators have made it slightly easier as well, allowing a press of a button to see everything that the player can interact with in a given space. Players gather items and use them where appropriate, interact with NPCs for clues, and get more items in order to progress. Puzzles are fun to decipher, being quite well set up as you progress through the story. There may be times where the story is not as clear cut as it can be, requiring a little trial and error in order to get things going. However, with a little patience and common sense, eventually you can overcome them. The overall length of the game is a little short but it definitely packs a punch, although some points in the story do feel like a little fleshing out is required.
Get in touch with your feelings
An interesting feature included in the game is a sort of morality triangle. Dialogue choices scattered throughout the game will determine how NPCs react to your character, as well as what kind of powers you gain from Blue. There are three distinct trees: Empathy, Analytic and Assertive. Each tree provides a distinct powerup, from the ability to copy and impersonate a different character, to the ability to turn yourself invisible in order to sneak into places to gather evidence. This varies up gameplay as well, forcing you to think outside the box in order to get things done.
The graphics in this game are probably what screamed Escape from Monkey Island most to me. Pixelated artwork that is surprisingly quite detailed, with well done portraits of every character you interact with helps bring you into the game. The settings and environment are well drawn too; an overcast sky with plenty of grey buildings to help set a mood of dread the minute you walk in. It certainly does capture the feel of the noir genre, something that reminded me of Max Payne. While most point and click games that I have played tend to be more on the colourful end of the spectrum (Sam and Max and Grim Fandango to name a few), Whispers of a Machine definitely embraces its colour scheme, sticking to a grey and blue tone that convey a sense of darkness that is lurking around every corner.
The music definitely brought up even more memories of Max Payne for me. The tone is bleak and foreboding, with long reverbing notes and delays that help convey an industrial scene that has been disturbed by something that has gone seriously wrong. Voice acting is definitely stellar here, able to convey the feeling that the character is experiencing at that time. Panic, strength and calmness; they are all done with surprising liveliness, making it a contrast with the overall feeling of the game without hindering itself.
Give me more Norseness!