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Whispers of a Machine Review

Whispers of a Machine Review

Whispers of a Machine Review

A different take on the point-and-click adventure game genre

Category: Review
Written by: Karla Munger April 22, 2019
Developed by: Clifftop Games/Faravid Interactive
Published by: Raw Fury
Release Date: April 17, 2019
Genre: Sci-Fi Nordic Noir Point-and-Click adventure
Platform: Windows, Mac, iOS, Google Play

JA previewed this game on March 27, 2019. Now, it’s time for a review.

Whispers of a Machine‘s developers, Clifftop Games/Faravid Interactive (Kathy Rain), have crafted a point-and-click adventure that’s rather different.

The game’s hand-drawn, nicely rendered pixel-graphics style is quite appealing, as are the settings and overall atmosphere. I also enjoyed the music.

Whispers takes place in a dystopian future in which AI and CPUs, which had triggered an event known as The Collapse, are forbidden.

You play Vera Englund, an agent from Violent Crimes, Central Bureau, who travels to the small Nordic town of Nordsund to investigate a murder. By the time she arrives, a second murder has taken place. More people are killed while she’s there.

She discovers there’s a radical faction in town looking to resurrect AI by conducting experiments using forbidden technology. This is being done for the power it will yield, and people are being killed in order to realize this goal.

It’s up to Vera to get to the bottom of things. She gets assistance from the local police, but this primarily consists of answering questions.

Vera’s dialog consists of at least three choices that help shape her personality. One represents empathy, another represents analysis with the third representing assertiveness. Your choices will also influence the direction of the narrative.

The voiceovers are well-done. I particularly enjoyed listening to Vera, voiced by Ivy Dupler. Further, I was happy to see that Vera doesn’t employ any tough-guy, strong-arm or other intimitating tactics. She is…for lack of a better word…reasonable. In situations that would have had me screaming in people’s faces, she remains calm and soft-spoken. I’d say it’s a lot easier to get meaningful responses this way.

Vera can be fitted with certain “augmentations” that enhance or make possible abilities to perform certain actions. These are not products of forbidden technology, but come from “an advanced nano-substance” known only as “Blue.”

The available “augs” vary, depending on which of Vera’s personality traits is dominant. She starts out with three of them already in place. One is a versitile forensic scanner. In default mode, this scanner searches the surrounding environment. In targeted mode, you attach to the scanner a “sample” of something you’ve picked up. This kind of scan will only find instances of that particular object.

Another is a biometric analyser that can detect how a person Vera is questioning is feeling, from relaxed to anxious. It can also reflect anomalies in the readings for her to check out. The third is a muscle boost that gives Vera extra strength for a short period on time.

Three more augs are available during the course of the game.

I must admit that it took me awhile to get my head around this stuff. Until then, I didn’t really know what I was doing. So I scanned everything, no matter how far-fetched it seemed.

I found a couple of puzzles to be particularly vexing — and there’s no hand-holding in this game. I spent an entire day of trial-and-error on a single puzzle, and I still couldn’t figure it out. I ended up consulting outside help, and discovered that the solution was so obtuse I never would have gotten it on my own. Another had a solution that made no logical sense to me. This kind of thing left me feeling frustrated (and very dense). Or maybe I’m just getting old and crabby.

A journal keeps track of topics you need to discuss with NPCs. Once you’ve covered something, it will remain in the journal, crossed out. There are times, however, that a topic will be erased, confirming that Vera has covered everything about it.

Other times, I found that many of the topics would reappear when I approached someone I’d already talked to, and I had to go through them again to see if they would yield anything new (usually, they didn’t). Or…I could click on someone and elicit an “ask a few more questions” piece of dialog from Vera, only to find that all choices were crossed out and there was nothing new to ask.

During my playthrough, I discovered pieces of information that seemed as though they could be important, but ended up not meaning anything — sort of like red herrings. I don’t know if they would have been relevant had I made other choices along my path through the game. I also discovered that there are at least two endings.

With so many variables, Whispers of a Machine offers good replay value. Those who really love the game should welcome these replay opportunities. I found one playthrough to be sufficient.

All-in-all, I like Whispers of a Machine more than I dislike it. It’s a good-looking game that has an innovative way of tackling the narrative.

My eyes sometimes have a hard time dealing with pixel graphics if they’re drawn too roughly; I had no such trouble here. And much to the game’s credit I, who have practically no sense of direction, didn’t get lost once. Thank you, developers.

Yes, I did thrash around a bit in the beginning, before I understood the workings of the interface. But that’s more on me than on the game. Looking through the discussions on Steam, it appears that others didn’t have the kind of trouble I initially had using Vera’s augmentations.

Overall, Whispers presents an interesting mystery wrapped in a noir setting using a clever mechanic. It requires thinking rather than aggression. If this sounds good to you, the game may be purchased as follows:
Windows/Mac , Windows only, iOS and Google Play

Grade A-

+ Innovative point-and-click gameplay
+ Interesting narrative
+ Voiceovers, music and atmosphere are first-rate
Certain puzzles can be frustrating
GUI can be confusing at first


System Requirements
MINIMUM Windows:

OS: Windows XP
Processor: 300 MHz Processor
Memory: 128 MB RAM
Graphics: 640 x 360 32 bit
DirectX: Version 9.0c
Storage: 1200 MB available space


OS: Mavericks
Processor: 300 MHz Processor
Memory: 1 GB RAM
Graphics: NVIDIA GeForce 9400M, GeForce 9600M GT, GeForce 8600M GT, GeForce GT 120, GeForce GT 130, GeForce GTX 285, GeForce 8800 GT, GeForce 8800 GS, Quadro FX 4800, Quadro FX5600 ATI Radeon 4850, Radeon 4870
Storage: 1200 MB available space

Karla Munger

Karla Munger

I've been with JA in one capacity or other since 2003. I'm currently website administrator. I'm also a digital artist (my avatar is one of my creations). I write reviews and articles, create graphics and basically help tend the site. It's work I enjoy very much. I love playing games of all kinds, but adventure and RPGs are my favorites (particularly scary/dark/unsettling ones). At the top of my list are The Cat Lady, The Longest Journey, Dreamfall, Still Life (first one only), Scratches and Culpa Innata. I'm a dyed-in-the-wool recluse and prefer the company of animals, hardware and ghosts to human beings (no offense). And no bio would be complete without my saying that I do NOT care for phones of ANY sort. Further, I think Dell computers are garbage and that Microsoft has become megalomaniacal. "I put my heart and soul into my work, and have lost my mind in the process." - Vincent Van Gogh "I need solitude for my writing; not like a hermit - that wouldn't be enough - but like a dead man." - Franz Kafka "I've been to hell and back, my boy." - Susan Ashworth, The Cat Lady

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