System: PC, Android | Publisher: Raw Fury
Developer: Clifftop Games, Faravid Interactive | Reviewed On: Android
Whispers Of A Machine (WOAM) is a 'Nordic Noir' Point & Click adventure game set in a dystopian future in the point of view of a special agent, Vera, as she investigates a sequence of barbarous murders. As Vera works to reveal an underpinning motive for the string of brutal killings, she is quickly submerged into a dark and foreboding story with a link to a group of activists working to bring Artificial Intelligence back into the world - outlawed many years prior.
Yet another game that has managed to stun the sci-fi wanderer in me with its concept and story-telling finesse. The collaborative project between Clifftop Games (Kathy Rain) and Faravid Interactive boasts some legitimate 'future-gaze' Philosophy and merges it with a classic Point & Click interface, flawlessly I might add.
Some of the approaches towards capability and investigation in this game are a breath of fresh air, and I'll try to outline them in this review. What's more important to note is that WOAM is the second game project developed by Clifftop, trailing their debut hit (low-res, detective adventure game, Kathy Rain) and it's not difficult to predict that the developer could quite possibly become king of the Point & Click genre in the years to come.
Aside from being a super-cool cybernetically-augmented special agent with enhanced abilities, the game is depicted in nostalgic low-res, borderline pixelated graphics - perfection in the eyes of die-hard Point & Click enthusiasts - giving the entire thing an almost cyberpunk-esque overlay.
The actual premise of the story is dangled in front of the player early on in the game which gives you a solid theme to base your thought process around. Artificial Intelligence is forbidden, and anyone who seeks to create AI will experience the full wrath of the law. Although initially, I was unable to tie the teased theme and the sequence murders together, the story itself unfolds masterfully like an origami swan until the conclusion point, where cause and effect are laid out neatly on the same page.
Alongside the main story, you have been gifted with some unique mechanics which make this game what it is. Your augmentations allow for certain attributes that aid your investigative abilities, and which makes the player wonder if it would even be possible to solve the case without them.
Vera is given the ability to scan her environment for clues and can analyse specific remnants of DNA, logging the results for future reference. This is a brilliant tool for a futuristic detective to make use of, all thanks to the augmentations, and is amongst the few unique mechanics mentioned earlier. Accompanying this trait is the biometric scanner which allows you to monitor a person's pulse and stress levels whilst talking to them, qualifying you to act upon stress indicators, probing beneath the first layer of conversation in search for the truth. I think this was my favourite mechanism of the game and an excellent instrument for detective work. The other enhanced ability you harbour is temporary super-strength which comes in handy at various points in the game.
But these are just an initial loadout of enhancements brought to you by cybernetics. As you traverse the game, depending on how you react in conversations and the actions you take, will ultimately dictate what bonus augmentations become available to you. For example, if you opt to be analytical and critical of detail throughout, you will unlock different augmentations to those if you act with empathy. This, I feel, adds another layer to the gameplay and bites hard into the replay value intention of this game.
The artwork in which you navigate is quite rudimentary in style but blends well with the low-res character visuals and give the game a traditional Point & Click adventure game vibe. I feel like the developers could have even ventured even further down the resolution scale for the environment whilst still being successful on delivery of a great game. To hell with it, I'd play this game as a fully pixellated retro piece!
What's more, is that the story takes you on an ever-satisfying journey in search of the truth with a concept that electrifies the imagination and contains a plot twist which is equally satisfying, albeit fairly predictable if you're an experienced detective gamer. More importantly, though, is that this game doesn't try to be anything that it's not and has succeeded at portraying a very genuine, humble image.
All in all, the game is absolutely worth the play and considering that the first two projects from Clifftop Games have been astounding, their announcement of a third project underway for release 2021 ushers in an air of eager anticipation (screenshot below, taken from Clifftop Games website)
Don't take my word for it though.
Take control of Vera, solve the case, and feed your imagination with scenes from a distant future, that is not so implausible.