I grew up with old-school first-person shooters and point-and-click adventures. While the former went on to become an extremely popular genre of game the world over, we’ve seen fewer point-and-clicks as time has worn on. Indeed, I thought the genre was effectively dead when the mobile gaming revolution didn’t bring it back to life.
As usual, we have indies to thank for keeping things alive. More and more point-and-clicks come to us each year thanks to small, independent developers, and one from 2019 really stuck with me — it stuck with me enough to get a feature here in Game of the Week. It’s called Whispers of a Machine. Billed as a Nordic noir with a cyberpunk flair, this game blends so many great things together into one package that’s hard to simply label it a “point-and-click adventure.”
Whispers of a Machine tells the story of Vera, a cybernetically-enhanced detective, as she investigates a series of brutal murders in a small town called Nordsund. As you work with her to uncover the mysteries surrounding these deaths, you’ll come to find out there’s a lot more going on that meets the eye. People have been dabbling in forbidden technology; I’ll leave it at that.
Each decision you make is permanent for that playthrough, so the game encourages you to play multiple times to see how different choices play out. As you go along with Vera, the dialogue options you select will define her personality in one of three ways: Empathetic, Assertive, and Analytical. Of course, you can mix and match depending on what sort of Vera you want. It’s not as a deep of a system as, say, Mass Effect or anything like that, but it’s a neat way to customize your game experience somewhat.
The setting is quite impressive, especially the juxtaposition between the seemingly “normal” Nordsund and the futuristic Vera herself. Since she is cybernetically-enhanced, she can notice things that normal people can’t, like increased heart rates in the people she’s talking to. It adds a lot more depth to the point-and-click gameplay, something that many of you will appreciate.
It’s hard to just label this a point-and-click adventure.
The weight and gravitas that Whispers of a Machine tries to tackle will keep you interested for the five to six-hour campaign, even if, in the end, it feels like a lot more could have been said or said better. Still, discussing heavy topics like the ethics of AI isn’t easy, and I think the development team did a fine job given the few hours that Whispers of a Machine lasts.
I really enjoyed this game and played it a few times through to try different choices to see what would be different. So even if the campaign feels a bit on the short side, there’s a lot of replayability.
Game of the Week
Cyberpunk Nordic noir murder mystery
Embark on a murder mystery with a cybernetically-enhanced detective as she delves deep into a small town’s history and goings-on. It’s a fun point-and-click adventure with a lot going for it. And it’s a premium title, so no ads or microtransactions here.