I Have No Mouth and I Must Scream
|a game by||The Dreamers Guild|
|Editor Rating:||7/10, based on 1 review|
|Rate this game:|
Based on the classic 1966 story by Harlan Ellison, I Have No Mouth and I Must Scream centers around a giant, twisted supercomputer which calls itself AM (as in "I think, therefore I AM"). The machine was originally three separate computers, each built in a vast subterranean complex by the world's superpowers as control centers for the next global war. This deadly trio of self-repairing machines eventually united and started the Final War to destroy humanity in retaliation for the flaws AM believes the human race inflicted on it. To further punish mankind, AM "saves" five people from the final holocaust, bringing them down to the center of the earth and holding them prisoner so it can torment them endlessly through all eternity. Now, 109 years later, AM offers each one the opportunity to finally become free of its power by playing one last game.
I Have No Mouth and I Must Scream has been touted as a completely new style of adventure game, with nightmarish graphics and an engrossing plot. It puts the player in control of the tortured souls of five humans trapped inside AM, the brutal supercomputer that has destroyed all of humanity.
The five protagonists include Gorrister, a self-proclaimed victim of the women in his life, now bent on suicide; Benny, a twisted parody of his former self after AM's cruel treatment; Ellen, a once-brilliant engineer who now panics at the sight of anything yellow; Nimdok, an ancient man who shares many characteristics with AM; and Ted, a twitchy, cynical paranoiac. Each character is hiding dark secrets -- a history of physical and emotional traumas which are brought to light as the story unfolds.
The gameplay is fairly standard for adventure games. You move each character through the game, collecting items and using them to solve puzzles. Where I Have No Mouth and I Must Scream differs from other games is in the types of puzzles and their solutions. Characters are faced with ethical choices on how to complete the various tasks set them; depending on how they act, their "Spiritual Barometer" goes up or down. The best solutions are found by discovering the secrets buried in the characters' past, and finding ways for them to overcome these personal demons.
The graphics are fairly standard, certainly not up to the quality of many titles today, but they are well-done and add to the game's bleak tone. The backgrounds are detailed, and the characters generally look good as they move about and interact with the game world. Several small problems did detract from the overall look of the game -- characters and objects occasionally disappear from the screen, sometimes making it very difficult to find the solutions to puzzles.
Both the music and audio in I Have No Mouth and I Must Scream are very well-done. The almost overdone performance of Harlan Ellison as the sadistic AM is particularly good. The effects and music add a rich, if morbid, background to the game.
The game's documentation is well-written, providing a good background on the characters and game play. However, players who have read the original story will have deeper understanding of the characters, especially AM. In addition to the printed manual, the game provides an online psychological profile for each character which can provide helpful hints and information.
486-33, 8 MB RAM, SVGA video card, and a double-speed CD-ROM drive. For best performance, a 486-66 is recommended
I Have No Mouth and I Must Scream is not for the timid or faint of heart, and is not a game for children. The puzzles faced in the game are often grotesque or brutal, and some of the possible solutions are images from nightmares.
I Have No Mouth and I Must Scream is as dark and depressing as the Ellison story on which it's based -- its morbid plot, bleak artwork, and twisted logic are definitely not meant for children. The puzzles are challenging, and the multiple solutions to each character's section of the game add interesting twists to the story. The player makes ethical decisions which directly affect the game's outcome; often there are several ways to solve a problem, one more "right" than the others. Overall, I found the game did not live up to its hype, but fans of Ellison's writing will enjoy it, and it will challenge even the experienced adventurer. I give it 78 out of 100.