Few games capitalize on the power of sheer curiosity like Empathy: Path of Whispers does. Through sheer curiosity I finished this game, however, there were significant problems I found despite what was a mysterious and captivating story. Empathy: Path of Whispers was released by developer Pixel Night and publisher Iceberg Interactive, and is an adventure game that puts you in a world that has disappeared, and been ravaged by violence after the outbreak of some disease causing rage and madness. You play a child trying to piece the world back together, learning of what happened through the personal stories of different seemingly dead individuals. Using a wave detector, you hear their world as echoes, whispers of the past. Each has a different story to tell, and each helps you to learn something new about what exactly happened.
Because this game is particularly story driven, I will attempt to include as few spoilers as possible, rather focusing on the mechanics that allow the game to tell a compelling story. The gameplay mechanics are frustrating at times. Simple, but last gen, and reveal a game without as much substance as their audience would like. The way that you hear from the ‘people’ is by lining up a wave on your detector with the one that it is showing from the ‘echo.’ This is the most interactive part of the game. As you search for clues to the past, your wave detector leads you to different sites. However, the game does not point out that there are essential pieces to machines and puzzles that you must complete to get to the next level. This mechanic is fine once you realize that it is there, but is particularly frustrating on the Park level, which is large and full of places to search over and over looking for a tiny lever.
The way the story is told through vignettes of the lives of others is fascinating, and a unique way to tell a story. You hear the lives of others, you hear what they did, and how they all died, one after the other. You learn what people fought for, whether they lived for self-preservation, or a grand-utopian vision, or for the freedom of their peers. This is the most exciting part of the game. However, I would argue that there is a lack of continuity between the characters that can be a little alienating. Having a character to two whose actions you were tracking would be more captivating. Characters who you become interested in just disappear.
*It is irritating to become invested in a character only for them to disappear in the next act. The lack of continuity makes sense in the context of an apocalyptic event, but does not work as a mode of storytelling. This game is wonderfully mysterious, and a unique attempt at a game. However, their ingenuity fell flat sometimes, and to my mind ruin what is artistic venture.
I rate this a 6/10
*SPOILER: Until the final level that is, when most characters reappear in some capacity.
Here is the Empathy: Path of Whispers Launch Trailer:
Empathy: Path of Whispers is now available for PC through Steam and other digital retailers.