Empathy: Path of Whispers
Gameplay 6
Graphics 7
Sound 7

Empathy: Path of Whispers might look like a typical walking simulator, but it isn’t afraid to test the boundaries of the genre. The surreal gameworld isn’t just pretty to look at, but also offers players more freedom to explore than similar titles. It is up to players to piece together the fragmented story by finding and listening to the memories of the missing people who once inhabited the lonely landscapes. This means that some players will love the act of tracking down all the memories and connecting the clues while others will find it needlessly repetitive and obtuse.

Gameplay: A mixture of exploration, listening to audio memories, solving minor puzzles and unraveling the story.

Graphics: The surreal landscapes look great from a distance, but loses some splendor when viewed up close.

Sound: The soundtrack is good and the game features a large cast of diverse character voices

Summary 6.7 Good
Gameplay 0
Graphics 0
Sound 0
Summary rating from user's marks. You can set own marks for this article - just click on stars above and press "Accept".
Accept
Summary 0.0 Terrible

Empathy: Path of Whispers

Developer: Pixel Night | Publisher: Iceberg Interactive | Release Date: 2017| Genre: Action / Adventure / Indie | Website: Official Website | Purchase: Steam

We all know that memories are tricky things and the way that we remember things don’t always necessarily line up with what really occurred. So, if your own memories can be so unreliable, imagine what it would be like to experience the memories of others and use them to try and piece together a coherent story. This is the conundrum that the silent protagonist of Empathy: Path of Whispers finds themselves. Some sort of silent apocalypse has been triggered and you are left to explore a surreal and empty world as you try and figure out what happened. Although the people are gone their memories have remained behind and appear as physical things that you can interact with to learn more about their owners. It is only by slowly piecing together these individual puzzle pieces that the larger picture is revealed.

While the idea behind Empathy sounds very complicated, playing the game itself couldn’t be simpler. It is a story driven first person adventure where you primary roam around the empty gameworld in search of the so called “memento phenomena.” Fortunately, your character is equipped with a device called the E-15P, which is basically a portable full-spectrum energy scanner that functions like a memory radar. After using the device to locate a memory object, you then have to use it to synchronize with the mementos, which then plays back the audio data contained within. The mementos are not just the memories of a single person either, but of a large cast of characters who all had their own thoughts, feelings and agendas as well as important part they played in whatever went wrong. Since the game doesn’t spell out the story for you, it can be a little hard to follow exactly what the story entails, but if you stick with it things become a little clearer.

Empathy is a game that is hard to pigeonhole, but despite featuring a little more interaction and freedom than what is typically found in the genre, it is very much a walking-simulator. Instead of a linear path you have large environments to explore, but in order to progress you need to find and interact with all the mementos in your vicinity. This is accomplished via a wavelength synchronizing mini-game that is played out using the E-15P. Each memento has its own wavelength, displayed in white on the screen of your device. You then need to match the red wavelength of your E-15P with that of the memento’s by adjusting the amplitude, frequency and width. Unfortunately, as unique as this synchronization process is the first few times you do it, it does become rather repetitive as the game progresses and you have to do it each and every time you locate a memento. A recent patch has adjusted the difficulty of scanner syncing to make the process a little less frustrating, but it is still a repetitive process. After finding and scanning all the mementos on your radar a new batch is typically revealed, which means you have to repeat the process again. This usually involves some backtracking, which can also be annoying as sometimes you’ll see mementos, but can’t interact with them until you have completed a previous set first. The scanner makes it easy enough to locate the mementos, but without a map, it is a little tricky to navigate some of the more convoluted environments found later in the game.

In addition to the memento syncing, the game also features some minor puzzles that need solving in order to open up access to new areas. However, these usually take the form of collecting certain items and then using them at the right locations. Both items that can be collected as well as the spots where they can be used are usually clearly marked, so we didn’t have any issues completing any of these puzzles. The world of Empathy may be empty of people, but that doesn’t mean that it is without danger. Many of the environments are suspended above huge chasms and it is possible to fall off. However, your character cannot die, but merely respawns nearby, which is something that can cause problems if you are not careful. The game uses an auto save system, which saves your progress after certain action as well as upon exit. This resulted in us having to restart the game from scratch on a few occasions when errors occurred. Thankfully, the developer has mentioned that a new patch is in the works that will allow players to choose from recent saves when loading their game.

In terms of visuals we think that Pixel Night has done a good job with the look and feel of the game. The game clearly didn’t have a massive art budget, but what it lacks in hyper detailed textures, it makes up for with style and variety. The environments do appear to become less surreal as you progress through the game, but areas such as the park, train station and mountain village all have a unique style. The absence of people gives all the areas an eerie atmosphere, but nothing ever happens that could be classified as truly scary. There are some darker areas to explore, such as caves and sewers, but your character has a handy flashlight to help light the way.

The audio is an unexpected highlight and the music definitely contributes to the eerie atmosphere of the game. The soundtrack was composed by Nicolai Patricio and can be found as a free download on Steam for owners of the game. Another standout feature is the voice acting, particularly of the narrator. He clearly knows a lot more about what is going on than your character, but is more interested in reflecting on the situation than actually explaining anything. The memories you unlock by finding the mementos are also narrated by a large cast of diverse voice actors. Some deliver great performance while others sound a little wooden, but overall the quality isn’t too bad and certainly makes for a more immersive experience than having to read everything. The controls for Empathy are about standard for the genre, but a recent update has made things a little more manageable for left-handed players. The same update also added basic controller support, which was somewhat lacking in the original release. When playing with a mouse and keyboard you have to cycle through the three modes of the E-15P using the right mouse button and then use the scroll wheel for making adjustments. Outside of the syncing mini-game, the right mouse button is used to activate the scanning features for finding mementos.

Players who can appreciate games with a slower pace and cryptic storyline will enjoy their time exploring the surreal world of Empathy. Unfortunately, these are also the qualities that will deter many players who are not fans of the genre from checking out the game. Technical issues aside, Empathy is one of those games that have the potential to suck you in, but only if you approach it with the right frame of mind. The over use of the syncing mini-game does begin to grind and the obtuse storyline will probably scare away a lot of people, but Empathy is still a refreshing take on the genre. By opening up the gameworld and giving players more freedom, it is less of a walking simulator and more of a scavenger hunt, which is definitely not a bad thing.

System Requirements

  • OS: Windows 7 64 bit (32 bit NOT supported)
  • Processor: 2.5 Ghz Intel Core 2 Quad Q8300 or equivalent
  • Memory: 8 GB RAM
  • Graphics: Nvidia GeForce GTX 550 Ti or ATI HD6950 or equivalent
  • DirectX: Version 11
  • Storage: 9 GB available space
  • Sound Card: DirectX Compatible Audio

Related posts

Defragmented

Defragmented

Defragmented makes the most of its Cyberpunk setting and while the visuals are not exactly cutting edge the gameplay is very addictive. It is a game that is not afraid to challenge players, but prevailing against the overwhelming odds is extremely satisfying. The game also features a synthwave soundtrack so good it is almost worth the price of admission on its own. Gameplay: Fast paced and very challenging, but also very addictive and rewarding. Graphics: Simple, but fitting and the destructible environments are a great touch. Sound: The soundtrack is pure synthwave epicness.

Alpha Kimori™ 1

Alpha Kimori™ 1

Alpha Kimori has a very interesting backstory, and while it only clocks in at about five hours, it does set things up nicely for the rest of the trilogy. The visuals are a blast from the past, and fans of classic 16-bit RPGs will really enjoy the game. It is let down by some frequent backtracking, but definitely worth completing in order to uncover the whole story. Gameplay: Classic SNES era JRPG but with less grinding and thankfully enemies are visible. Graphics: Runs on the RPG Maker engine, but with some nice custom art. Sound: Great theme song, crisp sound effects, and nice tunes.

KAMI

KAMI

KAMI is a puzzle game that challenges your brain and not your reflexes, making it quite relaxing to play. The visual design is very nice with realistic looking paper textures, but the game isn't lacking in the gameplay department either. The 63 puzzles can be completed in a day or two, but the lower price point make it a worthwhile purchase if you are a puzzle fan looking for a fresh challenge. Gameplay: Challenging without becoming too frustrating. Graphics: The handcrafted look of the visuals is very easy on the eyes. Sound: Sparse, but very relaxing.

Rocking Pilot

Rocking Pilot

Rocking Pilot enables players to live out their Airwolf fantasies by taking control of a helicopter and laying waste to enemy armies. The game takes the form of a 2D, top down shooter with colorful visuals and arcade style gameplay. Plenty of mission variety and addictive online leaderboards make up for the relatively short campaign mode and the game is addictive enough that you’ll keep coming back until you’ve earned every collectible. Add to this the low price of the game and you have a title that is essential for fans of the genre. Gameplay: Fast, frantic and very, very addictive. Graphics: Bright and colorful, albeit a little cramped. Sound: Features a suitable rocking soundtrack.

Assassin’s Creed® Revelations

Assassin's Creed® Revelations

While not quite the "revelation" that I was hoping for, this game does tie up the stories of Altair and Ezio. Not much has changed gameplay wise and the story is not the best in the series but the game is still very entertaining. It is definitely not for newcomers to the series as the story is a direction continuation of Brotherhood but it does fill the gap until Assassin's Creed 3. Gameplay: Pretty much the same as Brotherhood. Graphics: Not bad but the colours are a bit dull. Sound: Good voice acting and atmospheric music.

Vertical Drop Heroes HD

Vertical Drop Heroes HD

Vertical Drop Heroes HD is simple enough that you can instantly jump in and have fun for a few minutes, but addictive enough to keep you hooked for hours. All the procedural elements keep things interesting and there are tons of skills as well as traits to unlock. The game offers a lot of value for money and will keep you coming back again and again for "just one more go." Gameplay: Simple, but very addictive. Graphics: Cartoonish visuals with some nice 2-D artwork. Sound: Catchy tunes.

1 Comment

  1. ePICa May 21, 2017
    Reply

    Its great that you review these type of games that normally get overlooked by other channels.

Leave a comment

two × 2 =