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

Memory’s Dogma CODE:01

Memory's Dogma CODE:01

Memory’s Dogma: CODE1 kicks off with a very interesting premise as far as visual novels go and initially seems like it is going to be an epic science fiction yarn. While the story doesn’t exactly live up to expectations, it remains interesting throughout and doesn’t end on a cliffhanger as one would expect from an episodic release. The visuals and audio in the game are surprisingly good for an indie title, so it is definitely worth checking out if you are a fan of the genre. The characters and story didn’t’ exactly blow us away, but does have a lot more depth than all the fan-service oriented slice of life visual novels that are all the rage these days. Gameplay: No branching paths and the story doesn’t quite live up to its initial premise, but overall very decent. Graphics: Polished, detailed and featuring some nice character designs. Sound: The music is varied while the Japanese voice acting is top notch.

Borderlands: The Secret Armory of General Knoxx

Borderlands: The Secret Armory of General Knoxx

With more humour, weapons, enemies, locations and vehicles this is the best Borderlands DLC yet. A much improved effort than Mad Moxxis Underdome Riot and another chance to loot Pandora. The story is engaging and apart from the tedious driving sections this DLC is a lot of fun to play. If you own Borderlands then you definitely want this DLC as it ups the level cap and throws in some nice high-level loot. Gameplay: A much better effort than the previous DLC. Graphics: Nice but nothing we haven't seen before in the main game. Sound: The usual high standard.

Cho Dengeki Stryker All Ages Version

Cho Dengeki Stryker All Ages Version

Cho Dengeki Stryker is a visual novel that is packed to the brim with great visuals, awesome audio and an engaging storyline. You’ll encounter a few clichés and plot holes, but overall the storyline is stellar and very engaging. It is also much longer than most visual novels and the additional routes boosts the replay value dramatically. If you are a fan of the genre you owe it to yourself to check this game out. Gameplay: Thanks to an engaging storyline and great characters this visual novel is definitely worth the investment in time and money. Graphics: The resolution is a little low, but the artwork and animations are top notch. Sound: The voice acting is superb and there are tons of audio tracks.

Heroes of Loot

Heroes of Loot

Heroes of Loot is a great title for when you need a quick action fix and don’t want to get bogged down with small details like inventory management or stat allocation. You simply race through dungeon floors, killing everything in sight and grabbing whatever loot you can find. It doesn’t have a lot of depth, but since dungeons are randomly generated and increase in difficulty the more you play the replay value is quite high. It is also very reasonably priced, which means there is no excuse for not giving it a shot. Gameplay: The focus is very much on action and there isn’t much that gets in the way of that. Graphics: Some lovely pixel art visuals with nice enemy designs. Sound: Decent, but the sound effects are a little underwhelming.

The Secret Order 4: Beyond Time

The Secret Order 4: Beyond Time

Sarah Pennington continues her epic time traveling saga in this fourth installment of the popular hidden object puzzle adventure series. This time Sarah finds herself stranded when her time machine is destroyed and has to deal with the sinister Dragon Clan while planning an escape. Beyond Time leaves the fantasy theme of the previous game behind for a mixture of Egyptian and Aztec elements, which results in good looking as well as interesting locations to explore. The bonus chapter, which is set in the Realm of The Dead, is also a nice addition. Although it is probably not the best place to start if you are not familiar with the series, for fans this one is a no-brainer. Gameplay: Slower paced, but features plenty of nice puzzles and mini-games. Graphics: The setting allows for some very interesting and unique scenes. Sound: Great use of sound effects and the music as well as voice acting isn’t too shabby either.

A Butterfly in the District of Dreams

A Butterfly in the District of Dreams

A Butterfly In The District of Dreams doesn’t quite live up to its mysterious premise, but as far as visual novels goes it still has a lot to offer. The pace of the story is very slow and relaxing, which is great for players in search of a calming experience. It is refreshing to play a title that doesn’t rely on fan service as a crutch, but due to the slow pace it is also a title that some players will find a little boring. With three main heroines, each with multiple routes and different endings, this visual novel is definitely not lacking in content. Gameplay: The pace is fairly slow, but the slice of life drama still manages to be captivating once you get hooked. Graphics: Beautiful character sprites, but the backgrounds are fairly limited. Sound: Full Japanese voice acting and a great soundtrack.

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

twenty − three =